Churches & Religious Sites


24, Misrah ir-Repubblika, Żurrieq, ZRQ 1011, Malta

Parish Church of St. Catherine - Żurrieq

The Żurrieq Parish Church is one of the oldest churches found in the Maltese Islands. In fact, when in 1436 Bishop Senatore de Mello was commissioned to do an inventory of the parish churches found in Malta, in his texts he referred to a cappella di lu Zurrico (Zarb & Buhagiar, 1978). Adjacent to the church, there was a cemetery with a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter. Even though the church already existed before 1436, the first description of this church can be found in a report dating back to 1575, compiled by Mons. Pietro Dusina (Mangion & Zerafa, 1989). 

Due to the continuous increase in population in the early 17th century, it was concluded that a new parish church was needed in order to accommodate all the locals' religious obligations (Mangion & Zerafa, 1989). It was around 1630, when Rev. Antonio Demos, who at that time was the parish priest of Żurrieq, started to plan for the building of a new church. It was decided to pull down both the old church of Saint Catherine as well as the church of Saint Peter so as to make space for the new church to be built. The project started in 1632-1633 under the leadership of Dun Matteolo Saliba, who was also the architect of the new church. The project took 25 years to be completed. In the first year, the building of the church proceeded at a very quick pace. In fact, by September of 1634, the nave was practically ready and it started to be utilized as a church. It is also said that the people of Żurrieq worked on a voluntary basis in the building of the new church (Zarb & Buhagiar, 1978). The building of the church was completed in 1658 and during the visit of the Bishop Mons. Balaguer, it was described as being the finest on the island (Mangion & Zerafa, 1986).

A few years after the completion of the church (precisely in 1676) there was an outbreak of plague in Malta. A cherished tradition holds that Fra Mattia Preti, who owned a summer residence at Żurrieq, took shelter precisely in this village when Malta, especially Valletta (being in the Harbour area), was infested by plague. However, this story was never confirmed by historical evidence and what is known for sure about Mattia Preti's affinity with Żurrieq, are the masterpieces which are still present and taken care of, at the parish church at Żurrieq (Mangion & Spike, 1998).

The parish church's collection of Mattia Preti's paintings consists of eight masterpieces, which also include the altarpiece which shows the Madonna of the Rosary. This painting was lost during the air raids of the Second World War. The other paintings commissioned to Mattia Preti include the Martyrdom of Saint Stephen, Martyrdom of Saint Andrew, Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Eternal Father, The Visitation of the Virgin to Saint Elizabeth, Saint Roque, Blaise, Dominic and Nicholas of Tolentino as well as the painting of Our Lady of Graces (Mangion & Spike, 1998).




  • Contact: Zurrieq Parish
  • Téléphone: +356 21642010
  • Fax: +356 21641184

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