For centuries, Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu has granted abundant graces to pilgrims from all over the world. Historical evidence shows that devotion to Mary at this site dates back to at least the beginning of the 15th century. The original local church was a small chapel, known as Ta’ Ġentile (“of the Gentile”).
It was June 22, 1883, when something extraordinary happened in that spot on the island of Malta.
Karmni Grima from Għarb (the village were the church is located) heard a call on her way home. A mysterious voice called her three times: “Come! Come! Come!”… “Come, come, today, because a year will have passed before you will be able to visit this place again.”
When she entered the chapel to pray, a feeling of rapture gripped her and the same voice addressed her again: “Recite three Hail Marys in remembrance of the three days during which my body lay in the tomb” — so she did.
For two years Karmni said not a word about what had happened. Then she disclosed her secret to Franġisk Portelli, an upright man who was known for his devotion to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu.
Amazingly, at about the same time, he also heard a mysterious voice asking him to say prayers in honor of Christ’s hidden shoulder wound caused by the weight of the heavy cross along the torturous path to Calvary. A short time later, Franġisk’s mother was miraculously healed by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu.
The matter could no longer be kept secret, and rumors that Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu had given a message to two persons from the village of Għarb began to spread like wildfire. It didn’t take long for the modest unknown chapel in the Gozitan countryside to become a revered Marian shrine for the whole world.
Indeed, a few years later, the decision was made to build a sanctuary, in honor of the Mother of God, to accommodate huge crowds – which is today a basilica and shrine visited by droves of Gozitans, Maltese, and many people beyond the sea.
Numerous ex votos cover the walls of the basilica, witnessing to cancers cured, babies born after years of infertility, horrific accidents resulting in completely healed patients, and many more amazing happenings and graces. It is no wonder Ta’ Pinu is also known as the “Church of Miracles.”
Ukraine in the embrace of the Madonna
Love for the Mother of God, the Theotokos, is deep-seated in the hearts of the Maltese, as well as the Ukrainian. Both are Marian nations, so we are one. Zarvanytsia, known as “the Lourdes of Ukraine” and Ta’ Pinu are one.
Recent requests from Ukraine show the deep love and hope that connect pilgrims from all over the world to our beloved Madonna at Ta’ Pinu.
On March 14, Fr. Gerard Buhagiar, rector of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Shrine, was interviewed by TVM News, the news arm of Malta’s national TV station. Fr. Gerard explained how that a Ukrainian woman sent a message pleading to the Maltese and Gozitans to pray for her country.
“Please, pray for us and for Ukraine! Not War but LOVE should be among the people on the Earth,” Tatianna said. She is currently hiding in a shelter with her son, taking refuge from the Russian military onslaught.
Fr. Gerard showed the reporters a copy of the message he received from Tatianna, and other photos she sent him. In her message, Tatiana said that she knows very well that Our Lady listens to prayers, since in 2018 she had visited and prayed before the image to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu to become a mother, and shortly after she had the opportunity to adopt a boy. She tried to return to Malta to show her deep gratitude to the Madonna, but this was not possible due to COVID-19 and now the war.
During the interview Fr. Gerard also mentioned a visit by a Maltese pilgrim to Ta’ Pinu, whose daughter lives in Ukraine. The father was returning to the Blessed Virgin’s shrine to thank her for some news he had just received. “… his daughter and her two children managed to cross the border over to Romania, and are now waiting to catch a plane so that they can all come to Malta, while she left her husband there to fight this unfair war,” Fr. Gerardexplained.
The Maltese have demonstrated great generosity and solidarity towards Ukraine, not only by means of donations and clothes, medications and money, but also by supporting Ukrainians during their demonstrations and joining their prayers with all those who beseech the Lord for an end to this war.
Let us pray for all our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. Let us pray to Our Lady for an end to this war. And let us pray for all those who visit the Sanctuary of Ta’ Pinu, that they will find comfort, courage, and even miracles.
Pope Francis recently visited Ta’ Pinu on April 3 and he has said in the past that these Marian sanctuaries are “clinics” where the human being can heal.
Dr. Olha Attard Tsar MD, MSc, EFOG-EBCOG (Ukraine), also contributed to this article. Dr. Tsar works in Malta as medical doctor and specializes in obstetrics and gynecology.