Apr – Jun 2015
Grand Master Fra Matthew Festing made Honorary Citizen of Vittoriosa
Fra Matthew Festing, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John paid a three-day State visit to Malta. He is English and was elected as the 79th Grand Master in 2008. After meeting heads and officials from the Malta Government, he visited Vittoriosa at the invitation of the Vittoriosa Local Council. He was given an extraordinary welcome as he and his entourage drove into the city through the new arch-way entrance in the Post of Provence and down Main Gate Street which was decorated with festoons. Upon reaching Vittoriosa Square which was also decked with flags, he was greeted by Vittoriosa Mayor, Mr John Boxall and the other dignitaries. He was then taken on a short walking tour of the city, conducted by Mr JC Azzopardi. The itinery included a visit to the Auberge of England and the Collacchio. He then arrived at the Vittoriosa Local Council offices at the Auberge de France where he was bestowed the Honorary Citizenship of Vittoriosa by the Mayor, in the presence of numerous personalities and delegates from Vittoriosa organizations, including the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. On his part the Grand Master reciprocated by giving the Mayor an order of merit. The Grand Master then walked back to Vittoriosa Square where he laid a flower wreath at the foot of the Victory Monument. He was invited to visit the Vittoriosa Museum to see Grand Master De La Vallette’s Battle Sword & Hat but unfortunately he had a tight timetable. He then visited St Lawrence Collegiate, the former Conventual Church of the Order. Here he admired treasures brought by the Knights from Rhodes. The Grand Master will return to Malta in September to mark the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege. During his visit the Grand Master signed an agreement with the Government for the Order of St John to give greater access public to Fort St. Angelo. Before his departure, the Grand Master, on behalf of the Order of St John, donated a mobile clinic to Malta to be placed at Haywarf to cater for rescued migrants who are brought to Malta.
“Easter in a medieval Maltese city”
This is the title of Lino Bugeja’s article in The Sunday Times of Malta in which he describes how in medieval times, the city of Vittoriosa saw an influx of ethnic mixture with the presence of Genoese, Venetians, Greek and Spanish seafarers and merchants who introduced their traditions, costumes and folklore, particularly during Holy Week and Easter. The Knights of St John who settled at Birgu in 1530 celebrated Lent and Easter with exceptional solemnity. Eventually, it was the turn of the Inquisitors who were the principal protagonists during Holy Week. These historical landmarks have left their imprint on the people of Vittoriosa which have lingered till the present.
The Statue of the Risen Christ
In article in the monthly religious periodical Flimkien, Sergio Grech refers to the rhyme chanted by young children at Vittoriosa in which they sing that the statue of the Risen Christ is bearing flag which is the flag of the Religion, as the Order of St John was called. He also alludes of the Jewish community in Birgu during the Middle Ages who were taunted by locals racists during the Lenten period, as happened in other European cities at the time.
Joy Gospel Singers at Vittoriosa
This year the Joy Gospel Singers held their Easter concert at St Lawrence Collegiate Church. The 40-strong choir from Santa Lucija, with Michelle Abela as their music director, was sustained by their resident live band. The singers in their royal blue attire and yellow stoles enhanced the performance by expressive body movements and solo pieces.
Mons. Lawrence Mifsud at Valletta
Mons. Lawrence Mifsud, former Archpriest at Vittoriosa and presently Rector of St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, was caught is a half-page picture on the Times of Malta of the Palm Sunday procession in the streets of Valletta. The procession is led by Archbishop Charles Scicluna. Mons. Mifsud is on the foreground wearing the red chasuble and holding the palm twig.
St. Publius feast
Traditionally the first festa to be held after Easter, the feast of St Publius falls on the first Sunday after the Easter Octave. In this year’s feast programme booklet, Lorenzo Zahra is features with a short article on the origin of the Floriana parish which formerly formed part of the parish of St Paul Shipwreck, Valletta. The foundation stone of the present church was laid in 1733 and was consecrated in 1792. It was subsequently enlarged and embellished in 1856 and again in 1885. It is to be noted that one of the side chapels of the church is dedicated to St Lawrence and it is dominated by an exquisite painting of the saint by Giuseppe Cali’.
Mr Joseph Cordina passed away
Mr Cordina was an long-time member and friend of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. He passed away at the age of 86. He left to mourn him his beloved wife and children, among whom the soprano Lydia Caruana. His funeral Mass was celebrated at Paola Parish Church.
Long-time Edwardian Mr Antoine Cachia Caruana passed away
Antoine Cachia Caruana, who died aged 87, was a remarkable headmaster at St Edward’s College, Vittoriosa, who led the school in very difficult times. His bonds with the college never waned and he continued to attend Edwardian reunions. His funeral Mass was celebrated by H.G. the Archbishop at St Edward’s College Chapel.
Book Fair at the Vittoriosa Parish Hall
The St Lawrence External Festivities Committee held a book fair at the renovated Parish Hall building in Vittoriosa Square.
Photo competition for youths
The Vittoriosa Local Council is holding a photographic competition for young people under 18 years of age. Competitors are invited to take photos of the city and send them to the organizing sub-committee.
Talk on the Galley Creek
The Birgu creek was called Porto delle Galere during the time of the Order of St John. That is because the Order had its Fleet Base and Arsenals at Vittoriosa Wharf, the Marina Grande. Eventually, under British rule, Fort St Angelo became the head quarters of the Royal Navy and the creek became known as Dockyard Creek. This historic area which was the birthplace of heavy industry and its impact on the Cottonera were the subject of a talk entitled 19th Century Dockyard Creek Memories held by Michael Cassar at the Cottonera University Resource Centre in St Edward’s Street, Vittoriosa.
Talk on the Perils to the Catholic Faith in Malta
In her talk at the Cottonera University Resource Centre on the Pauline tradition in Malta, Dr Doris Cannataci explained how the Maltese managed to defend the Catholic faith over the centuries, notably against the open affront of masonry and Protestantism when Malta was a British colony. In particular she referred to the heroic pastoral work of Mons. Gius. De Piro and Dun Gorg Preca. She then referred to the present-day perils of modernism to Catholicism.
Protest on the building of a kiosk at Belveder Place, Vittoriosa
An application has been filed at MEPA for the erection of a kiosk at the Belveder Place at Vittoriosa, commonly known as is-Simenta. This is an open space which was constructed after the war and provides a panoramic view of the Grand Harbour at the upper end of La Vallette Street. It seems the Vittoriosa Local Council was forced to approve the project despite the vociferous protests of residents who, reasonably, to not want the area to be commercialized. However, MEPA has apparently refused the application.
The destruction of the Maltese countryside
Lino Bugeja, besides being a historian and sports critic is also an environmentalist, president of the Ramblers’ Association. In his recent article in The Times of Malta entitled “A green chronic malaise”, he again laments on the systematic inroads being made by developers on the Maltese countryside and coastal zones. He feels that the local planning and environmental authority is not doing enough to stop the rot and that the State should step in to safeguard the natural heritage.
ODZ and Vittoriosa
As the argument about the proposed construction project at Zonqor Point, Marsascala, occupied the main media headlines, it hardly occurred to anyone to note that the portion of the tract of ODZ land at Marsascala in the debate and which is now privately owned once belonged to St Lawrence Collegiate. The estate belonging to the church was unwittingly disposed of in the 1970s. Another ODZ area at Vittoriosa is also in the limelight: an application has been filed for the construction of a privately-owned residential home for the elderly at Tal-Hawli. It would be a pity if this green area still surviving at Cottonera, which has already been intruded upon by shameless construction, goes under the jack-hammer.
Mr Alfred Busuttil passed away
Mr Busuttil, aged 75, former advertising agent at the Allied Newspaper Limited, passed away, leaving to mourn his loss his dear wife, children, relatives and former colleagues and friends at the Times of Malta. Funeral Mass was held at St Lawrence Collegiate Church.
San Lawrenz Folklore Group launch
The San Lawrenz Folklore Group of Gozo organized a cultural evening during which they launched a new publication, their second, consisting of a book of unpublished poems by renouned late Gozitan poet Gorg Pisani. A complimentary copy of the book was presented to Gorg Pisani’s son, Paul G. Pisani. During the event, the folk group performed a traditional dance in which the group’s new costume was inaugurated. The event formed part of the EU cultural programme for rural development and was coordinated by Noel Formosa.
Praise to former Vittoriosa Archpriest Can. Joe Caruana
In an article in Lehen is-Sewwa, colmnist Tonio Bonello refers to the dedication, commitment and charisma that characterizes several members of the clergy. He mentions two prelates as an example, one of whom is Can. Joe Caruana who for 10 years was Archpriest at Vittoiosa. He is now Archpriest at his native village, Mellieha.
Talk by Mr Denis Darmanin
The Fortifications Interpretation Centre at Valletta regularly organizes talks on Malta’s defences and related subjects. One of the recent speakers was Mr Denis Darmanin who is the co-ordinator at the Fortifications Interpretation Centre Directorate. His talk was entitled The Indian Army of the Empress in Malta. Mr Darmanin is a Committee Member of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.
“The Maltese Diocese during the Seventeenth Century”
This is the title of a monumental two-volume publication on Church History in Malta written by Mons. Prof. Vincent Borg as part of his long-standing ecclesiastical history project called Melita Sacra. It is also a treatise on the social history of Maltese society at the time. The author patiently probed innumerable documents and records at the Archbishop’s Curia Archives and those of the Mdina Cathedral Archives to delineate in detail religious life and practices during seventeenth century Malta. He discussed the role of the Maltese bishops, the relations with the clergy and the laity, the creation of new parishes and entities, notably the establishment of the Birkirkara Collegiate. During this period the Church of St Lawrence at Vittoriosa strengthened its privileged role as the Church of the Inquisitors and Papal Delegates in Malta. The Vittoriosa church also saw the setting up of new confraternities.
Inquisition trial of a magician in 1605
Despite the deep religiosity of the Maltese during the time of the Knights, people still resorted to the services of fortune-tellers and magicians to curse their ailments and solve their personal problems. This comes out from a manuscript from 1605 discovered in the Mdina Cathedral Archives which documents the proceedings of an Inquisition trial at Vittoriosa of a Moorish slave from Egypt who promoted himself as being an astrologer and magician. The witnesses in the trial give an unusual insight into the concerns and beliefs of ordinary Maltese. The study on the manuscript was carried out by Dionisius Agius, professor of Arabic studies at Exeter University, UK, supported by Catherine Rider, senior history lecturer, who also made a presentation on the subject at Palazzo Falson, Mdina. The accused was found guilty of practicing magic and was sentenced to walk a humiliating procession in the streets of Vittoriosa and Vallettaa wearing a paper hat with his crimes written on it, as a drummer walked ahead of him.
St Lawrence Band March-April 2015 newsletter
The cover sheet of this issue of the St Lawrence Band Club newsletter is taken by picture of the main altar of St Lawrence Collegiate with the statue of the Crucifixion in the foreground. The editorial mentions the Holy Week exhibition organised by the Club. However, the focus of this issue is the appointment of the new Bandmaster and will succeed Mro Paul Schembri after his retirement in August 2015. After a detailed selection process, the choice fell on Mro Jonathan Abela, a young, talented and qualified musician who is a member of the National Orchestra and plays the trombone and several other musical instruments. He hails from Kalkara but he is from the Brown family of Vittoriosa which has a musical lineage and had previous connections with the St Lawrence Band. He already has other commitments with other band clubs either as director or as music teacher, but surely the Vittoriosa appointment will be his most prestigious. Paul Micallef’s usual interview with prominent personalities is this time with the new Maestro. On his part, Christopher Pisani continues with his study of great composers with an essay on Ruggiero Leoncavallo. In his historical rubric, Anton Attard writes about the fortifications that surround the city of Vittoriosa, describing how these were strengthened by the Knights before the Great Siege of 1565 and again in 1715. The landside bastions are dominated by two lofty towers, St. John’s Cavalier and St. James Cavalier. The newsletter gives the names of persons elected to serve as the Band Club’s Committee members for the next two years.
“Public executions during the British period”
This is the title of an article in Maltese written by Eddie Attard in the programme booklet for this year’s feast of St Publius at Floriana. An article on the same subject was written by Julian Holland and appears in the Floriana band programme bulletin. The subject dealt with relates to the early British period when execution by hanging took place at the outskirts of Floriana. When the Order of St John settled at Birgu, public executions were held in the square. The place is still by a stone crucifix in a small niche. Public executions were a gruesome experience, with the offender being led to the platform of execution by a procession of members from the confraternity of St Joseph. The processional crucifix and two lanterns used by the confraternity during the 15th century are exhibited at the Vittoriosa Parish Museum. An infamous execution was that of outspoken Mattew Callus some years before the Great Siege of 1565 at the hands of Grand Master De La Vallette. His crime was that he criticise the Grand Master’s authority in defence of the rights of the Maltese. Public executions were also held outside the city precincts at the entrance of the Grand Harbour on the site where later Fort Ricasoli was built. The place was called Ponta Orsi but more popularly referred to as Gallows Point which at the time formed part of Birgu. The victims would purposely be left hanging on the gallows for a while to as warning against civil misdeeds. During the Knight’s period and until the arrival of the British, public executions were also held on Saqqajja Hill at the place still known as Tal-Forok (Gallows Place).
Bust of Don Gaetano Mannarino at Vittoriosa Parish Museum
A bust of Don Gaetano Mannarino which used to be in the Chapter Hall of St Lawrence Collegiate has been transferred to the Vittoriosa Museum. Don Gaetano Mannarino from Birkirkara was a Maltese priest who was imbued with patriotism and led an unsuccessful revolt against the Knights in 1775 which was mainly instigated by famine and insecurity. He was imprisoned for life by Grand Master Ximenes de Texada in the old prison at Vittoriosa Wharf where he languished until 1798 when he was released during the French occupation. The later historian Can. GianMari Farrugia had acquired the gilded chalice of Mannarino from the latter’s heirs and he donated it to St Lawrence Church. The prized chalice, which carried the emblem of the Mannarino family, was stolen from the Church in an enigmatic break-in some ten years ago. The empty chalice container was then transferred to the Vittoriosa Parish Museum. The Museum is also the proud owner of a prayer book which belonged to Don Gaetano Mannarino.
Artisitic reliquary from Cassar Family
The Cassar Family from Birkirkara, formerly from Vittoriosa, has donated a beautiful artistic reliquary to the Church of St Lawrence. The inscription written on it says: Donated to the Collegiate Church of St Lawrence by the Cassar Family in memory of Rev. George F. Cassar (1896 – 1972) formerly Vice-Archpriest of Vittoriosa and later Rector of All Souls Church, Valletta. Rev. Cassar is fondly remembered for his devotion to St Lawrence and his saintly participation in liturgical functions in the parish church. The reliquary is displayed in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in St Lawrence Church.
Visit by the President of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies
H.E. Valeriu Stefan Zgonea, President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of Romania paid a visit to Vittoriosa. He was greeted by Vittoriosa Mayor, Mr John Boxall at the Auberge de France, seat of the Vittoriosa Local Council. He afterwards toured historical places and laid a flower wreath at the foot of the Victory Monument in Vittoriosa Square. He was then conducted to the Vittoriosa Parish Museum where re admired the Battle Sword and had of De La Vallette and signed the visitors’ book.
Visit by renowned French Parlamentarian
Hon. Marc Laffineur, Member of the National Assembly of France between 1988-2011 was on a private visit to Vittoriosa with his family. He visited the Vittoriosa Historical Museum and admired the Hat & Battle Sword of his compatriot, Grand Master De La Vallette.
Blessed Maria Katarina Troiani
She featured as the saint of the month in the Sunday liturgical leaflet as she is commemorated on 6 May. She became a nun at an early age and in 1859 she set out as a missionary from Italy to Egypt where she founded the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On her way he established a congregation at Vittoriosa in the former Carmelite convent at Vittoriosa Wharf. The sisters also organised a school at Vittoriosa. Due to lack of vocations, both the convent and the school were closed in 1998. Unfortunately, the historic convent has been demolished and replaced with modern offices and residences. The school building is being utilised as a parish pastoral centre. The nuns are now based at Hamrun, where they still run a girls’ private school.
Carmelite Provincial Chapter
The Carmelite community recently held their three-year Chapter General to elect a new hierarchy. The Chapter was attended by the Prior General of the Carmelites Fr. Fernando Millan Romeral, and the General European Councillor Fr. John Keating. The Chapter was addressed also by HG Archbishop Charles Scicluna, his first encounter with a Religious Order since his appointment. The event brought back memories of the old Carmelite links with Vittoriosa from 1611 onwards. The Carmelite Church at Vittoriosa is the church where the crews from the Order’s galleys, including baptised slaves and condemned victims, proceeded to take part in the Good Friday procession, dragging iron chains at their heels. It was from here that the statue of the Risen Christ was taken triumphantly to St Lawrence Church on Easter Sunday morning. The Carmelite Church has been the victim of an unending list of calamities. A century after their arrival at Vittoriosa, the Carmelites were forced to quit due to restrictions from Rome on the size of friaries. The church subsequently passed on to the care of the Egyptian Sisters of the Immaculate Heart, but the too stopped using the church. During the war it was severely damaged and was haphazardly rebuilt, only to be turned into a workshop and store for the external feast of St Lawrence committee and has never been restored. Recently, with the consent of the Church authorities, and apparently without objection from MEPA, its facade and parts of the interior were encroached by the nearly developer who was permitted to construct a wooden balcony right on top of the main door of the church !
Active Aging – Gwido Lanfranco
Lehen is-Sewwa continues with its profile of public personalities from the third age who have never ceased with their cultural and intellectual activity. This time it is the turn of Gwido Lanfanco, born at Vittoriosa and a long-time member of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. He is well known for his immense contribution in the environment and natural history circles. During his long career as a teacher he promoted the preservation of the Maltese habitat, wrote books and publications, presented radio and TV programmes and features. He was the founder of Nature Trust and of the Maltese Folklore Society.
Active Aging – Stanley Spiteri
Another personality from Vittoriosa featured in the Lehen is-Sewwi in the Active Aging series is Stanley Spiteri. He recounts about his successful career as a teacher of Maltese and Religion and his previous role in the Boys Scouts and in the Catholic Action. He mentions his numerous pastoral commitments at his parish, including the teach of doctrine to young children, the coordination of family gatherings and the administration of Holy Communion to the sick at home. He is a member of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.
Our Lady of Divine Providence
Winston Zammit in Dawl Frangiskan no. 347 observes that in 1888 the feast of Our Lady of Divine Providence was celebrated at the Capuchin Church of Saint Liberata at Kalkara which at that time was still part of the Vittoriosa parish. The altar painting in the chapel Giuseppe Cali. The late Fr Joseph Garzia OFM Cap, in his history of the Capuchin Convent, found that there also exist until the mid-1950 a confraternity of Our Lady under the title of Divine Providence.
“Rivelazzjoni u Profetismu fl-Islam”
As Malta celebrates the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege 1565 and the victory over the Ottomans, the book with the above title by Fr. Edmond Teuma OFM Conv, professor and researcher of Arabic, is a landmark publication in an age of dialogue and ecumenism. It throws light on the blind religious militarism of past years which nonetheless must be viewed in its correct historic context. The book is a study of Islam and is a sensible follow up of Fr Teuma’s memorable referenced translation of the Koran into Maltese in 2000 which took him 18 years to complete.
Skeleton found in Vittoriosa
Human remains were found near the entrance to the Vittoriosa Parish Museum at St Joseph Oratory, during excavations for the placing of an electricity cable. The skeleton was found just a few centimetres beneath the road surface. The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage were called and the necessary archaeological documentation was carried out. This area was part of a cemetery connected with the old church of St Lawrence. It was already in use during the 16th century and victims of the Great Siege of 1565 were buried there. This historical fact is recalled in a marble tablet affixed to the nearby Oratory of the Holy Crucifix.
Statues of St Peter and St Paul
In a letter to the editor of Lehen is-Sewwa, Lorenzo Zahra, Secretary of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society, pleaded for the re-erection of the two stone statues of St Peter and of St Paul which stood upon reaching the street that leads from Vittoriosa to the Capuchin Church and Convent of St. Liberata, Kalkara. The statues were removed and never re-installed even when the street was widened in the 1970’s.
End of term of Can. Joe Cilia as Archpriest of Vittoriosa
On Ascension Sunday the Curia announced the transfer of Can. Joe Cilia to Lija to take up the role of parish priest of the village. This brought to an end his short four-year office as Vittoriosa Archpriest. The people of Vittoriosa were surprised with this unexpected move as they admired the Archpriest’s hard pastoral and administrative work in the parish. He will be remembered for his audacious setting up of a Christian doctrine teaching centre at the former school the Egyptian Sisters of Mary Immaculate when he was faced with the withdrawal from Vittoriosa of the MUSEUM society. At St Lawrence Church, he pioneered various embellishment projects among which the badly needed restoration of the red marble of the pilasters in the main aisle. Until a new Archpriest is appointed, Fr John Avellino took over as Pastoral Administrator.
First Holy Communion
As in most other towns and villages in Malta, the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist was administered for the first time to 12 children on Trinity Sunday at Vittoriosa. The Church of St Lawrence was beautifully decorated for the occasion, with the relic of St Lawrence exposed on the high altar. After a short procession in which the St Lawrence Band took part, the children and their parents were led to St Lawrence Church for the celebration of the Mass by Can. Joe Cilia. It was his last liturgical sermon at Vittoriosa as Archpriest.
Can. Joe Cilia – preacher and benefactor
This is how Carmel Calleja writing in Lehen is-Sewwa describes Can. Joe Cilia as he terminates his pastoral work at Vittoriosa. The ex-Archpriest will leave various works at St Lawrence Church, among which the installation of a stair-lift to make the church accessible to people with special motory needs.
Great Siege 450th Anniversary celebrations
Celebrations are being held at official level at Valletta, and locally at Vittoriosa, for the 450th Anniversary of the Great Siege. At Vittoriosa, the Local Council set up a Sub-Committee comprising representatives from social, civil and religious entities to formulate a programme of activities. The spokesman for the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society was Mr Joe Morana, Assistant Secretary, who submitted various suggestions to the organising team. The grand opening took place in mid-May to recall the onset of the siege on 18 May 1565. An array of colourful activities was held, coordinated by Heritage Malta: these included a re-enactment of the exodus of the Maltese villagers from the countryside into fortified Birgu to seek refuge from the Turkish invaders. There was an In Guardia parade at Vittoriosa Square and band marches along the streets of the city. Another attraction was a sword-fight session, courtesy of the Malta Fencing Club, in which a replica of Grand Master De La Vallette’s Battle Sword was used.
Tour of Great Siege sites
To commemorate the Great Siege, Fondazzjoni ghall-Ambjent Ahjar organised a thematic walking tour of Vittoriosa aimed at bringing back to life some of the Great Siege episodes. The tour departed from Valletta with a crossing across the harbour to Vittoriosa by means of dghajsa, entering Vittoriosa from the small sally port gate in the Vittoriosa fortifications through which the reinforcement known as Piccolo Soccorso reached Birgu during the siege. The tour proceeded to Great Siege sites and came to an end with a visit to the Vittoriosa Historical Museum where the Battle Sword and Hat of Grand Master De La Vallette are preserved. Besides the tour, FAA also held a seminar on the Great Siege frescoes of Matteo D’Aleccio in which various renowned speakers participated.
The Times of Malta flash-back section entitled Half-A-Century-Ago picked up a report on the affixing in 1965 of various marble tablets on walls of historical buildings in Vittoriosa. It was stated that these tablets were installed on the initiative of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.
Pro Victoria: Great Siege Concert at St Lawrence Collegiate Church
To commemorate the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege Victory, the Cappella Sanctae Catharinae, under the direction of Mro. Alex Vella Gregory, executed a lavish concert of choral music at St Lawrence Church. The major work performed by the all-male choir was Giovanni Croce’s Messa sopra la Battaglia, the Battle Mass, which he wrote in 1596 to celebrate the victory over the Ottoman in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
This is the title of an interesting series of TVM programmes on scientific research and projects in the field of art and features recent feats in artistic restoration works in Malta. One of the programmes was dedicated to the excellent restoration carried out by PrevArti and SalvArti on the 15th century of the Sagra Famiglia held at the Vittoriosa Historical Museum, and on the processional statue of St Lawrence.
St Lawrence Band May-June 2015 newsletter
The editorial of this issue mentions the financial straits facing the St Lawrence feast committee and the Band Club’s decision to strengthen its support and contributions towards the feast. Anton Attard’s historical corner in the newsletter is about the connections of Vittoriosa and the St Lawrence Band with the Island of Gozo. He refers to the collaboration between Vittoriosa and the village of San Lawrenz, and notably, the intimate involvement of the Vittoriosa parish in the feast of Our Lady of Loreto at Ghajnsielem in the early years of the 20th century. Paul Micallef this time interviewed Fr Manuel Adami from Vittoriosa who this year celebrated his Silver Jubilee in the priesthood. As a member of the St Paul Missionary Society, he spent many years in the missions in Peru and in Australia.
“City of the Great Siege marks start of epic battle”
This article by Lino Bugeja in the Sunday Times of Malta marks the launch of the 450th anniversary celebrations at Vittoriosa. He of narrates the story the Order’s arrival in Malta in 1530 and the establishment of their seat at Birgu. He relives the anxiety that the Island suffered in the years preceding the siege and the he recounts the braveness of the defenders and how Voltaire subsequently eulogised the epic: rien n’est plus connu que le siege de Malte.
“Memories of 400th anniversary Great Siege celebration”
Lorenzo Zahra digs up his diary from 1965 and records in details in the Times of Malta the various events and ceremonies that the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society organised at Vittoriosa to celebrate the Great Siege victory. These culminated in a commemorative speech at the foot of the Victory Monument in Vittoriosa Square by historian Mons. Edward Coleiro, followed by the laying of laurel wreaths.
Banners of the Eight Langues of the Order
A celebration was held at Valletta, with the participation of school-children to commemoration the inauguration of the Wignacourt aqueduct. The re-enactment defile that paraded into Valletta led by the Grand Master was accompanied by the Banners of the Eight Langues of the Order. It should be recalled that was the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society which introduced the use of these Banners 50 years ago during the 400th anniversary of the Great Siege. The flags of the Eight Langues were presented to the Society by the respective country’s Ambassador. These flags now hang in the Vittoriosa Parish Museum.
“Collective memory of a nation”
In an article with the above title in the Times of Malta, Lino Bugeja ponders about the unique role played by the city of Vittoriosa during the Great Siege of 1565 and the new political dimension that Malta enjoyed after this resounding victory. He bemoans the way the city is being sidelined and snubbed in the celebrations marking the 450th Anniversary of the Great Siege, with the national festivities and the Pontifical High Mass on 8 September being elsewhere rather than in the authentic venue where victory was won.
It all happened at Vittoriosa
Writing in the correspondence columns in the Times of Malta under the heading “Great Siege revisited”, Lino Bugeja underlines the importance of Birgu and emphasises the central role it played during the siege. He criticises those who were intent on distorting our collective memory by trying to underrate both the historical significance of the Hospitaller Order of St John and the complex social milieu of Vittoriosa over the years.
This is the name of a small art and culture centre which opened in an old refurbished house in Wenzu Dyer Street. It has a small library, a reading area, a small coffee bar and a gift shop. It also offers art and craft instruction to young people.
Statue of St Sebastian at Qormi
The beautiful stone statue of St Sebastion at Qormi is 100 years old. It was installed by the people of Qormi to thank the saint for liberating the village from the deadly plague that hit Malta at the time. The statue was sculpted by Franscesco Fabri from Vittoriosa. He came from a family of sculptors. He modelled his statue on the painting of the saint by Michele Busuttil (1750-1828) found in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at St Lawrence Church. The parish of St Sebastian, Qormi, commemorated the centenary with a concert of classical music and literature in the old church of St Sebastian.
Closure of exhibition about the Inquisition
The magnificent exhibition about the Inquisition in Malta courtesy of Heritage Malta which opened its doors in September 2014 at the Inquisitors’ Palace came to an end during the first weekend of May. To mark the event, Heritage Malta put up two public lectures: one was by Liam Gauci, Maritime Museum Curator about the adventures of Maltese corsairs and the defence of the Christian faith by the Inquisition; the other by Noel Buttigieg about the culinary practices in the 17th century and the two preferred beverages of the Inquisitors and the Grand Masters: coffee and chocolate.
Pre-wedding and post-wedding photo venue
Vittoriosa Marina is becoming a popular venue for pre-wedding and post-wedding photo shoot sessions. The yacht marina, the attractive walkway along the wharf leading to Fort St Angelo, and the National Maritime Museum building with its restored clock tower provide ample background to the weds-to-be and newly-weds.
Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici auto-biography
The 1,300 page volume of President Emeritus Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici is a monument to his brilliant political career and his broad intellectual grasp. Vittoriosa is greatly indebted to him for his invaluable contribution to the city’s cultural heritage. His most prominent and long-lasting legacy to Vittoriosa is the transformation of the former H.M. Bakery into the National Maritime Museum.
Scale models of fortifications
Architect Stephen Spiteri is featured in an article on the above subject in issue no. 10 of the magazine Baroque Routes produced by the Institute of Baroque Studies of the University of Malta. His study is about the use of scale models by military engineers engaged by the Order of St John to help in the construction of Malta’s defences. He mentions that Charles Grunenberg carved stone modelli to explain his proposed projects for new works around the Grand Harbour. One of these models represents Fort St Angelo.
Soprano Miriam Gauci at SMOM concert
The Malta Association of the SMOM, which undertakes to perform philanthropic deeds, held its annual orchestral charity concert on the occasion of St John’s Day at St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra was under the baton of Mro. Michael Laus. The distinguished guest was Vittoriosa born soprano, Miriam Gauci, successor of her renowned aunt, soprano Hilda Tabone, also from Vittoriosa. The Goldberg Ensemble also took part. The programme included a repertoire of sacred music by Handel, Pergolesi and Mozart.