The Basilica of St. Dominic is one of the three parish churches of Valletta. It is administered by the Dominican Order whose convent is located behind the church.
The land upon which the church and convent are built were given to the order by Grand Master Pierre de Monte. Girolamo Cassar was commissioned to draw up the plans. The first stone was laid on 19 April 1571. The parish was established on 2 July 1571 by a decree given by Pope Pius V, considered as the benefactor of the construction of Valletta. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Fair Havens which means 'Good Harbour' because of the great number of sailors that used to attend services at the small chapel that the Dominicans had built prior to the construction of the large church. It was also declared that the parish of St Dominic would be the principle parish church of the city.
The church was closed and declared unsafe on July 24, 1780 as a consequence of earthquakes and severe storms. A new church was built on the same site of the original church some 25 years after it was closed. The church was opened and blessed on May 15, . The church was elevated to the dignity of a Minor basilica on March 25, 1816. The church was finally consecrated on October 15, 1889 by Archbishop Pietro Pace.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.