Is-Siġġiewi (Città Ferdinand)

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Is-Siġġiewi, Città Ferdinand, or Siggieui, is a village situated on a plateau in the southwestern part of Malta, a few kilometres away from Mdina, the ancient capital city of Malta, and 10 kilometres away from Valletta, the contemporary capital. It is the home of 7903 inhabitants (Nov 2005) who, up to several decades ago, worked mostly in the fields which surround the village. The meaning of the word "Siġġiewi" is uncertain. Some say that the place was named after the Sageyo's, a rich family which had large estates in the area. Others argue that the Semitic roots of the word mean 'prosperous' or 'calm'. The motto of Siġġiewi is "Labore et Virtute" (Work and Virtue).In its demographic and topographical formation, Siġġiewi followed a pattern common to other villages in Malta. Before the arrival of the Order of St John in 1530, there were other thriving hamlets in the area. Little by little Ħal Xluq, Ħal Kbir, Ħal Niklusi and Ħal Qdieri were absorbed in Siġġiewi and today, only their secluded chapels remind us of their former existence.

Siġġiewi was already established in the 14th century. On December 30, 1797, after a formal request by Don Salvatore Curso, on behalf of his parishioners, Grand Master Ferdinand Von Hompesch instituted the village as a city calling it after his name, "Città Ferdinand".

The ruins of the former parish church, dedicated to St Nicholas of Bari are still visible today. Lately, great restoration works have been carried out and retrieved its old glory. The imposing baroque parish church, dedicated to the same saint, was erected by the hardworking villagers who raised the necessary funds between the years 1676–1693. It was designed by the famous Maltese architect, Lorenzo Gafà but underwent some changes throughout the years. The portico and naves were added by Professor Nicola Żammit in the latter half of the 19th century.

The titular painting in the church is by the renowned artist Mattia Preti. 'Il calabrese', who was also responsible for the painting on the vault of St John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta. The wooden statue which is proudly carried in procession in the city feast day (the last Sunday of June) was sculptured by Pietro Felici in 1736. Fours years earlier, in 1732, the same sculptor had produced the magnificent stone statue which still stands in the centre of the spacious square. On its pedestal there is a beautiful prayer in Latin which implores the saint to bless the fields which the faithful laboriously till.

          
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