Around 1575, Ħ’Attard was a small village with around 165 households. For ecclesiastical purposes, the village of Ħ’Attard was deemed to be part of the Parish of Birkirkara.
Roughly in the year 1498, a request for Ħ’Attard to become an independent parish was conveyed to Fr. Joseph Bellia , the Parish Priest of Birkirkara. The request was declined. Another appeal was then made to the Bishop Giacomo Valguarnera explaining that Ħ’Attard needed to become a parish of it own. This was because in emergency situations, the Parish Priest of Birkirkara cannot reach the residents of Ħ’Attard rapidly due to the distance between the two villages.
Bishop Valguarnera comprehended the people’s concern and in a decree dated 14th February 1499 founded the Order of Discipline in the Church of Ħ’Attard. The Bishop also gave authorisation for Mass to be celebrated every Sunday and to hold the feast of Our Lady of Victories annually. The decree was confirmed by the Vicar of Bishop Antonio Corsetto on the 26th June 1502. In 1545 Bishop Cubelles established that on every feast day the Church in Ħ'Attard could hold Holy Mass, Confession, and Holy Communion. Other functions were also permitted such as spiritual exercises during Lent and burial of those who died within the precincts of the Church. By the year 1579, Ħ’Attard had its first parish priest.
The present Parish Church of Ħ’Attard was built in the year 1613 and was dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin on the 7th of May 1730. The design of the church, which has remained largely untouched, is regarded as an architectural gem and has been attributed to the master craftsman Tommaso Dingli. A century later, in the year 1718 a belfry was added to the church.
It is said that this church is one of the finest example of Renaissance Architecture. Regrettably, this type of style never established itself across the Maltese islands. Fortunately this rare gem of Maltese heritage was not damaged during World War II.
Author: Pierre Axiaq