May - November 2007
World Food Day 2007
The last Sunday of October was World Food Day. This year it was celebrated at Vittoriosa Square which was turned into a truly rural scene, untypical of the old Piazza d’Armi as Birgu Square was known, but nonetheless attractive and crowd-pulling. Exhibiton stalls were set up showing different aspects of agriculatural activity in Malta and related village crafts. There were animal pens with goats and a cow was tethered at the iron railing of the Victory Monument. There was folk dancing and food tasting. The event, which was organised by the Ministry for Rural Affairs and Environment, was televised on TVM.
Grand Prix de Malte
This show of vintage cars and classic sports cars was held for the first time in Malta. The highlight of the event was the race along the Valletta Ring Road on the last weekend of October. As part of the activity, a carcade of prestige cars was held during the preceding week through various towns and villages, one of the starting points being Vittoriosa.
The magnificent Palazzo Caraffa, also known as Caraffa Stores, at the Vittoriosa Marina were the venue of a week long international interdisciplinary conference in November 2007 on the Neolitic Age, with particular emphasis on Malta’s megalithic heritege. The conference was addressed by speakers ranging from archaeologists, psychologists, philosophers, artists, and researchers in esoteric subjects, and consisted of debates, discussions, workshops, site-visits, art exhibitions and even therapeutic experiences. The Caraffa Stores and the city of Vittoriosa was given wide publicity to participants and also on the conference website. It was an honour for our Society that Dr Louis Lagana’, Artist and Art Coordinator at the Junior College and a Committee Member, was one of the speakers.
International Festival of Choirs
This year’s edition of the Festival, held between November 2007 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, again covered various music categories: sacred, secular, folk. The grand concert was held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre Valletta. However, the festival opening ceremony and spectacle took place at Vittoriosa. The choirsters were symbolically greeted by the Grandmaster at the city’s Main Gate, and he invited them into the city. As they walked processionally along the illuminated streets of the city they were accompanied by a band playing band marches. The inauguration speeches were then held on a specially prepared podium at Vittoriosa Square.
A taste of Caravaggio at Vittoriosa
This year Malta commemorates in grand style the 400 th anniversary of Caravaggio’s arrival and brief but prolific soujourn in Malta. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society in an gathering at the Parish Museum, highighted the Great Artists’ imprisonment at the underground cell known as "oubliette" at Fort St Angelo after falling into trouble with the Order of St John that was hosting him and from where he mysteriously escaped. An exhibition of a Caravaggio-style painting of the Ecco Homo is being held at the said Museum till the end of the year.
A.V.E.C. network meeting at Vittoriosa
The Alliance de Villes Europeens de Culture, also known as A.V.E.C., held its administration council meeting at the Vittoriosa Local Council Premses in October 2007. The Vittoriosa Mayor, John Boxall, is the current association’s vice-president. The A.V.E.C. network is made up of 40 citie in 12 European countries and offers a framework of techical and policy cooperation on cultural heritege matters. The conference was attended by high level delegates from member cities, including Christian Mourisard, president.
Birgu by Candlelight
The Birgu by Candlelight event has become an annual happening in early October awaited equally by locals and visitors. This year the emphasis was on Vittoriosa’s crucial role during World War II, invigorated through re-enactments, period costumes, display of mitlitary vehicles, theatrical representations, demonstrations by the Malta Command and Cannon Drill, an exhibition by the Society of Scale Modellers togther with the Aviation Museum Foundation, and the usual tours around the fortifications. The event is warmly supported by the Vittoriosa Local Council and by the residents, most of whom welcome guests and are proud to show-off their abodes as part of the living heritege of the city.
Vittoriosa Day 2007
The Vittoriosa Local Council celebrated Vittoriosa Day, 7 September, and commemorated the Great Siege Victory with a programme of activities at Vittoriosa Square included band marches and a parade along the main street of the city. The annual award of the trophy Gieh il-Birgu was this year presented to Lorenzo Zahra, Co-founder and Secretary of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. The activity ended with the laying of laurel wreaths at the foot of the Victory Monument in Vittoriosa Square.
"Our Islands in the Sun"
This was television series in English on TVM during summer 2007 from Clapperboard Productions intended to foster Malta’s cultural appreciation. Two programmes were dedicated to Vittoriosa, both of which featured the noted historian and researcher, Lino Bugeja, who capably answered questions put to him by the presenter and expressed very succinctly what he termed "the spirit of the place". The first programme dealt with Medieval Birgu and the second programme was on Birgu during the Order.
Musical at Couvre Porte
Every summer Vittoriosa youths organise a musical spectacle. This year they presented classical excerpts from The Phamtom of the Opera. But the event in which about 80 youths participated was more than a show: particpants were also entertained with tango dancing acts, performances by local singers and a wine party.
Life of St Lawrence – in Maltese
Emanuel Micallef has published a Maltese version of the booklet: St Lawrence, the Martyred Deacon, written in English by Lorenzo Zahra
Thomas McSweeney remembered
An article probing into the unfortunate events surrounding the hanging of Royal Marines Private McSweeney in 1837 was published in the Sunday Times in June 2007. The author is Denis Darmanin, Member of the Society. McSweeney was court marshalled for assaulting and accidentally causing the death of a provocative naval officer on HMS Rodney. He is buried in St Lawrence Cemetery, Vittoriosa, where his grave still attracts several visitors.
A weekend billiard tornament at the end of the scholastic year in June 2007 held at the Lorenzo Gafa’ Secondary School, Il-Fortini, Vittoriosa, raised a total of Lm 1,500 (EUR 3,494). This was donated to the Suret il-Bniedem Foundation, which is a voluntary organisation run by the Capuchins offering humanitarian and welfare services to the needy. The School forms part of the Cottonera College.
Spiro Mizzi Foundation
Maurice Mizzi, the head of the Mizzi Organisation, has launched a foundation in honour of his father. Spiro Mizzi, or as he was popularly known, is-Sur Spir, was born at Vittoriosa. He started his car hire business at St Lawrence Street and he helped innumerable families by offering them employment in difficult times, notably in the inter-war period. He continued with his philantropic works till he died at age 90. He was also a benefactor of St Lawrence Collegiate Churuch. Vittoriosa. The Spiro Mizzi Foundation aims to help families, mainly in the Cottonera area, living below the poverty line.
Literary evening at the Auberge de France
The Auberge de France at Vittoriosa is destined to become the Museum of the Maltese Language. On the occasion of the UNESCO World Literacy Day in September 2007, a Maltese literary evening was held the Auberge de France. Residents from various localities in Malta were invited to read poetry and prose in genuine dialect. Vittoriosa was represented by Manwel Attard and Joseph Brown.
Christmas sermon in Gozo in 1941
In a letter to the Sunday Times as a follow up to the Gozo Newsletter commentary in the same paper in June 2007 it was revealed that the Christmas sermon at St James Chapel in It-Tokk, Gozo, on 24 December 1941, after the MUSEUM procession with Baby Jesus had ended, was delivered by none other than the young boy Anton Zammit Gabarretta, who was a refugee with his family ans was a MUSEUM member. He later became Canon of St Lawrence Colleggiate, Vittoriosa, and President of the Vittoriosa Histroical & Cultural Society.
Electronic Guide to Vittoriosa
The Vittoriosa Local Council in conjunction with Cultel Ltd launched an electronic guide to the city of Vittoriosa on MP3. This is the first such initiative ever taken in Malta. The package was displayed at the Parish Museum, from where it can be acquired.
First Solemn Mass of Fr Manuel Camilleri SBD
Fr Manual Camilleri SBD said his first solemn high Mass at St Lawrence Church, Vittoriosa, on Monday, 2 July 2007, following his ordination on the previous day. He had become well known with the residents of Vittoriosa as he had assisted in pastoral work in the Vittoriosa parish as a deacon. The Church of St Lawrence was appropriately decorated for the concelebrated Mass. The oration was delivered by the Provincial of the Salesians in Malta. He has been posted at St Philip Church in Senglea whose administration was handed over from the Jesuits to the Salesians.
Canonisation of Saint Gorg Preca
The Catholic Church in Malta made history on 3 June 2007: Pope Benedict XVI declared Dun Gorg Preca the first Maltese Saint. Special celebrations were held throughout the Island, and no less at St Lawrence Colleggiate Church and at the Male and Female Sections of the MUSEUM at Vittoriosa. Dun Gorg used to call at the Vittoriosa mainly to pay homoage to a hly image of the Sacred Heart venerated in a private residence. He often called to visit the Vittoriosa MUSEUM members. A detailed history of the MUSEUM which narrates Dun Gorg’s connection with Vittoriosa is found in the book, published in 2002 entitled Ghajn ta’ Gid li Ssaqi Belt, written on Anton Attard, Vice President of the Vittoriosa Historicalk & Cultural Society.