The Basilica of Our Lady of Safe Haven and St Dominic
This current church of Our Lady of Safe Haven and St Dominic is the second that was built. The building of the first church commenced in 1571, and the church remained in use till 1780. It was subsequently closed and demolished as there was extensive structural damage.
The current church was designed by the Architect Antonio Cachia. Building works started on the 7th March 1804 and went on till 1817 – pausing briefly for a few months during the plague of 1813.
The church was consecrated 75 years later on the 15th October 1889 by His Grace Monsignor Peter Pace.
This church was the first parish church in Valletta, and in 1816 was given the title of Basilica by Pope Pius the 7th thanks to the efforts of the parish priest Fr Vincent Portelli. The title was granted by the Pope in gratitude for the Dominican Friars’ pastoral work with the citizens of Valletta during the months of the plague. Thus, the church of our Lady of Safe Haven, the matrix of the parishes of the capital city, became the first church on the Maltese Islands to carry the title of Basilica.
The vault and the dome of this church were painted by Giuseppe Calì at the turn of the 20th century. The decorative designs were sketched by Prof. Cardona and worked in stucco by Gianni Bonello.
All the walls of the nave are covered in marble. This project started in 1903 and was soon extended to cover the walls of the smaller side-chapels as well.