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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Church of Our Lady of Loreto

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Church of Our Lady of Loreto

Triq J. F. De Chambray, Għajnsielem GSM 102; tel: 2155 3710

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Many years ago, Angelo (Anġlu) Grech, known as Tax-Xini a shepherd from Għajnsielem claimed to have witnessed a vision of the Virgin Mary, clad in white robes whilst he was watering his flock at the spring that gave the village its name. The apparition ordered him to erect a statue in her honour, under title of “Our Lady of Loreto”. The good lady went as far as to specify the exact location where she wished the statue to be placed. The poor shepherd was terrified and excitedly told his fellow villagers what the apparition said to him. They raised the money and executed the Lady's instructions. Or so the legend goes.

In the 19th Century, the people of Għajnsielem decided to erect a church dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto. The financial resources for this project were donated by Franġisk Mercieca, a wealthy villager. The foundation stone was laid in 1810, and the construction work was supervised by Franġisk Gafá. This church was a chapel, having three altars in the form of a Latin cross.

Għajnsielem was declared a parish on January 20th, 1855.

The titular statue was created in Marseille by Galard et Fils in 1865, after the village was spared the effects of a devastating cholera outbreak that swept across Gozo.

The chapel was upgraded when Paul (Pawl) Galea was Parish Priest of Għajnsielem. A new façade was installed and the church was further enlarged. The painting depicting Our Lady of the Rosary was created in 1890 by Giuseppe Cali'.

It was Parish Priest Franġisk Mizzi's desire to erect a larger temple, and on April 6th 1921, aplot of land was acquired for this purpose. The new church was designed by Ugo Mallia and the foundation stone was laid on September 24th, 1924. The construction of the church was stalled during the war . Works resumed after the war but the chief mason – Toni Vella – broke a leg almost immediately. As if that was not bad enough, he broke the other leg shortly afterwards.

The church was finally completed in June, 1979 and the dome was blessed by Bishop Mikiel Gonzi in August of that year, after a saga that lasted 55 years.

The main altar was donated to the church by Parish Priest Tabone prior to retiring in November, 1980.