Msida Marian Site

Church of the Immaculate Conception

The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Msida was built in thanksgiving by sailors who were saved from captivity by Turks. They dedicated the church to ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Help’. This dedication was also recorded in Mons. Dusina’s pastoral visit of 1575. A later source mentions that the church was originally dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady.

Historic Detail

The church was first built in the sixteenth century, in the medieval style of a simple rectangular plan, with one altar. A pre-1850 print shows the facade of this church with a central door and a round window above it. The cornice of the church was adorned by a central small belfry on which was a cross.

In 1640, the church was rebuilt to its present-day plan. In 1670, a sacristy was added to the right of the church, while its floor was paved in marble. A parvis was also added to the front of the church.

Between 1857 and 1859, a portico was added to the façade, adorned by a triangular pediment above it. An elongated window was opened on the upper, recessed part of the facade. On the extended part of the church, to the right,

This was built over the parvis and part of the road, making the church appearing recessed. Another extension was made to the side of the church, where another door with an oval window is found. This part of the church has a belfry with two bells. In 1860, a second altar was dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.


Two paintings are found on the side walls by the high altar. The first painting is the Pieta’, a version of the famous Baroque painting by Annibale Carracci, found in the Capodimonte, Naples was painted by an unknown artist. The painting depicts the moment when the body of Jesus Christ is lowered from the cross, and placed on the lap of his mother, the Virgin Mary. The wounds on Christ’s feet and hands, as well as his ribs are shown with blood still seeping. Mary’s face reveals her intense sorrow as she laments the death of her Son, while she lifts her hand in acceptance.

The second painting is also in the Baroque style and portrays The Holy Family during the Flight into Egypt. The painting depicts the Holy Family with the new born Baby Jesus, in a wooded landscape as they escape the wrath of Herod and flee to safety in Egypt. An angel protects them in their escape, as he leads the mule on which Mary is sitting. St Joseph walks by her side, carrying the lily which represents his chastity.

The coat of arms to the right of the painting are those of a Knight of St John, indicated by the eight-pointed cross behind the escutcheon. The painting may have been a gift by the knight.


The church lacks architectural details except for the arched ceiling and the niche of the high altar. In this niche is a stone statue of the Immaculate Conception. It was placed there at the time of the plague of 1676, in thanksgiving by Antonio Famucelli.

At first the church was extremely poor with no special features. However, over the years paintings and statues were commissioned by patrons such as the knight Fra Bali’ Wolfgang Philipp von Guttenberg (1647-1733) as well as members of the Famucelli family

Titular Statue:

The titular statue of The Immaculate Conception was commissioned in 1676 to an unknown artist who was probably Maltese. Carved in stone, the painted statue represents Our Lady in a white tunic, and a blue mantle, and with a halo of twelve stars around her head. She stands on silver-gilt clouds, with the crescent moon under her feet, as described in Revelation 12:5 of the New Testament. The statue is set against a Stone niche in the baroque style, with a sculpted inscription MV (Maria Vergine) over gilt rays of light with an imperial crown on top.

The titular statue was commissioned by Antonio Famucelli, the son of the procurator responsible for the church, in thanksgiving for being saved from the plague.

Project Information:

The European Union co-funded project, focussed on conservation actions to ensure the long-term preservation of this historic church. The interventions sought to mitigate the actions from rising damp and weathering processes which acerbated deterioration of the church. These actions are ensuring the long-term protection and enjoyment of this historic building lying in the heart of the community.

The European Union co-funded project, focussed on the conservation actions required to ensure the long-term preservation of the paintings. The interventions sought to clean, to conserve and consolidate, the deterioration and damage sustained to the pictorial layers. These conservation actions shall ensure the long-term protection and enjoyment of this artistic heritage lying in the heart of the community.

Visitors Opening Hours:

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How to arrive:

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