Floriana (Il-Floriana), also known by its title Borgo Vilhena, is a fortified town in the South Eastern Region area of Malta, just outside the capital city Valletta. It has a population of 2,205 as of March 2014. Floriana is the birthplace of many famous Maltese, amongst which the composer of the national anthem, ‘L-Innu Malti’, Robert Samut; former Bishop of Malta Dun Mauro Caruana, the poet Oliver Friggieri, the writer and politician Herbert Ganado and Swedish Idol winner Kevin Borg.
The origins of Floriana go back to 1636, when construction of the Floriana Lines commenced. The line of fortifications was built outside the fortifications of Valletta as an outer defensive line for the capital city. The lines were named after Pietro Paolo Floriani, the Italian military engineer who had designed them.
The fortifications were partially defensible by 1640, but construction and modifications continued throughout the 17th and 18th century, being fully completed in the 1720s.
The area between the Floriana Lines and the Valletta Land Front began to be built up in 1724, when Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena founded the suburb Borgo Vilhena
Saint Publius is one of the patron saints of Malta and also the patron saint of Floriana. The Archipresbyteral Church of Floriana is dedicated to Saint Publius, traditionally acclaimed as the first Bishop of Malta. According to tradition, Publius received the Apostle Paul during his shipwreck on the island as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles 28, 1-10.
Being Maltese makes St. Publius the first Maltese saint and this explains the devotion which St. Publius enjoys around Malta and Gozo. One finds various chapels and statues scattered around the Maltese Islands which date back to hundreds of years.
Pope John Paul II spoke at St. Publius Square during his two visits to Malta, and on his second visit held the beatification ceremony there for three Maltese:
- Saint Ġorġ Preca (founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine)
- Nazju Falzon
- Maria Adeodata Pisani