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Christ the King Church
SAM_0857The need for a bigger church for the people of Paola at the start of the 20th century was already being felt. Even though the church of St.Ubaldesca had been enlarged in 1900 there were still a lot of people who had to listen mass from outside the church. When Paola was made a parish in 1910, the need for a new church was being felt much more, especially when, ten years later, the population exceeded 5000.

The idea to build a new church originated when Parish Priest Nerik Bonnici went to live in a house near Guze D'Amato who offered to prepare and design the plans. Three designs were prepared, out of which one was chosen and the architect Philip Tortell was made responsible for the project. In the Christmas of 1922, the government gave the land where the new church had to be built and Mr. D'Amato bequeathed part of his own land.

Easter Sunday of April 1923 was a historic day for the Paolites. On that day the holy wooden cross was carried in a procession from the church of St.Ubaldesca for the designated open undeveloped area enclosed by Strada Loggia (today Guze D'Amato Street), Lampuka Street, Paola Avenue (today Church Avenue) and Paola Square (today Antoine De Paule Square), The Fra. G.M. Antoine De Paule band accompanied the cross along the main street until Dun Salvu Chircop ceremoniously placed the cross on the spot where the new church had to be built.

Three months later, on 30th June, 1923, the first foundation stone was laid. This lies under the right belfry and can be seen whilst you are entering the church from the main door.

Mr. D'Amato introduced new material and technology during the construction of this huge church. The parishioners, mostly dockyard workers who offered their services voluntarily after their normal working hours, helped Guze D'Amato in its construction. Money was collected from the families and a number of big tombola parties (with a cash prize of 50) were organised.

In less than a year after the laying of the cross, on 24th February, 1924 another ceremony was held - this time to commemorate the laying of the first stone. It was laid and blessed by the Archbishop Mons. Angelo Portelli. However two years later work was halted due to some worries about the construction of the church. Work continued in April 1928 and on 15th July of the same year the first was mass was held in the new site.

The project was completed on 13th December, 1959 with the laying of the stone cross on the main dome.
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Church
St. Ubaldesca Church
Fra Antoine De Paule became Grandmaster of the Order of St. John on the 10th of March 1623 when he was 71 years old. On the 20th July of 1626 he set up a new town which he named "PAULA" in his honour.

De Paule wanted to build a church in the town which he wanted to dedicate to St. Ubaldesca who was a sister in the Order of St. John. Pope Urbanus VIII issued the Bull by which he gave permission for this church to be built. This Papal Bull was issued from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome on 31st July 1629. An extract from this Bull reads as follows:

"we accept this request and to the afore mentioned Antonius, with the Apostolic authority granted by this Bull, we give the authority that in the mentioned town in a location of his preference, as long as it is comfortable and just, a church can be built in honour of the afore-mentioned Saint"

On the 12th November of 1629, the Council of the Order of St. John decided to effect what was written on the Bull.

The laying of the first foundation stone of this church was celebrated in grand style by Grand Master de Paule himself on Sunday 25th August 1630. A detailed account of what happened on that day can be found in the Liber Conciliorum of the Order dated 1630 and numbered as 110 (page 32). In the book by E.B. Vella "The History of Hal Tarxien and Paola" we may find the following quotation from the Liber:

"On the day of Sunday, the 25th day of the month of August 1630, which is the feast of the king Saint Ludovico, the Most Serene and the Most Revered Grand Master Fra Antoine de Paule went to the town, which for the past four years had taken the name of his family and which was established in the land of Marsa, and he was accompanied by numerous Venerable Gran Cruci as well as by numerous brethren from our Order and in front of a crowd of people he laid the first stone of the church which was to be built for the grace of God and the Holy Virgin Ubaldesca, sister of our Religion, with the permission of the Most Reverend Prior of the church, Fra Salvatur Imbroll, who was adorned with pontifical clothes and according to the rites of the Holy Roman Church. This was done with the apolostic authority given by the Magnificent His Holiness from Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, on the 31st of July 1629 and which was written in the public deed of the Notary Lorenzo Grima."

St. Ubaldesca was the first parish church built in the village of Paola. It was originally built by Grand Master De Paule and dedicated to St. Ubaldesca, a saint venerated by the Knights of St. John. The first stone of this church was laid on 1630. It was enlarged in 1900 to accommodate the ever increasing population of Paola and it became a Parish in 1910 when it was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A new and larger church, dedicated to Christ the King, was eventually built to replace it.

Today, the church needs urgent repair and restoration. It would be a pity if nothing is done for this little church which up to now has been an important landmark for the history of Paola. Immediate action needs to be taken by the appropriate authorities to save this church which forms part of the Cultural Heritage of Paola.

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