The Carmelite Friars occupied the Church of the Annunciation until their petition to Archbishop Michele Giovanni Balaguer Camarasa to relocate them to Mdina was acceded to in 1659. They took possession the Vergine della Rocca chapel dedicated to the Birth of Mary. Demolition of the old building commenced on 16 February, 1660 to make room for a newer, grander church. The construction of the new church proceeded in fits and starts, as cash frequently ran out. The design of the temple may be attributed to the French architect Blondell, with Lorenzo Gafa’ and Francesco Sammut overseeing the construction work.
The sloping topography of the ground on which the church was to be built provided room for a burial crypt, the door to which was installed by Angelo (Gulinu) Camenzuli in 1667.
The Friars were all too eager to put their new church to use so in 1670, the still roofless church was equipped with a makeshift cover so that liturgical services on the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel could be held. The dome was finally completed on 23 June, 1674. The new church hosted the feast of the Virgin of Rocca in 1675; celebrations pertaining to the feast of the Annunciation were held here in 1676.
The ticketing desk is located on the right hand side of the cloister which surrounds a central courtyard.
Once past the ticketing desk, you may freely wander around the ground floor of the priory. The altarpiece of the private oratory, where the frairs gather for prayers several times a day is from the bottega of Mattia Preti and shows St. Simon Stock receiving sacred vestments from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, with St. Albert Trapani and St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi. The altar in this hall was originally l…
…atter was later replaced by the painting of the Holy Trinity that we may see today. In 1850 the painting of St Francis Xavier, St. Angelo and St. Francis of Paola made way for the painting of ST. Elijah being taken up to Heaven, by Michele Bellanti. In the niche beneath this painting is an 1858 stone statue of St. Francis Xavier, by Antonio Busuttil. The oval paintings on either side of this chapel are portraits of Franciscans St. Anthony and St. Felix of Cantalice, both 18th Century works.
Chapel of St. JosephThe third chapel on the left hand side of the church is dedicated to St. Joseph. The altarpiece shows a seated St. Joseph with a juvenile Jesus and was painted by Giuseppe Cali’ in 1890. Housed within a niche decorated by Paquale Azzopardi is a 1762 sculpture of the Virgin of Mount Carmel, with the infant Jesus on a wooden base, by Andrea Imbroll. .