Towns and Villages. Index

St.Lawrence Parish Church
This parish Church seems to have been the second oldest in Malta after the Cathedral at Mdina. San Lorenzo-a-mare (St. Lawrence by the sea)¨›was built by Spanish seafarers with the help of Spanish Kings around the end of the 13th or early 14th century. From 1530 to 1571 it served as the conventual church of the Knights of St. John, while the Annunciation church was the parish church. In April 1532 it accidentally caught fire, was destroyed and the re-building of a new church was taken in hand without delay, with some modifications done later. From 1798 to 1939 further modifications were done to its architecture, including many rich decorations in the interior. The present building rose between 1681 and 1697 and is by Lorenzo Gafa. It became the seat of a collegiate chapter in 1820. The Roman architect Romano Carapecchia was responsible for the additional extra bays supporting the bell towers. The second belfry was constructed as late as 1913. The original dome of Gafa' in this church was destroyed during WWII, the present one being built by Prof.Galea and inaugurated in 1954. Other losses suffered during the war include the side chapel of the Blessed Sacrament built in 1786 by Baroness Francesca Viani. Space for the building of this chapel was taken from her palace garden, and the space that was once occupied by the chapel of St.Roque. This chapel was re-built in 1951. The sacristy, and the Chapter Hall, were also destroyed during the war and re-built in 1947. The vaulted ceiling too suffered damage due to blast during the war, the cracks were repaired and new painting attached. The painting of The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence done by Mattia Preti in 1689 was donated to this church by Don Anton Testaferrata whose coat-of-arms is painted on the bottom left. Dedication date: 24th Oct. 1723.

Pre 1913 WWII
A church on this site in the 15th Century was first dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady. In the 1520's it was given to the Dominican Friars of Rabat who took possession on the 4th February 1528. When the Order of St.John settled down in Malta in 1530, the parish priest of Birgu began to administer the sacraments from this church, as St.Lawrence parish church was taken over by the Knights of St.John. The foundation stone of the present building was laid in June 1638 by Inquisitor Fabio Chigi later Pope Alexander VII and consecrated by Bishop Mgr.Balaguer in August 1657. In the beginning of the 16th century its dedication was changed to the Annunciation. The church was restored in 1806 and in 1865 and was without a dome until 1925 when this was built by architect Gustav Soler from Birgu. In 1941 the church and convent were destroyed by enemy action, the present church being re-occupied by the Dominican Friars in December 1954 after it was rebuilt. Archbishop Gonzi blessed it in 1960.
The old Church and the dome being built Ruins WWII
The post-war church

A Jesuit Marian congregation was established at Vittoriosa in 1604 through the initiative of Fr Sebastian Salelles S.J. A papal brief registered in the Curia Archives on the 20th August 1614 approved the erection of this congregation. The Vicar General, Fr Filippo Borg UJD, on the 24th April 1624, authorized this congregation to build its own oratory on the site occupied by two Assumption churches. The congregation used to celebrate here both the Assumption as well as the Immaculate Conception feasts. It also held the forty hours adoration. The Jesuits of Valletta were always in charge of this congregation.

Beheading of St.John Baptist
Reported to exist within the then Birgu limits in 1762 by Mons.B.Rull.

At the palace of the Inquisitor. Picture Right.......

A chapel of this dedication existed in the upper part of St Angelo in 1780 but lost by 1866 according to A Ferres.

Holy Trinity
Also known as Our Lady of Monserrat, was built by the noble Lucrezia Gauci Falzon near the Marina wharf of this town in 1784. The coats of arms of two founding families with the year 1462 inscribed on them, were inserted in the facade of this church. It served as a temporary chapel for the Carmelite Friars before they moved into their newly built church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1611. Sometime about 1685, this church was rededicated to The Holy Trinity. It was completely destroyed by enemy action in WWII but rebuilt in 1962-3 and nowadays is used for religious associations' meetings. Picture Right.....

Immaculate Conception oratory
The Confraternity erected at the parish church before 1646, was successful in building its own oratory near the same parish church. This oratory had just been completed in 1671. They used to meet here under the guidance of the parish priest. By 1685, a procession with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary formed part of the annual celebration of their patroness' feast. Later the whole octave of this feast was also commemorated, as was also the Christmas Novena.

Nativity of Our Lady
A small chapel dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady (Our Lady of Victory), exists in fort St Angelo tucked in one corner among the bastions. Four Grandmasters were buried here who were afterwards disinterred and reburied in the crypt of St.John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta. This is a holy spot where in Punic times there existed a temple of Astarte which was also used by the Romans in honour of Juno. After the expulsion of the Arabs from Malta, a Church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary was erected here in 1090. In a 1274 document a church dedicated to St Angelo is mentioned here and some time afterwards the dedication was changed to the Nativity of Our Lady. It was hit during enemy action in WWII but was rebuilt in 1950.

Our Lady of Charity
A church and an oratory of this same dedication according to A Ferres both existed in Birgu in 1866.

Our Lady Of Carmel
The original church was built by the crews of the Order's galleys who helped the Carmelite Fathers and the Tertiaries in 1611. These people considered the church as their own and used it for their religious duties. The White Friars stayed here till 1653 when it was handed over to the Congregation of the Oratorians of St Philip Neri. In 1671, these were already carrying out restoration work on this site. In 1886 the Franciscan nuns who came from Mdina occupied it. When it was destroyed during World War II a substantial part of the original in St.Lawrence Street was still standing and was kept after rebuilding. The wall and facade are now identical elevations to the original.

Our Lady of Sorrows (also known as the Crucifix Chapel)
The confraternity of the Crucifix built their oratory on the site of the old cemetery and dedicated it to Our Lady of Sorrows around 1720. On Fridays during Lent they held processions with statues representing scenes from Our Lord's passion. While on Friday before Palm Sunday, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows was solemnly celebrated, including a procession with her statue. These processions had already been introduced before 1759. This Oratory received considerable damage during the war and had to be rebuilt. The statues of the good Friday procession are kept in this chapel.

Sacred Heart Of Jesus Tal-Hawli
This Chapel was opened to serve as a centre of pastoral activity among the residents of the locality

Located at the wharf near the old prison, local fishermen built this church in 1524 through the devotion of the Saint. Around 1688 it was already abandoned and in ruins. The Order of St John requisitioned the site for the building of stores and set up a crucifix in a niche to show the location. Local fishermen continued to care for this niche after the departure of the Knights in 1798. The bas-relief of a cross within a frame carved out of the bastion stonework has nowadays replaced the niche and crucifix.

In Fort St Angelo a temple to Melitta, also known as Hammuna or Astarte existed from Punic times (one of the pillar supports dates from that time). Most probably Malta has its name rooted in this place. The Romans dedicated this temple to Juno, remains still existing when the Knights took Malta. A 1274 document gives a detailed inventory of this church. Its altar piece, painted in 1461 presented Our Lady flanked by St John the Baptist and St Philip. The present chapel was built by the family De Nava, owners of the fort (then called Castrum Maris) in 1430. The Knights of St John afterwards dedicated it to St.Anne. Four Grandmasters were buried here who were afterwards disinterred and reburied in the crypt of St.John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta. Early in the 20th century the British used it as a store and then as a school, then in 1935 they consecrated it in the Anglican rite and it became the Anglican Chapel of HMS St.Angelo.¨›It was hit by enemy action in WWII but was rebuilt in 1950. In recent years, the Maltese Government granted the Order of St.John the right to occupy the upper part of the Fort, comprising the Magisteral Palace and St.Anne's Chapel, restoration works on these parts of the Fort being completed in the last decades.

Commonly known as St.Scholastica because of the Monastery. A Benedictine monastery of Mdina was transferred to Vittoriosa and when the Knights of St.John moved their residence to Valletta, the hospital 'Sacra Infirmeria' they had at Vittoriosa was given to the nuns as their monastery. In 1679 the church and part of the monastery were rebuilt, and Bishop Labini consecrated the church on the 29 September 1788. The relics of the martyr, St.Veneranda, brought from Rome in 1728, are venerated in the church. Dedication date: 29th Sept. 1787

This chapel was located on the waterfront facing Kalkara, just near the old jail built by the knights to house their slaves. Built in 1524 by fishermen whose patron Saint was Andrew, it was demolished by the order of Grandmaster Carafa in 1689 to make way for stores to accommodate the needs of the fleet. A niche containing a Crucifix nowadays marks the location on the facade of one of the stores.

This chapel was the first Parish Church of the Order of St John. Around the 17th century it fell into disuse and its icons transferred to the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Valletta. St Anthony used to be situated in Centenary Street until it was destroyed by enemy air raids in WWII.

According to Mons.Pietro Dusina in his 1575 report, there used to be a chapel of St.George at Birgu and it used to serve as a Parish church for the Greek community.

St James
A chapel of this dedication existed in the Inquisitor's prisons in 1780, but by 1866 when the courts were transferred to Valletta, the prisons and chapel fell into disuse. In the latter part of the 20th century the building and the chapel were restored and the chapel is now refurbished for tourist purposes.

St.Joseph Oratory
Known as Our Lady of Damascus (Tal-Griegi) because of a small chapel within the oratory itself. The parish priest of Birgu in 1554 agreed to leave at the disposal of the Greek community a church dedicated to St.Catherine, near St Lawrence cemetery. The Greeks had come to Malta with the Order from Rhodes. However by the end of the 17th century the Greek community at Birgu had ceased to exist. A new 'Damascena' church was built here on the site of the old one during the first decades of the 18th century. Its building was ready by 1722. Its main altar was from then on exclusively reserved for the Latin rite while the Greek rite could still be celebrated on the side altar, which is part of the original church that remains. The oratory suffered great damage in the Second World War but was restored afterwards. It is situated very close to the parish church of St.Lawrence and nowadays it has taken the role of parish museum.

Our Lady of Damascus Altar

Two churches, one large and one small used to exist both dedicated to St.Leonard. Both were destroyed by enemy action in WWII though we still have some of their contents, which are now in the Parish church.

Greek chapel serving as Parish church for the Greek community who came over with the Knights from Rhodes. Formerly dedicated to St.Agatha this chapel used to stand in Victory Square before being totally destroyed by WWII enemy action. Nowadays a plaque marks the location on the part of the facade that is still standing. The plaque also indicates the change in dedication.

St.Philip Neri
Also known as Our Lady of the Angels, this church was first built in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1561. Rebuilt by Canon Giovanni Habel in 1624, the original altar piece of this church included the coat of arms of Bishop Leonardo Habel, uncle of the founder. Canon Habel was buried here in 1642. Bishop Balaguer handed over this church to the Congregation of the Oratorian Fathers. These, in 1657 were already caring after its needs. It was enlarged in the 1750s to a cruciform plan with the addition of a transept, a choir and a cupola to the original quadrangular church. When the Oratorians left Malta, the church was taken over by the parish. It suffered damage during WWII but although it was repaired, it is kept closed nowadays.

St Roque tax-Xaghra
Reported existing by Mons B Rull in 1762. Again in 1780 but not in 1866 according to A Ferres

'Where the Lord was found' Chapel
In 1837, during a cholera epidemic, the ciborium of breads of the Holy Sacrament was stolen from the church of St.Therese in Bormla by a certain Paul Galea. After hiding the solid gold ciborium, he snapped off the cross on the lid and tried to sell it. This way he was caught and the Sacrament traced to the foot of the bastions near the gate of Aragon. A chapel was hewn out of the bastion in the place to commemorate the occasion. Mass is still celebrated here once a year.

Anglican chapel
Destroyed in World War II at the wharf and very close to Fort St Angelo.

St.Michael & All Angels
In the early '60's, an ex-rum store at the end of Birgu victualling wharf was converted into a Naval Chapel for the British forces, and named St. Michael and All Angels. It was deconsecrated in 1978 prior to the final withdrawal of the Royal Navy from Malta. Afterwards it was used as a store for some time, but became derelict along with most of the buildings on the quayside at Birgu. The old Naval Bakery was renovated and opened as the Maritime Museum, but the other buildings became dilapidated. A large-scale redevelopment of the whole area was started and the first building to be demolished in July 2000 was this ex-Royal Naval Chapel.