6 Spine-chilling Maltese Ghost Stories
In anticipation of the launch of Colour My Travel’s latest ghost tour, here are some terrifying stories of hauntings that will get you in the mood for joining one of our walks.
1. The Ghostly Procession - Birgu
Prior to the construction of the Vittoriosa primary school, on the road which leads towards Kalkara, the site was occupied by an old plague cemetery, dedicated to St. Rocco. Late one night in the 1950s, a couple of women were walking back home from a late function, their route taking them past the old cemetery, long-abandoned and almost forgotten.
One of the women occasionally used to visit the place, to pray in the chapel there, which might have been what now made her look in the cemetery’s direction. But if she had intended to say a prayer, it was never uttered, for instead she was choked into silence at the sight of a ghostly procession. A number of ghostly figures, all wearing the familiar long white habit of an arch confraternity, with their heads covered by hoods, were floating out of the cemetery, passing right through the locked gate, before disappearing into a tree trunk just outside the main entrance. The woman was gripped by terror but did not say anything, for fear of being ridiculed by her companion. But when they got back home, her friend gasped with obvious relief and asked her if she had noticed anything strange on the way there. It turned out that she too had seen the apparitions.
Any doubts that they had both imagined it were dispelled in the morning, when they found crowds of people in the streets, all discussing the news of a woman who was taken to hospital during the night, suffering from shock after having seen a procession of hooded ghosts going up the street where she lived!
2. The Restless Spirit - Santa Venera
One of the stranger ghost stories is told by Joseph Attard in his book The Ghosts of Malta. In 1955, Mrs. Julia Tanti, who lived in the town of Santa Venera with her family, started being woken up between 4.30 am and 5 am every morning, to the sounds of a human voice crying and groaning from one particular room.
At first, the woman mistook this for a recurring dream, but when the voice starting uttering intelligible words expressing suffering, she changed her mind. When her children began to hear the voice too, Mrs. Tanti plucked up the courage to ask the spirit what he wanted, but alas she never received a reply.
In the end, the woman approached the parish priest, who considered an exorcism, but before this could happen, one of the children woke up screaming in the night, claiming that the ghost had spoken to her: “My name is Joseph Mangion and I am 66 years old. I am suffering so much.” He told her to visit his relatives and ask them to pray for his soul. He gave no address but told her they lived opposite the Radio City Theatre in Ħamrun. There, the family found a widow by the surname Mangion, who claimed that Joseph had been her late husband’s brother, who had died young, several years before she had even met her late husband! Upon checking, they confirmed that had he still been alive, he would indeed have been 66 years old. Interestingly, even the Radio City Theatre had not yet been built when he died, and yet he had given detailed directions to the Tanti family, who were now finally rid of paranormal activity.
3. A Troubled Soul - Żurrieq
This story takes us to Żurrieq, and the cemetery dedicated to Pope St. Leo I. Every morning at around 3 am, a local farmer known as 'Ta' Ċoqq' would load his mule-driven cart with produce to sell at the centre of the town. On his route, he always had to pass from in front of the cemetery, and almost every time he was being bothered by a very strange experience. As he approached the gates of the cemetery, a young lady dressed in white would emerge from within and approach the cart. She would grab hold of the mule’s head and stop him from proceeding any further.
The farmer used to get irritated, for this made him lose a lot of time, but despite urging the mule forward, the beast would not budge until the girl let go and returned to the cemetery. Eventually, 'Ta' Ċoqq' got fed up with this business, so he went to a priest and told him what was happening. The priest asked to accompany him on his next trip, in order to see for himself what was going on. Sure enough, as they approached the cemetery the following morning, the girl appeared as usual. Upon seeing this, the priest climbed down from the cart, took the girl’s hand, and let her back inside, while the farmer looked on.
A few days later, the local undertaker removed a girl’s corpse from her grave and reinterred her elsewhere. It seemed that the young lady had lived a very good life, and been buried with an immoral man. After the change, 'Ta' Ċoqq' never saw her again.
4. An Unexplained Mystery - Senglea
Many years ago, a Mrs. Mangion from Senglea used to make it a point to attend daily the first mass of the day at St. Philip’s Church. Although the service started at 5 am, she was usually quite early, something she did not mind as she would chat with other churchgoers while they waited for the sacristan to open up.
One morning she arrived earlier than usual, however; it was still dark when she got there. Despite this, the church was surprisingly already open, so she decided to wait inside for her friends. Upon entering, she realised that there was nobody else there, not even the sacristan. The only light came from two lit candles on the altar, which was prepared for mass. She was even more surprised when a priest appeared and approached the altar to start the service, despite the fact that it was at least half an hour too early. The lady could not see the priest properly because of the lack of lighting, but she thought there was no harm in listening to another mass, so she stayed until the end of the service. It was only then, when the priest turned to face her, that she was shocked to realise that where his face should be, there was only a skull!
Trying hard not to scream, she felt herself going faint, just as keys could be heard unlocking the church door. The sexton and the rest of her friends were shocked to find her already inside the church. Upon looking back towards the altar, the lady realised that not only was there no sign of the priest, but everything had also gone from the altar, and even the two candles were still waiting to be lit!
5. The Phantom Hitchhiker - Burmarrad
Late one night, two friends - John and Paul - were in a car, driving from St. Paul’s Bay to Mosta. On reaching Burmarrad, near the parish church, they saw an old man standing in the middle of the road. He seemed to be in no hurry to cross, and just stood looking at the car as if unaware of the danger of being hit.
Paul, who was driving, stopped near the man, to ask him if he needed a lift. But there was no reply, and the man just stared at them as if he had not heard, so the two men drove on. But they had hardly gone a few metres, when they saw the old man again right in front of them, in the middle of the road as before. Both men thought it strange, as Paul this time swerved round him and drove on. John tried to bring up the subject, but at this point realised that Paul had started accelerating rapidly, and soon the car was flying along. “Why are you driving so fast? Do you want to get us both killed?” John exclaimed. But Paul took no notice of his friend and simply kept speeding on, only stopping the car when they finally reached Mosta.
“What’s going on with you? Why were you going so fast?” John exclaimed. “It was the old man. Did you not see him?” Paul said. “Yes, I saw him both times.” “No, not that” Paul replied. “After we saw him the second time, an instant later I saw him again in the driving mirror. He was sitting on the backseat right behind us, and only disappeared when we reached Mosta!”
6. The Haunted House - Gozo
In a quiet Gozitan village, there was an old, long-abandoned house that everybody stayed away from, especially after dark, as the building was reputedly haunted. The story was that it had once been lived in by two brothers; the younger one was quiet and gentle, but his older sibling had a very jealous nature, and always got what he wanted, one way or the other. The younger brother eventually fell in love and started spending a lot of time with his new girl, while his older brother looked on, his jealousy growing at the fact that she could never be his. With time, his jealousy turned to hate and he decided to get rid of his sibling. The story goes that he threw his brother into a well, having first chopped off his hands to make sure that he could not climb back out. His girlfriend, oblivious to the truth, waited for him for a long time, but eventually gave up, and in the meantime ended up becoming close with the older brother, whom she eventually married. One day soon after, however, she woke up to find her husband dead, strangled while he slept. That was when the house was abandoned.
Many years later, some locals drinking at a nearby bar were overheard talking about the house by a foreigner, who claimed that their stories were mere superstition. In fact, he bet them that he would spend a whole night in the building on his own, and nothing would happen to him.
Well, the night got off to a good start, so much so that the man soon fell asleep, only to be woken up some hours later by a strange sound. Getting up off the floor where he was lying, he looked out onto the stairs where the sound seemed to be coming from, only to see a pair of severed hands coming up. They went into the room where he had been sleeping a few moments before, no longer looking empty. The room now appeared to be fully furnished, including a bed on which a sleeping man was lying. The hands wrapped around the man’s throat, and he could see him struggling until he was choked to death. The terrifying apparition then disappeared in front of his eyes, and he was again in an empty room. Needless to say, he made a hasty exit from the building.
Want to hear more stories? Then why not join one of our popular ghost tours held regularly in Valletta, Birgu and Mdina? We also offer private tours for groups. Click here to see all our tours, or send us a message with your request.
This article is also featured on Malta Independent.