Jan – Mar 2015
16 January 1941 Vittoriosa war remembrance
Every year Vittoriosa recalls the tragic loss of some 40 of its citizens who were buried to death under the debis of the Aula Capitolaris when it received a direct hit during the first furious air-raid by the Luftwaffe on Malta. The attack was prompted by the arrival in the Grand Harbour a few days earlier of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. This year marked the 25th anniversary since the inauguration of the artistic monument on the near the side entrance to the Church of St Lawrence when the Vittoriosa Archpriest was Can. Paul Raggio, President of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. So it was right that this year it was his turn to make the commemorative speech before the laying of wreaths at the foot of the monument. In his speech he described in detail the events which took place 25 years ago, including the march past by the boys scouts and the touching oration delivered by the late Guzi Attard, who was himself witness to the since of catastrophe. The Mass for the repose of the war victims was said by Archpriest Can. Joe Cilia while Fr Frank Borg OP, the Prior of the Vittoriosa Dominican community. At the end of the ceremony Vittoriosa trumpeter Terence Zarb played the Last Post.
St Lawrence Band January-February 2015 newsletter
A beautiful postcard from the 1930s showing Vittoriosa Square dominated by the facade of the St Lawrence Band Club is carried on the front page of this issue. The editorial recounts the memorable visit to the Band Club some months back of H.E. Cardinal Prospero Grech. It also reports on the progress being made in the selection process for a new bandmaster from the six finalists. Auditions were held during January 2015. The history corner by Anton Attard is about the St Edwards British Military Hospital which later became today’s St Edwards College. Despite the changed role of the building, the people of Vittoriosa for many years later continued to refer to the nearby street as “id-Dawra ta’ l-Isptar”. George Cilia’s historical episode looks at Vittoriosa during the war years, the exodus to the villages to seek refuge from the heavy bombing and the wretched conditions of life in the shelters. Paul Micallef’s usual interview with Vittoriosa personalities puts Anton Gellel in the spotlight. Anton was for many years an energetic member of the St Lawrence feast committee which under his direction took various initiatives. He later joined the St Lawrence Band Club committee. He now sits as an elected member of the Vittoriosa Local Council.
Open Day at Vittoriosa Museums
Heritage Malta held its Open Day treat on the last Sunday of January. The Vittoriosa Museums run by Heritage Malta, the National Maritime Museum and the Inquisitors Place were open for free and registered a larger than usual number of patrons. A large crowd also visited the Vittoriosa Parish Museum which is looked after by the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. At the Inquisitors’ Palace visitors had the opportunity to see the unique exhibition about the Roman Inquisition in Malta. This exhibition, which was due to close doors at the end of January 2015 has been extended till the end of April. An interview about the exhibition with Kenneth Cassar, the Inquisitors’ Palace Curator, was carried in the Times of Malta. Besides describing some of the star-exhibits, he narrated a number of intriguing cases brought before the tribunal of the Inquisition at Vittoriosa.
Fr. Onorat Spiteri OFM Cap. passed away
Fr Onorat aged 81 from Cospicua passed away peacefully, mourned by the Capuchin Friars and his brothers. Mass presente catavere was celebrated at St Liberata Church, Kalkara. Fr Onorat was one of the friars who in 1960s was detailed to say morning Mass at the Church of St Scholastica, Vittoriosa. The friars very often walked all the way to Vittoriosa from their convent at Kalkara and back. As they passed through the Gate in the Post of Auvergne near Fortini, this entrance to Vittoriosa became known as Cappuchin Gate.
Former German President Weizsacker dies
He was President of West Germany between 1984 and 1994 which means he was in office when the reunification of Germany took place in 1990. It was during his time too that the Vittoriosa Parish Museum was set up thanks to the financial assistance from the then German Ambassador to Malta Dr Gottfried Pagenstert (1928-2002) who fell in love with Vittoriosa and its people. The President actually visited the Museum during his official visit to Malta in 1990. Pictures of both these brilliant personalities are proudly displayed in the Vittoriosa Parish Museum. Indeed news of the death of the President was first conveyed to us that same day by a German visitor to the Museum while admiring the President’s picture.
Cardinal Prospero Grech interviewed on television
H.E. Cardinal Prospero Grech was interviewed on Net TV in the programme Wicc-imb-Wicc. He referred to his childhood days at his city of his birth, Vittoriosa, before joining the priesthood in the Augustinian Order. He furthered his studies in theology and in Canon Law and eventually occupied prestigious posts within the Vatican where was one of the most respected prelates. For a while he was the assistant of the Pope’s Sagrista, a position with responsibility for the Pope’s private chapel where the relic of the head of St. Lawrence is venerated. In the interview he narrated with relish his close relationship with the papacy. Pope John Paul I had offered him to be his secretary before his abrupt death. The Cardinal could not vote in the latest Conclave when Pope Francis was elected because of the age-limit imposed on candidates. But he was nevertheless the one who addressed the 150 cardinals elect before they cast their vote. In the interview the Cardinal made reference to his pivotal intervention in the 1960’s to bring to a close the politico-religious clash.
Cardinal Prospero Grech at Judge Maurice Caruana Curren funeral
Cardinal Prospero Grech was the celebrant of the funeral Mass presente cadavere at the Jesuits Church, Valletta for the funeral of Judge Maurice Caruana Curren who died at the age of 96. He was one of the renowned brains of the legal profession and a pioneer of the national heritage and environment movement, having founded Din l-Art Helwa in 1965.
Great Siege 1565 anniversary
With the object of organising and coordinating the celebrations to be held in Vittoriosa to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege, the Vittoriosa Local Council has set up a Sub-Committee made up of representatives from Vittoriosa associations and entities that will put together a programme of activities. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society has appointed its spokesman who has presented a memorandum for this purpose for the consideration of the Local Council. Since the focus of the Great Siege Victory was at Vittoriosa, the Local Council and the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society have pleaded with the authorities to give top importance to the city in the national commemorative festivities.
Great Siege publication
A second edition of Arnold Cassola’s The 1565 Great Siege of Malta and Hipolito Sans’s La Maltea has been published on the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege. This is an eye-witness account by Sans of the siege written in 1582 and takes the form of an epic . It was meant as a glorification of the heroism of the Knights of St John in their defence of the island against the mighty Ottoman armada. The author who had first-hand knowledge of what went on in Malta during the 1565 siege since he was among the defenders, acknowledges that Suleyman intended invading Italy after having conquered Malta.
Role of Birgu during the Great Siege
In the tourist periodical Grand Life published by the Grand Hotel Excelsior, prominence is given to the role of Birgu during the Great Siege in an article, accompanied by colour pictures from the Siege. It emphases on the various Great Siege locations at Vittoriosa, particularly the original Great Siege Monument at Vittoriosa Square, presumably to encourage visitors to tour these historical sites still in existence. The magazine also carries another article on the Easter celebrations in Malta, making mention of the tradition religious procession at Vittoriosa with the statue of the Risen Christ.
Rebuilding of the Clock Tower
As part of the centenary celebrations of the Alf. Mizzi & Sons Group, the Alfred Mizzi Foundation will be contributing towards national heritage projects. Among these is the rebuilding of the old Clock Tower at Vittoriosa Square. The idea has been in mind for quite some time and the plans and designs were prepared and the building permit issued, but somehow it never materialise. Now it seems that it will take off because it has ministerial approval and also the blessing of the Vittoriosa Local Council, even if some criticism, coming from insensitive quarters, has been voiced. The Vittoriosa Local Council is toying with the idea of holding a local referendum but this does not make sense as this concerns a national not a local issue. Besides, it consists of the rebuilding of a monument that already existed for centuries and should have been rebuilt during the post-war reconstruction. The main objection being posed is that it will reduce the parking space in the square, as if the purpose of Vittoriosa Square is solely for parking! The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society has been clamouring from its reconstruction since its foundation in 1954.
Poor church attendance
Fr John Avellino in his monthly commentary in the January issue of the parish leaflet Ahna writes with regret about the dwindling church attendance for Mass. He laments that when he says morning Mass there are barely 15 people. He exhorts the parishioners to take advantage of the spiritual graces conferred by the hearing of Mass. By contrast he mentions the tragedy and persecution that Christians is various parts of the world are suffering.
Scale Model Exhibition
The Society for Scale Modellers decided to hosts its 34th annual exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, Vittoriosa. On display there were fine model ships, aircraft, military vehicles and figurines of knights and soldiers.
Carnival at Vittoriosa
Once again Heritage Malta has organised Il-Qarcilla, a unique carnival poetic farce in Maltese which up to a hundred years ago formed part of the carnival celebrations. It is a satirical representation of marital relations filled with humour and insnuendos. One of the venues of the event was at the Inquisitors Palace, Vittoriosa. The performance was accompanied by an explanatory commentary and a talk.
Children recreate parata dance
As part of this year’s children’s carnival, schoolchildren held a pretended fight off the St Lawrence Church parvis following a tour of Vittoriosa which in 1565 was in the midst of the battle between the Knights and the Ottomans. Dressed up as Knights and little Ottomans, young children from Cottonera recreated the parata dance that traditionally ushers in carnival celebrations.
Fra Andrew Bertie towards beatification
The opening of the cause for the beatification of Fra Andrew Bertie took place in Rome. He was Grand Master of the Order of St John between1988 – 2008 and was a man with an intense spiritual commitment. This is the first time since the inception of the Order in 1099 that a Grand Master is being proposed for sanctification. Sir Andrew was the reigning Grand Master when the Sovereign Military Order Malta celebrated its 900 anniversary from its foundation. For the occasion he had visited Malta and Vittoriosa. In a unique ceremony, the Vittoriosa Local Council had elected him a an Honorary Citizen of Vittoriosa. Also on that occasion, the Order of St John was granted the exclusive use of the upper fortifications and Magisterial Palace at Fort St Angelo at Vittoriosa.
Upgrade at Malta at War Museum
The Malta at War Museum house at Couve Porte and in Coronation Ditch at Vittoriosa, so meticulously taken care of by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, has recently undergone a major upgrade with the support of Bank of Valletta. The Museum is a testament to the great ordeal of the Maltese during the war.
Dark tourism and the Inquisitors’ Palace
In a special feature in the Times of Malta on dark tourism, or the lure of visitors to sites associated with suffering and death, historian James Sultana explains that this is an academic area which has gained significance as it combines history, art, anthropology and politics. Among the several places in Malta mentioned that fascinate visitors is the Inquisitors’ Palace at Vittoriosa.
Columnar Monument at Fgura
In the rubric “it happened 25 years ago” in the Times of Malta, there was recently reference to the unveiling of a monument at Fgura in 1990 by the Minister of Education, Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, making the 25th anniversary of the setting up of the Fgura parish. The monument, situated on a roundabout in Hompesch Road, consists of four columns representing Cottonera, Zabbar, Tarxien and Paola, from which the village of Fgura developed over the years. It should be recorded that the four granite columns are the only surviving relics of a colonnaded passage running along Vittoriosa Wharf from the Bakery to Caraffa Stores beneath Fort St Angelo. The colonnade was built by the British Naval authorities in the 19th century to provide shade and ease of access. It was dismantled after the closure of the British Naval Base in 1979.
Fort St Angelo for the CHOGM
It was announce that some of the sessions forming part of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting due to take place in November 2015 will be held in a number of historic venues, among which Fort St Angelo was mentioned. This means that if the appointment is to be met, the extensive EU-funded restoration project under way at the castle fortifications will have to be speeded up. The restoration has now reached the upper parts of the Fort which are administered by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and which comprise structures from the medieval era to the 19th century, among which the palace of the castellan, the chapel of St Anne, the officers barracks. An article in the Times of Malta brought memories of the Royal visit during the 2007 CHOGM conference held in Malta. It is to be recalled that the Duke of Edinburgh had already visited Malta before and on that occasion he had personally inaugurated the restored Auberge d’Angleterre at Vittoriosa.
Caricature of St Lawrence procession
Writing in the Sunday Times of Malta, Lorenzo Zahra draws attention to a unique 300 year old artistic caricature, housed at the Vittoriosa parish museum, of the procession of St Lawrence. It depicts the participants, 327 in total, in a humorous vein, notably the Grand Master.
Coin from the time of Alexander the Great
The Times of Malta reported the discovery in Israel of a small trove of coins from the time of Alexander the Great (BC 356 – 323). The Vittoriosa parish museum is the proud owner in its modest numismatic collection of a rare Greek coin from Pireus dating to circa BC 600.
Fabulous corsair captain buried at Vittoriosa
Pietro Zelalich was one of the most active and famous corsairs operating from Malta in the latter half of the eighteenth century. He was not Maltese and his arrival in Malta in 1760 was one of the most spectacular epics: he entered Grand Harbour aboard the flagship of the Ottoman Empire which he had captured while serving as a slave on board the ship. He led a mutiny, overpowered his captors and sailed the most splendid ship of that time to Malta. He donated the ship to Grand Master Pinto. He later acquired a licence to recruit crew and operate in the corsair business from Malta. His story is narrated in a two-part article in Treasures of Malta No. 59 and No. 60 by Liam Gauci, Curator of the National Maritime Museum. Zelalich led several corso expeditions, some successfully and others rather calamitous. He died at the age of 80 in Senglea in 1811 and was buried at the Church of the Assumption at Vittoriosa. This old church was merged with St Lawrence Church and was destroyed during the war. So unfortunately the whereabouts of his tomb have been lost.
Maritime Tribunal archives to be restored
Funds have been procures by private sponsors to preserve more than 470 volumes of documents held by the National Archives that shed light on maritime commerce in Malta 300 years ago. The documents comprise the records of the Consolato del Mare di Malta, a tribunal set up by Grand Master Fra Ramon Perellos in 1697 to settle disputes and litigations in maritime commerce and facilitate trade. Even after the transfer of the Order’s seat to Valletta, Vittoriosa retained its role as a maritime hub as the Order’s fleet base and arsenals were still bases in that city. Vittoriosa features significantly in the maritime records.
St Paul’s Church at Birkirkara Valley
The programme booklet for this year’s feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck, Valletta, carries an article about St Paul’s Church at Birkirkara Valley. It traces the origin of the church to the early sixteenth century serving as a crossing point between the north side and the south side of Malta. The present church dates to 1852. In its single belfry hangs one of the bells that once stood on the old Clock Tower in Vittoriosa Square. When this was hit during air raid bombing in 1942, one of its bells survived and was eventually donated to this church.
Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck celebrated at San Lorenzo in Damaso
It was reported in Lehen is-Sewwa that the 100 odd Maltese community in Rome gathered at the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso, which forms part of the Vatican, to celebrate the National Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck. Concelebrated Mass was led by Vittoriosa born Cardinal Prospero Grech OSA who also delivered the homely. After the Mass, the congregation was treated with a reception at the Malta Embassy, Rome.
Martin Morana interviewed
Martin Morana of Vittoriosa, author of the trilogy of books about the origin of innumerable Maltese words and expressions, was interviewed in the Times of Malta. He demonstrates his keen interest in anthropology and Mediterranean culture and has leafed through dictionaries and lexicons to discover the true meaning of significance of the Maltese idiom. Over the five years it took him to publish the three books, he has delved into 2,600 words and phrases.
Vittoriosa pilot steered the convoy into Grand Harbour
When news spread in the early hours of 15 August 1942 that the HMS Ohio, the battered convoy tanker laden with fuel and food was entering Grand Harbour, none of pilots at the pilots at the Customs House was eager to steer it in. It was only Vittoriosa pilot Lorenzo Attard who volunteered, despite the protestations of his wife. The story is related in the Times of Malta by his surviving 70 year old son George Attard.
Pilotage licence from 1877
The story of pilatoge in Malta was the subject of a speech at the National Maritime Museum, Vittoriosa, by Mr Jesmond Mifsud, Chief Pilot. He narrates how operations now extend beyond Grand Harbour as they cover the Free Port in Birzebbugia. Also the skills have changed with the use of digital equipment. The occasion was the award to the Museum of a pilotage licence dated in 1877 issued to Carmelo Attard and a manoeuvring certificate dated in 1856 issued to Lorenzo Attard.
The Order’s bakeries in Valletta
Denis Darmanin shed light on the Order’s Bakery at Valletta in an article in the Sunday Times of Malta. An entire block was allocated for the Bakery in front of the Augustinian convent and church. The building was designed by Gerolamo Cassar and completed by 1584. The Bakery supplied bread to the Order’s kitchens, the galleys and the locals. The Bakery remained in use until 1845 when the Naval Bakery at Vittoriosa was inaugurated. The site in Valletta is now occupied by Vincenti Buildings.
History of elementary education in Malta during the early British period
This is the title of an article by Lino Bugeja, historian and former school master, in the Sunday Times of Malta. He actually starts his account with the origin of education in medieval times when the Mdina Universita’ invested in grammer school. Private schools also proliferated in Cottonera and in Valletta during the Order’s rule. The first British education initiative was in 1813 when Governor Maitland was advised to set up public schools. However private schools continued to be the order of the day, until the colonial government opened a number of Normal Free Schools in various towns and villages including Vittoriosa. It was at about this time that at Vittoriosa a privately-owned lyceum for boys was established as well as a school of design.
Alteration on old house in Ancient Street
MEPA’s list of development applications published in the press included an application for some internal alterations in an old palatial house in Ancient Street, Vittoriosa. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society has beseeched MEPA to ensure that such alterations do not disfigure or eliminate the historic elements in this building, including a curious basement floor paving dating probably to the 14th century.
Alternation on old Bishop’s Palace at Vittoriosa
MEPA is also considering an application from the private owner of the old Bishop’s Palace in Bishop’s Palace Street, Vittoriosa, for an internal alteration. It is hoped that in approving the application MEPA will give due concern to the historical architectural structures of this palace. It was originally built by Bishop Cubelles in 1542 where, besides his palace, the bishop of Malta also had his Curia and Chancellery. It ceased to function as such around 1625 when the Bishop transferred his seat to Valletta. The building was then lease for residential purposes. For many years in the 20th century it served as a government elementary school. Throughout the years it remained Church property until it was disposed of in 1952.
Medieval music at Mdina
Lino Bugeja gives a detailed account of the “Unique medieval, baroque music in the archives of the Mdina Cathedral Museum”, the title of his article in the Sunday Times of Malta. He starts by making a run through of the origin and history of the Mdina Cathedral from the first beginnings with Malta’s conversion to Christianity by St Paul, the building of an early basilica during the Byzantine period and emergence of the diocese of Malta, the erection of a Romanesque church dedicated to St Paul after the expulsion of the Arabs in the middle of the 13th century. Thereafter the Mdina Cathedral became a hub of artistic and musical culture. A long line of sacred musical composers from Italy were active at Mdina. The Cathedral Museum boasts a precious collection of musical manuscripts from this period which have in recent years been brought to light. Away from Mdina, also during the late 13th century, the Castrum Maris at the old Grand Harbour town of Birgu, was likewise attracting reputable musicians and troubadours in the court and in the chapel of the Island’s Feudal Lord.
The legacy of Archbishop Dom Mauro Caruana (1867-1943)
Fabian Mangion, writing in the Sunday Times of Malta, pays tribute to the memory of the Benedictine archbishop of Malta Dom Mauro Caruana in an article entitled “A much loved and highly esteemed bishop”. He became bishop of Malta in 1915 but was consecrated at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome. In view of the widespread poverty in Malta during World War I at the time of his election, he immediately set up a bread fund in every parish for needy families. During his bishopric, two new religious congregations were approved: Mons. De Piro’s Society of St Paul, and Giuseppina Curmi’s Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth. Dun Gorg Preca’s Christian Doctine Society at long last received recognition while the Catholic Action was launched in Malta. It was at this time that the Catholic newspaper Lehen is-Sewwa started to be published. In 1921 Archbishop Caruana crowned the Senglea titular statue of Maria Bambina and in 1931 the sacred icon of Our Lady of Damascene at the Greek church, Valletta, the icon which until 1584 graced the altar of the Chapel at Vittoriosa that still bears that name. Archbishop Caruana delivered excellent sermons and often made his way to the Benedictine Monastery of St Scholastica at Vittoriosa to give conferences to the nuns. Vittoriosa soarly remembers the suppression during his bishopric of an old privilege enjoyed by the St Lawrence Collegiate Chapter, that of celebrating Pontifical Mass. This was the outcome of the first Diocesan council held in Malta in 1935, presided by Cardinal Alexis Lepicier.
St. Lawrence Collegiate Chapter mace bearer
After serving the Collegiate Chapter for 25 years as mace-bearer, Lorenzo Avellino, has retired. He had taken over from his war-time predecessor Carlo Degabriele, who was the brother of Lorenzo Degabriele, sive Renzu, the sexton of St Lawrence Church. Lorenzo Avellino has been replaced by Charles Gellel and Salvu Caruana who will share the role on a shift basis. The mace is a symbol of honour and dignity carried by most collegiate entities. The Vittoriosa Chapter was awarded the right to use the mace by Pope PiusX. The silver mace, designed by Vittoriosa artist Antonio Agius and manufactured by the Milan silversmiths Ghezzi, was first used for the feast of St Lawrence in 1913.
Pastoral visit at San Lawrenz, Gozo
The Bishop of Gozo, Mons. Mario Grech, has brought to a conclusion a three-week pastoral visit at the smallest Gozitan village, San Lawrenz, with a Solemn Mass at the parish church dedicated to St Lawrence. During the visit he met most of the 600 parishioners and was greeted by the village religious and cultural associations.
Fr. Emanuel Adami – 50 years in the priesthood
Fr. Emanuel Adami MSSP from Vittoriosa celebrated the silver anniversary of his ordination at St Lawrence Collegiate Church, Vittoriosa, in a Concelebrated Mass with other prelates including the Rev. Archpriest of Vittoriosa, Can. Joe Cilia, the Provincial of the St Paul’s Missionary Society Fr. Frankie Cini; Mons. Joseph Caruana and Mons. Paul Raggio, both from the St Lawrence Chapter; Mons. Salv Debrincat, Chancellor of the Gozo Diocese, a representative of the Dominican friary at Vittoriosa, and other priests. During the homely Fr Adami spoke about his experiences in the missions, having spend the entire 50 years of his priesthood working in Peru and in Australia among the poor and emarginated. He related how once in a semi-desert area he said Mass on a makeshift altar consisting to three blocks of stone and exposed the Holy Sacrament for adoration in a cardboard box. On another occasion he explained how he was miraculously spared when on that exceptional occasion when he missed the only daily bus he usually caught to go to the village to preach, he later found that the bus accidentally overturned and most of the passengers lost their lives tragically. Fr. Adami’s father, the late Leli Adami was for many years the curator of the devout statue of St Lawrence at St Lawrence Church and in this capacity he had the privilege of dressing the Spanish-style statue with the precious vestments every year for the feast on 10 August. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society congratulated Fr. Adami on this special occasion.
Demise of oldest Vittoriosa lady Marianna Cutajar
Vittoriosa lost its oldest living lady Marianna Cutajar who died at the venerable age of 102. She was actually born at Zabbar but came to live at Vittoriosa after she got married in her younger years to the late Angelo Cutajar, who at the time ran one of the most popular butcher shops of the city. Her funeral Mass at St Lawrence Church was said by the Rev. Archpriest, Can. Joe Cilia assisted by other priests.
Rose Ciappara passed away
Vittoriosa lost a well respected lady Rose Ciappara, who passed away at the age 91. She was the widow of Francis Ciappara who had been Vice President of the Prince of Wales Own Band of Vittoriosa for many years. Her children have distinguished themselves intellectually in the several sectors: educational, cultural, professional. Her funeral Mass was celebrated at the Annunciation Church by the Prior of the Dominican community at Vittoriosa, Fr. Frank Borg OP.
Passing away of Karmena Chetcuti
Karmena Chetcuti, the wider of former bandsman Giuseppi Chetcuti, passed away at the age of 94. She lovingly and in difficult circumstances brought up a family of ten children, of whom one died tragically at a young age. The Mass of her funeral at St Lawrence Collegiate Church was said by her son Fr Paul Chetcuti SJ, who in the past had served as Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Malta and was for many years in charge of the Diocesan Youth Commission. He concelebrated with many other priests and during the homely expressed his gratitude to mother. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society has extended its condolences to Maria Sinagra, nee Chetcuti, eldest daughter of Karmena, who is Committee Member and Chairperson of the Ladies Circle.
Installation of H.E. Mons Charles Scicluna as Archbishop of Malta
The installation of Mons. Charles Scicluna a Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta took place at Mdina. The cortege started from St Dominic Church, Rabat; proceeded to St Paul’s parish church; St Joseph church and then into Mdina Cathedral. The ceremony was attended by Cardinal Prospero Grech.
Good Friday at Vittoriosa
The Vittoriosa parish this year started the Lenten period with a devout procession with the revered Carlo Darmanin statue of the Redeemer. The parish then organised a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Ta’ Pinu, Gozo, where the Via Crucis was recited on the Ghammar Hill. An open air Via Crucis was again performed along the narrow streets of Vittoriosa while the Dominican brothers led a Via Crucis in the cloister of their convent. The national Via Crucis organised annually by RTK, the Church radio station, was this year held at Cottonera, with the Way of the Cross being recited from the Senglea Basilica to St Lawrence Collegiate, Vittoriosa. The cortege was led by the newly installed Archbishop of Malta, H.G. Mons. Charles Scicluna who accompanied the Vittoriosa statue of the Redeemer. Solemn liturgical sermons were held at St Lawrence during Lent, culminating with the Kwaranturi or Adoration of the Eurcharist on Palm Sunday and the Good Friday procession with the old statues representing stations from the Passion of Jesus. During Holy Week, various exhibitions on the theme of the Redemption and the Passion of Our Lord were organised by different entities at Vittoriosa.
Church of Sta Lucia at Valletta
In its periodic rubric on historical locations at Valletta, Lehen is-Sewwa recently featured the Church of Sta Lucia. Lorenzo Zahra reminded readers that it was in this church that Dominican friars who travelled from Vittoriosa to the new city of Valletta around 1575 and started to offer religious services. In later years the Dominicans founded their own parish at Valletta at the Church of Porto Salvo, as the Church of St Dominic at Valletta was known. In order to recall the first Dominican missionaries to Valletta from Vittoriosa, one of the side altars at the Church of Porto Salvo had a painting by Tommaso Madiona depicted Pope Pius V, a major benefactor for the founding of Valletta, together with Sta Lucia and St Lawrence. This painting now hangs in the Sacristy of the Church of St Dominic, Valletta.
St Patrick celebrated at Vittoriosa
The Times of Malta in its weekly rubric It happened a century ago quoted a report from the Daily Malta Chronicle of 16 March 1915 announcing the holding of a Divine Service intended for Irishmen in Malta on the occasion of St Patrick day at St Dominic Church, Vittoriosa.
Arts Fund launched at Vittoriosa Museum
This year’s government’s Arts Fund, aimed at encouraging local artistic and cultural initiatives by voluntary organisation known as Fond Kommunitajiet Krejattivi and administers by the Malta Arts Council was launched by the Minister of Culture, Hon. Owen Bonnici in a press conference hosted at the Vittoriosa Historical Museum at St Joseph Oratory, which is itself a typical voluntary institution, handled entirely by volunteers from the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.
Water colour exhibition
Joseph Casapinta, one of Malta’s leading water colour painters has exhibited his latest collection of works at the Palace, Valletta. He excels in this delicate medium using bold and rich colours. The exhibition was curated by Dr Louis Lagana’ of Vittoriosa, art critic and lecturer at the University of Malta and member of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.
Restoration of icon of Our Lady of Divine Help
The icon of Our Lady of Divine Help (Madonna tas-Sokkors) at the Franciscan Church of Villambrosa, Hamrun, has been restored and opened to the public as reported in Lehen is-Sewwa. The icon is a replica of the original found at St Alphonsus Church, Rome. At the Vittoriosa Parish Museum there is a sacred icon of Our Lady of the Greeks. This effigy was placed in the original church of Our Lady Damascene at Vittoriosa after the icon of Our Lady Damascene was transferred processionally to the Greek church at Valletta in 1584. The icon of Our Lady of the Greeks venerated at Vittoriosa is in need of restoration.
Reopening of Church of the Magdalenes
This church dedicated to St Mary Magdalene situated at the end of Merchants Street Valletta used to form part of the convent of the cloistered Magdalene nuns who cared for prostitutes and deviant women who had quitted their evil ways, known as ripentiti. The convent, built by Grand Master Antoine De Paole around 1643 was destroyed during the war. The church survived by was neglected for many years. It has now been restore and handed over to the St Dominic Parish, Valletta, for pastoral use. It is a pity that the profaned St Philip Church at Vittoriosa, which is an architectural jewel, is in a bad state of disrepair and is being used as a store and workshop, and this with the tacit consent of the Church authorities.
Active Aging - Lino Bugeja
Lehen is-Sewwa is dedicating a weekly feature on Active Aging with an interview with leading elderly personalities. Recently, it was the turn of Vittoriosa historian and journalist Lino Bugeja who recounted his experiences since his wartime childhood at Vittoriosa through to his youthful enthusiasm in sports and ultimately his deeping historical research and publications.
Origin of Dominican Order in Malta
An article in the March issue of Xandar il-Kelma, the periodical of the Maltese Dominicans, traces the arrival of the first Dominicans in Malta around 1450 and the establishment and building of their first convent and church on the site of the chapel of Our Lady of the Grotto at Rabat. Innumerable Maltese benefactors supported their pastoral work with donations and bequests. Among the renowned benefactors there was Imperia de Nava and Isabella de Nava. The latter was the wife of Giovanni de Nava, the governor of Castellan of Fort St. Angelo at Birgu. This was many years before the Dominicans actually set foot at Birgu in 1528. The article is extracting from the historical writings of the late Fr. Michael Fsadni OP (1916-2013) who hailed from Vittoriosa.
St Lawrence oil painting at auction
TVM holds a televised weekly auction under the direction of experienced auctioneer Pierre Grech Pillow. One of the recent objects put up for offer was a 17th century oil painting canvas circa 60x40 cm of St Lawrence, painter unknown but very likely from the school of Ribera. When the auctioneer’s gavel fell the last bidder had struck the deal at EUR 3,600.
Brochure on St Scholastica Monastery
The Rev. Abbess has marked the completion of the restoration works on the magnificent Lorenzo Gafa’ of St Scholastica Church with the publication of a well-written brochure relating the history of the nunnery and the convent at Vittoriosa. The Benedictine nuns took possession of the former Sacra Infermeria of the knights in 1654.
The rope-makers ramp at the French Curtain
A raised ramp at the French Curtain, Vittoriosa, which was used by rope-makers (kurdara) to dry their newly-knitted ropes at the time when navigation was by way of sailing vessels, was removed some years back. Now that area is being refurbished, the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society has written to the authorities to rebuilt the said platform and to open the gun emplacements along the bastion which had been and are still walled up.
Talk on Maltese hero Guze’ Ruggier
Prof. Raymond Agius has delivered a talk a talk at the Malta University Resource Centre at Vittoriosa on Guze’ Ruggier, or as he was known Joe Rodgers, who was born at Vittoriosa. He heroically saved 35 persons when the steam clipper The Royal Charter was shipwrecked off the coast of North Wales in 1859. The house where Giuseppe Ruggier lived before he enrolled with as a British mariner is still extant at St. Scholastica Street. Prof. Agius is a descendant of Ruggier.
Statue-maker Saverio Laferla
Saverio Laferla (1710-1761) is the subject of a detailed study carried out in a publication by Stanley Mangion and Christopher Magro. He is considered as being the first to introduce the art of manufacturing papier-marche church statues in Malta. Before that statues were either sculpted in wood or else consisted of dressed manikins. He produced several works that are still in existence, among the best know being the statues of Our Lady of Sorrows at the Franciscan Minors church (Ta’ Giezu), Valletta. For the Annunciation Church, Vittoriosa, he made a statue of the redeemer, which was recently restored. The remarkable crucifix that dominates the Good Friday statue of the Crucifixion at St Lawrence Church whose author has hitherto been unknown shows distinct association with Saverio Laferla’s style. This was confirmed by art restorer Renzo Gauci of Tarxien who in 2009 was engaged to restore the crucifix. He found evidence on the statue texture pointing to Saverio Laferla.