Churches

Basilica of Our Lady of Victories
 
In 1581 a church dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady was built as a monument of the glorious victory of 1565. This church became a parish in the same year, and work to enlarge it was commenced on the 8th September 1595. It was officially consecrated in 1743, proclaimed Collegiate Insigni in 1783, and honoured with the title of Basilica by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. A small chapel dedicated to the Purification of Our Lady, built and annexed to the Basilica in 1750 was rebuilt after being destroyed by enemy aircraft during the attack on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious during the Second World War.
 
 
The origin of the statue is not certain but it is believed that it came to be in an extraordinary manner – from the sea. It so happened that two of the city’s citizens were sailing the Adriatic when a ship’s figurehead was found floating in the water. The two pleaded with their captain to let them take the figurehead to their parish, as to them it was the image of Our Lady. Another legend regarding the statue of “il-Bambina”, is that the statue was brought over on a ship, which was forced to winter on the island due to bad weather but never ended up leaving. Whichever the origin of the statue may be, it will probably never be known with certainty. However over the centuries, as a result of great devotion, it has been adorned with jewels and a crown of gold by the local people.
 
 The Basilica was completely demolished during World War II and reconstructed in the 1950’s. Work on the new church was finished in 1957 when it was re-consecrated.
 
 
Jesus the Redeem
This statue is in reality, one of a group of eight life size statues representing various stations in the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which are found in the Parish of Senglea. 
 
 No records have been found about the origins of the statue of the Redeemer, and its maker is unknown. But it surely dates back to at least the early years of the eighteenth century.
 
However it’s very early attraction as a centre of devotion, initially for the inhabitants of Senglea, and subsequently for the whole population of Malta, can be traced back to the very early years of its existence. Suffice it to say, that when during the second decade of the eighteenth century the Confraternity of the Holy Cross, erected in the Collegiate church, was projecting the construction of an oratory annexed to the parish church, where could hold its congregations and devotions.
 
St.Julian’s Church
The Church of St.Julian is possibly the first building to have been erected on the peninsula in 1311. It was rebuilt circa 1539 on the same foundation and design by Fra Diego de Malfreire, who belonged to the Langue of Castile and Portugal. In 1712 it was once again rebuilt to the design of Lorenzo Gafa. St.Julian is the Patron saint of hunters and the dedication of this church was due to the fact that Isla was originally used by the Knights as a hunting ground.
 
Church of St.Philip (Portu Salvu)
Between 1596 and 1610 local mariners contributed towards the erection of a convent and a church on top of Windmill Hill dedicated to St.Philip as well as to Our Lady of the Visitations probably also known as Our Lady of Portu Salvu. The name Portu Salvu is actually a corruption of ‘Porto Salvo’, meaning safe harbour or haven. The church played important role in Isla’s formative years and an organization of seafarers was soon formed (1598) within the jurisdiction of the church. The Community (Oratory) of St.Philip Neri, established in 1662, adopted this convent as their cloister – rebuilding it in 1644.
 
 
The convent passed onto the Jesuit community in 1781 but was taken over by the British governor Sir Henry Bouverie in 1837 when it served as a hospital for victims of the cholera epidemic. The church’s developments followed the Oratory’s fate: it was enlarged in 1684 and again 1741, consecrated in 1781, and sheltered the Basilica’s treasures when the Basilica was destroyed in 1941. This church also served as the Parish Church during the rebuilding of Our Lady of Victories Church. The Jesuit Community has now left and the convent and church has passed into the hands of the Salesian fathers to initiate their pastoral work in Senglea.