Safi – History

The village of Safi, or Hal Safi, is the home of 2066 inhabitants in the south of Malta (NSO Census 2011). The origin of the village’s name is uncertain. However, there are two predominant theories: the Maltese word safi translates to ‘pure’ which is why many believe that the village was named after the pure air in the region. Another theory is based on the legend that during a nationwide epidemic, none of the residents of Safi were contaminated. The village’s motto ‘sine macula’ and its coat of arms emphasize the origin of its name.

Sources about the roots of Safi are rare but findings in the area suggest that the first settlements date back to Neolithic times. It is said that Safi was a gathering point for farmers from the surrounding villages to chat on their way home. The first historical mention of Safi goes back to 1419, when about 80 to 90 people lived in the village. It was then still part of the parish of Bir Miftuh and later became part of the parish of Zurrieq. After several attempts by the Safi community, in 1598 Bishop Gargallo finally agreed to appoint Safi an independent parish. At that time, 210 people lived in the village. The Parish Church, dedicated to the Conversion of St Paul, was not built until 1727.
The origins of Safi go back to a rich farming heritage, especially breeding sheep, goats and agriculture. Nowadays, farming is mostly a hobby and a part-time pursuit.
The feast of St. Paul is celebrated in Safi. Up until 1959, the feast was held on January 25th, but from 1960 onwards, the feast is held on the last Sunday in August. This change was mainly due to January’s bad weather. Celebrations include band marches and the decoration of the village, by the use of lights and banners.