Ħal Għaxaq

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Ħal Għaxaq

Ħal Għaxaq is a village to the Southern part of Malta. It is 6.4 km away from Valletta. Prior to 26th April 1626, Għaxaq was part of the Żejtun Parish confines. Għaxaq retained to date its village character. Agriculture and animal husbandary are still a means of livelihood for a couple of hundreds of residents.

Population
The earliest known population statistics dated back to 1626. The number of residents were 340 residing in 77 houses. The number of household remained constant up to 1767. However the population which soared to ever 1,009 between 1626 and 1767, suddenly decreased to 352 persons. The credited reason for the instant decrease was due to diseases and Turkish incrusions around the Maltese shores. By 1830, Għaxaq registered 1,166 residents living in 233 farms and small houses. Sixty years later the population was 1,420. During the Census conducted in 1961, it was found that the number rose to 2,092 and continued with a constant growth rate by 1985 to 3,649.

Għaxaq – its Origin

It is commonly believed that the origin of the village name derives from the Axiaq family. It could be derived from a nickname attributed to a family of reknown standing in the area. The Coat of Arms of Għaxaq is a silver background with three green horizontal stripes. The village motto is “Laeta Sustineo”.

15th Century Life
The population during the early years of the 15the Century numbered less than 150. Social life centred around the Church. Entertainment was non-existant. The local folk enthusiastically participated in the village feast activities as well as those celebrated nationally. The Church environment, hence, was not only ideal for spiritual relief, but as a hub of community gatherings.

The First Chapel

Since 1511, at Ghaxaq there was neither a church nor a chapel. The residenti had to go at St.Gregory Chapel at Zejtun for their spirtual needs. During the year 1511 they built a small chapel which was dedicated to the Assumption of St.Mary. Together with this chapel there was another smaller chapel which was dedicated to "Madonna tar-Ruzarju". This chapel was built in a very simple style since there was no architectural styles.

There was only one mass celebrated in this chapel every year in August exactly on the feast of the Assumption. During the first years of the 17th century the vice parish priest of Zejtun celebrated masses almost on every Sunday.

Since the residents of Ghaxaq wished that their locality becomes a Parish they had made their wishes to Balthassar Cagliares during his pastoral visit to the Malteses Diociese and at March, 1626, the Bishop went to this chapel and discussed this matter with a delegation from Ghaxaq. In the name of all the village this delegation made it clear that they wanted Ghaxaq as a Parish.
Their wish was granted and on the 8th of April, 1626, Ghaxaq became a Parish and was separated from Zejtun Parish. The first Parish Priest of Ghaxaq was Rev. Matthew Sciriha.

       
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