St Ursula Church & Monastery
St Ursula Church & Monastery is not a site that attracts the crowds, but it’s definitely worth a visit if you have the time. Small and unassuming, the church houses the monastery of the nuns of St Ursula.
Originally, these were based in Vittoriosa, but in 1595 they were transferred to the capital city, considered a more prestigious location and befitting the monastery that fell under the rule of the Blessed Raymond du Puy, the first Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John himself.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the monastery is the fact that the nuns are cloistered. When the Order of St John left Malta, the nuns stayed on and were transferred to the authority of the Archdiocese of Malta. The link to the knights persisted, however, and the small number of nuns still in residence at the monastery still wear the white Maltese Cross on their religious habit.
St Ursula Church – the interiors
The monastery is well-known for housing the skull of the founder of the Order, the Blessed Gerard. Prior to this, the relic was kept at the Grand Master’s Palace. The building itself follows the baroque aesthetic of many of the other churches in Valletta, such as St Paul’s Church and St Dominic’s Church.
While there is nothing that immediately leaps to the eye, the monastery remains beloved by travellers for the sense of peace that it imparts. If you’re interested in spending a few minutes far from the madding crowd, our advice is to either include St Ursula Church on the itinerary when visiting nearby attractions (the church is two corners away from the Genial Store), or to check opening times beforehand. These tend to be erratic, but your concierge should be able to secure a slot as long as you give them advance notice.