Office: Centru Civiku , Triq ic-Cawsli, Zabbar - ZBR 1322
Il-Kunsill Lokali ta' Ħaż-Żabbar
|— Local council —|
|Motto: Città Hompesch|
|Borders||Birgu, Xgħajra, Fgura, Marsaskala, Żejtun, Bormla, Kalkara|
|- Mayor||Agius Dominic PL|
|- Total||5.3 km2 (2 sq mi)|
|Population (5th largest locality)|
|- Density||2,835.8/km2 (7,344.8/sq mi)|
|- Demonym||Żabbari (m), Żabbarija (f), Żabbarin (pl)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|- Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Our Lady of Grace|
|Day of festa||Sunday after September 8|
Żabbar (Maltese: Città Hompesch or Żabbar) is the fourth largest town in Malta, with a population of 15,030 (2006). Originally a part of Żejtun, Żabbar was granted the title of Città Hompesch by the last of the Grandmasters of the Knights of St. John to reign in Malta, Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim. The Grandmaster gave his surname to the city, which is still known (in honorem) as Città Hompesch.
The name of the city probably derives from the Maltese word 'niżbor', the process of pruning trees. Indeed, a number of families who specialised in żbir, this process, are known to have lived in the vicinity of this village during the Middle Ages. Other possibilities of this derivation exist. Among these there is Zabbar being the surname of an important family living in the area or else Ħaż-Żabbar being a corruption of Ħas-Sabbar (the consoler village) because people from around the island used to visit the village to pray its patron, Our Lady of Grace, for console.
Zabbar is bound to the north by Kalkara and Xghajra, to the west by Fgura and Cottonera fortifications (enclosing the localities of Vittoriosa and Cospicua), to the east by Marsascala and to the south by Zejtun. Zabbar has the largest population of all localities within the area. The western part of this town, composed essentially of Il-Biccieni and Tal-Bajjada (also known as Il-Misrah) areas, is characterized by high dwelling density and comprises a series of winding streets that define the village core. The eastern half is mostly suburban with relatively more recent developments mostly in the form of terraced housing and modern maisonettes and apartments. Zabbar has two other distinct residential neighbourhoods namely Bulebel iz-Zghir, which is characterized by Government housing estates/ multi-storey apartment blocks and rows of terraced house units that were constructed out of various Home Ownership Schemes (HOS), and the area referred to as St.Peter’s.
The town was used as an encampment by the Ottoman armies at the outset of the Great Siege and later as a base by the Maltese insurgents against French rule in around 1800. A memorable battle took place in front of the Żabbar Sanctuary. To this day, French-era cannon-balls are to be seen in household walls in the city's older parts and some are also in the church museum after being retrieved from the old church dome.
Żabbar was granted city status by the last Grand Master on Malta, Ferdinand de Hompesch, in whose name the population built a triumphal arch on the main approach road from Paola.
A memorable date for the Zabbarin. The then Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta Michael Gonzi crowned the miraculous image of Our Lady of Grace venerated in her Sanctuary. A large crowd gathered in front of the Sanctuary on Sunday 2 September 1951. During 2001 a twelve star silver diadem was placed on it by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca.
During the British era a number of forts and batteries were built in the area. These were Fort St Rocco, Fort St Leonardo, Delle Grazie Battery and Zonqor Battery.
Fort St Rocco was built between 1873 and 1875. It was later expanded and 3 cannons were fitted. Also, Fort St leonardo was fitted with 4 cannons. These two forts took care of the neighboring seas.
The two batteries also took care of the area altogether with the Rinella battery which contains the famous 100 ton Armstrong Gun.
More recently, on October 14, 1975 Vulcan B. 2, XM645 of No.9 Squadron RAF Wadington, the last of the great 'Graces' came over Żabbar, when an Avro Vulcan (a military aircraft) exploded over the village with many parts of it falling on the school and one wing full of fuel fell in Sanctuary Street, the main street of the village. Fortunately the children were having their break at that time and no one was in the school (at that time the pupils went home to have their break and then returned to school). The whole accident, which involved other parts of the city, due to the violent explosion, claimed just one victim, who unluckily was hit by an electricity cable which was torn down by the falling aircraft wing. Various items (including the aircraft undercarriage) can be seen at the city museum.
The city is very devout, particularly to Our Lady of Grace, to whom the city Sanctuary is dedicated. A vast number of paintings and other artefacts can be found in the village church museum, most of which have 'VFGA' in some way or other imprinted on them. This is the Latin abbreviation for Votum Fecit, Gratiam Accipit, meaning that a grace has been asked for and it had been granted due to intercession by the Madonna tal-Grazzja (Our Lady of Grace). These paintings are one of the largest votive paintings called Ex-Votos collection, about marine subjects and give large detail about ships of the Knights of Malta era. The Mattia Preti painting, found in the town's museum, is a particularly beautiful and invaluable painting.
The building of the Church of Our Lady of Graces was started in 1641 at the instigation of the Parish Priest Don Francesco Piscopo and was completed in 1660 according to another. A Maltese proverb says "a church is never finished", which is another way of stating that the people in a particular parish are never satisfied with their own church and, depending on their means, are forever the ambition that the church in one’s village be better and bigger than the church in the next parish. The good people of Zabbar are no exception. Largely from the private funds of the Parish Priest Andrea Buhagiar, in addition to money collected from the people of Zabbar, work on embellishing the church was started in 1738. The Maltese architect Giovanni Bonavia redesigned the façade and two belltowers were erected; in addition the church was paved in marble and provided with a crypt. The main painting of the Madonna and Child is a work by the painter Alessio Erardi (1669-1727).
Żabbar is famous for its village feast on the first Sunday after the 8 September, which features a motorcycle and bicycle pilgrimage each starting from Mosta and Rabat respectively. This is done because Our Lady of Grace is the patron of cyclists. Strong competition exists between the village's two band clubs, locally known as the Società Filarmonica Maria Mater Gratiæ (the Blues) and the Għaqda Madonna Tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel (the Greens).
Ħadd in-Nies or People's Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent. An afternoon pilgrimage, having a different starting point each year, is led by the Archbishop of Malta and ends at the Our Lady of Grace Sanctuary where a pontifical mass is celebrated. Among the celebrations for this feast one can mention the Classical Music Concerts held by the two local band cubs in the Notre Dame Hall.
The Għaqda Madonna Tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel organises an annual Holy Week exhibition. This exhibition, held inside the World War 2 Shelter in the square where the Għaqda Madonna Tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel club is situated, includes life size figures depicting the Passion of Christ.
This chapel is situated in Main Street between the Labour Party and St.Patrick F.C. Clubs. It is dedicated to the Annunciation.
Dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, this chapel is found in one of the oldest quarters of Zabbar. A painting on the altar shows Mary being transported into Heaven with her body and soul united. A very nice statue of Our Lady of Sorrows is found in this chapel.
This church was inaugurated in 1993 to serve the growing community in the most modern part of Zabbar.
This is used for the teaching of Catechism and Mass on certain days of the week.
Built in the 15th century this chapel is found next to Santa Domenica Church. Nowadays it is the Zabbar Scout Centre.
This was rebuilt in 1954 after being damaged during World War 2.
This chapel is found in the town's cemetery. It is used for funeral services and for mass.
This is a very small church. In 1585 Ġuzeppi Testaferrata donated money and helped to organise the feast dedicated to Our Lady. Currently the chapel is not being used.
The current local council members are:
The Council was officially invited to Villabate when Dr. Fina, as a Comissario Straordinario, was responsible for the running of the day-to-day business. The invitation was the result of an annual reciprocal activity with regard to the Onorificenza Cittadino Del Anno. This commitment is now being honoured on a reciprocal basis.
Besides the Twinning with Villabate the Council also has a Partnership Agreement with three other European cities namely, Montgeron, Povoa’ de Varzim and Eschborn. The Partnership Agreement was signed on July 2001 during the International Youth Summer Camp organised by Zabbar.
Żabbar's main football team is St. Patrick's FC. including St. Patrick's Nursery FC. Two amateur football teams are Zabbar Crystal Blues and Zabbar Athletics. Other sports clubs include Żabbar Shooting Club, Żabbar Boċċi Club,St Peters Boċċi Club, Zabbar Subbuteo Club, and Zabbar Amateur Racing Club
Amongst the people who came from the village are the former President, Agatha Barbara, Dr. Frans Chetcuti, an education officer, and Fredu Abela, also known as il-Bamboċċu, a maltese folk singer. This is the birthplace of Mike Spiteri, Phylissane Brincat and of up and coming vocalists Graziana Axisa and Maria Mallia. Clayton Failla who plays for the Maltese National football team was born in Zabbar and is the product of St. Patrick's F.C.
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