Rotunda of Mosta

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Parish Church of the Assumption
Knisja Arċipretali ta' Santa Marija
Domen i Mosta.jpg
View of the Rotunda of Mosta
35°54′36.3″N 14°25′33.2″E / 35.910083°N 14.425889°E / 35.910083; 14.425889Coordinates: 35°54′36.3″N 14°25′33.2″E / 35.910083°N 14.425889°E / 35.910083; 14.425889
Location Mosta, Malta
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website mostachurch.com
History
Founded c. 1614
Dedication Assumption of Mary
Dedicated 15 October 1871
Architecture
Status Parish church
Functional status Active
Architect(s) Giorgio Grognet de Vassé
Style Neoclassical
Groundbreaking 30 May 1833
Completed Early 1860s
Specifications
Length 75 m (246 ft)
Width 55 m (180 ft)
Diameter 37.2 m (122 ft)
Number of domes 1
Number of spires 2
Materials Limestone
Administration
Archdiocese Malta
Mosta Parish logo.jpg

The Parish Church of the Assumption (Maltese: Knisja Arċipretali ta' Santa Marija), commonly known as the Rotunda of Mosta (Maltese: Ir-Rotunda tal-Mosta) or the Mosta Dome, is a Roman Catholic parish church in Mosta, Malta, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. It was built between 1833 and the 1860s to neoclassical designs of Giorgio Grognet de Vassé, on the site of an earlier Renaissance church which had been built in around 1614 to designs of Tommaso Dingli.

The design of the present church is based on the Pantheon in Rome, and it is said to have the third largest unsupported dome in the world. The church narrowly avoided destruction during World War II, since on 9 April 1942 a German aerial bomb pierced the dome and fell into the church during mass but failed to explode. This event was interpreted by the Maltese as a miracle.

History[edit]

Although Pietro Dusina recorded Mosta as a parish in his 1575 pastoral visit, the town actually became a parish in 1608. Plans to construct a new church began soon afterwards, and the church was built in around 1614 to designs attributed to the Renaissance architect Tommaso Dingli.[1] This church was commonly called Ta' Ziri.[2]

By the 1830s, this church had become too small to cater for the town's population. Giorgio Grognet de Vassé proposed rebuilding the church on a neoclassical design based on the Pantheon in Rome. Despite opposition from Bishop Francesco Saverio Caruana, the design was approved and construction of the church began on 30 May 1833.[3]

The new church was built around the old church, which remained in use throughout the course of construction. The residents of Mosta helped in building the church, taking part in construction work on Sundays and public holidays.[4] Since Grognet had never received any formal architectural training, he received consultation services from an architect of the Sammut family.[5]

The rotunda took 28 years to build, being completed in the early 1860s.[3] The old church was demolished in 1860,[1] and the new church did not need to be consecrated since the site had remained a place of worship throughout the course of construction.[4] The church was officially dedicated on 15 October 1871.[6]

Replica of the bomb which pierced the dome on 9 April 1942

During World War II, the town of Mosta was prone to aerial bombardment due to its proximity to the airfield at Ta' Qali. At about 16:40 on 9 April 1942, the Luftwaffe dropped three bombs on the church, and two of them deflected without exploding. However, one 500kg high explosive bomb pierced the dome and entered the church, where a congregation of more than 300 people were awaiting early evening mass. The bomb did not explode, and a Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal unit defused it and dumped it into the sea off the west coast of Malta. This event was interpreted as a miracle by the inhabitants, and a similar bomb is now displayed in the sacristy at the back of the church, under the words Il-Miraklu tal-Bomba, 9 ta' April 1942 (meaning "The Bomb Miracle, 9 April 1942").[7][8]

In 2015, the parish requested to the Vatican to be reclassified to the status of a basilica.[9]

Architecture[edit]

Late 19th century photograph of the Pantheon in Rome, which inspired the design of the Rotunda of Mosta

The Rotunda of Mosta is built in the neoclassical style,[10] and its structure is based on the Pantheon in Rome.[3] Its façade has a portico with six Ionic columns, which is flanked by two bell towers. Being a rotunda, the church has a circular plan with walls about 9.1 m (30 ft) thick supporting a dome with an internal diameter of 37.2 m (122 ft).[11] At one time, the dome was the third largest in the world.[2] The church's interior contains eight niches, including a bay containing the main entrance and a deep apse with the main altar.[12]

The rotunda's dome

Before the church was constructed, there was some opposition to Grognet's design, since some regarded a Roman temple as an unsuitable model for a Catholic church building. However, others praised the design, and an 1839 book written while the church was being built describes it as "certainly the most magnificent, extensive and solid modern building" in Malta. This book further states that "when finished, [the church] will be an ornament to the Island, will immortalize the architect, and draw towards the casal every visitor to Malta."[4] The design was well-received upon completion, and it is regarded as Grognet's masterpiece.[3]

Interior of the rotunda

Further reading[edit]

Several controversies arose for the construction of the new church which lead to the bishop wanting to disapprove the project. Gaul, Simon (2007). Malta, Gozo and Comino. New Holland Publishers. p. 252. ISBN 1860113656. ISBN 9781860113659.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thake, Conrad (2013). "Influences of the Spanish Plateresque on Maltese Ecclesiastical Architecture" (PDF). Proceedings of History Week: 67. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Scerri, John. "Mosta". malta-canada.com. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Schiavone, Michael J. (2009). Dictionary of Maltese Biographies Vol. 2 G–Z. Pietà: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza. pp. 989–990. ISBN 9789993291329. 
  4. ^ a b c MacGill, Thomas (1839). A hand book, or guide, for strangers visiting Malta. Malta: Luigi Tonna. pp. 124–126. 
  5. ^ "200-year-old History in an old musty archive". The Malta Independent. 11 March 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 
  6. ^ "Mosta". The Church in Malta. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. 
  7. ^ "Mosta: Myths and Facts". Malta: War Diary. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 
  8. ^ Dillon, Paddy (2012). Walking in Malta: 33 routes on Malta, Gozo and Comino. Cicerone Press Limited. p. 137. ISBN 9781849656481. 
  9. ^ "Mosta parish to apply to Vatican to be re-classified to Basilica status". TVM. 15 August 2015. Archived from the original on 17 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Rudolf, Uwe Jens; Berg, Warren G. (2010). Historical Dictionary of Malta. Scarecrow Press. p. 31. ISBN 9780810873902. 
  11. ^ Cauchi, Raymond (1988). The Mosta Rotunda: Short History & Guide. Mosta: Cauchi's Emporium. p. 79. 
  12. ^ MacDonald, William Lloyd (2002). The Pantheon: Design, Meaning, and Progeny. Harvard University Press. p. 156. ISBN 9780674010192. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]