ETHNOGRAPHY: Religion – Sacred Objects

The Feast Hanging Canopy

Whoever visits the Zejtun Parish Church during St Catherine feast days will be amazed with the way the church is decorated.  However the greatest splendor without doubt is the canopy hanging over the main altar.

If not the most artistically beautiful, it is sure one of the best hanging canopies found in the Maltese and Gozitan parish churches.  This canopy was inaugurated during the feast of St Catherine in 1929.  It was designed bu Emmanuel Buhagiar and Giovanni Decelis.  The wood carving was done by Buhagiar himself, whilst the gilding is Lorenzo Gatt’s work.  The pendents with gold embroidery over red velvet were produced in Italy.

The procurators at the time were Dun Spir Grixti,  Dun Gilormu Seychell and Spiridione Ellul.

The complete assembly of the canopy takes a whole morning, with volunteers working very cautiously not only not to damage this work of art but due to the fact that this massive canopy is assembled right over the marble main altar.   In all it has 118 wooden carved pieces and 68 pendants.

Model Head and Angel of the Annunciation

The Zejtun Parish Church museum has a selection of works of art related to the parish and history of Zejtun.  The collection ranges from  furniture to sculptures, from archaeological  ceramics to fine glass, from etchings to paintings.

Among the collection there are to interesting model heads carved in wood which are thought to be Xandru Farrugia’s works.  One of the model heads pertains to a masculine the other to a female one.  The female head has been always said that it is the model head of the Annunciation statue of Tarxien. In fact there is strong resemblance between the model’s face and Tarxien’s Madonna.

Another part of the same titular statue also ended at the Zejtun parish.  This is the angel’s statue which now forms part of the Jesus at the Gethsemane statue.  This angel was the first to be carved but it seems that it had not pleased the Tarxien people and Farrugia had to carve another angel, the one which still forms part of the Tarxien statue.


DEBONO, G. JOSEPH,  L-Istorja tal-Vara tal-Lunzjata ta’ Ħal-Tarxien (1829 – 2004).  Parroċċa ta’ Ħal-Tarxien 2004.

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