Parish Church of St. Catherine, Show all 3 places in Zurrieq » Zurrieq3
- Misrah Ir-Repubblika, Iż-Żurrieq, Malta
- 35.8305704, 14.4749048 Copy to clipboard Copy
The Church of St Catherine (Maltese: Knisja Arċipretali ta' Santa Katerina), Żejtun, is a Roman Catholic church, the seat of the archpriest of Żejtun and the mother church of various parishes established from the originally larger territory of the Żejtun parish. The parish church, its oratory and an adjacent pastoral centre form a complex of Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings in the centre of town. The Church and its complex sit in front of the Il-Gwiedi quarter, commanding views from both the Tal-Barrani and Triq l-Aħħar Ħbit mit-Torok town approaches.
Its dedication to Catherine of Alexandria dates back to an original church standing 500 metres (1,600 ft) from this site, extant from at least the fifteenth century, and was one of the eight mother churches on Malta. The church, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the Maltese baroque style by Lorenzo Gafà. Its construction was part of an urbanisation programme in Żejtun spearheaded by Gregorio Bonici. The church is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of Żejtun. Its dome, framed by the spires of its clock towers, have dominated the town's skyline for 300 years.
Colloquially known as the Cathedral of the East (Maltese: Il-Katidral tal-Lvant), the church bears an imposing facade and a large internal dome. The church houses various important pieces of art, such as The Martyrdom of St Catherine, an 18th century copy of the artwork by Mattia Preti in the Church of St Catherine in Valletta.
St Catherine's is a working church with prayer and daily mass services.
The original parish church of Żurrieq is first mentioned in 1436 by Bishop Senatore de Mello who was commissioned to do an inventory of the parish churches in Malta. The church was mentioned again in 1575, in a report by inquisitor Pietro Dusina. Considering the increase in the village population, in 1630 the then parish priest, Antonio Demos, started to plan for the building of a new church. The building started in 1632-1633 under the direction of Reverend Matteolo Saliba, who was also the architect of the new church. The church was completed in 1658 after 25 years.
Works of art
The church includes a number of paintings by Mattia Preti. These include the Martyrdom of Saint Stephen, Martyrdom of Saint Andrew, Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Eternal Father, Visitation of the Virgin to Saint Elizabeth, Saint Roch, Saint Blaise, Saint Dominic, Saint Nicholas of Tolentino and of Our Lady of Graces. The Church also includes a painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Antonio Zammit inaugurated in 1908. The titular statue of St Catherine of Alexandria, dating from 1818, was made by Marjanu Gerada. Another statue is that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel made by Salvu Psaila and finished in 1842.