The Zebbug Parish Church
  A Historical Note

The Zebbug Parish was erected on the 28th April 1688. The original church was quite small; it was dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As time went on, the need of a bigger church began to be felt and one had to be built in order to suit the larger population of the village.

Dun Frangisk Vella was the first parish priest. According to Gozitan historian Canon Gian Piet Agius de Soldanis, it was Dun Frangisk who quickly decided to build a new and larger church. Another priest who came to his aid was Dun Frangisk Stivala who was not only ready to help out but also left in his will all he had for the new church. The new church was designed by Mikiel Agius, a Gozitan. The stones for the erection of the church were taken from the quarry known as “ta’ Cejla” but other stones were transported from the valley of nearby Ghasri, known among locals simply as “Wied il-Ghasri” which is a tourist attraction to this day besides being a beach. The stones were transported on donkeys.

In the year 1727 Mgr. Fra Paul Alpheran de Bussan became Bishop of the Maltese islands after the death of Mgr. Fra Davide Cocco Palmieri. Bishop Alpheran paid his first pastoral visit to Zebbug in 1729. By that time, the Church was not yet ready. The Bishop promised Dun Frangisk Vella that if by the time of his next pastoral visit the building of the church would be ready, he would solemnly consecrate it. Parish Priest Vella never forgot the Bishop’s promise. He did all in his power to promote the building. Bishop Alpheran came for his second pastoral visit in 1736. By now the church was ready.

The 30th of September 1736 was chosen as the date for the consecration. Bishop Alpheran de Bussan presided over the solemn consecration of the new church. An inscription was prepared to commemorate the occasion – it still hangs on the main portal of the church and it is in Latin, the official language of the Catholic Church. A document was also inserted into a box made of iron which also commemorates the occasion; this was put into the slab of the altar together with the relics of Saint Clarus and Saint Boniface, martyrs of the Church. The Bishop granted a plenary indulgence to all those who would visit the church on the anniversary of the consecration. Bishop Alpheran stated that this concession was conceded to him from the very lips of Pope Benedict XIII on the 5th April 1728 with the usual conditions applying.

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