The city of Senglea is synonymous with the Darmanin family. ‘GIUSEPPE DARMANIN E FIGLI’ was inscribed in capital letters above a religious artisan’s door in Victory Street. Giovanni Darmanin whose statue of Our Lady of Lilies gives him great ties with Mqabba was the eldest son of Giuseppe, who conveyed such a great love for art and the execution of so many pieces nowadays found in our Churches. However, as soon as Giuseppe and his wife Maria nee Cumbo got married in 1816, they moved to Valletta, in Saint Paul’s Parish. It was there that Giovanni Darmanin was born on the 3rd April 1817. The day after on the 4th he was baptised at Saint Paul’s Church by Canon Dun Pawl Borg. He was given Giovanni as first name but he was given the names of Paul, Louis, Peter, Pasquale and Rosario as it was the custom. His Godparents were Anton Schembri and Giovanna, both from Valletta.
But what do we know about him as a sculptor? Among the statues by Giovanni Darmanin, there are the Holy Redeemer and the Angel of Christ at the Gethsemane in Vittoriosa. However, the Angel we see today is of Giuseppe Caruana nicknamed “Il-Marcjol” from Cospicua, as Darmanin’s was destroyed during the war. He executed the statues of Saint Roque and Our Lady of Charity for Vittoriosa and the Statue of Saint Dominic at the Dominican Convent and the statues of Our Lady, Saint John and Mary Magdalen in Zejtun.
Despite this great number of artistic works, Giovanni Darmanin is mainly noted for the Statue of Our Lady of Lilies in Mqabba.