Oct - Dec 2014
Vittoriosa By Candlelight
The city of Vittoriosa again presented a spectacular sight with the streets lit up by candlelight during the annual October Birgu Fest organized by the Vittoriosa Local Council. The festival has gained popularity among locals and foreigners alike and has become a national event showcasing the beauty and history of this ancient city. The event was spread over three days, with Friday, the first day, being dedicated mostly to educational and cultural activities for school children. On Saturday night the festival reached its climax with the entire city gleaming with candlelight while in various spots around the city, melodies were delivered by local and international bands. The historical places and bastions were brought back to life with period re-enactments from medieval times and from the period of the Knights of St. John. Museums, churches and cultural sites were open for the occasion. This year for the first time, a short film presentation was held in one of the old streets of the city. Sunday, the last day of the festival, saw parades and band marches playing in the main streets of the city. A special welcome was this year given to the Bersaglieri di Trapani. Vittoriosa By Candlelight was given wide publicity in the media and in tourist and holiday publications, among which the periodical Grand Life issued by Grand Hotel Excelsior.
Exhibitions at Vittoriosa
Various exhibitions, coordinated by the Vittoriosa Local Council, were held to coincide with the Vittoriosa By Candlelight event: a photo exhibition as part of the Youth-in-action programme; a ceramics exhibition by Mario di Liberto from Caltagirone; a reptiles exhibition by the Malta Herpetological Society; a contemporary art installations exhibition by Enrique Tabone. It should be noted that for this occasion, the door of the premises of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society at Vittoriosa Square was opened and the main steps decorated with candles while a watercolour painting of the Clock Tower, made by the Society’s former President, Mr Carmelo Gatt, was on show.
“Vittoriosa Great Siege city”
Lino Bugeja makes a heartfelt appeal to the authorities in this article, carried in Times of Malta, for the commemorations next year on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege of 1565 to be held in Vittoriosa, the city which was the authentic site of the Great Siege battle and which chanted the victory. He quotes from the Order’s chronicler of the Siege, Francesco Balbi, who resonates the bell ringing for the Pontifical High Mass at St Lawrence Conventual Church. He also quotes various modern writers who have studied the exploits of the Knights and the Maltese based in the citadel of Vittoriosa.
“Vittoriosa: an ancient city of culture”
This is the title of of the book written by Lino Bugeja and officially launched at the Auberge de France, Vittoriosa. Speakers at the event included President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici and Prof. Dominic Fenech, Dean of the Faculty of History at the University of Malta, himself also from Vittoriosa. Laurence Grech who was editor of the Sunday Times of Malta for 40 years discussed the contribution of his newspaper to Maltese historiography. Excerpts from the book were read out Lino Bugeja’s two children while the musical interlude consisted of movements from the 19th century score for mandolins composed by Vittoriosa-born maestro Giuseppe Frendo. The illustrated book comprises several historical articles written in recent years by the author and featured in the Sunday Times of Malta. At the conclusion of the event, the author distributed signed copies to guests, among whom a copy to the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.
“L’inquisiteur et le representation du pouvoir”
This is the title of a researched article in French by Fr. Gregory Woimbee, professor at the Catholic University of Toulouse, published by the University of Malta in the Journal of Baroque Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2. The article studies the demonstrations of power by the inquisition at Vittoriosa emphasising the triple role of the Inquisitors: as Inquisitors with jurisdiction over the Maltese Islands and the Knights of St John in the defence of the Catholic faith; as Apostolic Delegates representing the Holy See and Papal Ambassadors; as Supreme Judges in their tribunals vested with power to issue briefs and patents. As such the Inquisitors occupied both an ecclesiastical and a political office which they exercised from with within the bureaucracy and administration of his palace at Vittoriosa and the vast landed property over the Islands which they controlled. The palace itself, the Old Castellania from 1572, became the symbol of authority and power. The Inquisitors were at first rather unhappy with having been sidelined and would have preferred to have their seat at the new capital city, Valletta, but clearly the Grand Masters wanted them out of the way. As it happened, Vittoriosa retained its vigour as a maritime city and was soon turned into an exclusive inquisitorial territory. Over the years the palace was rebuilt and made into a beautiful edifice by Francesco Buonamici in 1660. A magnificent staircase was installed in 1734 to the design of Romano Carapecchia. The church of St Lawrence became the church of the Inquisitors where they sang the holy office and celebrated Pontifical Mass. St Lawrence Church served as the Church of the Papal Delegate, at par with the Mdina Cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Malta, and St. John’s Conventual Church of the Order at Valletta.
Malta’s glorious past
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Malta’s independence, Vittoriosa-born Cardinal Prospero Grech wrote an article in Lehen is-Sewwa tracing the historical developments since ancient times leading to Malta’s nationhood. He augurs a bright future and also ponders on the threats ahead in an ever secularised and atheistic environment.
“Malta’s national day”
Dr Simon Mercieca, in a controversial article in The Malta Independent with the above title, militates for the Otto Settembre to be declared as sole national day. But his arguments are biased by political reasoning rather based on historical facts. The Otto Settembre indeed carried national significance but in essence, it represents the high of glory of the city of Birgu, where the 1565 victory was sealed and immortalised by the city’s name, Vittoriosa
St Lawrence Band September-October 2014 newsletter
This issue comments editorially on the celebration of this year feast of St. Lawrence and the extraordinary experience of the presence in Malta and Gozo of the miraculous relic of the blood of the saint brought from the Italian town of Amaseno. The Band Club will be holding a seminar to discuss the performance of this year’s feast and plan for next year’s programme. Continuing with the theme of the devotion to St. Lawrence, Anton Attard reproduces verbatim an original poem in Maltese published in 1910 in the newspaper Is-Salib meditating the torments suffered by St. Lawrence in his martyrdom. Lorenzo Zahra’s historical article traces the origins of the Confraternity of St. Catherine at Vittoriosa dating from 1643. The usual face-to-face interview with a Vittoriosa personality conducted by Paul Micallef is this time with Walter Attard, whose family is from Vittoriosa but was born in Cyprus where his father was serving with the Royal Navy. Upon his father’s retirement the family returned and settled at Vittoriosa. Walter is a great billiard sportsman and this forged his links with the St. Lawrence Band Club. The Band Club has presented a gift to Mro. Emanuel Spagnol from Vittoriosa on the occasion of the 25th anniversary since his appointment as bandmaster of the Prince of Wales Own Band of Vittoriosa.
Malta: nurse of the Mediterranean
2014 has been the centenary year of the commencement of World War I. Malta, though from away from the thick and squalor of the battlefields, played its role as a large number of wounded soldiers from the Balkan theatre of war were brought to Malta which provided hospital accommodation for well over 18,000 war victims. The island’s resources were strained to the utmost. The Vittoriosa Naval Hospital within the Cottonera Fortifications, now St Edwards College, was among the hospitals that was thronged with patients. Following appeals for help for the care of convalescent patients, unfurnished private houses in different parts of the island were placed at the authorities’ disposal. Malta earned the title: nurse of the Mediterranean. The story is related in a detailed in a series of two articles by Michael Galea in The Sunday Times of Malta.
Sister Matilde Garzia passed away
One of the Benedictine nuns from St Scholastica Monastery at Vittoriosa, Sister Matilde Garzia from Vittoriosa, passed away at the convent at the age of 89. She had joined the nunnery at the age of 20 which means she has been cloistered for 69 years. Her funeral Mass was said the Monastery church dedicated to St Anne.
TV programme on St Scholastica Monastery
One of the series of cultural programmes on Net TV was dedicated to St Scholastica Monastery at Vittoriosa. It started with an interview with the Mother Abbess who described the simple and meditative life of the cloistered nuns who do not possess a TV set, though they do keep contact with the outside world. Next followed a tour round the convent which is housed in the old Sacra Infermeria of the Order of St John, built by Grand Master L’Isle Adam in 1533. The long corridors, the impressive staircase and the courtyard are still very well preserved. The programme ended with a visit to the adjoining Church of St Anne, built by architect Lorenzo Gafa’. A historical explanation was provided by Mr Lino Bugeja who mentioned among other things the beautiful paintings in the church by Mattia Preti, Rocco Buhagiar and Franco Zahra.
“Magdalene Nuns and Penitent Prostitutes”
This is the title of an excellent study by Christine Muscat published in 2014 on the Monastery of Santa Maddalena at Valletta, the institution set up by the Order of St John in 1595 offering refuge and solace to prostitutes and a wide spectrum of homeless, rejected and dissolute women, known as pentiti, run by the Franciscan Tertiary Nuns of St. Claire. The Monastery stood at the lower end of Valletta close of Fort St Elmo. The book examines the status of women and the existence of prostitution which became more prevalent in Malta after the arrival of the Knights and their settlement at Birgu in 1530. By 1571 the problem persisted to the extent that Grand Master La Cassiere issued an edict in that year against prostitutes in Vittoriosa and the harbour area, an edict which was resisted. After the transfer of the Order’s seat to Valletta, it was vitiating the morality of the Order itself. In 1583 Grand Master Verdalle took a first preventive step by erecting a Hospitaller Cloistered Nunnery dedicated to St. Ursola at Vittoriosa. The Monastery was housed in the old and vacant Palace of the Grand Master. It soon received the papal Brief from Pope Clement XIII. Grand Master Verdalle went ahead with a further more direct initiative with the establishment in 1595 of the Monastery for repentant prostitutes of the Maddalena at Valletta. The Ursuline Nuns eventually move to Valletta after the building of their massive cloister. By 1604 Vittoriosa was hosting the Nuns of St Scholastica of the Benedictine Order. The Valletta Monastery of St Magdalene continued to flourish as the number of nuns increased and its philanthropic work expanded, only to be suppressed abruptly by the French in1798. A modern school now stands in the place of the Monastery and only the adjoining church survives, even though it is in a deplorable state.
Resignation of Archbishop Mons Paul Cremona
Malta was anguished with the untimely resignation of Archbishop Paul Cremona due to ill-health. He was much loved and respected for his prudent leadership. He kept with his timetable of engagements till the end, among which a visit to the community of Benedictine nuns at St Scholastica Monastery, Vittoriosa, where he presided over the election of the new Mother Abbess. However, he was substituted by Mons. Carmelo Zammit from the Mdina Cathedral for the performance of Confirmation at St Lawrence Collegiate which happened to be on the day following his resignation. A Mass of thanksgiving and in honour of outgoing Archbishop Mons Paul Cremona was held at St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, on the occasion of the Feast of Christ the King. Cardinal Mons. Prospero Grech, Apostolic Administrator Bishop Charles Scicluna, Archbishop Emeritus Giuseppe Mercieca, and Nuncio Mons. Aldo Cavalli concelebrated in the Mass. Also taking part was Mons. Salv De Brincat, Chancellor at Gozo Curia, representing the Diocese of Gozo. The President of Malta, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, representative of the Judiciary and high officials from the civil authorities were present.
Archbishop Emeritus Guzeppi Mercieca biography
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary since his episcopal investiture, Archbishop Emeritus Guzeppi Mercieca has published his autobiography, authored by his long-time Curia PRO Mr Charles Buttigieg and printed by Klabb Kotba Maltin. The book is divided in three parts: part one is about his early years as a priest in Gozo and his work at the Roman Sacra Rota; part two narrates the harrowing years of the political issues that he faced, notably those relating to church schools and church property; and part three deals with his pastoral mission and role. Archbishop Mercieca led the church with wisdom and patience and never wavered in the church’s teachings. The book describes the dark years when he was the target of antagonism but wisely omits mention of the two instances when he was surrounded by an angry mob, at Paola and at Vittoriosa. Eye-witnesses at Vittoriosa would confirm that the gang had arrived at Vittoriosa purposely and awaited his departure from the Church of St Lawrence which he had just visited.
Beatification of Pope Paul VI
The process for the canonization of Pope Paul VI was started in Rome with his beatification by Pope Francis. Pope Paul VI will be remembered as the Pope who struggled to bring the Vatican Council II to a conclusion, and the Pope who started the apostolic missions outside the Vatican, visiting various countries an opening a dialogue with the Greek Orthodox Church. As a sequel to the Council the Church made various liturgical adaptations including the review of the Litany of the Saints which is recited during the Easter Vigil. The first Maltese text of the Litany published in 1969 did not include the name of St Lawrence but this was an omission on the part of the Maltese Curia. The continued inclusion of St Lawrence in the Litany of the Saints was confirmed by a telegram from Mons. Annibale Bugnini himself who was the Secretary of the Vatican Liturgical Commission appointed by Pope Paul VI. The next time that the revised Maltese version of the Litany of the Saints was sung in Malta in Easter 1970 included the name of St Lawrence. This affair is remembered in a frame hanging in the Vittoriosa Parish Museum. Pope Paul VI will no doubt be remembered when as Vatican Secretary of State, he accompanied the aggrieved and dumb-found Pope Pius XII to the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori Le Mura on 19 July 1943 when it was badly damaged by the Allies, despite the Pope’s heart-felt pleas to save Rome.
Picture of Patri Frangisk Galea OP
The Times of Malta weekly back-page photo at one stage captured elderly Patri Frangisk Galea OP making his lonely way with his walking still up Main Gate Street towards the Dominican Convent at Vittoriosa, with the closed windows of the Convent in the background. A truly remarkable picture! Patri Frangisk said his first Mass after his ordination at the Inquisitors Palace 55 years ago when the new Annunciation Church was still under construction and the Dominicans were using the Inquisitors Palace as a temporary chapel. Patri Frangisk has served with the Vittoriosa Dominican community uninterruptedly for many years.
First typical Maltese band march at Vittoriosa
Peter Paul Ciantar, well-know music writer and commentator, wrote an article on the characteristics of Maltese festa band marches in the latest issue of the magazine L-Anzjan Illum. He narrates how initially it was the British military bands that sparked the interest of Maltese musicians in this genre. The first Maltese conductor who tried his hand at a purely Maltese band march was Mro. Vincenzo Ciappara and his composition was played by the Prince of Wales Own Band of Vittoriosa, of which he was bandmaster.
Renovation of St Lawrence Band Club facade
The restoration and renovation on the stonework of the facade of the St Lawrence Band Club premises has been completed and a new sculpted wooden covered balcony has been installed. The facade, with its intricate designs and classic architecture stands out prominently at Vittoriosa Square. The project was partly financed with EU funds.
Old votive painting of the Capuchin Friary
Fr Baskal Magro has discovered an old painting depicting the Capuchin Friary at Kalkara dating back to around 1770 when the friary formed part of the parish of Vittoriosa. He describes his find in the October issue of Dawl Frangiskan, the monthly magazine of the Capuchin Order. The painting, which is found in the Wignacourt Museum at Rabat, is by an unknown painter and depicts the Immaculate Conception with St Francis and St Michael, and the Capuchin church of St Liberata in the background.
The Ceppuna Chapel at Marsa
Max Farrugia is featured in an article on this chapel in the October issue of Dawl Frangiskan. This is an early 15th century chapel at Marsa. It is of particular interest because it recalls the memory of the first Grand Master of the Order of St. John, L’Isle Adam who was responsible to settle the Knights in their new abode at Birgu upon their arrival in 1530. He was the one who built the Sacra Infermeria and who the Castellania, the Courts of Law, at Birgu. It was also during his time that St Lawrence Church was taken over to serve as Conventual Church, and that he reconstructed it after it was accidentally ravaged by fire in 1533. In 1534 he suffered from a violent fever and he died during one of his visits to the Franciscan friary at Rabat, Malta. His body was then transported to Birgu for the solemn funeral celebration. On the way, the funeral cortege stopped in this chapel, dedicated to the Annunciation, which took the name Ta’
Ceppuna of the locality where it was originally built by the De Nava Family when they were the feudal administrator of Fort St. Angelo.
The clockwork of the Maritime Museum Clock Tower
The leading article in the Times of Malta Business of Time supplement is an interview with clock repairer and restorer Stephen Zammit, who was the engineer behind the restoration of the clock mechanism for the old Naval Bakery Clock Tower adjoining the National Maritime Museum, Vittoriosa, a British clock dating to 1810. He recounts his fascination for clocks since a young age. He was later engaged to repair various clocks, including several constructed by the famous Maltese clockmakers Michelangelo Sapiano, the Suban brothers and the Tanti family. The Vittoriosa clock is installed with bells which chime every quarter of an hour.
Vittoriosa parish bulletin
In the Vittoriosa parish bulletin Ahna Fr John Avellino’s commentary refers to aspects of life at Vittoriosa. In the October issue he problems created by the ever increasing car population at Vittoriosa and the parking congestion at Vittoriosa Square. He also regrets that the number of altar-boys serving at St Lawrence Church has dwindled and recalls when he was an altar-boy together with a group of other boys. In the November issue he praises the initiatives being taken by various young people to join the missions during the summer to do voluntary work. He longs to join a number of youths from Vittoriosa on a similar adventure.
Wartime bomb discovered at Vittoriosa
An unexploded bomb from World War II, some 50cm long, was discovered in the ditch in the vicinity of Couvre Porte, Vittoriosa, as works were going on. Members from the Explosives Ordnance Disposal of the Armed Forces of Malta were called to defuse the bomb. Incidentally, the Malta at War Museum, run by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, is situated close by.
Maltese National Anthem
Oliver Friggieri has published a book entitled “L-Istorja ta’ l-Innu Malti” which traces the original of both the musical motif by Dr Robert Samut, and the lyrics by National Poet Dun Karm Psaila while Mro. Paul Nani arranged the musical score. It is stated that the anthem was first played by the King’s Own Band to the musical arrangement by Mro Vincenzo Ciappara. But this is not so: as avowed by Dun Karm Psaila himself, it was first play by the Societa’ Mandolinistica of Vittoriosa during a musico-literary evening held by the Ghaqda tal-Kittieba tal-Malti at the Manoel Theatre on 3 February 1923.
Centre for Active Ageing at Vittoriosa
It was officially announced that within a year’s time a building will be adapted at Vittoriosa to house a centre for lifelong learning and other activities for the elderly.
Spooky events organised for All Souls Day
Heritage Malta came up with an original programme of activities for the occasion of All Souls Day, exclusively held at the Inquisitors Palace. The first event consisted of an evocative experience where participants took part in a traditional supper followed by a sleep-over within the 17th century dungeons. The second event took the form of a night tour of the city in search for the locations of mysterious happenings and dark tales ranging from murders to ghostly apparitions.
Hidden sally exit discovered at the Post of Aragon
The postern was unearthed during the course of the ongoing restoration works on the Vittoriosa fortifications, part financed by EU funds. The removal of the rubble from within the narrow ditch enveloping the outer face and flanks of the counterguard, known as Post of Aragon, has exposed a low-lying sally exit. This ditch was filled with rubble and earth in the early decades of the 20th century, thereby robbing the ramparts of their true height and imposing mass, and burying the sally exit beneath.
Statue of Our Saviour on Il-Merzuq Hill, Marsalforn
Francesco Pio Attard features in Lehen is-Sewwa with a history of the imposing statue of Our Saviour which stands on the summit of a pointed hill at Marsalforn, Gozo, called Il-Merzuq. The first structure dates to 1870 when a small statue of Our Lord was placed on the hill. A wooden cross was raised at the turn of the century but in 1904 it was decided to erect instead a large stone statue of Our Saviour holding a cross. It was sculpted by Liberat Borg from Vittoriosa. This statue survived until 1960 when it was replaced with a concrete statue executed by Wistin Camilleri. However it was hit by lightening 13 years later. The present statue, made of fibreglass by Carmel Grech and put in place in 1979, has the same form as the famous Christ the Redeemer statue at Rio de Janeiro.
Cardinal Prospero Grech among old Lyceum Past Students
A group of members of the Association of Lyceum Past Students attended a general audience with Pope Francis at St Peter’s Square on the occasion of the 20th anniversary. They were accompanied by Archbishop Emeritus Paul Cremona and Vittoriosa-born Cardinal Prospero Grech, both of whom ex-Lyceum students. A picture of the encounter with the Holy Father together with a report were carried in The Sunday Times of Malta.
Wied Ghammieq cemetery
The origin and history of the Wied Ghammieq cemetery at Kalkara is recounted by Fr. Joe Abela in Lehen is-Sewwa. The story actually starts in 1837 during the plague that hit .Malta. At that time, Kalkara still formed part of the Vittoriosa Parish Church. The plague victims were shifted out of the Ospizio at Floriana and secluded at Fort Ricasoli. However, there were no hospital attendants to look after them because of fear of being infected. As a result the condition of wards became despicable. A contingent of prisoners was called in but these too were reluctant and proceeded to bury the dead victims, some 800, in a nearby field at Wied Ghammieq. According to hearsay, some victims were actually buried alive. This gave rise to a devotion for the repose of these souls which trails on to this day.
Controversial painting “Flight to Egypt”
This is the painting in the chapel dedicated to St Joseph in the Collegiate Church of St Lawrence and was referred to in an article in the Valletta St. Dominic feast programme booklet. At first it was attributed to Domenico Zampieri known as Il Domenichino but it seems more likely to be a faithful copy reputedly by Stefano Erardi of an important original by Alessandro Turchi (1578 - 1649), known as L'Orbetto, of Verona. The painting, now in the Manchester City Art Gallery, was at the time an altarpiece in the Dominican church at Valletta where it is first recorded in 1635. Another copy was made by Michele Busuttil and is now in the Cathedral Church of Gozo. Turchi's painting apparently left Malta in 1815 when the then Vicar Provincial of the Dominican Order, sold it to a certain Mr. Robinson, an English merchant, and with the money purchased a bell for the newly reconstructed Porto Salvo church. It was rumoured that Mr. Robinson sold the painting in London. However, the enigma is that there is another “Flight to Egypt” painting at the Prado Museum in Madrid attributed to Turchi. Besides, it is known that Turchi painted a “Flight into Egypt” for the Church of San Romualdo, Rome, which, however was demolished to make way for development. According to Can. Gian. Mari Farrugia of Vittoriosa, the original Turchi painting never left Malta and was bought in 1860 by the procurator of the Vittoriosa Confraternity of St. Joseph for the chapel dedicated to this saint in St Lawrence Church. At about that time the Confraternity was re-decorating its chapel at St Lawrence Church.
Vittoriosa bandmaster of the Cospicua Band
Mro. Carmelo Ciantar (1927-1983) was bandmaster of St George’s Band Club of Cospicua from 1971 till his death in 1983. He was born at Vittoriosa and as a young boy he studied music at the Duke of Edinburgh Band Club, now St Lawrence Band, under the direction of Mro. Pacifico Scicluna. By the time the war started, his family went to live at Cospicua. The house where they lived received a direct hit and both his parents were killed. As an orphan he and his sisters were looked after by his uncle at Zejtun who eventually moved to Rabat. Here he joined the Count Roger Band under the baton of Mro. Vincenzo Ciappara. He later settled at Cospicua where he continued with his musical career where he became a soloist trumpeter. He succeeded Mro Willie Worley as director of the Cospicua Band to which he produced various original band marches and compositions. A biography of Mro. Carmelo Ciantar is found in the programme brochure for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Cospicua.
New Melchiorre Gafa’ bozzetto discovered
Fr Edgar Vella, Curator of the Mdina Cathedral Museum, reported in The Sunday Times of Malta the discovery of a beautiful well preserved wax bozzetto of The Martyrdom of St Eustace made by Vittoriosa-born 17th century artist Melchiorre Gafa’ or Cafa’. The model has been painted in a golden bronze patina and the author was hitherto known. It has now been established that this was Gafa’s first major independent work in Rome, commissioned by Camillo Pamphili and was intended for the church of Sant Agnese in Agone.
Annunciation Church featured in Jum il-Mulej
Every Sunday the liturgy leaflet Jum il-Mulej, besides the bible readings for the Sunday Mass, features a short write-up on one of the churches in Malta. On the second Sunday of Advent it was the turn of the Annunciation Church, Vittoriosa.
Mr Guzi Ciantar passed away
The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society has lost one of its active members. Besides being an active member, Mr. Ciantar served for many as a volunteer custodian at the Vittoriosa Parish Museum, taking various initiations to promote the Museum. Having been an ex-British Serviceman, he was also a member of the Anglo Maltese League. His funeral Mass at St Lawrence Church was led by the Archpriest Can. Joe Cilia. Condolences to his wife and family.
Sir Harry Luke and Vittoriosa
Sir Harry Luke was Commander and Governor of Malta between 1952 – 1959. He was an ardent historian and studied Maltese history. A commemorative talk on Sir Harry Luke about his involvement in Gozo affairs was held in Gozo. He also had a close connection with Vittoriosa. This was the result of his friendship with Can. Gian Mari Farrugia besides being a chaplain at the British Naval Establishments, was also a passionate researcher on the history of his home town, Vittoriosa. Can. Farrugia took Governor Sir Harry Luke for a tour of Vittoriosa following which, through the initiative of the Governor, marble tablets were affixed against all major historical buildings at Vittoriosa. Can. Farrugia also persuaded Sir Harry Luke to arrange for the purchase by government of the Auberge de France which at that time was privately owned.
Bell ringing at Vittoriosa
Anton F. Attard in an article on the practice of bell ringing in the magazine Il-Hajja f'GHawdex mentions the historical ringing of bells at Vittoriosa: the bell on the Clock Tower at Birgu Square announcing the approach of the Ottoman Armada at the outbreak of the Great Siege of 1565, and the happy pealing of bells at St Lawrence Church to celebrate the Victory. The article also mentions the special ringing of bells at Vittoriosa to denote praise and celebration called il-lawdi.
St Lawrence Cemetery
Fr John Avellino writing in the monthly Vittoriosa parish bulletin Ahna, thanks the Vittoriosa Local Council and the volunteers who through their generous assistance the St Lawrence Cemetery is kept in tip top condition and is kept open for public devotion. He particularly thanks those who take the initiative to organise the saying of Mass every first Monday of the month in the cemetery chapel.
“Biex il-Kliem ikun sew”
This is the title of the new book by Martin Morana of Vittoriosa which joins his two earlier publications: “Bejn Kliem u Storja” and “Ara x’int tghid”. He has now established himself as an expert of Maltese semantics. His books have formulated a veritable Maltese lexicon, an inventory of Maltese words and expressions and their meaning and historical origin. His present book contains some 800 words which brings the total covered in the entire series to 2,500 words. All three books are profusely illustrated.
Vittoriosa Stars Football Club win
Vittoriosa battled hard during the match with Melita FC who gave a staunch offensive, yet Vittoriosa ended with a 2-0 victory. This gained them valuable marks and a place among the front runners for promotion to First Division.
San Lorenzo at Portovenere
The centre-pages of Il-Mument features an excellent photo travelogue every Sunday. Lately the paper has targeted the beautiful Liguria coastline, notably La Spezia. One of the panoramic towns is Portovenere which boasts an old church dedicated to San Lorenzo. One of the pictures shows the church with the harbour in the background. The church was originally built in the 12th century but has undergone several restorations. Besides the cult of St Lawrence, the church contains the shrine of the Madonna Bianca for whom the town people have a profound veneration.
National Book Award for art research study
During this year’s National Book Fair among the 2013 books that were awarded was a Midseabooks publication entitled The Mediterranean Artistic Context of Late Medieval Malta written by University of Malta Faculty of Arts lecturer and art critic Charlene Vella. The book studies Malta’s artistic heritage between 1091-1530, i.e. from the start of the Norman Conquest till the arrival of the Order of St. John. This period witnessed a cross-current of cultures that influenced the Maltese identity. The book emphasises the divide that existed between the lifestyle and artistic inclinations of the upper classes on one hand, in particular the governing courtiers at Birgu within Fort St. Angelo, otherwise called Castrum Maris, and the villagers.
St Lawrence Band November-December 2014 newsletter
This issue happily announces the conclusion of the restoration works on the palatial facade of the band club’s premises at Vittoriosa Square. What remained to be done was the installation of the new artistic balcony which would be in place before the year end. In this newsletter it was reported that Mro. Paul Schembri who has led the St Lawrence Band for 30 years will be retiring as from 2015. The Band will honour him with a commemorative programme during St Lawrence feast. In the meantime the band committee has started the process of searching for a replacement. Anton Attard’s corner in the newsletter deals with the close relationship of the Capuchin Order with Vittoriosa starting with the exhortations of Fra Roberto Eboli during the Great Siege of 1565, who started the Eucharistic adoration at St. Lawrence Church known as Kwaranturi. Another notable Capuchin was Fra Francesco da Vittoriosa who excelled as a preacher in the early 18th century. George Cilia recalls with memory of two stalwart brother priests from Vittoriosa, both of whom great devotees of St. Lawrence: the late Mons. Lawrenz Zammit, who before his appointment as Monsignor at the Mdina Cathedral, served for 14 years as Archpriest of Zebbug, and the amiable Can. Anton Zammit Gabarretta, Canon Theologian of St. Lawrence Collegiate and President of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. This time Paul Micallef interviews Lawrence Theuma, especially well-known in Vittoriosa civic circles during his youth days and eventually as a teacher. He left his imprint as a co-founder of the Vittoriosa Lawn Tennis Club. This issue of the band club’s newsletter proudly features a photo of Prince William signing the visitors’ book at St. Lawrence Church during his visit to Malta in September for the Independence 50th anniversary celebrations.
Prince William at Vittoriosa
Another picture showing Prince William’s visit to the Church of St Lawrence in September appeared in the magazine The Messenger of St. Anthony.
“A Maltese officer’s death in India”
This is the title of a biographical article in The Sunday Times of Malta by Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society Committee member and British Military historian Denis Darmanin, to honour the memory of Capt. Rinaldo Sceberras, a brave Maltese soldier who lost his life heroically in India in 1845. He was born in Milan, the son of Count Camillo Sceberras who had settled in the Italian metropolis. Upon his father’s return to Malta when Rinaldo was in his youth, Rinattachealdo joined the 80th Regiment of Foot to which he remained intimately attached all his life. He followed the regiment in all its service commitments to the British Army throughout the British Empire, from Corfu to Australia and finally to India where he met his death defending the regiment’s Standard in the battle of Ferozeshash against the Sikh insurgents. He is remembered by a memorial at the Upper Barrakka Gardens, Valletta, erected by his fellow officers of the regiment.
Antonio Bosio’s legacy
Historian Giovanni Bonello delves into the rise to fame of antiquarian Antonio Bosio (1575-1629) in an article in The Sunday Times of Malta. It has always been held that Antonio Bosio was born at Vittoriosa, even if his birth does not apparently show in the St. Lawrence parish register. However, the reason for this could be that he was the illegitimate son of the Italian knight, Fra. Giovanni Otto, Vice-Chancellor of the Order of St. John. At a young age Antonio was taken to the family’s palatial residence in Rome where he was adopted by his intellectual uncle, historian Giacomo Bosio, author of the gargantuan three-volume Dell’istoria della Sagra Religion. Antonio himself stands out as the founder of modern scientific archaeology on the basis of his monumental work Roma Sotterranea, published posthumously in 1637. His exploration and excavation of Roman catacombs gave impetus throughout Europe to the devotion towards relics and skeletal remains of early Church Roman martyrs. Upon his death he bequeathed all his property to the Order of St John, including the family palace in Via dei Condotti in Rome which is now the HQ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Annual President’s Concert at St Lawrence Church
The annual President’s Concert was this year held during the Christmas Festivities rather than as usual on Epiphany. And it was held at St Lawrence Collegiate Church in the presence of The President of Malta, H.E. Mary Louise Coleiro Preca. The National Philharmonic Orchestra performed a splendid programme which included classical selections such as Strauss, Rossini, Saint-Saens. One of the numbers played was a composition by a Chinese composer by way of prelude to a forthcoming visit by the National Philharmonic Orchestra to China. The object of such concerts is to make the orchestra more accessible to the general public. The concert was televised on the national TV channel.
St. Monica Choir at St Lawrence Church
Founded in 1964 by Sister Benjamina Portelli of the Augustinian Order, St Monica Choir is one of the leading and oldest established polyphonic choirs in Malta. It has on many occasions presented exacting performances both locally and abroad, travelling to various European countries. In 1999 St Monica Choir became the first and only Maltese choir to win the prestigious Malta International Choirs Festival. The 40-member choir presented a Christmas theme concert at St Lawrence Collegiate which included a number of well-known and less known carols. The choir was led by its foundress Sister Benjamina who returned to the church where she was baptised: she hails from Vittoriosa. She was assisted by Mro. Jean Paul Attard. The choir had last performed at St Lawrence Church Vittoriosa in 2008.