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.