Malta’s miracle Church of St Marija Assunta
Mosta is a large town in the centre of Malta and is famous for its imposing Parish church, better known as the Rotunda of St Marija Assunta.
Built between 1833 and 1860 over another church dating back to the 17th century, the building was designed by a French architect living in Malta, George Grognet de Vasse, in imitation of the Pantheon in Rome.
Much work was done by the inhabitants of Mosta, who gave a hand in its construction without any remuneration.
The church boasts the third largest unsupported dome in the world, with a diameter of 37 meters. The church is round, but it has a facade on the front that faces the south and another at the back looking towards the north.
It was also famous because on 8 April 1942 was nearly destroyed during World War II when a German bomb hit the church’s dome and fell in the middle of the nave during a celebration, but it failed to explode.
Nowadays, a replica bomb is placed in the church’s sacristy as a memorial to the event.
One of the most edifying and important events in the church’s religious history was on 23 April 1913.
The Rotunda welcomed the Pope’s legate, Cardinal Domenico Ferrara and many cardinals, bishops and delegate who came to Malta to participate in the XXIV Eucharistic Congress.
The church’s most famous painting depicts “Our lady being taken to heaven”, dating back to the 17th century and believed to be painted by Stefano Erardi.
The work was done for the previous Church but continued to be also used for the Rotunda. The painting was touched up several times by different artists (the last restoration was done in the years 2000 when a star-studded halo was added around the crown of the lady). The painting is placed on the main altar of the church.
Mosta celebrates its main feast on the 15th of August for the “Assumption of our Lady” day, patron saint of the city, which is followed by vibrant celebrations along the embellished streets of the town and spectacular fireworks.
The titular statue of the Assunta is carried on the shoulder along the streets during this annual procession, accompanied by Marian marches played by the local bands, and is welcomed by large crowds of devotees, admirers and tourists.
The statue is kept in its niche on the left-hand side as you enter the church through the main door.
Need to Know about Rotunda of St Marija Assunta
1) How to get there
it’s effortless to reach the church since several bus routes well serve Mosta. From Valletta, you can catch the n. 41-42-45-47-48 (30min. ride).
After visiting Mosta, you can continue your trip heading to Medina and Rabat (20 min. by bus).
2) Opening hours
From Monday to Friday from 9:30 am till 5:00 pm; Saturday from 9:30 am till 4:30 pm; Sunday from noon till 4:00 pm. The ticket costs 2 euro (5 euro if you want to see the church from the gallery).