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 Safe Haven because of the great number of sailors who used to go to the small chapel that the Dominicans had built prior to the construction of the large church in order to thank the Mother of God upon their safe return to harbour after long and dangerous sea voyages. It was also declared that the parish of St Dominic would be the principal parish church of the city.