March – Church of the Annunciation, Salini

Appreciating Radju Marija’s Calendar for 2021

Each year Radju Marija publishes its own calendar and for 2021 each month is enhanced with a beautiful photograph of a country chapel dedicated to our Lady around the Maltese Islands. This interesting information has been collated by Mr Louis Fenech.

March – Church of the Annunciation, Salini

The Church of the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel is situated in Salini on the other side of Kennedy Grove and a stone’s throw away from Paleo-Christian catacombs. Until 1971 this church formed part of Naxxar parish but nowadays it is part of the parish of Burmarrad and is known as Tal-Lunzjata. According to Achille Ferris this church dates back to the sixteenth century and has always been devotional. In the past the clergy and people of Naxxar, on the Solemnity of the Ascension, would walk in a procession to the church to fulfill a vote started by our forefathers.

The church, which is accessed through three steps, has a simple façade, a central door between two small windows. There is also a round window and a frontispiece with a bell that ends with a stone cross. On the inside, the church has a rectangular plan and one stone altar below the titular painting. Painted by Envin Cremona in 1957 it depicts the Annunciation of Mary and shows a resemblance to another painting which the same artist did for the Dominican Church in Vittoriosa. Before that there was another painting by Ġannikol Buhagiar nowadays housed in the Burmarrad parish church. On each side of the titular there are another two paintings depicting St Paul with St Publius and the Madonna with St Luke.

This church was erected before 1604. A certain Ġużeppi Buhagiar, who was very devout of Our Lady, bequeathed a field to his two nephews to light the lamp on the feast celebrated in this church. This might show Buhagiar as the founder of the Lunzjata Church in Salini since after his death in 1621 he bequeathed monies, gold and silver for the celebration of feast of the Annunciation. Although the church is mentioned a first time during the pastoral visit of Bishop Cagliares in 1618 this founder is not mentioned. In 1761, Bishop Cannaves in his pastoral visit noted that Buhagiar had paid for the first painting done in 1633.

In 1661, the parish priest of Naxxar notes that this church was very devout and well kept. The clergy of Naxxar, on the feast of the Annunciation, would go down in a procession towards Salini to fulfill the obligations as entered by four Naxxar men: Ġużeppi, Franġisku, Duminku and Pietru Buhagiar.

Along the years, this church had various rectors. This further shows how well kept and cared for it was. There were also benefactors who bequeathed profits from their harvests for the maintenance and upkeep of the church and also to cover the costs of the religious service rendered.

Mass was always celebrated regularly during the weekends and on feast days as the church was under the care of the Naxxar Jesuit Community. Nowadays the church is surrounded by new buildings and it welcomes the residents for Sunday Mass.

The author thanks Mr Paul Catania who researched the Naxxar parish archives and through his work we can appreciate the history of these ancient churches, our forefathers’ heritage.

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