Mgarr Marian Site

Parish Church of The Assumption

The Parish church of the Assumption in Mgarr was built in different stages, over an earlier fifteenth-century church, and was completed with the building of its large dome. The dates of the building of the church ‘1912’ and its completion, ‘1948’, are seen in bronze on the lower part of the belfry.

Historic Detail

The church was built in a Neo-classical style, based on an oval plan. This met the wishes of the then Parish priest Dun Gerolamo Chetcuti to have a church similar to the Carmelite church in Mdina with its particular distribution of chapels and side-altars, yet on a larger scale. Its large dome and belltowers also draw comparison with those of the Mosta Rotunda.

In 1957, the high altar was produced in Pietra Santa, Italy by Romeo Ceccotti to a design by Chev. Vincenzo Bonello. The floor of the presbytery with its stairs and the choir are also to the design of Chev. Bonello. In 2002, the altar was moved further into the choir, to make space for a new marble altar made in Carrara, Italy to a design by Renzo Gauci.


The multi-coloured mosaic panel on the façade of the church portrays the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. The composition is made in five panels, based on a 1627 painting by Guido Reni, found in the Church of the Assumption in Castelfranco Emilia, Italy. It was made by the Mosaic School of the Vatican in 1940, and installed on the tympanum above the church portico in 1945.

The Virgin Mary is portrayed as she rises to heaven, three days after her death. Her arms are outstretched as she gazes upwards in divine rapture. The Virgin Mary is portrayed as she rises to heaven, three days after her death. Her arms are outstretched as she gazes upwards in divine rapture.

The mosaic was commissioned by Dun Edgar Salomone, the Parish priest of Mgarr in thanksgiving for the protection of the village during World War II.


The main door of the Parish church of Mgarr was originally found in the Parish church of Naxxar. It was designed by the architect Tommaso Dingli (1591-1666). It was bought for £20 when the Naxxar church was being rebuilt.

Titular Painting:

The titular painting of the Assumption of Our Lady was executed by 1920 by the Maltese artist Lazzaro Pisani in oil on canvas. The painting shows the figure of the Virgin Mary being raised to heaven three days after her death. The Virgin is portrayed in mid-air, as she is borne aloft by angels to heaven. Her arms are open as she gazes upwards in rapture.

Surrounding her in a swirl of movement are angels bearing her symbols of a crown of roses.

Below are the apostles, gathered around the empty tomb, looking up in awe at the Virgin. One apostle lifts her shroud on which are roses, a symbol of Mary. To the right is a woman, representing Martha or Mary of Bethany.

Project Information:

The European Union co-funded project, focussed on conservation actions to ensure the long-term preservation of this historic church, of its intricately decorated mosaic tympanum. The interventions sought to reverse and mitigate deterioration sustained through weathering, and pollutant processes. This was leading to the loss of the aesthetic qualities of the polychrome mosaic panel and of its structural integrity. The conservation actions are ensuring the long-term protection and enjoyment of this historic artistic work in the heart of the community for many generations to come.

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