Historical gem requires attention
The Church of St. Mary in Birkirkara, better known as ‘Il-Knisja l-Qadima’ (the Old Church) requires constant attention to ensure that its history is not repeated.
Built in the early 17th century, the church has a renaissance design attributed to architects Vittorio Cassar and Tommaso Dingli, the former being theson of the famous Gerolamo Cassar. The church served as Birkirkara’s Parish Church until the consecration of St Helena’s Church in 1745, after which it fell in disuse.
The dome of the church and parts of the ceiling collapsed, probably in an earthquake that hit the islands in 1856 and would remain in a state of disrepair for over a century. A restoration committee was set up in 1910, however the works commenced in 1969, with the building again becoming a parish church in 2005.
Charles Azzopardi, Executive, PR and Marketing at Bank of Valletta was shown around the church by Parish Priest Fr Ruben Deguara, who explained that the church is built on soft ground and that erosion of the underlying ground and structural movements are constantly being monitored to avoid a repeat collapse of this Grade 1 national monument.
‘Bank of Valletta’s collaboration with this church goes back to 2012 when the Bank supported the restoration of Giuseppe Briffa’s ‘The Crucifixion’ in the south transcend of the church’ said Mr Azzopardi. ‘This architectural gem, with a much storied history needs to be protected and maintained for so that it can continue to be enjoyed by our future generations and the community that it serves’