April - June 2009
Good Friday exhibition at Auberge de France
An exhibition of life-sized statues of characters from the Gospel story of the Lord’s Passion was held in the cellars of the Auberge de France at Vittoriosa. The exhibition was put up by Mr Marco Agius and Mr Joseph Scicluna and the statues in the exhibition were made by Vittoriosa artist Andrew Bugeja. The large cellars of the Auberge de France, which could be reached from the back of the Auberge from Ancient Street, had for many years been in a very bad shape: when the Auberge served a carpenter’s workshop after the war, the cellers were used a dumping area for scraps of timber and loose wood offcuts. In recent years they served as storage for granite slabs and gravel used in street construction by government workers. With the permission of Heritage Malta, the place was emptied, cleaned up and restored. The place includes some antique features such as vaulted roofs and typical spiral staircase (garigor), recessed alcoves.
Maundy Thursday in Candlelight
The Vittoriosa Local Council came out with an original idea: a candlelight event on Maundy Thursday. This was the first time that such an event was organised. The object was to emphasise the religious traditions and rituals at Vittoriosa related to the Holy Week. The city bastions were lit up by torches and the streets by candlelight. In the streets, various re-enactments portraying the Passion of Christ were held. The event gave promotion to various private exhibitions at Vittoriosa
Resoration works on the Good Friday processional statues
The initiative started last year to restore the Vittoriosa Good Friday processional statues was carried on this year. This time it was the turn of the statues making up the Crucifixion. This is probably the oldest statue group of Spanish origin reresenting Our Lady, St John, Mary Magdalene and Christ on the cross. The restoration work was masterly executed by Mr Renzo Gauci. Mr Lawrence Briffa restored the ebony cross.
Picture of Church of St Anthony the Abbot
Following Lorenzo Zahra’s article in Treasures of Malta, No. 43, Vol XV. No 1, published by Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti about the Church of St Anthony the Abbot, destroyed during the war, art critic and histroian Judge Giovanni Bonello peeked into his collection of old photographs and behold, a photograph from the 1920s of the church. This is his sublime gift to us: probably the only existing picture of this ancient and battered church. Thank you, Judge Bonello. The photograph is reproduced in Treasures of Malta, No. 44, Vol XV. No 2.
Annual Musical Concert by St Lawrence Band
This year’s Annual Musical Band Concert by the Vittoriosa St Lawrence musical society was again held at Caraffa Palace at Vittoriosa Wharf. The programme was presented by Mr George Peresso and the guest of honour was the recently appointed new President of the Republic, H.E. George Abela. The first half of the programme consisted of classical synphonic music including Smetana’s Die Moldau and Dvoraks New World Synphony. The second part of the programme was on a modern note and included a musical fantasy from operattas by Nitiffi and selection of Eros Ramazzotti’s songs. The band was capably led by Mro. Paul Schembri
Rossini’s Stabat Mater
For the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, an unusually large audience including dignitaries filled St John’s Co Cathedral at Valletta. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Mirabitur Choir presented Rossini’s memorable and dramatic cantata, Stabat Mater. Orchestra and Choir were expresively conducted by Vittoriosa born Mro. Emanuel Spagnol.
Art exhibition at Vittoriosa Maritime Museum
‘The Three Cities: eve of a renaissance’, was the title of an art exhibition held at the Maritime Museum. Funds raised from the exhibition were intended to raise funds for the restoration of the 18th century altarpiece of St Anne’s Chapel at Fort St Angelo. One of the sponsors of the exhibition was Fra John Critien, Knight Resident at Fort St Angelo.
Articles in the St Lawrence Band bi-monthly review
Edition no. 50 of the St Lawrence Band journal includes two articles: one on the Vittoriosa Confraternity of St Joseph by Lorenzo Zahra who quotes a document indicating its millenial foundation in 1103; the other article is by Anton Attard and recounts the participation of the St Lawrence Band in the Holy Week celebrations including a grand concert held under the baton of Mro. Gaetano Grech at Piazza Vittoriosa on Palm Sunday 1905.
50th Anniversary of Priesthood of Mons. Joseph Caruana
Vittoriosa celebrated the 50th anniversary of the priesthood of Mons Joseph Caruana, popularly known as Dun Guzepp. Concelbrated Solemn Mass was held at St Lawrence Colleggiate Church for this prestigeous occasion, with the participation of Rev. Can Joe Caruana, Vittoriosa Archpriest, and Fr Joe Bonnici, Prior at St Dominic Convent, Vittoriosa. Dun Guzepp has worked uninterruptedly with the Vittoriosa community for thgese 50 years. At the end of the Mass, a reception was held on St Lawrence Church Parvis.
Mons. Lawrence Mifsud appointed Chapelain of the Order of St John
Also celebrating his 50th anniversary of his priesthood, Mons Lawrence Mifsud, ex-Archpriest of Vittoriosa for 20 years, was appointed as Chapelain of the Sovereign Miliaty Order of Malta.
Art exhibition at Couvre Porte
Paintings of European urban streets by Canadian artist J.D. Murphy were exhibited at Gallerija Couvre Porte, Vittoriosa.
“The ghosts of Malta” by Joseph Attard
Vittoriosa born prolific author Joseph Attard has published a Maltese version of his successful book “The ghosts of Malta”. He took the opportunity to make several updates in the Maltese version.
Our Common Heritage programme at Vittoriosa
The Vittoriosa Local Council embarked on an EU co-funded project called “Oralities”. The first leg of the programme was held in the city of Ourense, Spain, and inlcuded Sacred Music from Spain and Traditional Religious Songs from Malta sang by Fiona Cauchi. The second leg consised of Pop Music and was hosted at Couvre Porte, Vittoriosa. The evening included Folk Songs from the cities of Mertola and Evola in Portugal, Folk Dancing fom Ravenna, Italy, and Children’s Rhymes from Malta represnted by Soprano Ruth Sammut Casingena and her group.
Website about Vittoriosa
The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society is pleased to announce that it now counts Dr Raymond Agius, who is from Vittoriosa but lives and practices in the United Kindgsom, as one of its prestigeous members. Dr Agius is a Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Manchester School of Medicine. He holds various other profesional posts. He was recently acquired a house at Vittoriosa which he is converting to serve as his family’s residence when they visit Malta. He is pround to be from Vittoriosa and indeed one of his passions is to keep himself uptodate on the city. Indeed, he has taken the initiative to set up, within his own personal website, an interesting webpage on Vittoriosa. It contains a cross-section of information on Vittoriosa, including historical write-ups, amenities, references and other web-based resources. It can be accessed at www.agius.com/birgu.
Relics of St Lawrence
George Cilia, Member of the Vittoriosa Histroical & Cultural Society, writes about the relic of St Lawrence around the world in the present edition of the Vittoriosa St Lawrence Band Club magazine. He was inspired to write on this topic after reading the Maltese version of the Life of St Lawrence by Don Ignazio Como. The translation, still in the old Maltese ortography, was made by Mr G. Agius in 1887. One of the chapters of the book is about relics of the saint. The mortal remains of St Lawrence are a still venerated in the very same place of his burial by the Roman soldier Ippolito in the place where Emperor Constantine later ereacted the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuor le Mura. Another precious relic is the head of the saint, preserved since many years within the papal residence, first at the Laterno and now at the Vatican. Other celebrated relics include phials with the blood of St Lawrence, the most significat of which being those held at Tivili and Amaseno.
The Viaticum at Vittoriosa
George Cilia, Member of the Vittoriosa Histroical & Cultural Society, writes about the history of the Viatucum in the current issue of the St Lawrence Band Club magazine. The Viaticum, or the solumn The same magazine features another article by the Vice President of the Society, Anton Attard, which gives history of the St Roque Cemetry, now non-existent. Following the outbreak of plague in 1676 the victims from Vittoriosa were buried in an impovised field at Tal-Hawli Valley. In later years the place was abandoned and remianed so till 1902 when the the benefactor Manuel Pullicino restored the cementry as a place of devotion and place in it a statue of St Roque, hence the name. After his demise, the place again fell into disuse. It is now occupied by the Vittoriosa Primary School. Thanks to the efforts of the Vittoriosa Histrocal & Cultural Society and of the Vittoriosa Local Council, the statue of St Roque was re-erected in the school yard as a reminder of this cemetry.
Mons Paul Raggio honoured
In a ceremony held at St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta on the occasion of the Feast of St John the Baptist, Patron Saint of the Order of St John, Mons Paul Raggio, Canon at St Lawrence Collegiate Church Vittoriorsa, was awared the prestigeous honour of Croce dell’Ordine al Merito Melitense ‘pro piis meritis’ by the Order of St John. This award was given to him on the recommendation of H.E. Fra John Critien, Knight Resident and Governor of Fort St Angelo. A similar award was granted to all the Canons of St Lawrence Colleggiate in 2004. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society congratulates its President for this achievement which brings dignity to him and to Vittoriosa.
La Vallette’s Battle Sword at Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport has inaugurated a new extension to the Malta Air Terminal Building at Luqa with the purpose of making the premises more attuned to modern space requirements and also enhancing the architectural aestetics. For the occasion an exhibition on the history of the air terminal since its first primitive origin in the 1920’s has been put up. Also on the same occasion, the La Vallette Club Class Lounge within the restricted passenger area has also been refurbised and upgrade. For this special event, Malta International Airport has put up a stand to commemorate Grand Master La Vallette. With the permission of the Reverend Chapter of the St Lawrence Colleggiate Church, Vittoriosa, the Battle Sword of La Vallette, which is the highly treasured relic of the Vittoriosa Parish Museum, is on display at the La Vallette Lounge for a period of three months. It is understood that this is the first time that the precious sword was allowed to be taken out of the artistic niche built by Grand Master de Rohan in the Greek Church of Our Lady of Damascene within the Vittoriosa Museum, to preserve La Vallette’s Hat and Sword. The sword is the same one used by La Vallette during the Great Siege of 1565.