July - September 2009
Dr Louis Lagana’ co-ordinated Mr Charles Cassar Art Exhibition
This year’s Bank of Valleta – sponsored Fine Arts Exhibitio at the BOV Centre, Santa Venera was dedicated to leading senior artist Mr Charles Cassar. The retrospective exhibits depict the artist’s notable capacity in graphic design and brilliant use of colour, drawing his inspiration mainly from Malta’s megalithic culture. The art exhibition was curated by Dr Louis Lagana’, Art Critic and Head of the Arts Dept at the GF Abela Junior College, Msida. He also edited the book that was lauched during the exhibition, The book comprised a biography of the artiist and a critical analysis of his works. Dr Louis Lagana’ is a Committee Member of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.
Vittoriosa in the early years of the 20 th century
In the July-August edition of the St Lawrence Vittoriosa Band Newsletter, Mr Anton Attard wrote an article on life at Birgu at the turn of the 20 th century. He explains how, following the introduction of electicity in Malta, the distribution of the current at Vittoriosa and in the Cottonera was still unstable and erratic. For long period in 1908, the streets of Birgu were in pitch darkness; the only light came from oil or kerosene lamps in the corner niches found in some of the streets of the city. The author also describes how in 1912, it was reported that 13 people died from drinking contaminted milk bought from farmers who used to herd there goats through the streets of Birgu selling milk. It was still some years when milk started to be pateurised.
40th Anniversary of the Ordination of Mons. Paul Raggio
Mons. Paul Raggio who forms part of the Rev. Chapter of the Vittoriosa Collegiate Church celebrated his 40th Anniversary of his Ordination with a Solemn Mass at the Kalkara Parish Church where he is serving as Vice Parish Priest. Co-celebrants in the Mass, which was part of the festivities of the titular feast of St Joseph, were the Archpiest of Vittoriosa, Can. Joe Caruana, members of the Vittoriosa Chapter, Mons J Debrincat from the Gozo Catherdral and the Kalkara Parish Priest. Mons Raggio commemorated his ordination also at his native city Vittoriosa when he sang Holy Mass as part of the Novena in prepartion for the feast of St Lawrence. Mons. Raggio is also Chaplain of the Vittoriosa Benedictine Nuns at the St Scholastica Monastry. He is the President of the Vittoriosa Histroical & Cultural Society.
Visit by Members of the Venerable Order of St John
This year the Venerable Order of St John held its General Council Meeting in Malta and about 60 Knights and Dames from around the world where the Order has is presence met in Malta for a three-day convention. The Venerable Order of St John is the survivor of the Langue of England, one of the eight Langues of the Order, which was dissolved by King Henry VIII during the Reformation in the 16th century. The Venerable Order was constituted by Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in the 1880’s. The Venerable Order was soon to have its own seat in Malta though the setting up of St John Ambulance in 1909. The convention was in fact co ordinated by St John Ambulance Malta. As part of the cultural programme, the Knights were conducted on a historical tour of Vittoriosa by Brigadier Claude Gaffiero, ex-Commander, St John Ambulance Malta. The guests concluded their visit to Vittoriosa by having lunch at one of the prestigeous restaurants along the Vittoriosa Yacht Marina.
Pectoral Cross awarded to St Lawrence Collegiate Chapter
The first day of the St Lawrence Novena 2009 at Vittoriosa was a historical event for the Vittoriosa St Lawrence Chapter. The Vittoriosa Chapter has since its formal recognition in 1820 attracted various priveleges among which the capacity to sing Pontifical Mass on the occasion of the feast of St Lawrence. This unique privelege was suppressed in the 1930’s. Another privilege was the use of the Pectoral Cross by members of the Chapter. This was also dicontinued in the 1970’s. It has now been restored. All the members of the Vittoriosa Chapter were bestowed new Pectoral Crosses. The award-giving ceremony was officiated by Archbishop Emeritus Mons. Joseph Mercieca who was instrumental in obtaining the necessary sanction from the Vatican.
MY The Maltese Falcon at anchor at Vittoriosa
The luxury yacht The Maltese Falcon, which is in a class of its own on account of its huge outfit and elegant style, paid a short visit to Malta and was berthed at Vittoriosa. It displays three large masts, is 88 metres long and is registered in Malta. It is one of the largest privately-owned sailing yachts in the world and was launched in 2006. Its owner is the American venture capitalist Tom Perkins.
Vittoriosa as sentinel to Malta’s historic Grand Harbour
Lino Bugeja in an article in The Sunday Times delves into the Grand Harbour’s role in the history of Malta, emphasising the not only its stunning visual impact enhanced by the massive fortification practically encircling the harbout, but also its strategic location as an indespenable landfall on the sea-routes between Europe and North Africa. The harbour has been guarded from time immomorial by the Castrum Maris, what is now Fort St Angelo, which is an everlasting monument to Malta’s European links. It was around this secure enclave that merchants and seamen found refuge and gave rise to the Birgu maritime settlement, with its arsenals, workshops and warehouses. The author recalls the bustle and activity at when Vittoriosa was the headquaters of the Royal Navy. He also descibes his experiences during the war years when as a young boy he saw the devasted HMS Ohio limping its was bravely into the harbour, leading the Santa Marija Convoy.
Resoration of part of bastions at Post of Castille
The necessary planning permits have been issued and approvals given for the EU-funded restoration of the Hornworks forming part of the Post of Castille at Vittoriosa. This bastion facing Kalkara Creek was the site of ferocious battles during the Great Siege if 1565. The project involves the demolition of an oil-depot built during the British period which is unrelated to the fortifications and obstructs them from view. Besides, the building is supported by iron beans that are embedded into the bastions and are damaging their fabric. The work will be undertaken by Resoration Unit of the Works Division under the direction of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.
Biography of Vittoriosa-born 17th century mystic playwright
Giuseppe Pace Asciak has published a book about the auto sacramental author Marcello Attardo de Vagnoli who was born at Vittoriosa in 1605. Auto sacramentals were religious plays performed during the feast of Corpus Domini to highlight the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. This genre was popular in Spain and the tableaux were played as part of the Corpus procession. The characters of these one-act plays are usually allegorical and usually represent abstract concepts: sin, virtue, freewill, grace. The Vognoli play is entitled Cupido Disgannatore. During his youth Vagnoli spend some years as a slave in Tunis. After he was set free, he went to Austria where he studied for the priesthood. Returning to Malta, he was appointed Parish Priest ofQormi in 1643. He died in Naples in 1658. It should be stated that a critical study of the work of Vagnola was undertaken by the late Can. Gwakkin Schembri who hailed from Qormi and who was also member of the Rev. Chapter of the Vittoriosa Collegiate. The study was presented to the public in a literary soiree in 1988 held at the Inquisitor’s Palace under the patronage of the then Minister of Education, Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici.
Obama under the sights of St Lawrence
During the first visit of US President Barrack Obama to the Vatican following his attendance at the G8 conference at L'Aquila, Italy, he was pictured in a meeting he had with Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertoni, with the magnificent painting of St Lawrence of Luca Giordano in the background. It was like St Lawrence bestowing his heavenly blessing on the world’s foremost leader and during his first encoounter with the Church.
This family event which had not been organised for the past three years was again put together at the Vittoriosa Marina. The events, which leads to the feast of St Lawrence, included performances on the main stage by various entertainers.
20 years sexton of St Lawrence Collegiate Church
Mr Karemenu Scicluna has been sexton of St Lawrence for 20 years. He recounts his experiences ina na article in the July-August edition of the St Lawrence Vittoriosa Band Newsletter. He mentions the various special occasions that happened over these years which fill him with great satisfation, among which the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1990 coinciding with the 900th anniversary of the foundation of St Lawrence Church, the advent from the Vatican of the preccious Relic of the Head of St Lawrence, the installation of Fra Andrew Bertie, Grand Master of the Order of St John, as Honorary Citizen of Vittoriosa. Mr Scicluna celebrated the happy anniversary by with a group of friends and helpers whom he inspires with his amiable character to assist him in the church maintenance.
Vittoriosa as the hub of Maltese corso
Documentary evidence reveals that piracy, corsairing and the slave trade have been part of Malta’s maritme tradition since early times. Our bays and inlets were infested with pirates who came from Barbary and wintered in our sheltered bays. The Maltese population was at their mercy. However, Maltese corsairs also took part in such activity which at the time was not a criminal activity. Lino Bugeja, in a series of two articles in The Sunday Times, gives a studied outline of the history of the corso in Malta and points out how Vittoriosa and the Galley Creek, which were the Fleet base of the Order of St John, even after the transfer of the Order’s seat to Valletta, were the scene of major corsairing expeditions till such activity became anachronistic and was discontinued in the mid-18th century.
Members of SMOM for St Lawrence Feast
Several members of the Sovreign Military Order of Malta participated in the procession at St Lawrence Church during the Solemn Translation of the Relics of St Lawrence on the Vigil of the Saint’s Feast on 10 August. The contingent of Knights were led by the Knight Resident & Governor of Fort St Angelo, Fra John Critien.