Safi, Malta

Safi, Malta

Towns (Malta)
name = Safi(Ħal Safi)
coa = Safi coa.svg
official_name = Ħal Safi
inhabitants_name = Ħalsafi (m), Ħalsafija (f), Ħalsafin (pl)
other_names = (code: SFI)

latitude = 35°50 '0"
longitude = 14°29 '6"
area = 2.3
population_total = 1,948
population_density = 867
borders = Birżebbuġa, Żurrieq, Kirkop
saint = St. Paul
feast = last Sunday of August
mayor = Peter Paul Busuttil (PN)

Safi is a town of 1948 people (November 2005) in the southeast of Malta, near Zurrieq.


Little documentation exists about the origins of Ħal Safi. However, from some of the existing remains, it appears that thousands of years ago, Neolithic people built their houses on the same land which is today occupied by Hal Safi residents. The Phoenicians and the Romans also lived here years later.

The formation of the town as known today goes back to about seven hundred years. Ħal Safi was surrounded by four other major villages. Farmers and peasants used to meet here for a chat on their way back home. Later, a statue was erected and this was the beginning of another village since many people settled in the vicinity.

In 1417, the village was already known as Ħal Safi. According to the records of the Standing Army, in 1419, between eighty and ninety people were considered as village residents. The main occupation of the major part of the residents was farming especially breeding sheep, goats and agriculture.

The origin of the village's name cannot be determined conclusively. Some historians have concluded that the name was derived from the PURE (Safi) AIR of the village. Others insisted that the village was named Safi since none of its residents was contaminated when an epidemic infected the whole country. Both its coat of arms (a horizontal light-blue stripe on silver background) and its motto (Sine Macula) emphasize the meaning of its name.

The Declaration of the Village as a Parish

For several years Ħal Safi formed part of Bir Miftuħ. However, the residents wanted to be independent mostly because of the distance between the two villages. Instead they wished to form part of Zurrieq, which is much nearer, at least. In 1575 when Monsignor Dusina visited Hal Safi, the residents put their wish forward. But every action was in vain.

At last, in 1592, Bishop Gargallo decided to separate Ħal Safi, Imqabba and Ħal Kirkop from Bir Miftuħ. He amalgamated the three villages into one Parish. Father Carl Taliana from Luqa was appointed as its Parish Priest. Safi residents were still not satisfied because they had to walk long distances when visiting the church dedicated to Saint James at Ħal Kirkop for the celebration of sacraments like Holy Communion and Funerals.

When Safi residents got to know that a new church was going to be built at Ħal Kirkop, they refused to donate money for the project.

In 1598, a delegation of twelve men from Ħal Safi paid a visit to Bishop Gargallo. In the name of all Safi residents, they filed a petition claiming that the village of two hundred and ten residents become a Parish. And, this time, the Bishop accepted their proposal. So, in April 1598, a contract was made in front of Notary Debono.

According to the agreement, Safi residents had to pay the Parish Priest money every year, that is exactly on the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. The administration of this new Parish was assigned to Dun Gwann Mizzi. After three months, Dun Gwann Mizzi was appointed as Parish Priest of Imqabba. Consequently, Marjanu Xiriħa took his place as the main Procurator.

In those years, one could find five chapels in Hal Safi. The largest one, which was dedicated to Saint Paul, started to be used as the Parish Church. As a commemoration of the foundation of the Parish, a church bell was bought. An image of Saint Peter and another one of Saint Paul together with the following inscription “Sancte Paule Ora Pro Nobis” were engraved in it. The other four chapels were dedicated to: St. Agatha, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and two to the Birth of the Virgin Mary. The only one still existing is that dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which was re-built in 1761.

The Village Feast

Back in 1575, a small feast in honour of Saint Paul was already celebrated in church. Then, in 1725, it made quick progress since its external celebrations increased. A procession with the relic of St. Paul was first held in 1732. In 1840, a statue of St. Paul, sculptured in wood by Xandru Farrugia of Zejtun, was introduced and paraded during the procession. That year, the celebrations of the feast were organised to their very best. They included ground fireworks, petards, band services and liturgical ceremonies. From that year, the band services became a fixed contribution and in 1874 a stage was constructed purposely for the band. Since the feast celebrations were expanding each year, a feast club (St. Paul's Club) was set up in 1929.

Three outstanding feasts were celebrated in 1960, in 1984 and in1998. The first one commemorated the arrival of Saint Paul on our island; the one celebrated in 1984 commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Consegration of Safi Parish Church; the third one commemorated the 400th anniversary of Safi Parish. Pilgrimages, sermons, choir participation, band services and fireworks were organised to commemorate each anniversary.

Up till the year 1959, the feast in honour of St. Paul was held on January 25. From 1960 onwards it is being celebrated every last Sunday of August mainly because of January’s bad weather.

In the year 1971, a new feast hymn was composed by Mro. A. Muscat Azzopardi to lyrics written by Paul Callus. Then in 1981, another hymn was written, this time by J. Zerafa and composed by Mro. E. Bugeja. A major hymn called "Is-Sejha", written by Paul Callus and composed by Mro. Ray Sciberras came into being in 2002.

When Fr. Michael Agius took up his office as Parish Priest, the activities organised were increased. On the initiative of Saint Paul’s Club, a new band march, on Friday evenings was added to the programme. Another one was included on Sunday mornings. Moreover, the persons who are in charge of the fireworks organised another band march on Sunday evening. Likewise, the preparation and decoration with different objects such as lights and banners in preparation for this religious feast were also increased especially in certain roads and in the main square.

The day after the celebration of the feast dedicated to Saint Paul it is considered as a holiday for all the residents. The majority of them take part in the ‘xalata’ by going to Armier where they spend the day on the beach.


*St. Paul's Band (L-Għaqda Mużikali San Pawl) was formed in 1989, and it falls under the auspices of St. Paul's Club, Safi.

ocial Life in Safi

In the past, the most common job occupied by Safi residents was in the agriculture sector. Others were soldiers employed by the Standing Army. Some others were sailors, builders, stone-dressers, white-washers and quite a number of residents were street hawkers.

Soon after the Second World War, many farmers left their fields to join the government sector. Nowadays, the work force is vaster and includes employees in the government sector, private sector, dry docks, factories. In addition, one can find several self-employed persons and contractors. Lately, the trend has changed and the number of University qualified people is always increasing earning high profile jobs such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants and management personnel. Farming now is mostly done as part-time and to some extent more as a hobby rather than as a means of making a living.

By the end of the Second World War, the street lanterns and the drinking fountains became obsolete, and instead, improved services such as electricity, sewage, postage mail, telecommunication, water and other services took over. In 1962, the construction of a new and modern school was initiated to replace the one situated in St. Paul’s Street.

In the 80’s a playing field adjacent to the school was inaugurated, later refurbished with synthetic turf in 2000. In 1986, a public health clinic started to operate in Saint George Street. Moreover, the number of houses and consequently the number of residents is always increasing. In fact, from latest statistics, the population of Hal Safi has reached one thousand and eight hundred persons. Furthermore, the number of retail outlets multiplied in the last few years. The most two common surnames in the village are Busuttil and Zammit.

The village roads can be divided into two: the old ones, which formed part of the old village and the newly constructed ones. The older ones were all named after various saints, but on the other hand the recent ones were named using several other criteria.

The climax of the social life is the celebration of the village "festa", celebrated through the last week of August. The patron Saint of Safi is St. Paul. Like most villages, Safi residents had nobody representing them in central government. Since 1994, Safi has had its own Local Council which contributed in no small way to increasing the number of projects created for the benefit of Safi residents.

Zones in Safi

*Ta' Amparell
*Ta' Karwija
*Ta' l-Ibraġ
*Ta' Sant' Agata
*Wara l-Ġnien

afi Main Roads

*Misraħ San Ġużepp (St Joseph Square)
*Misraħ tal-Knisja (Church Square)
*Sqaq San Mikiel (St. Michael Alley)
*Sqaq San Pawl (St. Paul Alley)
*Triq Ananija (Ananias Road)
*Triq Dun Guzepp Caruana (Rev. Joseph Caruana Street)
*Triq Dun Karm Vella (Rev. Carmel Vella Street)
*Triq il-Biedja (Agriculture Street)
*Triq il-Kuccard (Honey Buzzard Road)
*Triq il-Kaccaturi (Hunters Road)
*Triq il-Kenn (Sheltered Road)
*Triq in-Nassaba (Trappers Road)
*Triq il-Palma (Palm Street)
*Triq is-Summien (Quail Street)
*Triq l-Iskola (School Street)
*Triq iż-Żurrieq (Zurrieq Road)
*Triq San Ġorġ (St. George Street)
*Triq San Ġwann (St. John Road)
*Triq San Pawl (St. Paul Street)
*Triq San Tumas (St. Thomas Street)
*Triq Santa Marija (St. Mary Street)
*Triq Ta' Gawhar (Ta' Gawhar Road)

ee also

* Sine Macula Choir

Reference and further reading

* cite web|title=lcsafi|work=Safi Local Council|url=}

Coordinates: coord|35|50|0|N|14|29|6|E|type:city

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