Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica : Journal of the Malta Historical Society. 6(1975)4(450-451)

M. GALEA: Il-Knisja Parrokkjali taí San Pawl Nawfragu Valletta, Malta, 1974, 109 pp., illus.

In this book we have a historical-descriptive guide of the Parish Church of St Paulís Shipwreck, Valletta. It is divided into two sections. In the first section the author gives information about the origins of the church, its building, the legacies it received and other details about its benefactors and artistic treasures. Besides giving a detailed description of its architectural and decorative works, the author also gives useful information about the various confraternities that were established in Valletta and lay associations connected with St Paulís Church.

Together with the Carmelite and Dominican Churches it started to secure the spiritual needs of the people who went to live in the newly established city of Valletta. The original church was replaced by another in 1609. This was again rebuilt later and embellished. Its present cuppola has an eliptical form. Its facade was rebuilt in 1885. In 1656 Lady Caterina Valenti (died 1683) made a foundation thereby establishing a group of eight priests plus an archpriest, known as Ďbeneficiati.í They [p.451] were obliged to fulfil certain liturgical functions throughout the year in the said parish. In 1714 Lady Cagnano Testaferrata gave a legacy to set up the Provostship, and on the 16th September 1733 the Parish was erected a Collegiate Church by Pope Clement XII. It was subsequently awarded many privileges.

Many of the artistic treasures of the Church are mentioned and described by the author. These include the statue of St Paul made by Melchiorre Gafa in 1659, the titular painting, the various frescoes, silver candle-sticks and antependiums, and the precious relics of St Paul.

The second section deals with personalities and events connected with the Church. Theses include the funerals of Bishop De Bussan (1734), and of Grand Master Vilhena (1737); Grand Master Pintoís presence at the feast of St Paul (1741) and the 18th and 19th centenaries of St Paulís shipwreck. Among the personalities mentioned one notes the historians Count G.A. Ciantar and Canon Agius De Soldanis, the architect George Grognet and the saintly priest Dun Carm Decelis. They are all buried in the crypt of this church.

This work, which is supported by references to various sources, is certainly useful to anybody who wishes to pursue further research or just to make an intelligent tour of the Church.

C.G.S.