September is a significant month for the Maltese islands. It is also particularly meaningful to the city of Senglea. It is the month in which major historical events are commemorated: the end of the Great Siege (September 8, 1565); the uprising against the French (September 2, 1798) and their eventual withdrawal from the island (September 5, 1800); and the surrender of Fascist Italy (September 8, 1943). September 8, 1565, the memorable day, 450 years ago, that marked the end of the Great Siege, was the day liturgically dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. The people of Senglea, though weighed down by the ordeal they had endured, felt that they should erect a church in honour of the Virgin’s birth, serving also as a memorial of that great victory over the Ottoman Empire.
Their wish was fulfilled with the completion of the church, probably designed by architect Vittorio Cassar, in 1580. Immediately, Senglea was established as an independent parish, separating itself from that of Vittoriosa, with Don Antonio de Nicolaci as its first parish priest.
The statue of Our Lady of Victories, venerated at this sanctuary basilica, is indeed unique, being built on a dainty, almost miniature scale, its colourful origin going back to 1618.