Sunday, 12 April 2015

St Philip, Zebbug (Citta Rohan)

The original parish church of Zebbug dedicated to St Philip of Agira was built in 1380. It was replaced in the late 17th century by the present church designed by Tommaso Dingli. Under the Knights of St John, Zebbug was one of the principal towns on the island and in 1777 was bestowed with the title Citta Rohan, by Grand Master Emmanuel Rohan-Polduc. The magnificence of the church is due in large part to the number of leading corsairs who lived in the parish and endowed St Phillip in gratitude for their good fortune.

The magnificent titular painting is by Luca Garnier. There are also two murals by Fransceco Zahra, an 18th Maltese painter of the school of  Favray and a Guido Reni. During the French Revolutionary regime (1798-1800) the Maltese churches were plundered to finance Napoleon's campaign, however the people of Zabbar when they heard that the French were coming opened the church doors and hid all the church gold and silver. When the French saw that the church doors were open they passed by, leaving St Philip with its treasure intact.