"All our Brotherhood possess does not belong to us, but to the sick, the weak and the infirm."
Grand Master Lastig, 1445
The Sacra Infermeria, overlooking the breathtaking Grand Harbour was built in 1574 under the reign of the French Grand Master Fra Jean Levesque de la Cassier (1572 - 1581) and was completed under his successor Grand Master Hughes Loubenx de Verdalle in 1578 when it received its first patient.
In 1660 Grand Master Raphael Cotoner added a further extension to the hospital.
The Gran Sala, or Great Ward, now measuring 150 metres in length, 10 metres in width with a height of 11 metres, is probably the largest hall in Europe supported by pillars.
Under the whole length of the Great Ward, beneath ground level, runs the Great Magazine Ward with its exquisite vaulted ceiling and heraldic bosses. By 1787 the Sacra Infermeria had 563 beds with acute cases sited at one end and chronic ones at the other. In emergencies the beds could be increased to 914.
The hospital itself was divided into a number of wards supported by qualified physicians and surgeons with medical staff trained in France and Italy. Surgeons were of international repute who performed a wide range of surgical interventions from ophtalmic surgery to post mortems.