Sunday, July 29, 2007

Paola Parish Church

The need for a bigger church for the people of Paola at the start of the 20th century was already being felt. Even though the church of St.Ubaldesca had been enlarged in 1900 there were still a lot of people who had to listen mass from outside the church. When Paola was made a parish in 1910, the need for a new church was being felt much more, especially when, ten years later, the population exceeded 5000.

The idea to build a new church originated when Parish Priest Nerik Bonnici went to live in a house near Guze D'Amato who offered to prepare and design the plans. Three designs were prepared, out of which one was chosen and the architect Philip Tortell was made responsible for the project. In the Christmas of 1922, the government gave the land where the new church had to be built and Mr. D'Amato bequeathed part of his own land.

Easter Sunday of April 1923 was a historic day for the Paolites. On that day the holy wooden cross was carried in a procession from the church of St.Ubaldesca for the designated open undeveloped area enclosed by Strada Loggia (today Guze D'Amato Street), Lampuka Street, Paola Avenue (today Church Avenue) and Paola Square (today Antoine De Paule Square), The Fra. G.M. Antoine De Paule band accompanied the cross along the main street until Dun Salvu Chircop ceremoniously placed the cross on the spot where the new church had to be built.

Three months later, on 30th June, 1923, the first foundation stone was laid. This lies under the right belfry and can be seen whilst you are entering the church from the main door.

Mr. D'Amato introduced new material and technology during the construction of this huge church. The parishioners, mostly dockyard workers who offered their services voluntarily after their normal working hours, helped Guze D'Amato in its construction. Money was collected from the families and a number of big tombola parties (with a cash prize of £50) were organised.

In less than a year after the laying of the cross, on 24th February, 1924 another ceremony was held - this time to commemorate the laying of the first stone. It was laid and blessed by the Archbishop Mons. Angelo Portelli. However two years later work was halted due to some worries about the construction of the church. Work continued in April 1928 and on 15th July of the same year the first was mass was held in the new site.

The project was completed on 13th December, 1959 with the laying of the stone cross on the main dome.

Paola is a town situated a few miles from my village (Birzebbuga),in fact it only takes a 10min drive to get there. The town's parish church is dedicated to Christ the King.


Steve Buser said...

What a story of endurance. Almost 40 years in the making.

--steve buser
New Oleans Daily Photo
is 100 (posts) today.

Abraham Lincoln said...

An interesting story behind the pictures. And thanks again for the explanation of the work your husband did on the curved molding.

Abraham Lincoln
Down Memory Lane

NorthBayPhoto said...

What a great story and photos!

RUTH said...

What a wonderful story and a beautiful church.

Olivier said...

Elle est magnifique cette eglise, comme mon anglais est limité, je vais prendre le temps de lire ton texte.

It is splendid this church, as my English is limited, I will take time to read your text.

Peter said...

A fantastic story and a fantastic result! ... and now the chruch is "too big" or do you still have a church going population?

~tanty~ said...

Nice shot and thanks for the story behind it.

Ann said...

I love how the workers volunteered their labour to start the construction of the church. The story of this church really shows how a community working together can achieve great things.

Sanctus Belle said...

Great post. You are so fortunate and blessed to live in a place with such a rich Catholic history, and present! I have never lived in such a place but would love to, or at least visit. I devour your posts - keep up the good work and may God bless you.