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Marsa church is 100 years old

The laying of the foundation stone of the Holy Trinity Church, Marsa, on October 20, 1909.

The laying of the foundation stone of the Holy Trinity Church, Marsa, on October 20, 1909.

One hundred years ago today, on Sunday, October 20, 1909, at 7.30 a.m., the foundation stone of what was to be the Holy Trinity church of Marsa was laid and blessed.

The sole benefactors of the church were Lorenzo Balbi and his wife Carmela née Ozzini, a wealthy childless couple from Valletta. This church was unique in its design and was the project of architect Giovanni Domenico Debono while the master builder was Michele Mifsud.

The population of this part of the inner harbour area was fast increasing after the Porto Nuovo project of the late 19th century; some 5,000 inhabitants found it difficult to go to Ħamrun or Floriana for their spiritual needs.

The church was finished in two years and nine months at an estimated cost of £7,000 - an enormous sum for that time! It was finally officially opened and declared a parish on April 19, 1913, while the International Eucharistic Congress was taking place in Malta, and was entrusted to the Capuchin Friars who were well received by the Marsa people and have been well loved ever since.

Chev. Balbi, who besides being a businessman also dealt in foreign bonds, is said to have exclaimed that he only had to cut one grape off the whole bunch to finance the building of the church and the adjacent convent, both of which were furnished to the last detail. A set of four bells was also imported from Italy. The kitchen in the convent was fully equipped and each of the friars' cells had all that was required down to a candle and a box of matches! However, within four years of all this, in 1917, Chev. Balbi lost all his foreign investments in the Russian Imperial Bonds which the Bolshevists did not honour on taking power after the revolution in that country.

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