Zejtun Marian Site

Church of St Mary of Childbirth (Tal-Ħlas)

The church of St Mary was built in 1692 on the site of an older church, to serve the spiritual needs of the community of upper Zejtun known as Ta’ Bisbut. Its design is based on a simple medieval plan in rectangular form.


The facade is simple, and is devoid of any architectural ornamentation. It has a central door forming a semi-circular narrow arched entrance. Above the door is a large window through which light illuminates the main altar. It has a slanting roof typical of medieval chapels, and at its centre is a small bell-cot with one bell. In front of the church is a parvis which is reached by a flight of stairs that goes all around it.

Behind the main altarpiece are two small un-decorated doors leading to a small space that serves as a sacristy. On the side, a second door leads into the church. The church also had a side altar dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The roof of this chapel is made of ceiling slabs (xorok) resting on four arches with simple ornamentation sculpted at their base.

The titular painting portrays the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in the baroque style of the seventeenth century. It may have been painted by a vernacular Maltese artist in imitation of other depictions of this theme. The painting shows the soul and body of the Virgin Mary being borne to heaven three days after her death. The Virgin is portrayed in mid-air, as she is carried upwards by angels to heaven. Her arms are open as she gazes upwards in rapture. Beneath the figure of Our Lady is a landscape showing her open tomb, its lid thrown aside. Unlike traditional portrayals of the Assumption, this titular painting does not include the twelve Apostles, who witnessed the Assumption.

The European Union co-funded project, focussed on conservation actions to ensure the long-term preservation of this historic church. The interventions sought to reverse and mitigate deterioration sustained through weathering and pollutant processes, as well as structural issues prevailing. 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.

Refer to parrocci.knisja.mt/parrocca for full details.

Refer to Malta Public Transport website: www.publictransport.com.mt