The building on top of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieha

is the Parish Priest’s Residence. The oldest part of the building was presumably once a small monastery traditionally attributed to the Agostinian Friars, who for several years took care of this Marian Shrine.

The door on the left leads to the sacristy. The cavern was excavated wound 1610 by Mario de Vasi, a Sicilian wine merchant who contributed as well for the decoration of the grotto’s vault and the erection of the statue of Our Lady of the Grotto. The sacristy contains an impressive collection of ex-voti, gifts and pledges, all of which demonstrate the great devotion the Maltese have towards Our Lady.

The Monumental Arch was built in 1719, so as to commemorate the favours obtained from Our Lady of Mellieha after a long period of draught. The inscription on the Arch reads: “In thee have fathers hoped. they have hoped and thou host delivered them”.

The Crypt of Our Lady of Mellieha was originally one of the many natural caves found around the northern part of the island. According to an old tradition, the Byzantine style fresco, depicting the Vergin Mary holding Christ on her right arm, was painted by St. Luke, when he was shipwrecked on the island together with St.Paul. Recent studies indicate that the fresco is an Early Medieval 13th century painting.

The ancient part of the Sanctuary, as it stands today, dates back to the late 16th century. Since then, due to the popularity of the place and the ever increasing population of Mellieha the chapel’s internal structure was modified and extended several times, the major works being done in 1716-19, 1815 and 1845-47. In 1844 the Rector and later Parish Priest of Mellieha Dun Pawl Le Brun, the Sanctuary regained its status of a parish church and in 1899 the miraculous painting was coronated by Archbishop Pietru Pace.

In the chapel’s belfry one finds tow bells, two of which date back to the 8th century (1712 and 1733). The largest bell was bought from Carlo Moreni of Firenze, Italy in 1857 at the price of 1,063 skudi.

The Sanctuary’s clock was fabricated by Mikelang Sapiano from Imqabba in 1875. All the expenses were paid by the British Government.

From under the roofed verandah, a classic example of 17th Century Renaissance architecture, one can enjoy a picturesque view of the Valley of Our Lady, Mellieha Bay, Comino and Gozo. The rooms facing the chapel were originally contracted in the 18th century to host exhausted pilgrims.

Behind the iron grating, there lies a old statue of St. Anne, probably made by a devotee of Our Lady of Mellieha. In the chapel’s facade there is as well a statue of St. Paul, which was constructed later in the 19th century.


08.00 - 12.00, 16.00 - 18.00

Monday - Saturday


Sundays and feasts

10.00 (in English)

Mellieha Local Council

21 521333

The Parish Priest

21 523449

Mellieha Clinic

21 522316

Police - Mellieha

21 523457

Police - Qawra

21 571174 - 21 576737

Waterworks - Qawra

21 573507 - 21 583859

Maria Bambina Primary School

21 523527

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    About the village of Mellieha

    Mellieha is a rural village and tourist resort in the Northwestern part of Malta and derives its name from the Semitic root 'm-l-h' which in Arabic means salt. The name was probably derived from the ancient Punic and Roman salt-terns; historians indicated as lying adjacent to the large sandy bay at the foot of the village.
    Mellieha has been inhabited since early Neolithic times (3000 B.C). Several megalithic remains and tombs of this era and other primitive tools and fragments of pottery were found in various localities around this area, primarily at "il-Latnija" - a natural cavity used by several stone-age peoples - and at l-Gholja tax-Xemxija.
    During the Roman and Byzantine occupations (213B.C- 870A.D.), Mellieha's valleys were inhabited by troglodytes, who irrigated the land, adopted natural caves as their dwelling places and buried their beloved ones in Punic style burial chambers. Following the Arab conquest and during the medieval period (870-1530A.D.), the area was deserted, primarily due to the continuous raids of the Muslim corsairs.
    Notwithstanding the hardship experienced by the Maltese during the Reign of the Order of St. John (1530-1798A.D.), Mellieha's medieval chapel, dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, was one of the most venerated places on the island. Several distinguished persons, such as grandmaster's, kings and bishops visited the shrine and pilgrimages to the sanctuary from all over the island were held frequently.
    In the late 17th century, the Knights built several fortifications along the coast, so as to protect the inhabitants. This venture brought about the gradual repopulating of the area, mainly by those who wanted to exploit the fertile valleys and the new enterprise of tunny net fishing. Under the British, in 1844, Mellieha was established again as a parish and since then it grew up into a modern town, of circa 6,500 people.
    Today, Mellieha is one of Malta's most picturesque tourist destinations. The town centre boasts of its splendid hotels, fine restaurants and traditional cute shops. It has a unique primary school, a majestic baroque church (built in late 19th century) and various cultural organizations, including band clubs, sports clubs, an orchestra, various religious societies, a parish community centre and an environmental pressure group. Since 1993, local affairs are being run by the Mellieha Local Council, an institution made up of seven councilors, elected every three years by the people.
    Mellieha's main festive season occurs in the first two weeks of September and reaches its climax on the 8th September. During these days various cultural manifestations are held, such as musical concerts, fireworks, folk singing, art exhibitions and the traditional religious procession. The town's people, ''Il-Mellehin'', are renowned for their laborious nature, their ironic sense of humour, and their friendliness and hospitality. Those who visit us, no matter where they hail from, do not merely enjoy themselves but feel at home.

    As long as Mellieha preserves its great archaeological and historic heritage, its unique natural environment, and its traditions and costumes, its people, "Il-Mellehin", can look forward to a bright future.