Naxxar Marian Site

Parish Church of the Nativity of Our Lady

The Parish church of Naxxar was first built between 1614 and 1636 and is attributed to the Maltese architect Vittorio Cassar (c. 1550-1607) with Tommaso Dingli as master mason, later architect. Between 1909 and 1910, the church was enlarged with a new, wider façade and side aisles. The church was erected on the site of a number of smaller older churches. The chapels in the new church were dedicated to the titular saints of the churches demolished.

Historic Detail

The church has 5 doors - the main portal, 2 at each side of the main nave, and two doors at the transepts. The second level of the facade was adorned with niches on the wall and a niche on each of the two bell-towers. The church includes a dome which was completed in 1630, and is one of the more interesting examples in Malta.

In 1910 the old facade was replaced by the present one. The central section of the facade is divided into 3 bays defined by the main doorway at its centre. An elongated window over the doorway is flanked by two niches with statues, and another two niches adorned by statues beneath the belfries. On the entablature the central part is crowned with a triangular pediment on which is a plinth with three larger statues symbolising Faith, Hope and Charity. These statues were installed in 1915.


Between the 1920s and 1930s, the nave vault was decorated with alternative sculpted ornamentation to a design by Captain Robert Mizzi. This consists of a series of Latin and 8-pointed crosses, in white and red alternating with yellow and white, as well as silver and gold.

Between 1933 and 1935 a new marble floor was laid. In the 1970s and 1990s, the cupolas of the side chapels were decorated with paintings by Paolo Camilleri Cauchi, stucco figures by Anton Agius, stone carvings by John Muscat and Lawrence Attard, and gilding by Horace Farrugia.

Titular Painting:

The titular painting of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary was executed by an unknown artist in the style of Mattia Preti (1613-1699), having been commissioned between 1699 and 1709.

The Birth of the Madonna is portrayed within an architectural setting. The new born is shownin the foreground being bathed by attendants, while in the background, St Anne is lying in bed, having just given birth, surrounded by more women. St Joachim kneels in a praying stance.

In the upper part of the titular painting, putti look down through an opening in the ceiling where a shaft of light illuminates the scene, while others hold on to drapery. The painting is treated in opulent colours and a refined sense of decoration.

The architectural elements imparts a grandeur to the setting, symbolizing the significance of the holy birth.

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 facade and sculptures. 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 building as well as putting at risk its structural integrity. These actions are ensuring the long-term protection and enjoyment of this historic building lying in the heart of the community.

Visitors Opening Hours:

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How to arrive:

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