IJCH 2018 Vol.4(4): 88-96 ISSN: 2382-6177
doi: 10.18178/ijch.2018.4.4.128

The Pilgrims’ Route: The Star, the Cross and the Crescent

John Vella
Abstract—Ethnohistoric approaches to community history reveal that toponyms, legends and oral lore witness to unwritten, forgotten or excluded history. Archaeological artefacts and written documents likewise provide the evidence. Put together intangible and tangible heritage reveals that the ancient Maltese harbour served as a medieval port of call for pilgrims and travellers of the three monotheistic religions. The remnant from a ‘cross column’ recorded by a toponym served both social and religious purposes. Other toponyms in the locality witness to a thriving Jewish community, the short stay of a medieval Jewish philosopher and polymath, and royal correspondence witnesses to a long-standing passage of Muslim pilgrims. The research shows that the ancient harbour was both a cultural crossroad and a stage on pilgrimages to and from Eastern Mediterranean sites retained sacred by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Artefacts, place-names, oral lore and written documents are all remnants and mnemonics of past events and of a place where people of different cultures and creeds rubbed shoulders and lived in harmony to reach their destination. Today these sites and artefacts may still function as shrines for religious pilgrimage and be instruments which bring diverse people together.

Index Terms—Christian, Jewish, Malta, Muslim, pilgrimage, toponym.

John Vella is with the Mediterranean Institute of the University of Malta, Malta (e-mail: john.vella.13@um.edu.mt).


Cite: John Vella, "The Pilgrims’ Route: The Star, the Cross and the Crescent," International Journal of Culture and History vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 88-96, 2018.

Copyright © 2008-2022. International Journal of Culture and History. All rights reserved.
E-mail: ijch@ejournal.net