St. Lawrence's Church

Triq San Lawrenz, Birgu show on map

The St. Lawrence's Church can be easily seen from afar, since it is one of the largest churches in Malta and the most noticeable one in Birgu. It features a long history and has a great architectural and artistic value that is confirmed by its status of a Maltese cultural heritage object.

It is believed that a church occupied the site of the current construction since the 11-12th centuries. And it is known for sure that the Church of San Lorenzo a Mare was located there in the 15th century, almost 100 years before the Knights Hospitaller arrived to Malta. Upon their arrival, the religious building had been used as the main church of the Order for almost half a century. Church services were held there even during the Great Siege of Malta, when the Order of Saint John fought off the Ottoman Empire's attempts to capture the island.

After the Siege, in 1571 the Order transferred its Conventual church to the new capital of Valetta and three years later the church was passed to the Inquisition. In 1681 construction of a new church started with the participation of the most famous Maltese architecture of the Baroque period Lorenzo Gafa. The building was erected in 1696 and the church got its collegiate status in 1820.

Unfortunately, the building was badly damaged during WWII bombings by Italian and German air forces. The sacristy, chapter hall, chapel and dome suffered and were rebuilt in 1949-1952.

Overlooking a lovely yacht marina, the church draws attention by its distinctive Baroque design with the niches, statues, coats of arms, pilasters, commemorative plaques and other picturesque elements, which are quite typical for Maltese architecture of the period. The interior is no less rich and impressive, featuring pink marble and gilding, wood carvings and outstanding paintings, among which are some works of the famous Italian and Maltese artists Mattia Preti and Stefano Erardi. On the 10th of August, the feast of St. Lawrence is celebrated there, including a solemn procession with the martyr’s statue along the streets and followed by colorful night illumination.

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