About Gozo

Information about Gozo

About Gozo

Gozo  –   Maltese: Għawdex, pronounced “awdɛsh, formerly Gaulos in Ancient Greek) is an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of Malta. After the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago. Compared to its southeastern neighbor, Gozo is more rural and known for its scenic hills, which are featured on its coat of arms.

The island of Gozo has long been associated with Ogygia, the island home of the nymph Calypso in Homer’s Odyssey. In that story, Calypso, possessed of great supernatural powers, and in love with Odysseus, holds him captive for a number of years, until finally releasing him to continue his journey home.

As of March 2015, the island has a population of around 37,342 (out of Malta’s total of 445,000), and its inhabitants are known as Gozitans (Maltese: Għawdxin). It is rich in historic locations such as the Ġgantija temples, which, along with the other Megalithic Temples of Malta, are among the world’s oldest free-standing structures.

The island is rural in character and, compared to the main island Malta, less developed. It was known for the Azure Window, a natural limestone arch that was a remarkable geological feature, until its collapse in 2017. The island has other notable natural features, including the Inland Sea and Wied il-Mielaħ Window. There are many beaches on the island, as well as seaside resorts that are popular with both locals and tourists, the most popular being Marsalforn and Xlendi. Gozo is considered one of the top diving destinations in the Mediterranean and a center for water sports.

Gozo has been inhabited since 5000 BC when farmers from nearby Sicily crossed the sea to the island. Due to the discovery of similar pottery found in both places from the Għar Dalam phase, it has been suggested that the first colonists were specifically from the area of Agrigento; however, it is currently unknown exactly where in Sicily the farmers came from. They are thought to have first lived in caves on the outskirts of what is now known as San Lawrenz.

Gozo was an important place for cultural evolution, and during the neolithic period the Ġgantija temples were built; they are among the world’s oldest free-standing structures, as well as the world’s oldest religious structures. The temple’s name is Maltese for “belonging to the giants”, because legend in Maltese and Gozitan folklore says the temples were built by giants. Another important Maltese archaeological site in Gozo, which dates back to the neolithic period, is the Xagħra Stone Circle. Also, native tradition and certain ancient Greek historians (notably Euhemerus and Callimachus) maintain that Gozo is the island Homer described as Ogygia, home of the nymph Calypso.

In July 1551 Ottomans under Sinan Pasha and Dragut invaded and ravaged Gozo and enslaved most of its inhabitants, about 5,000, bringing them to Tarhuna Wa Msalata in Libya, their departure port in Gozo was Mġarr ix-Xini. The island of Gozo was repopulated between 1565 and 1580 by people from mainland Malta, undertaken by the Knights of Malta.

The history of Gozo is strongly coupled with the history of Malta, since Gozo has been governed by Malta throughout history, with the brief exception of a short period of autonomy following the uprising against the French forces after Napoleon’s conquest of Malta, between 28 October 1798 and 20 August 1801.

Our History

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Ta Pinu Shrine

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu (Maltese: Santwarju Bażilika tal-Madonna ta’ Pinu) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine located some 700 metres (2,300 ft) from the village of Għarb on the island of Gozo, the sister island of Malta. The church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu. The basilica is located in open countryside which allows visitors to enjoy beautiful views of the area and is of great national importance to Gozitans everywhere.


The origins of the Shrine of Our Lady of ta’ Pinu are unknown. It was first recorded in the archives of the Curia in Gozo, when the Bishop Domenico Cubelles paid a visit to the chapel. This noted that the chapel had just been rebuilt and that it belonged to the noble family of “The Gentile”.

In 1575 the apostolic visitor Pietro Duzina was delegated by Pope Gregory XIII to visit the Maltese Islands. In his pastoral visit to the church, he found that it was in a very bad state. He ordered the church to be closed and demolished and its duties passed to the parish church, now the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Gozo. When demolition began the workman broke his arm while striking the first blow. This was taken as an omen that the chapel should not be demolished. The church was the only chapel on the island to survive Duzina’s decree ordering the demolition of other similar chapels.

Pinu Gauci became the procurator of the church in 1598 and its name was changed from “Of the Gentile” to “Ta` Pinu”, meaning “Of Philip”. In 1611 Gauci offered money for its restoration. It was rebuilt, with a stone altar erected and investments for liturgical services provided. Gauci also commissioned the painting of the Assumption of Our Lady for the main altar. This was done in 1619 by Amadeo Perugino.

In 1883, Karmni Grima was walking past the now run down church and heard a voice asking her to recite three Hail Marys’. Over the following years miracles were attributed to the grace of Our Lady of The Assumption to whom the church was dedicated. Francis Portelli also heard the voice coming from the painting. Francis Merċieċa also known as Frenċ tal-Għarb was a devout of Our Lady of ta’ Pinu and healed a lot of people in her name.
Some of the ex-voto in the Ta’ Pinu church.

The works for the new church began on 30 May 1922 on the initiative of the church’s rector Monsignor Ġużepp Portelli and was consecrated on 31 August 1932. It was built in a neo-romantic style. Inside the church there are 6 mosaics, 76 coloured windows and many ex-voto. The bell tower is 61 metres high.

Pope John Paul II celebrated mass on the parvise of the shrine during his visit to the island of Gozo on 26 May 1990. On 18 April 2010, when visiting Malta, Pope Benedict XVI donated and placed a Golden Rose in front of the devotional image of Our Lady Of Ta’ Pinu which was brought over from Gozo to Malta for this special occasion. The Pope invited everybody to “Pray to Her Under the Title Queen of the Family”

The church building is listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.