Church of the Holy Family
The Church of the Holy Family in Bidnija is a modern building in a Neo-classical design. The first foundation stone was laid in 1921 and built to the designs of the Maltese architect and stonemason Salvu Zahra (1874-1960) and paid for by the inhabitants of Bidnija to see to their spiritual needs. The church stands on a prominent hill, while its dome is clearly seen over the surrounding countryside.
The church is built on a round plan and carries a large dome with eight windows. Above the dome is a lantern with another eight windows. On each side of the main doorway are niches in the façade bearing stone statues of St Peter and St Paul. These were the work of the Maltese sculptor Fabrizio Bartolo who carved them in 1946. The church belfry is placed at the centre of the façade, directly above the doorway.
A statue of a female figure, symbolizing Faith, stands atop the belfry. As one of the three theological virtues together with Hope and Charity, the virtue of Faith can be identified by the book representing the Scriptures in her right hand, the chalice in her left hand, and the cross behind her. The original statue was removed in 1977 since it was severely weathered and replaced with a new one. The present statue is the work of Maltese sculptor Marco Montebello (1915-1988), having been paid for by Francesco Sant, a parishioner of Bidnija.
Adorning the front part of the church is the long parvis. The hardstone paving was paid for by Giuseppe Vella, who was born in Qala, Gozo, but lived in the nearby hamlet of Wardija.
The belfry houses two new bells which were installed in 2016. As is tradition, these bells were named. The bell ‘Georgina’ was named after then Blessed, now Saint Gorg Preca while the other bell ‘Carmela’ was named after Carmela Vella, the benefactor who paid for them.
The titular painting of the Holy Family of Nazareth was painted in oil on canvas by the Maltese artist Gianni Vella (1885-1977).
The Child Jesus stands at the centre of the painting, with his mother Mary seated to the left and his father St Joseph standing protectively to the right. Above the Child Jesus is the symbol of God the Father and the Holy Spirit as a dove, completing the symbol of the Holy Trinity. The painting is bathed in warm light, symbolizing the divinity of the Holy Family of Nazareth as well as the Holy Trinity in heaven.
The scene is set in a humble domestic setting. The Virgin Mary oversees St Joseph teaching Jesus the craft of woodwork. The planks at Jesus’s feet symbolize the cross which he was to bear.
The sculpted frame of the titular painting is decorated with classical features which are also found on the façade of Mosta Parish church.
The European Union co-funded project, focussed on conservation actions to ensure the long-term preservation of this historic church, its bell tower, and parvis. The interventions sought to reverse and mitigate deterioration sustained through weathering, and pollutant processes, as well as to consolidate the structure of the bell tower. This was leading to the loss of the aesthetic qualities of the building as well as putting its structural integrity at risk. The conservation interventions on the parvis also ensured measures of accessibility for all visitors. These actions are ensuring the long-term protection and enjoyment of this historic building lying in the heart of the community.
Visitors Opening Hours:
Refer to parrocci.knisja.mt/parrocca for full details.
How to arrive:
Refer to Malta Public Transport website: www.publictransport.mt