Parish Church of St. Catherine

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The parish church is one of the most beautifully decorated churches in Malta. The various paintings that beautify the church are mainly created by the Italian painter, Mattia Preti, the most spectacular is undoubtedly the titular piece.
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  2. Misrah Ir-Repubblika, Iż-Żurrieq, Malta
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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.[1] 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.

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