Parish Church dedicated to St Paul
Misraħ il-Parroċċa, Rabat
The parish church dedicated to St Paul in Rabat is built next to the site of an ancient underground rock-cut church dedicated to the same saint, believed to be the place where St Paul was imprisoned during his stay on the island.
The foundation stone for the parish church designed by Francesco Buonamici was laid in 1653. After Buonamici left the island, his understudy Lorenzo Gafa and a local master mason, Pawlucju Formosa were engaged in April 1664 to take charge of the works.
The design by Buonamici consists of a three portal façade and was derived from the need to integrate the older sanctuary over the grotto and the new church behind one façade, with the three portals each providing access to independent sacred spaces. The middle portal is aligned to the central axis of the nave of the church; the right lateral bay entrance leads to the sanctuary over the grotto. Lastly, the portal on the left bay provides access to the cemetery. The flat plane of the three identical portals avoids any form of hierarchy, where all three sacred spaces deemed to be of equal importance.
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority scheduled the parish church as a Grade 1 monument on 26th August 2011 as per Government Notice 782.