Church of St Philip of Agira, Żebbuġ
The beautiful Żebbuġ Parish Church, dedicated to St Philip of Agira, is not the first church to stand on the site it occupies today. The present church was completed in the 17th century, but the original church was much smaller and was built much earlier on land belonging to Filippo de Catania, a Sicilian entrepreneur. During this time, the land was in an area between three small villages: Ħal Muxi, Ħal Mula and Ħal Dwin, which later on were merged to form present-day Ħaż-Żebbuġ.
Following the Great Siege of Malta, the people of Żebbuġ felt the need for a larger church, to replace the now small parish church. The present church was built between 1599 and 1632, on plans attributed to Vittorio Cassar. The church was subsequently enlarged in 1660 by architect Tommaso Dingli, who is also said to have worked on the carving of the choir.
The church includes several works of art, namely its titular statue of St Philip of Agira, which was made entirely of silver with funds raised by the people of Żebbuġ themselves. It was completed in 1864 by Luigi Fontana in Rome, and subsequently taken to the Vatican, to be presented to and blessed by Pope Pius IX.
Other noteworthy works of art include several paintings such as the titular painting which hangs above the high altar. It was painted by Luca Garnier and depicts St Philip of Agira performing a miracle while holding a cross towards a possessed man brought before him. Two murals were painted by the Favray school artist Francesco Zahra in the 18th century, whilst the church also includes other treasures by Antonio Sciortino and Guido Reni.
Performances at the Church of St Philip of Agira, Żebbuġ
DURANTE’S MESSA DE’ MORTI
IN C MINOR
WEDNESDAY 15, JANUARY
This mass is one of Durante’s most important compositions. The first performance dates back to 1746 in the church of San Giacomo degli Spagnoli in Rome on the occasion of the demise of King Philip V of Spain.