The Feast of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu

On June 22nd, all Malta and Gozo celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu, whose shrine dates back to a mystical experience which occurred precisely on this day.

In an old publication regarding this Sanctuary which bears the Italian title: La Beata Vergine Ta’ Pinu a Gozo (The Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu in Gozo) one encounters the following account:

On the 22nd June 1883, Karmni Grima from Gharb, ….. heard a call on her way home. …..[At] about 10.30am.  A mysterious voice called her three times:‘Come! Come! Come!’.Karmni was astounded, because at that time of the day, the fields were deserted, and no one could have possibly spoken to her. [When] she resumed her way the same mysterious voice again told her: ‘Come, come, today, because a year will have passed before you will be able to visit this place again’. So she walked towards the chapel in awe figuring that she would see the Blessed Virgin. On approaching the chapel, …she peeped through the little aperture in the door pane but saw no-one. Recovering her composure, she entered the chapel and as she prayed, a feeling of ineffable rapture gripped her. …The same voice addressed her again: ‘Recite three Hail Marys in remembrance of the three days during which my body lay in the tomb’ – and so she did. 

 In another writing concerning this miraculous event, in the book of Bishop Mgr. Nicholas J. Cauchi, Bishop of Gozo from 1972 till 2005, we find:

For two years Karmni said not a word about what had happened. Then she disclosed her secret to Franġisk Portelli; [an upright] man who was renowned for his devotion to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu. …as his heart filled with joy….. At about the same time, he had heard a mysterious voice asking him to say prayers in honour of Christ’s hidden shoulder wound caused by the weight of the heavy cross along the tortuous path to Calvary.  A short time later, Franġisk’s mother was miraculously healed by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu. It was obvious that the matter could no longer be kept secret and rumours that Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu had given a message to two persons from the village of Gharb began to spread like wildfire.

Existing documents composed by the spiritual director of Karmni bear witness to the fact that the Our Lady appeared to her at her Għarb village home. Today you can visit Karmni Grima’s home.

Due to the graces given by GodTa’ Pinu Marian Shrine is commonly known as “The Church of Miracles”. This has been well attested by Fr. Gerald Buhagiar, the sanctuary rector in an interview given some six years ago. Fr Gerald confirmed that many are the people who return to Ta’ Pinu to testify that their prayers were answered. A visible proof of this is the impressive collection of votive offerings (ex-voto) which one finds on the walls of two rooms of both sides of the altar. Among the graces obtained by the intercession of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu one encounters people being healed from cancers, babies born following years of infertility, people healed who have been victims of awful accidents, and countless stories of prodigious acts and graces.

The revered image of Our Lady Ta’ Pinu is found in the Maltese and Gozitan population’s diaspora around the globe. It needs to be remembered that on the first Sunday closest to 2nd February, there is the presentation to the Our Lady of Pinu of baptized babies by the Bishop of Gozo and their parents. Prayers are said so that Our Lady lovingly protects them.

There is also an intimate link between Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary and the Successors of Peter, the Popes. In fact, Ta’ Pinu Shrine was consecrated and rendered open for public devotion on December 13, 1931, by Pope Pius XI. The same Pope raised the Shrien to a Minor Basilica in 1932. During his first visit to Malta, exactly on May 26, 1990, Pope St John Paul II put a halo of five golden stars so as to bear witness to the Maltese People’s devotion towards their Heavenly Mother, Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu.

In his homily at Island of Gozo at the eucharistic celebration at the shrine of Our Lady Ta’ Pinu Pope John Paul II, Karol Józef Wojtyła, (1920-2005) spoke of the Maltese and Gozitan’s people’s fruitful devotion to Our Lady. He also said how immensely fruitful this devotion was in their daily lives.

At this venerable Shrine of Our Lady Ta’ Pinu, we give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for the loving presence and protection of his Virgin Mother which the Church in Malta and Gozo has experienced throughout its history. For centuries, the faithful of these islands have drawn near to Mary in prayer and have sought her loving intercession to aid them in their needs and to comfort them in their distress. In calling Mary blessed among women, they have echoed the words of the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation (Cfr. Luc. 1, 28), and fulfilled the prophecy which she herself uttered to her kinswoman Elizabeth: “From this day forward all generations will call me blessed” (Ibid. 1, 48) (no.2).

It was the time of Pope Benedict XVI to visit our Islands. On April 18, 2010, the German Pope adorned the highly venerated image with a golden rose. He confessed: I am aware of the particular devotion of the Maltese people to the Mother of God, expressed with great fervour to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu and so I am pleased to have the opportunity to pray before the image …. I am also delighted to present a Golden Rose to her, as a sign of our shared filial affection for the Mother of God. I ask you in particular to pray to her under the title Queen of the Family…

 In his homily at the National Shrine of Ta’ Pinu in Gozo, on Saturday 2 April 2022, Pope Francis spoke about the total transformation which the chapel underwent to become, finally, a great basilica. The lesson is that in life great changes occur if we keep believing till the end that God’s upper hand will prevail in our lives.

Brothers and sisters, from this sanctuary of Ta’ Pinu we can contemplate together the new beginning that took place in the “hour” of Jesus. Here, in place of the splendid edifice we see today, there stood only a tiny chapel in a state of disrepair. Its demolition was decreed: it seemed to be the end. Yet a series of events would turn things around, as if the Lord wanted to say to this people too: “You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight is in her, and your land Married” (Is 62:4). That little church became the national shrine, a destination for pilgrims and a source of new life. Jennifer, you reminded us of this: here, many people entrust their sufferings and their joys to Our Lady and all feel at home. Saint John Paul II – today is the anniversary of his death – also came here as a pilgrim. A place that once seemed forsaken now revitalizes faith and hope within the People of God.

Ta’ Pinu is a place of hope where the afflicted find their courage to go on. The continual invitation levelled at Karmi Grima, Ejja! Ejja! Ejja! which means Come! Come! Come! is also addressed to you and me. Let us not tire of going to Our Lady, Mary, at her Sanctuary Ta’ Pinu to help and support us in our journey toward Heavenly Jerusalem.

ALMIGHTY everlasting God, who hast taken body and soul into heaven the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Thy Son who is venerated in this Shrine of Ta’ Pinu: grant, we beseech Thee, that by steadfastly keeping heaven as our goal we may be counted worthy to join her in glory. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.

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Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap was born in San Gwann on August 26 1972. After being educated in governmental primary and secondary schools as well as at the Naxxar Trade School he felt the call to enter the Franciscan Capuchin Order. After obtaining the university requirements he entered the Capuchin friary at Kalkara on October 12 1993. A year after he was ordained a priest, precisely on 4 September 2004, his superiors sent him to work with patients as a chaplain first at St. Luke's Hospital and later at Mater Dei. In 2007 Fr Mario obtained a Master's Degree in Hospital Chaplaincy from Sydney College of Divinity, University of Sydney, Australia. From November 2007 till March 2020 Fr Mario was one of the six chaplains who worked at Mater Dei Hospital., Malta's national hospital. Presently he is a chaplain at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre. Furthermore, he is a regular contributor in the MUMN magazine IL-MUSBIEĦ, as well as doing radio programmes on Radio Mario about the spiritual care of the sick.