|Although the Seminary in Malta began to function in 1703, attempts to erect one in our diocese had been made earlier. In 1575, twelve years after the last session of the Council of Trent, Mgr. F. Duzina, Apostolic Visitor to our islands, had decreed the erection of a Seminary, but the decree was a dead letter.
In 1591 Bishop Tommaso Gargallo once more decided to found a Seminary, but through papal intervention the property and revenues already assigned to the Seminary, had to be handed over to the Jesuits to enable them to build a college in Valletta. Bishop David Cocco Palmieri succeeded in founding at Notabile a Seminary, which was inaugurated on the feast of the Annunciation in 1703.
The Seminary remained at Notabile until 1723, when Bishop Gaspare Gori Mancini, duly authorised by the Holy See, transferred the Seminary to Valetta. In 1728, Bishop Fra Paolo Alpheran de Bussan decreed the return of the Seminary from Valletta to Notabile to ease the tense situation that arose after Gori Mancini’s decision. A few years after, he decided to build new premises for this institution.
The completion of this building, standing near the Bishop’s Palace and the Cathedral Church, was rendered possible through the munificence of Bishop Alpheran himself and of Grand Master Ant. Manoel de Vilhena. This new Seminary was blessed on the 20th May, 1742. Bishop Alpheran de Bussan’s heart rests in peace near the altar in the Chapel of the Seminary, which he loved so dearly.
The magnificent building, which stands facing the left side of the Cathedral, housed both the Major and Minor Seminary for more than one hundred years. Bishop Gaetano Pace Forno transferred the Major Seminary to the Casa de Manresa, formerly the Jesuit retreat house, at Floriana in 1858 and carried out a thorough reform in its curriculum of studies. The Major Seminary remained at Floriana for about fifty years, since after the Apostolic visitation of Cardinal Pietro Ia Fontaine in 1910, it was transferred once more to Notabile. This stay in the old city was only of a short duration as Bishop Dom Maurus Caruana in 1921 brought it back once more to Floriana.
The Minor Seminary continued to function for some time at Notabile. It was definitively brought over to Floriana and housed also at St Calcedonius in 1892. Bishop Pietro Pace carried out various modifications in this building so as to render possible this transfer. Incidentally, Bishop Pace had been harbouring a plan to house both the Major and Minor Seminaries in other premises, namely the building which, till then, had beer, used as a hospital for old people at Valletta near St Elmo’s. This building was then vacant. But this plan did not materialise.
During the last war, the Seminary was hit three times and sustained considerable damage. For a short period the Major Seminary was transferred to the Oratory at Birkirkara, while the Minor Seminary classes were held successively at St Aloysius College, St Francis de Paule Institute, Birkirkara, and Qormi Primary School.
In the post-war period the Floriana Seminary was renewed and modernised, but space and environment available in the building could never satisfy the educational demands of our times. Plans were prepared to build a new Semi nary.
A golden opportunity of a modern, ready-made building cropped up when the “Mater Admirabilis Training College run for girls by Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart at Tal-Virtu, Rabat, was closed. It had been opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the 15th May, 1954. On the 15th November1977 His Grace the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr Joseph Mercieca, inaugurated the same building for the use of the Major and Minor Seminary.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II visited the Seminary on the 27th May 1990, during his visit to Malta.
During the scholastic year 2011-2012, the Arbishop’s Seminary openeda new school, in which for the first time were hosted 150 students in the primary section (in year 1 and year 4). During the same year, the school hosted 150 students from St.Augustine’s college in the same premises.