The Collegiate of Senglea is a church which possesses a lot of pieces of fine art.
The present church was rebuilt after it was destroyed during World War II and was again opened and consecrated by the Arch Bishop Michael Gonzi in 1957.
Fortunately most of its works of art were saved and so we can enjoy their beauty even now.
When one enters the church one of the main pieces which drew a lot of attention is the magnificent Papal Altar (Tribuna) which was made on the design of Vincenzo Bonello and which was inaugurated in 1964.
Moreover the marble which makes up this Papal Altar was manufactured by the Italian firm Battelli of Pietrasanta in Tuscany and the wooden structure by the firm Stufusser of Ortissi.
There is the beautiful statue of Marija Bambina which dominates in a niche high up behind the Papal Altar in the choir. The statue has been in Senglea since the 17th century during the time of Parish Priest Don Cosimo Talavera.
Previously it was used as the decorative carving on the bow of some ship.
A Christian galley was sailing by the shores of Dalmatian and picked it up from the sea where the wooden statue was floating. Two sailors from Senglea asked the captain for it and he gave it to them.
When they returned back to Senglea they gave it to the Parish Priest Talavera who accepted it with open arms.
As time when by the statue became a centre point of great devotion. This devotion reached its climax on the 4th September 1921 when the Arch Bishop Mauro Caruana crowned the statue at the Senglea marina.
In the part of the choir one can admire two very beautiful paintings made in 1741 by Francesco Zahra.
The first one represents the visit of the Arch Angle Gabriel to Our Lady where she accepted his message to become Mother of God. The painter included a lot of angels on each side of the painting but there is also the Holy Spirit which is also a dominant factor in this painting.
The two credence tables flanking the high altar, bedecked for the
feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and displaying silver
The painting on the altar of the transept represents Our Lady of Sorrows with the dead body of Jesus Christ in her arms. It has always been maintained that this painting was made by Corrado Giaquinto.
On the 10th March 1640 the Solidarity of Charity was formed and starting administering this altar. Following the reforms held in 1740, the Fraternity of the Crucifix took over all the responsibilities of the Fraternity of Charity.
The other altar in this transept is dedicated to Our Ladys Ascension to heaven and in the painting there one can also see St Anne and St Carlo Borromeo.
This painting was made by the artist Stefano Erardi and the figure of Saint Carlo Borromeo reminds us that on the 20th June 1620, Pope Paul V approved the setting up of the fraternity dedicated to this Saint. Saint Carlo Borromeo was declared a saint by the same Pope Paul V in 1610.
During his time as Pope he issued two important degrees which are milestones in the history of our parish. One of the degrees was that one which permitted the crowning of the titular statue and the other was the elevation of our church to the statues of Basilica.
It was during his papacy that the church was reopened and consecrated again after it was rebuilt following its destruction in World War II.
Another altar is dedicated to the mystical marriage of Saint Catherine and the painter of this picture is also Stefano Erardi.
The devotion to this saint goes back to a long time ago in Senglea and in the old church this altar was considered as one of the oldest altars in the church.
On this altar there is also a statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which is framed in a silver niche.
In 1884 the Solidarity or Pia Unione was set up in our parish and this was set up to encourage devotion towards Our Lady.
The statue was brought over from France and in olden days there was also a fraternity of Our Lady of Sacro Cuor.
The other altar on this side of the church is dedicated to Saint Francis of Paoli.
Saint Francis is the patron saint of sailors and so devotion towards this saint certainly goes back to a long time ago.