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Other Churches

Aerial View of St. Paul's Church

 

The present church of St. Paul, built on a circular plan in Doric style, was preceded by another church that had been constructed in 1590. The present church was built between 1735 and 1741. The titular painting of the Conversion of St. Paul is by Cospicua-born Rocco Buhagiar, whereas the altarpiece of the Holy Family is by Giovanni Vella, also from Cospicua. The Martyrdom of St. Barbara is anonymous, and the two lateral paintings, portraying the Resurrection of Lazarus and the Meeting between St. Francis and St. Dominic, are now housed in the vestry.

 

The church of St. Theresa of Avila, belonging to the Discalced Carmelite Friars, has its own historical and artistic importance. The Carmelites came to Malta in 1418 and built their first church and convent in the limits of Rabat. Almost 60 years after the Carmelite reform by St. Theresa of Avila, the Discalced Carmelites or Theresian Friars celebrated their first Mass in Cospicua on the spot where their church and convent were to be erected. Thus the church of St. Theresa in Cospicua was probably the first in the Christian world to be dedicated to the foundress of the Discalced Carmelites. For about 150 years this Cospicua convent served as an International College for Discalced Friars who intended to go to the Missions, but today it serves as a Novitiate. The superior of the Italian Congregation realised the importance of establishing such an international missionary college in Malta, due to the island’s strategic position. About 250 students received their training for the missions here.

 

Knisja Santa TerezaFra Lucas Garnier, a knight of the Order of St. John, painted the main altarpiece, representing the Ecstasy of St. Theresa, and the canvas of St. Francis on a lateral altar. The altarpiece of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is probably the work of Mattia Preti or of his bottega, whereas Giuseppe D’Arena painted the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple. Other notable works in this church include four sculptures in wood: a bust of Our Lady of Sorrows by Mariano Gerada; the Dead Christ by Xandru Farrugia; St. Elijah by Pietro Paolo Azzopardi; and St. John of the Cross, attributed to the famed Spanish sixteenth-century sculptor Gregorio Fernandez.

 

This church has its own choir, Sta. Tereza, which consists of about 20 members. The choir takes part in liturgical functions in this church especially the novena of the feast of the Patroness, St. Theresa of Avila, the feasts of St. John of the Cross, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Child Jesus of Prague, at Christmastime and Holy Week,. Sometimes it is also asked to sing during wedding Masses, anniversaries and other religious functions outside Cospicua.

 

Knisja Santa MargeritaThe small church of St. Margaret belongs to the cloistered Discalced Carmelite Nuns and is the only one in Malta belonging to this reformed Order. The monastery was founded in 1726 by Rev. Pietro Saliba, following whose death Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena continued to fund the project. With an elegant portico at the front, the church has a simple plan, with three altars and a barrel-vaulted ribbed ceiling. The main altarpiece, the work of Francesco Zahra, shows Our Lady of Mount Carmel, together with St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila and St. Margaret, the early Christian martyr from Antioch. The altarpiece on the left, also by Zahra, depicts St. Francis Xavier, and the two lateral paintings show respectively St. Joseph and St. Francis of Paola.

 

Not far from the church of St. Margaret is the Conservatory Chapel, that formerly formed part of the Conservatorio San Giuseppe, which has recently been renovated and is now used as a Home for the Elderly. The Conservatory used to be run by the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph of the Apparition, which was established in Malta following a visit to the island by the foundress, St. Emily de Vialar. The chapel, which is dedicated to St. Joseph, has an oval dome and the main altarpiece was executed by Sebastiano Conca, a highly-acclaimed Neapolitan artist. Two other paintings depict Our Lady of Sorrows (a copy after Guercino) and the Assumption of Mary, which is attributed to Rocco Buhagiar.

 

In the area of Cospicua known as San Gwann t’Ghuxa is situated the small church dedicated to St. John San Gwann t' Ghuxathe Almoner (Almsgiver). Funded by Prior Fra Pierre Viany, the church was built in 1682, as an inscription on the façade still bears out. A small palace adjoining it was reduced to rubble in the Second World War, so that the church now stands all by itself. Its titular painting and a small lunette which surmounted it, both the work of Mattia Preti, are now found at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, while in their place copies have been installed. A previous church, built in 1373, that had existed in the limits of Tarxien, was later demolished and rebuilt within the fortification lines in its present site.

 

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