Below St. Catherine's Church in Żejtun are two crypts, known as Il-Kannierji tal-Knisja Parrokkjali. The main crypt, known as Il-Mudlama, is located right below the main naive and stretches from below the main entrance right up to the chancel. These crypts have been dug in the rocks whilst the slabs making up it's roof are supported by fifteen large stone arches.
The old entrance to the crypts used to be right below the Church's main entrance. Today, you can still see the shape of the old staircase which passes right under a large arch. At the other end of the crypt is an alter on top of which is a statue of the Immaculate Conception. The historian, Fr Joe Abela, believes that this statue was originally located in another church dedicated to St. Mary, in what was called ir-raħal ta' Fuq (the Upper Village). It is said that the statue was brought here by Fra Gabriel Cassar, the son of the famous architect Ġilormu Cassar.
The grave in front of the alter had been reserved for the Testaferrata family, the heirs of the benefactor Girgor Bonici. The first burial to take place in this crypt was in the year 1709. The crypt remained in use until the year 1975.
These crypts had been neglected for some time but during the activity of Żejt Iż-Żejtun, it was noted that the general public took great interest in these places. The Church's sexton Pawlu Żammit, together with a number of volunteers took upon themselves the task to restore this place. Their amazing work is depicted in this panorama, which will hopefully entice our audience to visit this gem and get to know more about the rich history held in the village of Żejtun.
Author: Pierre Axiaq
References: Il-Kannierji tal-Knisja Parrokkjali by Ruben Abela