June - September 2008
1,750th anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Lawrence
The celebrations to mark the 1,750th anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Lawrence, which have been under way since last year, reach their peak in August in the run up for the feast of St Lawrence on 10th August. The Oratorio LAURENTIUS was presented at St Lawrence Collegiate Church after it was premiered in St Lawrence Church at San Lawrenz, Gozo. The libretto was written by Bishop Emeritus Mons. Nikol Cauchi and the music was composed by Mro. John Galea who also conducted the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chorus Urbanus. The roles were sung by Yvonne Galea, Soprano; Pamela Bezzina, Mezzo-Soprano; Joseph Aquilina, Tenor; Noel Galea, Bass; Kevin Caruana and Ali Reiger, Baritones. The Oratorio narrates the life of St Lawrence in poetic format and concludes with a grand finale singing the glory of the Saintís martyrdom on the gridiron.
The day before, a Son et Lumiere entitled San Lawrenz Levita, Il-Martri Mbissem was put up at the St Lawrence Church Parvis using power-point technology. It was produced by John Raggio and directed by Frans Lia. The script was written by Gorg Peresso and centred on the widespread devotion to the Saint throughout the world and then focussing on the centuries old Laurentian tradition at Birgu. To serve as a lasting memorial of the event, a marble monument designed and constructed by sculptor Ronald Pisani, was inaugurated and blessed by Pro-Vicar Can. Anton Gouder. The monument provides a fitting sequel to a similar monument a small distance away, also by the same artist, to commemorate the 9th centinary of the foundation of St Lawrence Parish.
There were other initiatives specially undertaken for the occasion: an Exhibition on the Iconography and Folklore surrounding St Lawrence organised by Mr Andrew Zarb, opened by Bishop Mons. Adeodato Micallef; the launch of a CD with songs singing the praises to St Lawrence written by Gorg Peresso; the publication on the front page of the summer edition of the magazine Farag published by the Catholic Action Commission for the Sick and Persons with Disabilities of a magnificent picture of the statue of San Lawrnz Jaghti d-Dawl lill-Ghomja, accompanied by an article on the Saintís attachment to the needy written by Fr John Avellino.
125th anniversary of St Lawrence Band
The Banda Vittoriosana San Lawrenz, formerly called Duke of Edinburgh, celebrated the 125th anniversary from its formal foundation. The highlight of the celebrations was the inauguration at Vittoriosa Square of a new bandstand which comprises various artistic features including baroque sculptures in wood, painted panels, bronze railings and lamposts. The Band executed a programme of symphonic pieces for the occasion under the baton of Mro. Paul Schembri. To commemorate the event, a marble tablet was placed at the entrance hall of the Band Headquaters at Vittoriosa while the Committee commissioned Mr Anton Attard, Vice President of the Vittoriosa Histroical & Cultural Society to publish a researched and illustrated history of the Band.
Awards to students at Lorenzo Gafaí Secondary School
Twelve students were given the Bronze Award of The Presidentís Award Scheme which presents a variety of challenges to students and assesses their performance in extra-curricular voluntary activities and provides youths a form of basic enjoyment and adventure. The school has been involved in the scheme for the past three years.
Exhibition at Fort St. Angelo
An exhibition of ancient Chinese memoralia brought over from the Embassy of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Rome was held at the Main Hall of the Magisterial Palace at Fort St. Angelo. This was held through the initiative of Fra. John Critien, the Knight Resident of Fort St. Angelo. The exhbition comprised about 250 artifacts.
Euripides at Vittoriosa
The famous Greek play The Bacchae in its Maltese version Il-Bakkanti, was played at Couvre Porte, Vittoriosa by the Malta Drama Centre in collaboration with the Institute of Tourism Studies and the Vittoriosa Local Council. This was however a modern version as it formed part of a pilot enterprise financed by the EU cultural programme. The play, directed by Lino Farrugia was in Italian, English and Maltese and contained innovative ritualistic choreography, spriritual songs, Maltese folk laments and rock music.
Art Exhibition at Couvre Porte
Artist Charlot Cassar, Art Coordnator at St Edwards College, Vittoriosa, held an exhibition of original ceramic compositions at Couvre Porte, Vittoriosa, under the title Defying Squares.
Art Exhibition at Maritime Museum
The theme of the exhibition by young artisit Priscilla Ainhoa Grima is Anima del Circo and depicts a travelling company of perfermers including circus characters and shrouded clowns. The troup performers are not simply captured in a moment of glory but what is illustrated is the essence of the character. It is as though the viewer has been given a backstage pass to a circus show where the protagonists can be seen as mere mortals who share one same destiny . This is done though the use of bright oil pastels contrased with deep black backgrounds. The drawings generally possess a powerful depiction of the eyes and faces which the artist is clearly fond of interpreting.
Popeís visit to Genova
During his visit to Genova, Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to the famous Cattedrale dedicated to St Lawrence which traditionally stands at the place where St Lawrence stayed while on his way to Rome from Huesca. On the same occasion , the Pope addressed a large gathering of youths at Piazza Matteotti exhorting them to stand for long-lasting values and to be ready to make sacrifices to preserve them, imitating their patron saint, St Lawrence.
In an commentary in Lehen is-Sewwa it was stated that the magnificent view of the facade of St Lawrence Church at Vittoriosa Marina is being somewhat marred by the stone blocks making up the Freedom Monument. Its was stated that the monument does not match the baroque architecture of the chirch and it was suggested that the moumnet should be dismantled and moved further south.
Giorgio Armaniís superyacht at Vittoriosa
Vittoriosaís Yacht Marina, run by Camper & Nicholsons, one of the top names in the world in marina management, has set itself an illustrious target: to be among the best marinas in the Mediterranean, despite the severe competition. Giorgio Armaniís presitigious superyacht berthed at the Vittoriosa Marina in August but it was reported that he did not leave his boat.
Mons Paul Raggio awarded Gieh il-Birgu
The highlight of the celebrations organised by the Local Council to commemorate Vittoriosa Day was the Solemn Mass at St Lawrence Collegiate Church in the presence of the Icon of the Nativity of the Madonna, brought over as in previous years from the Church of the Annunciation at Vittoriosa. Afterwards the guests moved to Couvre Porte where the Mayor of Vittoriosa made a speech and presented the Gieh il-Birgu award for 2008 to Mons Paul Raggio, President of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.
Another Mass was said in the troglidic chapel dedicated to Nativity at Fort St Angelo. While the Local Councilís unfailing enthusiasm to mark Vittoriosa Day was remarkable, it was a pity the celebrations ignored completely any refence to the Victory Monument at Vittoriosa Square, which ought to be at the centre of these celebrations as it is the original monument of the Great Siege of 1565 erected by the Order.
The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society on its own initiative placed a laurel wreath at the foot of the monument on Vittoriosa Day. During his speech at Couvre Porte the Mayor hinted that the Local Coucil was toying with the idea of moving Vittoriosa Day to some other date instead of 7 September. This would be most disrespectful to the City of Vittoriosa: the name Vittoriosa was bestowed on it by Grand Master De Valette himself for its unique role during the Great Siege which came to an end on that very day by the singing of the Te Deum at St Lawrence Church.
Lino Bugejaís articles on Vittoriosa
In a series of three illustrated articles on The Sunday Times, Lino Bugeja traces the maritime connections of Vittoriosa. Being the main port of call from mainland Europe since olden times, Birgu was always at the forefront of new ideas and innovation. In the middle ages, Birgu was caught in the mighty struggles between the Angevins and the Aragonese both of whom left their indelible mark on the city. Thus it was during this period that saw the origin of dockyard in the shadow of Fort St. Angelo, then known as Castrum Maris. It was also during this period that the cult of St Lawrence which traditionally saw its birth during the Norman period, became even more embedded with the presence of the powerful noble De Nava and De Guevara families.
Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival
Six foreign and four Maltese short story writers and poets, a jazz band and a singer composer took part in this yearís third edition of the Malta Mediterrenan Literature Festival held at Couvre Porte over three days in September. The festival which includes readings and short sketches interspersed with musical intervals, was organised by Inizjamed and was part-financed by EU cultural funds.