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The History Behind the Building of the Mgarr Parish Church

by George Portelli

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The Main Entrance of the Mgarr Parish Church (Credit: Raymond Busuttil)

Mgarr is a beautiful traditional Maltese village located in the Northern region of Malta. The small local village is surrounded by rural land and it embodies Maltese culture as it has managed to retain its quintessential appearance throughout the years, remaining timeless. In 1946, Mgarr completed the construction of its iconic church, the Parish Church of Santa Marija Assunta. Located in the centre of Mgarr's main square, the parish church is a stunning centrepiece that is admired by thousands of locals and tourists every year. Historically, there's a rich and extensive story behind the construction of the parish church that made it what it is today. 

The Old Church of Mgarr and the statue that remains there to this day (Credit: Mgarr Malta - A Retrospect from Records - Annalium Scriptor)

In 1893, Mgarr became a parish, when the rural Maltese village had a population that barely exceeded 700. The construction of the Mgarr Parish Church was not an overnight process. Before works on the parish church could even begin, the old church of Mgarr had to be deconstructed. If you are facing the main entrance of the Mgarr Parish Church on the left there's a small statue which represents the previous church that once stood in its place.

The Construction of the Mgarr Parish Church (Credit: Mgarr Malta - A Retrospect from Records - Annalium Scriptor)

The first diocesan priest of Mgarr, Monsignor Glormu Chetcuti played an integral role in the building of the church. The entire village contributed towards funding the construction. The village raised funds by offering and selling thousands of animals such as chickens, rabbits, pigs, lambs and goats. The most impressive and largest contribution was the 360,000 eggs that the village sold to help fund this mammoth project.

Limestone blocks laid on the side of the Mgarr Parish Church (Credit: Mgarr Malta - A Retrospect from Records - Annalium Scriptor)

The Mgarr Parish Church does not have a stereotypical perfect oval-shaped dome which is a common feature across most European churches. It has an elliptical dome, which gives The Mgarr Parish Church an egg-like shape. 

The parish church's unique dome was no easy feat, no architect wanted to take on the challenge of creating this elliptical shape. If it wasn't for the roofer and architect Gamri Camilleri's design and headmaster John A. Cilia, who both worked on the design and construction of the Mgarr Church, it would have never come into fruition and become the beautiful historical religious attraction it is today. 

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About George Portelli

George is a content writer and student, he loves hip-hop music, exploring Malta's natural landscape and enjoying cultural moments.

He knows weird and mind-boggling facts like you only need to fold a piece of paper 42 times for it to reach the Moon from Earth.