Even though the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is not among the oldest Maltese churches, it attracts attention by its beautiful design featuring majestic staircases and elegant bell towers. It’s a large and impressive building with ornate interiors full of statues and paintings, most of which are dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Bormla (Cospicua) is known as the city of the Immaculate Conception, so the Virgin Mary is regarded as its patron saint. Before the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottoman Empire, on the hilly site of the present church a chapel was built, which became a parish in the late 16th century. As the parish grew, the chapel underwent several enlargements, but finally it was decided to erect a new large building. The construction started in the late 17th century and lasted for about 50 years because of the delays associated with the plague of 1676 and several drought seasons. During the 19th century the church was enlarged again and got its current collegiate status.
It is believed that along with the architect Vincenzo Casanova, the renowned Maltese sculptor and architect Lorenzo Gafà was involved in the church designing and building. Particularly, the bell towers design is attributed to this recognized Baroque architect. Perhaps, that is why the bell towers strike the eye by their decorative look, while the church facade features a quite simple design with a few decorative elements.
This is by far compensated by the magnificent staircases and several large sculptures at the entrance to the church. Naturally, they depict the Virgin Mary and the biblical story associated with the Immaculate Conception. Inside the church there is a beautiful silver gem-encrusted statue of the Virgin Mary, as well as many other sculptures and paintings decorating the interior walls and ceiling. Many of them date back to the 17th century, like the suburb Madonna and Child by Polidoro Veneziano of Abruzzo.
The magnificent church interior agrees with its impressive size and tourists can admire its beauty at any time. But the best choice is to visit it on the 8th of December, when the wide known feast in honor of the Immaculate Conception is held there.