Religious Places

The Ta ‘Pinu National Sanctuary

Ta ‘Pinu National Sanctuary is a Catholic basilica located in Għarb on the island of Gozo. It is the main pilgrimage site for the Maltese. Visible from afar and from any vantage point, this is a veritable cathedral in the desert! Light in colour, reflecting the colours of the island, it is majestic and beautiful, unadorned internally but still worthy of competing with other churches on the island. Ta’ Pinu has a legendary history. Its origins are lost in the distant past. Already at the beginning of the 16th century there was a small church. In 1575 the apostolic messenger Pietro Duzina, visiting Malta by delegation of Pope Gregory XII, visited the church but, finding it in a very bad state, ordered its destruction. The person in charge of the demolition, however, broke his arm giving the first hammer to the wall: the episode was considered a premonitory sign and it was decided to suspend the operation. Until 1858 the church was owned by the Gentile family, then it was bought by the nobleman Pinu Gauci, thus officially becoming the church Ta’ Pinu. On the 22nd of June 1883 a local woman, Karmela Grima, was returning home from work. As she passed by the church she heard a woman’s voice inviting her to enter. Karmela, frightened, ran away but, realizing that the voice came from inside the church, she decided to enter. Here she again heard the voice asking her, in a gentle tone, to recite the Hail Mary three times. Karmela obeyed, recited the prayers and returned home. A few days later she fell ill and was bedridden for more than a year. Basilica of Ta’ Pinu, Gozo, MaltaOne day she decided to tell her secret to a friend, Francesco Portelli, who was astonished and confessed that he himself had heard the voice. Moreover, the next day his mother had miraculously recovered from a serious illness. In the following weeks the news started to spread all over the island and numerous pilgrims came to the church. The news reached the bishop, Pietru Pace. After careful consideration and after listening to the testimonies, it was confirmed that the voice was of divine origin. From that day on, the fame of Ta’ Pinu as a place of pilgrimage grew by leaps and bounds. In 1920 it was decided to build a new basilica to integrate the old church. Completed in 1932, the basilica of Ta’ Pinu was proclaimed Minor Basilica by Pope Pius XI.

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