Secret Garden — Mysterium Fidei — open after being cloistered for 400 years.*
Valletta’s Secret Garden, Mysterium Fidei, is open to the public after being cloistered for 400 years.
Tour this intriguing underground complex in the heart of Valletta, Malta’s capital city and one of the world’s most concentrated historic sites.
Secret Garden Quick History
Mysterium Fidei means ‘the mystery of faith.’ It is located in St. Catherine’s Monastery on St. Christopher Street. Here, monastic nuns cloister themselves within the monastery during their lives and are laid to rest there after death. Until early 2023, the general public was not allowed to enter the nun’s world since its founding in 1575.
St. Catherine’s was built initially to care for female orphans in the time of the Knights of St. John. As is still the custom, the stone that made the building was quarried from under the site. The underground areas were transformed into a garden, growing fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
Surrounding the open-air garden are vaulted rooms—workspaces—the nuns and orphan girls used for laundry, sewing, baking, eating, and distilling rose water. A chapel for deceased sisters is still in use.
Secret Garden Today
Today, Valletta’s Secret Garden, Mysterium Fidei, has opened its gates to the public. What may be the last generation of nuns to reside here live a life of prayer, contemplation, and service. Access to their ground-level world is forbidden.
Mysterium Fidei is a peaceful place that is a lovely escape from the buzz of Valletta in any weather. Situated on St. Christopher Street between Republic Street and Strait Street, it is a three-minute walk from the Grand Master’s Palace.
Visit Mysterium Fidei for opening hours and tickets.
*Words, photos and video by Mary Charlebois