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575th anniversary of the 1429 Siege of Malta

The Maltese Islands were freed from feudalism in 1426. It is said, when you are in peace, prepare for war. Besides the King's Army in Malta and Gozo, there were 300 soldiers (territorials) called Tad-Dejma.

This Maltese regiment was compulsory for all those who reached the age of 16. Training used to be held on Sundays. The absentees were fined between a Karlin and 40. These soldiers were paid from the Università (local council) and from the abattoir.

In September 1429 the Army of the Saracins, about 18,000 men, arrived on our shores from Tunis. These were under the command of Kaid Ridavan (Mifsud Alf.: Franchigie p. 312).

The Muslims first attacked Mdina fiercely for three consecutive days. Afterwards, they left Mdina, carrying with them what they could and destroying the rest. Many Maltese were killed; others taken in slavery.

It is said that on that occasion St Paul appeared on a white horse holding a dagger in his hand defending the Maltese. The Cathedral Chapter in 1682, as a remembrance of that event, commissioned a canvas to Mattia Preti representing St Paul on a white horse defending the Maltese.

The painting still exists and it can be seen in the chapel of the Annunciation, facing the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at Mdina Cathedral.

Furthermore, Mgr Peter Dusina in his Apostolic Visit ordered that St Paul be declared co-titular with Our Lady of the Assumption.

Maltese historians say that the siege of 1429 was worse than the Great Siege of 1565 because the Maltese were fighting alone without any help. On that event the Augustinians lost their monastery and church at Saqqajja in frontispitio Civitatis, very close to the city walls of Mdina, which was totally destroyed by the Arabs ab exercitu Barbarorum (G. Zammit: Cabreo S. Agost. Rabat).

It is said that Dragut stayed in that monastery.

Afterwards, the Augustinians took refuge at St Peter's Hospital (today St Benedict's Abbey) and later at the Visitation church, Via Lunga, in Mdina as well.

The Ambassador Vaccaro predicted that assault to the Viceroy eight years before: Il signore Vaccaro predetta at Vice-Re che I nostrit fossero alla meglio preparati (Vassallo G.A., Storia di Malta p. 126).

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