Jul – Sep 2016
Anton Attard – President of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society
Mons. Paul Raggio who has been President of the Society for the last 14 years has decided to retire from this role and focus on his pastoral work as Chaplain of the Monastery of St Scholastica and as vice-parish priest of Kalkara. The Society thanked him for his services to the Society and as a sign of appreciated has appointed him Hon. President. The Committee has now appointed Anton Attard as its new President. He has been a Member of the Society serving as vice-president for many years. He is a historian and researcher and has published numerous articles and features about Vittoriosa. He is also the author of two comprehensive studies, one about the St Lawrence Band Club and one on the regretfully now defunct Vittoriosa Museum Branch Male Centre.
“Carmelo Parascandalo of Vittoriosa and Fgura Parish”
Carmelo Parascandalo was born at Vittoriosa but lived for many years in Fgura. Thanks to his profession as a draughtsman and his enthusiastic devotion to Our Lady, he was instrumental in the completion of the construction of the all-concrete Fgura Parish Church dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a project which had been started years before but which had been abandoned. Lorenzo Zahra writes a short biography of is-Sur Karm, as Carmelo Parascandalo was known, in the Malta Independent on Sunday. Is-Sur Karm obtained his expertise when he served with the British Admiralty, expertise which he subsequently exercised in the Civil Service. He remained deeply attached to his native city, Vittoriosa. He passed away on the feast day of St Lawrence in 1997.
“The epic air battle for Malta”
Denis Darmanin, commentator and researcher of Malta’s military and defence history, member of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society, writes in the Sunday Times of Malta under the above title about the heroic feats of the RAF during the enemy air strikes on Malta during World War II. In the initial days of the war, Malta was barely equipped to defend itself against the Regia Aeronautica but later received tangible reinforcement from the RAF especially in view of the Axis warfront in North Africa. The height of the siege was on what is remembered as the glorious 10 May 1942 when the RAF and the Malta anti-aircraft defenders, together with the mighty war effort of the Royal Navy with its HQ at H.M.S. St Angelo, Vittoriosa, valiantly withstood a terrific air attack on the Island. It is to be noted that while wartime Vittoriosa and Cottonera are closely associated with the Royal Navy, the RAF had a presence, even if insignificant and little known, at Vittoriosa. An old, forgotten warehouse near the steps leading to the Holy Infirmary Sally Port, known as It-Toqba, still bears across the entrance a faded name-sign with RAF written across.
The Carmelites at Fleur-de-Lys
Fr. Herman Duncan O.Carm is featured in an article in the Times of Malta on the origin of the Carmelite Order at Fleur-de-Lys and of their parish church dedicate to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. During the last war, some Dominican friars from Vittoriosa who were staying at Santa Venera used to say Mass from a garage made available to them by Bonavia Marble Works in Fleur-de-Lys Road. After the war many of the refugees stayed on and Fleur-de-Lys Road was son built up. It was to address their pastoral needs that the Prior Provincial of the Carmelites at Santa Venera decided in 1945 to erect a church in Fleur-de-Lys to the design of architect Guze’ D’Amato. It was inaugurated a year later and was raised to a parish in 1994. Fr. Herman Duncan O.Carm, a native of Vittoriosa, is at present serving at Fleur-de-Lys.
Fr. Herman Duncan O.Carm has written other features on the Carmelite Order. In the Times of Malta he writes about the devotion to the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel whose origin goes back some 750 years when St Simon Stock received it in an apparition of Our Lady in Cambridge, England. This year the Carmelite scapular worn by Pope John Paul II, who was affiliated to the scapular, was exhibited at the Carmelite Priory in Mdina. Fr. Herman Duncan also appears in the religious magazine Il-Paci Maghkom issue no. 66 published by the MUSEUM Society in an article on Saint Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi,, a virtuous Carmelite nun born in 1566 in Florence. Maybe in the future he would write about the historic arrival of the Carmelites at Vittoriosa in 1582 and their abrupt departure in 1652.
Carmelite Parish at Santa Venera
Fr Herman Duncan celebrates the feast of St Venera in the town bearing that name with an article in the Sunday Times of Malta. The devotion to this martyred saint goes back to the 2nd century AD when her cult spread from Rome to Southern Italy, Sicily and during the Middle Ages to Malta. The first church at Santa Venera was built in 1473, enlarged and rebuilt in later years. The Carmelites moved in the church in 1913 which was elevated to parish in 1918. The present church, designed by architect J. Naudi, was inaugurated in 2005.
Bands for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
In the festa programme of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Valletta, Lorenzo Zahra writes about the participation of bands for the feast during the 19th century. In the early years of the 19th century soon after the start of British rule, it is recorded that a military band used to take part in the feast of St Lawrence, Vittoriosa. Thereafter, such practice caught up in other town. By 1840. A military band was taking part in the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Valletta. This continued until, by 1875 the La Vallette Band started to participate. But other local bands were invited, including Senglea’s La Vincitrice, Cospicua’s Banda San Giorgio, and Vittoriosa’s two bands, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales.
St Lawrence Band newsletter July-August 2016
This issue, which prides itself with a colour picture of the illuminated façade of Palazzo Huesca, the Band’s premises in Vittoriosa Square, is dedicated to the feast of St Lawrence. The Secretary, Simon Farrugia, makes a review of the band’s achievements and projects during the year, notably the emphasis on the teaching of music. For the feast of St Lawrence, four new bandsmen, allievi as they are called, will be joining the band. Anton Attard and Gorg Cilia, both members of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society, give a glimpse on Birgu’s past. Anton Attard traces the history of Inquisitor Gian Filippo Gallarati Scotti whose solemn investiture took place at St Lawrence Church in 1785 and who participated in the annual feasts of the Dominican Martyr St Peter of Verona, patron of the Holy Office. Attard also writes about Maltese servicemen, including Vittoriosa citizens, who lost their lives in the Battle of Jutland, 100 years ago. Gorg Cilia throws light on the Birgu ditch, enlarged by Grand Master Perellos in 1717 and later transformed into a public garden during British rule, called Coronation Garden. The newsletter’s interview by Paul Micallef in this issue is with Fr. Martin Mamo OFM Cap. from Kalkara. Through his grandmother who was born in Vittoriosa, he imbued a close connection with the city and a special devotion to St. Lawrence. Some years back Fr. Mamo delivered an exciting panegyric on St Lawrence feastday, followed by one on St Dominic’s feast. Fr. Mamo has the privilege every year of dressing up the statue of St Lawrence with its beautiful dalmatic and other decorations in preparation for the solemn procession on 10 August.
Feast of St Benedict
Solemn Mass for the Feast of St Benedict on 11 July at the Monastery of St. Scholastica, Vittoriosa, was this year led by Archbishop Emeritus Mons Pawl Cremona. He was assisted by Vittoriosa Archpriest, Can. Joe Mizzi, and by the Rector of the monastery, Mons. Paul Raggio, President of the Vittoriosa Historical 7 cultural Society.
Joseph Porsella Flores passed away
The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society lost one of its pioneer member at the venerable age of 93: Joseph Porsella Flores, also known has Geoffrey. He inherited his love for Vittoriosa from his father, is-sur Guze’ Porsella Flores who was a teacher by profession but who carried out research and published articles in the 1930’s on history of the city and in particular its old churches. The articles were admirably put together and published by Geoffrey. Geoffrey was also one of the contributors to the two volume history Birgu: A Maritime City. In spite of his old age, he never missed his annual appointment at St Lawrence Church for the Antevigila to listen to the Can. Luigi Fenech’s Antiphone.
Restoration works at Vittoriosa
The Restoration Unit within the Works Division of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure is carrying out various public works at Vittoriosa. These include an overhaul of the steps leading to St Lawrence Church which had suffered severe deterioration from exposure. A similar restoration project has been undertaken at the cloister within the Dominican Covent which has also been seriously damage through water seepage. Following the completion of the restoration of the St Lawrence Band Club façade last year, it is now the turn of a dilapidated stone statue in the Band Club yard representing Brittania to be undergo repair.
The feast of Our Lady of the Doctrine is celebrated in various towns and Villages in Malta and Gozo. In an article published in the Tarxien feast programme booklet, Lorenzo Zahra describes the origin on this tradition in the early 18th century following the setting up of various confraternities aimed at diffusing the Christian Doctrine. In later years the teaching of religion started to be assumed by various other organisations, notably the MUSEUM founded by Dun Gorg Preca.
Music and history at Vittoriosa
The Notarial Archives Resources Council teamed with the choir Cappella Sanctae Catherinae and Compagnia San Michele and organised an open-air evening of history and Renaissance music in the newly-restored Vittoriosa Ditch. The evening was entitled Libri e Madrigali. A Committee Member of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society attended the event.
Graduation at De La Salle College, Vittoriosa
The annual graduation ceremony was held at De La Salle College, Vittoriosa in the College Grounds. The special guest was H.G. Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna who said Mass and delivered the homily in which he thanked and praise the Brothers for their hard work and dedication in the educational and cultural sphere. For this occasion a group of Brothers from Colombia was in attendance.
The Dominican Order at Birgu
The late Fr. Michael Fsadni OP, born at Vittoriosa, wrote various books on the history of the Dominican Order in Malta including one on their Convent at Vittoriosa. The quarterly Dominican magazine Xandar il-Kelma, issue no. 25, reproduces an excerpt from the latter recounting the origin of the Dominican presence in Vittoriosa since 1528. The Dominican, who had been long established at Rabat, thought of reaching out towards the south of the Island from Birgu. At Birgu they were allocated an old church dedicated to the Annunciation with its sicolo-norman belfry. The choice of Birgu proved to be the right decision because two years later in 1530 Birgu became the headquarters of the Order of St John which brought prosperity to the city with an increase in commercial and maritime activity. This served well to the Dominican community, more so when the Annunciation Church assumed the role of parish after St Lawrence Church was taken over by the Knights to become their Conventual Church. It was from Vittoriosa that after the 1565 Great Siege victory, the Dominicans moved to the newly-built city of Valletta and established a foothold, with their church becoming the first parish in the capital city.
Billionaire’s superyacht berthed at Vittoriosa
British tycoon Sir Philip Green’s £100 million superyacht MY Lionheart has been berthed at the Vittoriosa Waterfront for some weeks. The yacht is the length of a football pitch and is equipped with a swimming pool, a helipad, hot tub and other special features. Sir Philip Green was the owner of the department store chain BHS from where he made his fortune but which he sold it off on the eve of its bankruptcy, with 11,000 lay-offs across the UK. A group of British women expressed their rage by making gestures of protest in Grand Harbour as the yacht sailed by, as reported in the Daily Mail and in the Times of Malta.
Devotion to St. Sebastian at Vittoriosa
St Sebastian was one of the saints whose intervention was sought in the past when Malta was affected by the plague. Devotion to him in Malta goes back to medieval times and various churches and chapels were dedicated to him. The oldest one on record is that at Rabat dating to 1477. This church, which is the subject of an article by Peter Paul Ciantar in the quarterly newsletter L-Anzjan Illum, was subsequently rebuilt and became a focal point at Rabat with the nearby spring fountain – the subject of Maltese author Kilin’s reminiscences in his autobiography Fuq il-Ghajn ta’ San Bastjan. During Mons. Dusina’ Pastoral Visit across Malta in 1575, it is recorded that a church dedicated to St Sebastian also existed at Vittoriosa. This church was demolished in 1690 to make way for the baroque church St Lawrence. A painting of St Sebastian by Michele Busuttil (1750-1828) in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in that church recall the old devotion of St Sebastian in Vittoriosa.
Interview with Lorenzo Zahra
An interview by Eric Montfort with Lorenzo Zahra, co-founder of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society, is carried in the St Gaetano Feast Programme issued by Hamrun Liberty Group. Lorenzo has been resident at Blata l-Bajda for over 20 years however he never severed his links with his native city, Vittoriosa. He was instrumental in the setting up of the St Lawrence Church Museum of which he acts as custodian with other volunteers. It gives him satisfaction to see that with the efforts of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society, and more recently those of the Vittoriosa Local Council, there is now increased awareness of the old city’s historical heritage. He admires the wide-ranging restoration works of the Birgu fortifications and of Fort St Angelo but he feels that the Birgu lost irremediably its historic core during the last war. He longs for the reconstruction of the Clock Tower in Vittoriosa Square. Lorenzo recounts his experience for long years as officer of the power station at Marsa. Since his retirement he has engaged himself energetically as archivist at the Archbishop’s Curia Archives.
Lino Bugeja on radio
Historian and art commentator Lino Bugeja spoke in the programme “Tiftakarha din…” on the Malta University radio station Campus FM. The theme of his talk was Fort St. Angelo. He briefly narrated the colourful history of the Castle, starting from the earliest known settlements on the Birgu promontory during Phoenician times and right until the building of the Castle by the Saracens in the 9th century AD. During Medieval times the Castle became a centre of art and culture when it was the seat of the Island’s governor, the Castellan. The Castle played a key role during the Great Siege and was three centuries later transformed into the British Naval Base by the Royal Navy.
Feast of St Lawrence
For the first time the feast was organised under the new Vittoriosa Archpriest, Can Joe Mizzi. He led all the church ceremonies including the Solemn Mass and the Procession. The panegyric was delivered by newly installed Hon. Can. Fr. Marc Andre’ Camilleri, Parish Priest of Paola. The external festivities were held with the usual pomp, including band marches, with the Vittoriosa St Lawrence Band participating in all events and distinguishing itself with its Grand Musical Programme at Vittoriosa Square. The saint of the week in the weekly liturgical handout Jum il-Mulej featured St. Lawrence. But it the article had three mistakes: the feast day was wrongly printed as 7 August instead of 10 August; the accompanying picture was not St Lawrence but St Stephen holding in his hands the stoned that killed him; an attempt was made to put doubt on the gridiron as the tool of St Lawrence’s martyrdom when all the iconography portrays St Lawrence with the gridiron.
“How St. Lawrence Church confirmed Malta’s European identity”
This is the title of an article by Lino Bugeja in the Times of Malta on the occasion of the feat of St Lawrence. He goes back to the origin of the church during the Norman and Aragonese period when it the Spanish governors of the Castle of St Angelo promoted the cult of the Spanish martyr St. Lawrence. The church of St Lawrence with its distinctive location in the principal harbour of Malta, doubled with the Mdina Cathedral as a parish church. With the arrival of the Knights it became their conventual church. From numerous patron of the arts enriched the church with priceless treasures, some of which are exhibited on 10 August.
Cardinal Bagnasco on St. Lawrence’s Martyrdom
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Episcopal Council and Archbishop of Genova, made special reference of the martyrdom of St. Lawrence during his homily at the Genova Cathedral of San Lorenzo on the saint’s feast-day. He said that the St Lawrence’s martyrdom was a superb act of faith in God and in the Church. The cardinal referred to the Church’s charitable work among the poor, the sick and those suffering injustice. He regretted that the EU under the pretext of equality and tolerance is unashamedly abandoning Christian morality that was at the root of its inception.
Pre-19th century music playing in Malta
Anna Borg Cardona is featured in the festa programme of St Dominic, Valletta, with an article on the early development of music playing and musical instruments prior to the establishment of local band clubs in the mid-19th century. She hints on the influence on Maltese music culture in the 16 century from military sources, notably the instruments used by the Ottomans during the Great Siege. During the time of the Order of St John besides sacred music at the Mdina Cathedral and St John’s Conventual Church, music also featured on the Order’s galleys’ and religious events. The article mentions the unique late 17th century caricature of the procession of St Lawrence, reproduced from the Vittoriosa St Lawrence Museum, which was accompanied by a uniformed brass band.
Maltese artisans in Maltese churches
In the festa programme of Santa Marija, Mosta, published by Nicolo’ Isouard Band, Lorenzo Zahra reproduces his research of various Maltese artists and artisans whose works of art embellish Maltese churches. The names are listed in alphabetical order with a brief outline of each person’s distinctive works. In this articles names starting with A and B are listed.
Feast of St Dominic at Vittoriosa
The Dominican Community at Vittoriosa celebrated the feast of St Dominic this year with a special significance as it is the 800th centenary from the foundation of the Order of Preachers. Solemn Mass was said by Archbishop Emeritus Mons. Paul Cremona OP and the panegyric was delivered by Fr Joe Zahra OP. The external festivities were marked by band marches by the Prince of Wales Own Band and by further street decorations. Historian Anton Attard appears in the Vittoriosa St Dominic Feast with a feature on the commemorations that were held at Valletta and at Vittoriosa in 1921 and in 1934, respectively, on the occasion of the 7th centenary of the death of St Dominic in 1921 and of his canonisation.
Pastoral Visit at Siggiewi in 1849
A short account written by Lorenzo Zahra about the Pastoral Visit at Siggiewi in 1849 by Bishop Mons Publio Sant appears in the St Nicholas festa programme issued by the St Nicholas Band. The visit started at the parish church where the Bishop arrived processionally under a canopy. He then visited and reported on other churches including that of Santa Marija, run by the Dominican Friars of Vittoriosa, the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, administered by the Confraternity of Charity of Valletta, and not least the small country Church of St Lawrence which stood near La Ferla Cross. Lorenzo Zahra has two other short articles: one on the procession of St Nicholas in 1771 when the clergy insisted on holding a torch rather than a candle during the procession, and one on the Siggiewi Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament dating to 1779.
De Domenici family from Vittoriosa
Originally from Sicily, the De Domenici family of artists and craftsmen settled in Vittoriosa in the early 17th century. Onofrio De Domenici, a silversmith, married Giovanella Protopsalti, daughter of another silversmith, at St Lawrence Church, Vittoriosa, in 1641. They had eight children of whom Raimondo, born 1644, and Don Johannes Franciscus, born 1655, both artists. Maria De Domenici, born 1645, who later became a Carmelite nun, was also a painter and joined the bottega of Mattia Preti (1613-1699). She executed various works in Malta, identified by their classic style and rich colours, before she went to Rome where she died in 1703. A detailed survey of her paintings in Malta by Joe P. Borg is published in the Festa Programme booklet of St Joseph issued by the De Rohan Band, Zebbug.
Elderly of the Year Award for Gorg Agius of Vittoriosa
The 2016 Award of Elderly of the Year sponsored by Nazzareno Vassallo Organisation was this year presented to 90-year old Gorg Agius for his comforting and encouraging words to patients during his daily visits to hospitals. He is also well known from the short lyrical prayers he composes through which he has been attributed the title Poet of God. He was nominated for the Award by the Vittoriosa Local Council which was subscribed by the Rev. Archpriest of Vittoriosa and the Prior of the Vittoriosa Dominican Friars. Gorg Agius is also featured in an article by Tonio Bonello in Lehen is-Sewwa.
Maths Venture at Vittoriosa
The Department of Education Mathematics Division in collaboration with the Vittoriosa Local Council organised a Maths Venture in Vittoriosa for secondary school students. The object was to enable participants to apply the topics learned in class while walking around the streets and squares of the city. On the way students were engaged in a number of mathematical activities intended to give them an insight into Vittoriosa history through mathematical eyes. Students were each given a pack of resources to use during the walk-around. The event was supported by A to Z Electronics.
Vittoriosa Clock Tower re-construction postponed
During 2015 Alf Mizzi & Sons Ltd celebrated its centenary and set about on various community projects to commemorate the occasion. One of the projects was to be a gift to the city of Vittoriosa: they generously offered to finance the rebuilding in Vittoriosa Square the old Clock Tower destroyed during the war, which was a landmark of the city. Because of the influence of a pressure group who do not bother about the city’s historical heritage and merely want to safeguard their personal interests, the Local Council was inclined to hold a referendum within the city to decide on the fate of the project. To avoid any polemics, the Alf Mizzi & Sons Foundation understandably has now decided not to go ahead with this project. This was a golden opportunity which, regretfully, the Vittoriosa Local Council, and indeed Vittoriosa, have missed. One can mention various examples of historic buildings which for some reason or other disappeared but where rebuilt to the original design: the famous Campanile San Marco landmark of Venice collapsed in 1902 but was reconstructed in 1912; the majestic Benedictine Abbazia at Montecassino was raised to the ground during the fatal bombing onslaught in 1944 but was resurrected to its former splendour and consecrated in 1964; and nearer home, the Wignacourt Arch at Fleur-de-Lys forming part of the Aqueducts, demolished in 1943 to make way for a wider roadway was beautifully rebuilt in 2016.
Fort San Salvatore in a horrible state
This Fort, which overlooks the Post of Castille at Vittoriosa and which lies on a hill at one end of the Cottonera Fortifications, was built by Grand Master Emanuel De Vilhena in 1724. It has been in a state of disrepair for many years but received its worst blow when it was granted on empheteusis to an businessman for conversion into a concrete plant in the 1970s. After the plant stopped operations, Fort San Salvatore was abandoned and became the prey of vandals. An article on its pitiful state, accompanied by scandalous pictures,was carried in L-Orizzont.
The Durante family of marble craftsmen
Emmanuel Magro Conti is featured in the 2016 issue of the Senglea Historical Society Annual Magazine with an article on the four generations of the Durante family who were masters in the art of marble works from the mid-17th century. They had their workshop at Senglea. This was a time when few Maltese churches had any marble decorations. The Durantes for a time enjoyed a monopoly on commissions for religious artefacts. At St Lawrence Collegiate church the marble base of the baroque Baptismal Font on 1741 is attributed to the Durantes. In the article the author refers to one of the earliest known imported sacred marble object in Malta: a 15th century font, originally from the Mdina Cathedral and now at Gharb parish church, Gozo, by sculptor Domenico Cagini of Palermo. At the Vittoriosa Parish Museum there are two Cagini fonts originally from St Lawrence Parish Church. The article also refers to the crosses in marble roundels that are affixed to a church’s pilasters upon its consecration. St Lawrence Church was among the first five churches in Malta to be consecrated. The former roundels dating to 1723 were replaced by the present set of bronze eight-pointed cross roundels when the pilasters in the main aisle of St Lawrence Church were covered with rosso perlato marble in 1899. One of these roundels was eventually embedded in the centre of the new grey marble high altar table in 1901. Another one is preserved in the Vittoriosa Parish Museum.
Canonisation of Mother Theresa
Pope Francis led the solemn celebration at the Vatican of the canonisation of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, attended by large crowds and broadcast worldwide on television. Her selfless and saintly dedication for the poor were the hallmark of her endeavours, especially through her organisation, the Little Sisters of Charity. Fr. Tony Mercieca from Vittoriosa joined Mother Theresa’s company as a young lay missionary and after completing his studies he was ordained priest. For many years he has been working in the backstreets of the large metropolis cities in the US. Fr. Paul Chetcuti SJ from Vittoriosa also spent some years working alongside Mother Theresa in India. Hector Picard, whose family hails from Vittoriosa, is among the Maltese lay missionaries in the Mother Theresa missions in Peru.
HSBC Malta concert at Fort St. Angelo
As part of its commitment to top customers, HSBC Bank Malta held an open air summer concert at Fort St Angelo with the participation of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra Percussion Ensemble. Chairman Sonny Portelli welcomed distinguished guests among whom H.E. the British High Commissioner.
Vittoriosa Archpriest at Mdina Cathedral
Can. Joe Mizzi, Archpriest of Vittoriosa, joined other parish priests in a Solemn Mass led by H.G. Archbishop Charles Scicluna at Mdina Cathedral on the occasion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Jum il-Birgu 2016
Jum il-Belt Rebbieha u Glorjuza: that is how this day was defined on the programme leaflet by the Vittoriosa Local Council. The event started with Holy Mass at St. Lawrence Collegiate, led by the Rev. Archpriest Can. Joe Mizzi. This was followed by a commemorative ceremony in the Church parvis, which included a Show of Arms by a re-enactment group, a speech for the occasion by Gorg Agius and a message from Vittoriosa Mayor John Boxall. The Gieh il-Birgu 2016 prize was this year awarded to Vittoriosa-born soprano of international fame Miriam Gauci. At the conclusion of the ceremony, wreaths and flowers were laid at the foot of the Victory Monument in Vittoriosa Square. The Vittoriosa Historical and Cultural Society expressed reservations at the venue as it was felt that the Great Siege Victory commemoration should be held in Vittoriosa Square around the Victory Monument. Once again this year two age-old Vittoriosa traditions have been skipped: the transfer of the Sacred Icon of the Nativity of Our Lady from the Annunciation Church to St. Lawrence, and the blessing of the burial place of the 1565 Great Siege victims in the vicinity of the Oratory of the Holy Crucifix.
Historian Lino Bugeja rendered an admirable tribute to his native city in his article Honouring Vittoriosa in the Times of Malta on the occasion of the Great Siege Victory Day. As a holder of the Croce Del Ordine by the Order of St John, he felt obliged to pay homage to Vittoriosa ancestors who contributed to the city glorious past. He affirms that no other city except Vittoriosa can claim to be the City of the Great Siege. He feels that the rightful place to commemorate the Great Siege Victory is Vittoriosa.
Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin at Fort St. Angelo
This feast was an annual event until 2008 when it was discontinued as Fort St. Angelo was closed for major EU-funded restoration. Now that the project has been completed and the historic Fort is again accessible to the public, the feast was revived on the initiative of Gorg Agius of Vittoriosa, member of the Christian Doctrine Society MUSEUM. The feast started with the singing of Morning Psalms, recital of the Holy Rosary and Solemn Mass in the ancient rock-cut Chapel within the Castle, in paleo-christian times dedicated to the Mother of god. The liturgy was led by Mons. Paul Raggio, accompanied by Can. Mario Agius and Rev. John Avellino, all from St Lawrence Collegiate Church. Vittoriosa Mayor John Boxall was also in attendance. Wreaths were afterwards placed in the Castle Cemetery to the notes of the national anthem.
Interview on TVM on Fort St Angelo re-opening
Heritage Malta opened Fort St Angelo to the public for the 8 September National Day, in commemoration of the 1565 Great Siege victory and the end of World War II. To mark the occasion, RTVM broadcast an interview with historian Lino Bugeja who dwelled on the historic significance of the Fort. There was also an intervention by Anton Attard, President of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society who pointed out that the Great Siege Victory ceremony at Vittoriosa was re-introduced by the Society some 60 years ago.
Great Siege maps
On the occasion of the 8 September National Day, Pio Dalli published an article in Il-Mument about the depiction of the drama of Great Siege in four intaglio siege maps from the collection of cartographer Dr Albert Ganado and exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology. They show how the Ottaman invaders were entrenched all over the Grand Harbour and how the Malta defences were deployed.
Mro Lorenzo Galea remembered
The programme booklet for the feast of Our Lady of Graces held at Zabbar contains an article by Rev. Abraham D’Amato on antiphons and sacred music played in the Zabbar Sanctuary during the feast. Among the famous directors who was maestro di cappella was Mro. Lorenzo Galea (1893-1970) from Vittoriosa. He wrote Marian antiphons and hymns that are still played.
Elderly man injured in traffic accident
An elderly man from Vittoriosa was grievously injured when he was hit by a reversing van at the Vittoriosa Tuesday Open Market at Triq tal-Hawli. This Open Market had its origin after the war when a number of vendors, some of them coming from various villages, used to set up stands at Vittoriosa Square. As the market grew in size and popularity, it was moved to St John’s Tower Street and finally to its present venue at along Silver Jubilee Street. It attracts large crowds including numerous tourists. Another flea market has in recent years been organised every Sunday morning at the Fortini Ground, mainly for the sale of old objects and second hand articles.
The Monastery of St Scholastica on television
One of the episodes of the television informative series about the various convents in Malta, X’Joffri l-Kunvent, was about the Monastery of St Scholastica at Vittoriosa. The programme, presented by Mario Coleiro, featured unique tours around the interior of the cloistered nunnery which would usually be considered inaccessible to the public, clausura. The building served as first Holy Infirmary of the Order of St John when the Order’s seat was at Vittoriosa.