The parish church of St Sebestian lies in Qormi, a town located southwest of Valletta, in the centre of the island. Qormi, also known as Città Pinto, is the third largest locality of the Maltese nation. Even though Qormi’s first parish church was that dedicated to St George, eventually, as the city grew, the need for a second Parish Church was felt.
The origins of the parish of St Sebestian go back to a statue of the saint being martyred, being an act of thanksgiving after the 1813 plague. In fact during the times of plague infestation, Qormi had turned to St Sebestian, since according to Catholic tradition, he is the protector and patron saint of people taken ill from plague.
Thus upon request from the locals, a statue of the saint was carved from stone by the brothers Franġisku and Ġlormu Fabri in year 1815.
As time went by, the people from the area known as “Ta’ San Bastjan” (of St Sebestian), felt the need of a chapel so as to fulfil their religious requirements. Thus in 1880, the construction of a small church dedicated to St Sebastian commenced not far from the statue of the saint. The church became a subsidiary parish church in 1918, and a parish church in 1936. However being too small for the requirements of the local inhabitants, in 1982 a larger church was constructed close-by. This indeed became the new parish church dedicated to St Sebestian.
Important art works include a statue of St Sebestian carved out of wood by the Maltese sculptor Ġorg Borġ (1906-1983) and the altarpiece in the small chapel representing the martyred saint which is the work of Lazzaro Pisani (1854-1932), a prominent Maltese artist.
Author: Amy Sciberras