Malta Parish Churches
In the Rollo (inventory) of the benefices of the churches, or chapels, in Malta and Gozo, held by
Bishop Senatore de Mello in 1436, ten distinct chapels are mentioned, which presumably must
have been acting as parishes in the various villages, since earlier days. Besides the Cathedral at
Mdina and the Church of San Lorenzo a Mare at Birgu, the following chapels are mentioned:
Naxxar - the Nativity of the Virgin
Birkirkara - Saint Helen
Qormi - St George
Bir Miftuh (now Gudja) - the Assumption of the Virgin
Zebbug - Saint Philip of Aggira
Siggiewi - Saint Nicholas of Bari
Zejtun - Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Zurrieq - Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Hal-Tartani (now Dingli) - Santa Domenica
Mellieha - the Nativity of the Virgin
It is important to note that Dingli, originally Hal-Tartani was parish before 1436. However it was
suppressed in 1539 and re-instated by Bishop Baldassare Cagliares on 16th October 1615 to be
again suppressed in 1668. Bishop Michele Molina re-instated Dingli as a parish on 31st December
Mellieha was mentioned as a parish in the inventory by Bishop Senatore de Mello in 1436.
Because of the lack of inhabitants, the Apostolic Delegate, Mgr Pietro Dusina, in 1575
suppressed the parish and merged the administration to the parish of Naxxar. Hence a rector
Mellieha was re-instated as parish by Bishop Francesco Saverio Caruana on 1st February 1841.
However this re-instatement was contested by the Naxxar Parish. Mellieha was confirmed parish on 24th May 1842. The official Decree was published on 15th June 1844. Rabat in Malta was styled as a parish from time immemorial. The de Mello Rollo quotes as parishes La Cappella di San Paolo de Fora (which is St Paul's Grotto which was the parish church of Rabat) and Mdina together. At Mdina there was the Cathedral for the whole of Malta while at Rabat there was the seat of the parish for both Rabat and Mdina together. So much so that till the separation of 1902 the archpriest took two pussessi in Mdina as canon archpriest of the Cathedral and in Rabat as parish priest of Rabat and Mdina together. On 18th March 1902 when the population had increased considerably, Mdina and Rabat for the first time became two distinct parishes and for practical reasons Bishop Pietro Pace declared Rabat as a new parish but that was contested in Rome and it was declarde that Rabat was paroecia pre-existens.
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Fr VicGeorge Vassallo
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