Archbishop Joseph Mercieca yesterday blessed the new parish church of Sta Venera on St Joseph High Road during Mass attended by the President, MPs, the Carmelite community and many parishioners of Sta Venera.

The ceremony started with a short procession led by Mgr Mercieca from the parvis into the church. Once the congregation and the priests had taken their place, the history of the building of the church was read out and the Archbishop was presented with the designs of the church, builder's tools and an oil jar.

Mgr Mercieca then blessed the congregation and the edifice. "The inauguration of a new church to serve the needs of the community of Sta Venera is an occasion of joy," he said, thanking the Carmelite fathers and all the parishioners who had dedicated themselves to the project.

He said he prayed so that the new church would inspire unity among the community.

The church has been under construction for 15 years but the project itself started 40 years ago when the land was acquired. For decades, a basement was used as a temporary church.

The new church is 46 metres long and 14 metres wide with four-metre-wide side chapels. It includes a crying room, a large sacristy and other rooms which are required for the use of the church. It has 22 large stained-glass windows and a flat roof.

The parvis and the belfries still have to be built and embellishment work remains to be done inside. There will be no cupola. The statue of St Venera will be brought over to the new church from the old church at Misrah Sta Venera today. A week of liturgical activities will follow leading to the liturgical feast of Sta Venera on July 27.

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