Qrendi Marian Site

Parish Church of the Assumption

The Parish church of Qrendi was built between 1620 and 1655 to a design attributed to the Maltese architect Vittorio Cassar (c.1550-c.1609). It was built on the site of two smaller churches dedicated to the Assumption and to St Anthony. The church was extensively remodelled and enlarged between 1668 and 1679 by the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa’. The design of the façade was influenced by the style of the French architect Mederico Blondel in his church of St Francis in Valletta as well as the Carmelite Church in Mdina.


The church’s architecture comprises a mixture of different motifs and styles. The present facade incorporates parts of the older church with its superimposed Tuscan pilasters. The central bay is built over the older façade, which was successfully incorporated into the new building with the introduction of giant ‘Palladian’ pilasters.

This projecting part of the facade is crowned with a large segmental pediment, another feature which recalls Blondel’s churches rather than those of Cassar and Dingli, which spans over the entire width of this part of the facade. On the central doorway is a large omega-headed window which rises beyond the entablature into the pediment. The church includes a hemispherical dome supported on a stone drum.

The church is surrounded by a balustraded parvis reached from a low semi-circular flight of stairs. At a short distance from the parvis is a stone statue of St Roque. This was carved to the design of the Maltese sculptor Mariano Gerada, after whose death its carving was continued by P.P. Azzopardi.

The restricted width of the new façade led to the twin belltowers being pushed backward from the new facade and placed at the sides of the transepts. The result is the appears of a very wide church facade.

The largest bell in the bell-towers was manufactured in 1788 by Trigance, while the other three were manufactured a few years later in 1795. Another two bells are older and date to 1640 and 1690 respectively.

The titular painting of the Assumption of the Virgin was executed in 1917 by the eminent Maltese artist Giuseppe Cali. It was commissioned by Dun Francesco Bugeja and was to be the last titular painting by the artist.

Traditionally, the depiction of the Assumption represents the taking up to heaven of the soul and body of the Virgin Mary, borne by angels. Here Cali’ portrays the upright figure of the Virgin Mary ascending unassisted to heaven, surrounded by angels.

Her prominent figure is clothed in the colours of the Virgin Mary, in a red habit and blue cloak. The positioning of the drapery creates a dynamic upward movement in the composition. Beneath her, the apostles are gathered around her tomb as they gaze upwards in awe.

The lid of her tomb is placed diagonally, giving a greater sense of perspective to the composition while drawing in the attention of the viewer. The upper half of the painting is dominated by the strong heavenly light in contrast to the use of shadow and chiaroscuro to depict the lower half.

The European Union co-funded project, focussed on conservation actions to ensure the long-term preservation of this historic church of its main facade elevation and side facade. 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.

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

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