Church of St Catherine, Żurrieq
The parish church of Żurrieq is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr, and is a fine example of great artistic and architectural beauty. The church was first mentioned in 1436 by Bishop Senatore de Mello, who was in charge of creating an inventory of parish churches in Malta, and mentioned once again in 1575 by Bishop Pietro Dusina in a report.
The increase in population in the village of Żurrieq meant that the previous church required rebuilding and enlargement to accommodate the locals’ religious obligations. The plans for a new building were initiated by Antonio Demos, then parish priest, in 1630. Building started in 1632-1633 under the direction of Reverend Matteolo Saliba, who was also the new church’s architect. It took 25 years for the new church to be built.
Several works of art grace the Żurrieq parish church, including a number of paintings by the renowned Mattia Preti, when the artist took refuge in Malta during the plague epidemic. Amongst these we can find the Martyrdom of Saint Stephen, the Martyrdom of Saint Andrew, the Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the Eternal Father, the Visitation of the Virgin to Saint Elizabeth, Saint Roch, Saint Blaise, Saint Dominic, Saint Nicholas of Tolentino and Our Lady of Graces.
Other works of art include a painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Antonio Zammit which was inaugurated in 1908. The church’s titular statue of St Catherine of Alexandria, made by Marjanu Gerada, dates back to 1818, whilst another statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, made by Salvu Psaila, was finished in 1842.
The Żurrieq church is one of the oldest to be found on Malta. In 2011 this church was declared a Grade 1 monument.