|Our Lady of Grace Parish Church (Sanctuary)
The devotion to Our Lady of Grace dates back many centuries and the Sanctuary has since been a centre of frequent pilgrimages. The 1570s already offer sufficient documentation testifying the importance which this Marian shrine had already acquired in Maltese life. Incidentally, it was till then the only place where Our Lady of Grace was venerated. Zabbar became a parish in 1615. The present Sanctuary was built on plans by Tommaso Dingli between 1641 and 1696. In 1658 the main aisle was ready and was being used for worship while the old church was retained as a sacristy. By 1723, the interior of the whole building was ready and a new altar piece was also provided, painted by the Maltese artist Alessio Erardi in 1715. The older painting which had an oval shape, was inserted beneath this new painting on the main altar as a 'Sottoquadro'. In 1738 a new facade designed by Giovanni Bonavia was given to the Sanctuary. In 1951 the titular picture was solemnly crowned by Archbishop Michael Gonzi. During 2001 a twelve star silver diadem was placed on it by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca. Dedication date: 31st Oct 1784.
|Drawings of the church as it evolved (Pictures at the parish Museum)|
|Our Lady of Grace Chapel
Up to 1954, there existed the ruins of a small 1500's chapel of Our Lady of Grace in the countryside of Zabbar. Pastor Joseph Zarb rescued an icon that used to be venerated there and now we can find this in the parish museum started by the same pastor. This picture was restored in 1955 by Rafel Bonnici Cali.
The sepia pictures below are taken from the Zabbar 2006 Liturgical Calendar.
|Pictures Top Left to Right:
The old wayside chapel of Our Lady of Grace.
Inside the chapel showing the icon
The ruins as found in 1954
Far Right is the restored icon.
|Annunciation of Trapani
Built in 1615, it was originally dedicated to the Annunciation. In 1615, Antonio Napoletano embarked on enlarging this church. By 1628 this work had been accomplished and its titular altar piece represented Our Lady of Trapani. Sometime before 1659, a Marian congregation was established in this church. Its membership was, at first quite numerous, amounting to seventy persons. They used to meet here every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and were even successful in obtaining a special permission to have Mass celebrated for them here on each Sunday and feast day once the parochial Mass had been duly celebrated. From 1679 onwards, this congregation seems to have dwindled. They were then down to only five members, and this church was, from this time on, no longer mentioned in the records of any Pastoral Visits. It however, continued to be referred to as the Annunciation of Trapani and was rebuilt in 1861. Nowadays it is used by the Catechumenate Movement and for Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
This church is known by the title 'ta' l-indirizz' (a guide towards eternal salvation) and is the only one having this title in Malta. In 1585, Gaspare Testaferrata was doing his best to rebuild an old church which existed till then. By 1615, this work was finished and a new altar piece representing Our Lady and St Leonard was already provided. Its feast was held on the 8th September. Throughout the 17th century, people from different parts of Malta used to visit this Marian shrine. Its altar piece was adorned with various precious objects. During the French occupation of 1799, it served as a parish church because of the great damage inflicted by French soldiers to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. Popular devotion towards this church continued to prevail throughout the 18th century. Nowadays not only Masses are celebrated here but catechetical instruction is also given.
|An older titular picture which has lately been restored, is kept in the Zabbar Parish Museum. It is one of the oldest surviving church paintings in Malta, by Alessio Erardi and dates from the 16th century. See Below|
The church that was blesssed by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca on the 3rd April 1993. It serves the spiritual needs of the 1000 families living in the area. Adjoining it is the St.Andrew Pastoral Centre used for catechism classes.
|Nativity of Our Lady
The church and Pastoral Centre are used for catechetical instruction and Masses are celebrated there on certain days, catering for 230 families.
|Nazareth Pastoral Centre
Started in 2005 this centre is being built for the spiritual welfare of the 500+ families living in the estate. The chapel is upstairs and can be reached by elevator.
|Our Lady of Mercy
This chapel in the local cemetery built in 1676 serves the locality not only for funerals but also for other Masses and Liturgy.
|Our Lady of Montpelier tal-Plier
Also known as Our Lady of snow, this church was built in 1609 in a locality known as 'tal-Plier', it owes its origin to Joseph Testaferrata who in 1585 left a legacy for the celebration of its patronal feast. Its altar piece, representing Our Lady standing on a pillar, may have given the name whereby this church is commonly known, namely tal-Plier or ta' Monpilier. About 1880, a new altar piece was provided for this church. This church is situated in the centre of a housing estate built recently. This chapel was restored in 2014 inside and out, with the bellcot rebuilt. All work was done by volunteers. It is now in use for catechism and Bible study.
|Our Lady of Roses
This church forms part of the Convent of the Ursuline Sisters. It was built between 1983 and 1986.
|St.Andrew - St.Dominica Twin churches
St.Andrew: On the Right Below
This church was built in the 15th century for the people living in the outskirts of the village. Nowadays it serves as Headquarters for the Zabbar Scout Group.
St.Dominica: On the Left Below
Built in 1954 replacing a Siculo-Norman chapel that was almost completely destroyed during WWII. it has a 16th Century apse. The older chapel was decorated with beautiful frescos, the central fresco was saved and is preserved in the Sanctuary Museum.
Up to the 18th century, there existed a church dedicated to this Saint on the way to Ghaxaq but within Zabbar limits.
In 1762 a chapel of this dedication is recorded in the square very close to the Parish Church. It had been built around 1615 and was already serving as vice-parish to Zejtun.
After holding mass in a converted room for a while, the church was built in 1933 to cater for the spiritual needs of the people living in the area. Nowadays there is also a Pastoral Centre built behind it serving the spiritual needs of over 300 families.
|Original premises, now a private residence|
Built in 1937 as the Convent chapel of the Dominican Sisters. The complex was built as an institute for needy families and now caters for the pastoral needs of people living in the Government Housing Estate.
|St.Leonard Ta' Baqrat
Originally said to have been dedicated to Our Lady, this church is part of a beatifully laid out summer house that belonged to the Baroness Anne Casici Casolani. Originally the complex was intended for use as a convent but was never utilized as such. In 1656 it was rebuilt by the cleric Leonard Sammut and was dedicated to the Saint of his namesake. The locality eventually as in other places in Malta, also inherited the name. Various additions were constructed, the latest being the stone wall and gates surrounding a garden around 1905. The garden was recently taken over by a farmer and levelled off as fields while the chapel itself and the rest of the buildings are in total ruin and abandoned.
|Titular. Left in 1961 in place. Right in the Parish Museum|
Dr. Domenico Giovanni Baptista Azzopardi Barbara, a lawyer who owned the land with the permission of Bishop Bartolomaeo Rull, paid for the building of this chapel dedicated to St Nicholas of Mira. This he did to fulfill the wish of his father Gann Frangisk. John Mary Castelletti laid the first stone on the 21st July 1795 and was blessed by his son, a canon and Vicar General of Bishop Rull. It was partially damaged during WWII and nowadays it is used for prayer meetings and special Mass and Rosary on first Fridays. Its original titular picture which is of the Mattia Preti School from the 17th century, was lately restored, and is kept in the Zabbar Parish Museum. The liturgical feast of this Saint is held on the 6th September.
|Titular at the Parish Museum before and after restoration.|