Geographically, Il-Munxar had always formed
an integral but peripheral
part of Ta' Sannat. The people of Il-Munxar attended religious
services at Saint Margaret parish church in Ta' Sannat. However
historical and documented evidence points to the presence
of small chapels in Il-Munxar, but which no longer exist. A
chapel dedicated to Our Lady's Visitation stood at Forn
il-Gir, a spot between Ix-Xlendi and Il-Munxar. It is mentioned
in the Pastoral Visit of 1615, but was later profanated
in 1657. Another chapel dedicated to St. Simon stood at
Kantra in Ras il-Bajjada. The sole surviving relic of this
temple is a Crucifix erected in its place. The 1621 Pastoral
Visit Document reveals the existence of yet another chapel
at a place called ta' Norata, Il-Munxar. It was dedicated to
St. Agnes; a Roman virgin-martyr. It has long since been
pulled down and buried.
Late in the nineteenth century, Fr. Alessandru
Cauchi, parish-priest of Ta' Sannat, becoming aware that the
spiritual needs of the community at Il-Munxar were not being
adequately catered for, filed a request to the commission
of Canon Salv Bondi - later presented to Bishop Pietro Pace
- for the building of a chapel in the area of Il-Munxar.
A lull in the following years deadened the issue. Nonetheless, the matter was revived by a zealous priest Fr
Mikiel Ang. Spiteri who presented Bishop Giovanni Maria Camilleri with a further petition stressing the need for a
local chapel. Meanwhile, on March 24 1913, with the request still under scrutiny at Curia, Fr Spiteri received a
generous donation - the brothers Lorenzo and Guzeppi Cassar together with their sister Maria - known as ta'
Katalla - offered a building site, free of charge, amounting to an area of two and a half acres. A building plan was
duly sketched by master Luigi Vella and by February 2, 1914 excavation works had begun. It was decided that
the church should be dedicated to St Paul's Shipwreck.
this stage, Fr. Spir Gauci appeared on the scene, injecting
new energy to the flagging morale. On March 22, 1916 the
community flocked to witness the laying of the foundation
stone by Vicar General Mgr. Joseph Farrugia. Masons Francis
Farrugia and Luigi Vella were entrusted with the building
of the church and sacristy respectively. Fr. Gauci worked
his heart out extricating pennies in regular village collections
to make both ends meet. It was an occasion of surging pride
and optimism when on February 19, 1921 the community at
Il-Munxar looked with satisfaction on the finished church which
was consacrated by Bishop Michael Gonzi on October 18, 1925.
The statue of St. Paul depicting the
fiery apostle just after his shipwreck was wrought by the
Gozitan statuary Wistin Camilleri. It cost Lm40 of which
Lm29 were donated by Ganni Saliba. It was blessed by Bishop
Gonzi on January 31, 1933 and a week later it was taken
processionally to Il-Munxar, but it was not before February
10, 1951 that it was triumphantly carried round the village
Mgr. Spir Gauci was succeeded by Mgr.
Carmelo Xuereb who set out to embellish the church with
various art treasure which were sorely missing. Among his
notable achievements was the acquisition of a new set of
bells which were duly blessed and placed in the bellfry.
Worth mentioning are the fine silver artisan works which
adorn the altars. A considerable part of the silver engraving
and plating was carried out in Milan most notably the principal
altar frontal depicting the Last Supper ingeniously wrought
by Edmondo Chiodini. Other decorations including velvet
dressings and marble works were sponsored by eager benefactors.
By then it was fast becoming evident
that Il-Munxar was 'craving and yearning for
independence'. Already prominent people from Munxar had
presented repeated requests to Bishop Joseph Pace in this
respect. On the memorable day of December 12, 1957 Bishop
Pace issued the decree "Pro Munere Nostro Pastorali"
by which the community's dream came true and Il-Munxar was
officially declared a parish in its own right.
The first parish-priest was an ex-Domenican
friar, Fr. Alan Fenech, who took possession of his duties
on March 8, 1959. He toiled without tiring for the spiritual
enrichment of the flick and the organisation of the new
parish on a sound footing.
A Maltese religious tradition embedded
in history is the popular devotional procession around the
main village street. Five annual processions are organised
in Il-Munxar - the first being that of the "Quarant'Ore"
on the Sunday nearest February 10. A crowd-pulling procession
is that of Our Lady of Sorrows celebrated on the Friday
preceding Palm Sunday. Centre of attraction is the village
feat procession. On the last Sunday in May the imposing
statue of St. Paul is carried with great pomp
around the flag canopied streets amidst the dazzling fireworks.
Soon following in mid-June is the Corpus Christi manifestation
where the Blessed Sacrament threads the flower-strewn walkways
of Il-Munxar. Finally but equally pious is the pilgrimage-procession
of Our Lady of the Rosary falling on the first Sunday in
A well organised mass service provides
the community dwellers with excellent facilities for their
spiritual requirements. On week days, the four morning masses
start at 5.30am and proceed at half hour intervals while
the evening service including Rosary and Benediction is
subject to seasonal schedules. On Sunday there are three
morning masses and an afternoon full service.
The two existing Confraternities are
those of the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Rosary. In
the members of each Confraternity march in style and pride.
The Catholic Action, the Legion of Mary, the newly set-up
Eucharistic Community and the Youth Movement are the four
main active religious association in Il-Munxar, while the Liturgy,
the Catechism and the Social Care sub-committees are the
principal affiliates of the Parish Council. The two most
influential organisations, strictly speaking outside the
religious sphere are the Local Council, the ever-growing
Munxar Falcons Football Club and the Stage Group.
In the few decades that have passed since
the establishment of the parish, the villagers have always
been guided by a strong sense of duty and belonging towards
the community. Only in this way will the village prosper
and every individual acquire a Faith deep and unwavering.
Fr Alan was succeeded by Fr Saviour Debrincat on December 16, 1965. Fr Debrincat hails from Il-Munxar and is
a Lateran scholar, having obtained his doctorate in Pastoral Theology in 1985. Under his able leadership the
parish has steered towards a comprehensive integration of the norms set down by Vatican Council II. The
building of the remarkable Parish-Centre is a living monument to Fr Debrincat's dedication to the community's
welfare. A well-stocked parish owned library operating on an alternating time-table offers ample enlightening
opportunities to village students and bookworms.
In April 1996 H.E. Bishop Nicholas Cauchi nominated Ix-Xaghra born, Fr Frankie Bajada a philosophy teacher at
the Major Seminary, as successor to Fr Debrincat who had been commendably promoted to Cathedral
Monsignor and Curia Chancellor. Fr Bajada was invested as Il-Munxar's third parish-priest with great pomp on
May 24,1996.Even in so short a span of time Fr Bajada's imprint on the parish cannot be missed. He has
infused new energy and youthful enthusiasm among the various sectors and embarked on an ambitious but
highly useful refurbishment of the parish centre. The archives containing old manuscripts, precious documents
and an interesting photographic collection which have been housed in a small lean-to beside the church parish
office, have been recently transferred to the Parish House. Presently the parish priest is Fr Michael Said.