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The Church of Gesu’ Nazzarenu in the village of Xaghra, Gozo

Rector : Rev. Fr. Anthony Refalo
Tel. 21 560 813 — 21 560 593

Titular Feast

Christ the King, celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of October.

Location

About 2 km due east of the Xaghra collegiate basilica, in Triq Gnien Xibla corner with Triq Mannar.
It is right opposite Abraham’s MiniMarket.
From Ta’ Hamet one may follow the sign
KNISJA NAZZARENU

“ This richly moulded chapel is an essay in Baroque architecture…”
Paul Grech in “Exploriing the Chapels of Gozo”, 1999.

The Beginning…

Work on the building of this church started in 1902 on the initiative of Rev Can Francis Sultana, who later served as the first rector.

The plan of the church was designed by the self-taught architect Rev Can Joseph Diacono, the then archpriest of Xag[ra. The building was directed by the master mason :u]eppi Azzopardi who also hailed from this village.

The ceremony of the blessing of the foundation stone took place on Sunday evening, September 20, 1903. This special occasion was led by the diocesan bishop, H.E. Giovanni Maria Camilleri, OSA.

The building took almost eight years to be completed. At times funds ran short but benefactors would soon emerge to save the situation.
The church was blessed in November 1910 by the newly elected archpriest Rev Can Maurizio Cauchi.

Since the erection of the church the surrounding areas, namely Gajdoru, Gnien Xibla, Ghejun, Mannar and Ta’ Gorf, have been nicknamed as In-Nazzarenu.

The church can boast of several pieces of high artistic value.

The titular picture, dated 1908, is the work of the renowned Maltese artist Lazzaro Pisani. It represents the standing figure of Jesus the Nazarene surrounded by ten gracious puttini.

Other celebrated artists include the Italian immortale Virgilio Monti, and the Maltese illustrious Giuseppe Cali’ and :anni Vella.
Compatriots Mons M’Angelo Apap and Ninu Apap also left their marks in the church sacristy.

The church is also adorned with the works of the distinguished Gozitan sculptor Com. Agostino Camilleri. His papier-mâché statues have been embellishing the church interior since the 1940’s.

The Dedication of the Church.

The preparations for the church’s dedication started in 1930 during the rectorship of Rev Can Lawrence Attard. The main altar was covered in fine marble by Galea Marble works of Rabat, Malta. The bishop of Gozo, H.E. Mons Giuseppe Pace, performed the dedication ceremony on Sunday, 15th November, 1931. The church is dedicated to Jesus of Nazareth.

The Titular Feast

The first recorded titular feast was celebrated in July, 1911. Maestro Agostino Masini conducted the liturgical music. Up to 1947 the titular festivities used to be celebrated mainly within the church. The facade used to be illuminated with many coloured oil-lamps. In 1924 we find the first mention of fireworks. In the 1930’s the local youngsters used to set up a late-night bonfire on the eve of the feast, in front of the churchyard.

The first outdoor solemn procession with the Sacred Sacrament took place on October 31st, 1948, on the initiative of the 4th rector Rev Can Giuseppe Said.

Later on, the village Band played festive marches along the main roads. More organized fireworks were included. Moreover, during the last decade cultural and folkloristic activities were introduced. The yearly wine-tasting competition is one of these popular traditional activities.

During the summer of 2002 an intensive project was launched. This dealt mainly with the restoration and refurbishment of the church interior. The principal aim is the liturgical adaptation of the presbytery area as recommended by the Vatican Council II.

1903 – 2003:

The first centenary of the blessing of the foundation stone.

The special occasion of this first anniversary was celebrated with a musico-letterary evening under the patronage of the Vigar General, Mons Giov. Gauci. This activity was organized in front of the churchyard on Saturday evening, the 20th of September, 2003. This commemoration was part of a 15-day long programme of religious and social activities which culminated with the solemn celebration of the titular feast of Christ the King on Sunday, September 28th.

During Chrismas-tide a live show representing the Nativity of Baby Jesus is set up in an old farmhouse in the vicinity of the church.

This activity has been organized since 2001. About thirty persons, dressed in Biblical costumes, re-enact the traditional Bethlehem scenes among live animals roaming about in a real rural setting.