The Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery was designed by Emanuele Luigi Galizia, (1830 - 1906), of the Public Works Department, and opened on 9th May 1869. Galizia is mostly remembered as the architect who introduced the Gothic revival locally but he also designed the so called Turkish Cemetery in Marsa and a couple of exquisite houses in Moorish style in Sliema. Clearly the man was exceptionally talented and versatile.
Interestingly the Addolorata was not meant to be a national cemetery but rather a burial place mostly for the towns and villages in the vicinity which had no burial grounds of their own. There was also a reluctance to use it at first and no one was buried here for the first few years of its existence. Today over 200,000 people are interred here.
The Addolorata can perhaps be called a monumental cemetery because of its exceptional use of topography - with the cemetery planned very symmetrically around a hill with the main chapel at the apex. There is a dearth of impressive monuments although the western side of the cemetery has quite a few beautifully designed, privately owned chapels.
The starting point was the Dominican chapel where the nun Teresa Parlar was buried in 1927. Parlar was known as something of a mystic in her time and was controversially reputed to have eaten little if anything from the age of eight - surely a record as far as hunger strikes go. Parlar got into some trouble with the colonial authorities because of her saintly reputation and she was for a time hospitalized and put under observation. Today she is all but forgotten.
There is a short audio link about her on Campus FM here http://www.campusfm.um.edu.mt/pages/webcastspages/nisamaltin.htm
One of the stranger curiosities is the tomb of a business family from Marsa whose crest is a tower. The tower is reproduced on the tomb and the family apparently chips a block off the tower every time a member dies.
Perhaps the most poignant monument is the one put up by a travelling businessman who, upon his unexpected return from abroad, so surprised his mother that she apparently died suddenly on seeing him. This is one of the finest sculptures at Addolorata even though it still has shrapnel damage (visible lower right in the photo above) when a bomb exploded nearby in the Second World War.
Also of artistic merit is the Sette Giugno monument which recalls the 1919 riots and contains the remains of four of the victims. The monument was designed by the Russian émigré artist Boris Edwards and recalls the style of our own Antonio Sciortino. Incidentally the cemetery did contain a few funerary sculptures by Sciortino himself but these have apparently all been stolen. An interesting article on Boris Edwards can be found here http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20110605/life-features/Between-myth-and-reality.369196
One other oddity is the tomb of an unfortunate boy who was killed by a fallen brick. The actual brick that killed him was incorporated in the statue adorning his tomb. Incidentally the unlucky boy was nowhere near as ugly as the tifel tal-precett represented on the tomb.
A last oddity and infamy - there is apparently only one illegally dug tomb in the whole cemetery and this belongs to a deceased former politician who was notorious enough in his life. It is not pretty to speak ill of the departed but to carry one's arrogance into the next life is something else…
Most of the information here was supplied by the very knowledgeable Mr.M who made this visit a highly interesting one.