Miracle at Mosta
By Christopher Kelly
Santa Marija Assunta, Mosta, Malta
Here is a rare gem; this is a true story of World War II that has a happy ending!
The name “Mosta” means “center” in the Maltese language. You can find the town of Mosta at the center of Malta, visible from around the island. At the center of the town you will find the third or fourth largest domed church in the world — Santa Marija Assunta.
|Mosta from a distance, Malta|
After Mussolini’s declaration of war on June 10, 1940 the island of Malta was attacked from the air by Axis air power. The island and its people endured a gruelling three year siege. British-controlled Malta was the most bombed part of the world in the Second World War.
|Malta in World War II|
“On Thursday April 9, 1942 the Rotunda church at Mosta, not far from Takali (RAF base, CK) was hit. With the third-largest suspended dome in the world, it was considered one of Malta’s most treasured buildings. At about 4:40pm in the afternoon, during a service, and with three hundred people worshipping, a bomb pierced the dome, bounced twice off the wall, skidded the length of the nave and came to a halt — without exploding. Not a single person was injured and it was immediately hailed as a miracle.” (Source: Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege, James Holland, 2003 www.amzn.com/1401351867).
|Mosta Dome, Malta|
nsight Guides Malta guide book says, “The Islanders take great pride in its impressive scale. At 40 metres (130 feet) in diameter, it out-domes St Paul’s Cathedral in London by 6.7 metres (22 feet), and is reputed to be either the third or fourth largest unsupported dome in the world, surpassed only by St. Peter’s in Rome, Hagia Sofia in Istanbul an (though Mosta officials are not much amused by this recent addition) the church at Xewkija in Gozo.” (Source: Insight Guides: Malta, 2012)
|Detail from Mosta Church exterior, Malta|
Visitors today will find a replica of the unexploded Luftwaffe bomb in the Cathedral.
|Unexploded Axis bomb replica, Mosta|
Commander Kelly says, “Visit Mosta and judge for yourself whether Mosta and the Maltese were lucky or whether the hand of God was at work. We only know for certain that many Maltese believed in the “Miracle at Mosta” then and many still believe in it today.”
Special thanks to Alex Abela, our fine driver from the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Valletta (www.excelsior.com.mt) and also to Chris Moran who first told me about Mosta!