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Zejtun is a town in the south of Malta which posseses the title of Cittą Beland, which was conferred by Ferdinand von Hompech, the Grandmaster of Knights of Malta in 1797. The village contains various Roman remains, including a Roman Villa, and a Church dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The foundation stone was blessed in 1692 and the first archpriest was Dun Pawl Branchel . This Church, which was eventually finished in 1720, was the follower of a previous one, which still stands today on the edge of the town, which was also dedicated to Saint Catherine, but is colloqually known as Saint Gregory's, probably due to the annual procession dedicated to that saint, which in Medieval times used to start from as far as Mdina.
Furthermore, in Medieval times the whole district around Zejtun, that is, in the southern end of Malta, was known as le Terre di Santa Caterina, ('the lands of Saint Catherine' in Italian, which was the official language in the period). Various new villages were formed from parts of the Parish of Zejtun, such as Ghaxaq and Marsaxlokk, each now being considered as a separate parish. The local militia regiment of Zejtun was one of the first to engage the Turks in the initial stages of the Great Siege of 1565, but the town continued to suffer attacks by Turkish pirates up to 1614, when an attack by the was repulsed without aid from other militias. The town served a minor role in the French Blockade of 1799/1801 as a depot for soldiers. It was one of the first towns in Malta, outside the main fortifications, to boast a Public Garden, which still stands today, the Luqa Briffa Garden, named after a famous cavarlyman during the Great Siege.
Zejtun passed the British-rule of the Maltese islands as a rural-backwater in the green fields of the Mazza Valley - it had one of the many hospitals in Malta for wounded British and French soldiers in the First World War, which earned the island the nickname of the Nurse of the Mediterranean. With the arrival of Maltese Independence, the town was expanded as home-ownership-schemes, industrial estates and housing estates were built around the old nucleus. During the last fifty years, the town has been known for fervent political rivarly which culminated in 1981, when a veritable 'battle' was fought between the Nationalist and the Labourite supporters in the main road approaching the town, known as Tal-Barrani.
Zejtun takes its name from the production of olive oil, which was one of the main productive industries in Malta.
The most important event which takes place in the town during the year is the feast of St. Catherine, which is celebrated in summer and not in the traditional date of the 25th of November. Zejtun has two rival musical bands, the Banda Beland and the Zejtun Band. The anthem dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, sung in Zejtun during the feast, was written by Emmanuele Palmier-Cecy while it was composed by Dun Lawrenz Mifsud. Another famous composer, born in Zejtun, was Carlo Diacono; His name is currently mostly associated with the name of the Girl's Junior High-School, a few streets away from Saint Gregory's Church.
The current archpriest is Fr. Eric Overand, while the mayor is Mr. Joe Attard.
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