Il-Knisja f'Għawdex

Cittadella Cathedral

The Parish / Church

The Cathedral of the Assumption in Victoria, Gozo is the main church in Gozo, Malta. It serves as the cathedral of the Diocese of Gozo, making it the seat of the bishop. The center of Iċ-Ċittadella has been the place of worship since the Borg in-Nadur phase of Maltese history, around 2500 BC. It has been a prehistoric Temple, a Phoenician–Carthaginian Temple, a Roman Temple, a Byzantine Church, a Mosque, and later a Byzantine and Latin Church. Notable attractions are: the unspoiled baroque Cathedral - inaugurated in 1711; the impressive trompe l'oeil dome - Malta's most breathtaking optical illusion painting; and the revered statue of Santa Marija - pivotal in Gozo's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Visitors to the Cathedral of the Assumption can explore its interior, admire the religious artwork, and experience the peaceful atmosphere. It is also worth noting that the cathedral is surrounded by charming streets and historical buildings, making it a notable part of the cultural and architectural heritage of Victoria, Gozo.

Legend/interesting fact

The Lady’s Abundant Gold – In times when transporting heavy objects was challenging, the church’s founding took place on the parvis. Three bells were to be cast. The largest, il-Kbira, and the medium-sized, il-Mezzana, were successful. However, the smallest, Iż-Żgħira, caused trouble; its tune couldn’t be perfected. The founding had to start again as the founder puzzled over his mistake. Later, with a roaring fire beneath the cauldron, the founder poured the metal with concern. Suddenly, a beautiful lady appeared by his platform. Her apron overflowed with gold, which she showered into the cauldron. Satisfied, she vanished into the night. The bell’s tune was perfect. Even today, when the wind carries the bell’s chime across Gozo, the image of the lady with abundant gold comes alive in imagination of many as if old.

Main religious festivities (eg village feast)

The cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Santa Marija) and serves as a centre of worship, prayer, and religious rituals for the Catholic community in Gozo. It conducts regular Masses and accommodates significant religious occasions and festivities all through the year, including the national celebration of Santa Marija on 15 August.

Specific noteworthy art/religious pieces

Within the Cathedral of Gozo, there are several captivating attractions that draw visitors in. Firstly, there’s the exquisite baroque Cathedral, which has retained its splendor since its establishment in 1711. A remarkable feature is the trompe l’oeil dome, a breathtaking perspective painting unique to Malta. Adding to the cathedral’s allure is the devout statue of Santa Marija, a symbol of deep reverence for the Blessed Virgin Mary in Gozo. Beyond these highlights, there are many more treasures to explore. For further insights and details, you can refer to the booklet “Joseph Bezzina, The Gozo Cathedral and the Cathedral Museum. History and guide (= Gaulitana 18), Victoria/Gozo 2015, 56 pp.”

The Patron Saint & the Titular Statue

Dedicated to Santa Marija, the Cathedral honours the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. This dedication likely originates from the Byzantine era (535-870), during which the Byzantine church played a crucial role in spreading the Dormitio feast, also known as the Assumption, from the East to the West.

Directions to Gozo Cathedral

Cittadella Cathedral

The Museum of the Cathedral Church

The Cathedral Museum entrance is found inside the Cathedral and its exit is onto Triq il-Fosos, situated beneath the Cathedral’s bell-tower. Inaugurated on 21 October 1979, the museum underwent a comprehensive renovation and was re-opened on 30 July 2022. Comprising three beautifully adorned halls, the museum includes the Silver Vault on Level 1, the History and Memorabilia section on Level 2, and the Picture Gallery on Level 3. Level 1 showcases an array of ecclesiastical silverware spanning from the late medieval period to modern times. Level 2 features column specimens from an ancient structure, potentially a temple devoted to Juno and other Roman deities, along with distinctive medieval tombstones from Malta and Gozo. A significant collection of items from the eighteenth century onwards, donated by various popes and prelates, is also displayed, along with exquisite Gozo lace vestments. The Picture Gallery on Level 3 boasts nearly a hundred historically and artistically valuable paintings, including the prominent Sancta Maria retable – a three-tiered tempera on wood, the oldest surviving painting in Gozo. This gallery also houses other captivating paintings and a stone altar from the early seventeenth century, characteristic of rural chapels. Each of the top-ten exhibits on every level is accompanied by a QR code, providing a comprehensive description of the item in a choice of five languages.

Directions to the Museum of the Cathedral Church

Cittadella Cathedral
Kura Funded by the European Union