Remains of the prehistoric temples at the Tas-Silg site

Remains of Byzantine Basilica and prehistoric temples at the Tas-Silg site

Ta’ Pinu Marian National Shrine – Diocese of Gozo

In 1883, a woman from the village of Għarb, Karmni Grima, heard the voice of Our Lady calling her, saying “Ejja, ejja, ejja” (Come, come, come in Maltese), at the small chapel that then occupied this site. It rapidly became a centre of pilgrimage and the number of visitors soon overwhelmed the little church. Today’s monumental shrine to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu was built between 1920 and 1931. It is an architectural masterpiece, especially inside with its superb sculptures and craftsmanship in Maltese stone. The sanctuary was constructed in front of the original chapel. The chapel remains in its original form behind the altar and still contains the painting of the Assumption to Heaven of Our Lady from which the voice is said to have spoken to Karmni Grima. A series of 14 marble statues representing the Via Crucis or Way of the Cross run up Għammar Hill opposite the Church.

Saint Cecilia Medieval Chapel

This Chapel dedicated to Saint Cecilia was built c. 1540 AD. It was restored in 1630 and served as a church up to 1644 AD when it was deconsecrated. This small stone church is the best example of a non-aisled chapel, one of many in the Gozitan countryside. Like other late medieval chapels, it is in cubical form except slight pitch of the roof. In 1613, the neighbouring fort was built to protect the farming community. A few years later ix-Xewkija became the first rural parish of Gozo and the building of the parish church of St. John the Baptist meant that the centre of religious activity shifted east. The tower and church were listed as Grade One monuments in 1996 but little was done to protect the chapel which was battered by weather and vandalism until it was finally entrusted to Wirt Għawdex (Gozo Heritage) in 2008. Fully restored it is open to visitors as well as hosting lectures, exhibitions, and concerts.

Saint Cecilia Medieval Chapel Interior

The welcoming of St. Paul

The “San Pawl Milqi” (The Welcoming of Saint Paul in Maltese) site has this name because tradition holds that it is the place where the Roman governor Publius welcomed St. Paul after being shipwrecked (Acts. 28). The governor Publius converted to Christianity and eventually became the first Bishop of Malta. After the Medieval period, there is evidence that at least one church was constructed to mark the site where St Paul was welcomed. After more than a century, it fell into disuse and was later replaced by the Baroque church which now dominates the site, built between 1616 and 1622 and dedicated to the welcoming of St Paul. This site speaks history, as it is also rich in archaeological remains of different periods. Indeed, it shows evidence of a prehistoric settlement from the Neolithic Period (c.4100-3800BC) to the Bronze Age Period (c.2500-700BC). This was followed by the structures of a little Punic farmhouse (from 4th to 3rd century BC) that had evolved into a rural villa by the end of the 2nd century B.C., when Malta was already under the Roman rule. In Roman times, the location where it is found had an added advantage of being close to an important Roman harbour that at the time reached much further inland than it does now.

The Parish Church of Balluta

The Carmelites arrived in Malta in 1418, when the noblewoman, Margaret d'Aragon, deeded the chapel and surrounding land of Lunzjata (derivative of the word Annunzjata – Annunciation in Maltese) to any religious Order that would undertake the incumbent religious duties. The first Carmelite friars arrived in Balluta in May 1890. After their arrival, Balluta began to develop at a fast pace. In fact, in December 1900, the Prior called for a community reunion to propose the enlargement of the church, to cope with the spiritual needs of the growing number of people. Fifty years later, the friars once again felt the need to enlarge the church. It is worth noting that the church had never been hit by bombs during the World War II. In August 1958, the Prior Provincial blessed the first stone of the church. In 1974, the area around the church became a parish, separate from the parish of St Julian’s. On the 12th of December 1984, the Archbishop of Malta consecrated the church to God and dedicated it to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.