October - December 2008
Once again the Vittoriosa Local Council, with the support of the Malta Tourism Authority and various private sponors, organised Vittoriosa By Candlelight during the second weekend of October. The main feature of this year’s edition was the risottata; at Vittoriosa Square, ten Italian chefs, assisted by students from the Malta Institute of Tourism Studies, cooked the rice in a giant pan called pentolone to feed up to 3,000 people. The mammoth recipe included 300 kg rice, 60 kg vegetables, 40 kg grana padano, 90 kg sasusage, 120 ltr white wine. Besides this special attraction, the Birgufest included as in previous years various re-enactments, musical progammes, cultural tours and private exhbitions.
Pope’s visit to Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori Le Mura, Roma
On the first Sunday of Advent on 30 November 2008 Pope Benedict XVI made a pastoral visit to the Pontifical Basilica and Parish of San Lorenzo Fuori Le Mura, Rome, to celebrate with the community the 1,750th anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Lawrence. He was greeted by the Parish Priest and Rector of the Cappuchin Brothers who run the Basilica and by the memebrs of the Festivities Committee of the St Lawrence Jubilee. He said Mass in the Basilica and during the homely he referred to the St Lawrence’s martyrdom at that very place and used the same words of St Leo the Great in honour of St Lawrence: “the fire that was roasting him was feeble when compared to the fire that burned in him for the love of Christ”. After the Mass, the Pope prayed on the Tomb of the saint and also on that of Pope Pius IX. Outside the Basilica, he paid a visit to the tomb of Alcide De Gaspari, Italy’s post-war prime minister and also saluted Pope Pius XII on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death and to recall his historic visit to the Basilca when it was bombed on 19 July 1943.
Bell-ringing in honour of St Lawrence
Bell-ringing as a skillful means of worship to God is still widely practiced in England. To mark the 1,750 anniversary of St Lawrence’ martyrdom, at least 7 parish have marked the 10th August with the joyful pealing of bells by the respective Guilds of Ringers: London, Wells, Norwich, Beverley, Surfleet, Ipswich and Cambridge.
Lino Bugeja’s concern about Vittoriosa Day
For this year’s Vittoriosa Day, the 7 September 2008, the Vittoriosa Local Council held various activities but none of them centred on the Victory of the Great Siege of 1565 and no commemoration was held as has been the tradition around the Victory Monument at Vittoriosa Square. Lino Bugeja in an article in The Sunday Times aptly entitled Unwept, Unhonoured and Unsung, referring to the heroes who lost their lives in one of the bloodiest siege in world military history, states that “this insensitivity and exclusion are incomprehensible and disturbing”.
Vittoriosa Youth’s Achievement
Arther Demarco, a 26 year old youth from Vittoriosa was awarded the trophy Youth of the Year by the Rev. Manuel Cordina, founder of the voluntary organistion OASI based at Ghajnsielem, Gozo. Arther Demarco who was one from eight other nominees for the prize, has distinguished himself for his philanthropic work among drug addicts and alcoholics.
Post of Castille visit
Mr John Boxall, Vittoriosa Mayor, accompanied by Vittoriosa historian Mr Lino Bugeja, toured the Post of Castille at Vittoriosa on the invitation of the tenants the brotherss Mr Lawrence and Mr Pablo Cassar. The Post of Castille was the site of severe fighting that took place during the Great Siege of 1565 which proved to be the turning point of the siege. It also contains a large underground shelter where most of the residents of Vittoriosa found refuge during the war air raids. The Cassars have indicated their intention to clear up the place and turn it into a tourist attraction.
Participation in forum of European Historical Towns
The Vittoriosa Local Council was invited and attended the conference Civitas – Meeting of Mayors of European Histrorical Towns which was held in Ptuj, Slovenia. The forum aims to bring together cities from various European countries that have got an exclusive historic core to join efforts and unite their objectives.
Students’ visit to Inquisitor’s Palace
Soon after the start of the scholactic year, students studing history at San Andrea School, Mgarr, paid a visit to the Inquisitor’s Palace, Vittoriosa, that integrated histroy with drama. Before the visit, the students had to carry out research, conduct discussions, study a script based on an actual case from the Inquisition Tribunal, and obtain period costumes. At the start of the visit, the students were guided around the palace by the Curator, Ms Yosanne Vella, who also prepare an interative workbook for the purpose. After completing the workbook it was then time for the students to perform the role-plays that thay had prepared. It turned out to be a useful learning and entertaining experience for the students.
Tour of Vittoriosa by audioguides
St Monica School, Gzira, teamed up with the Vittoriosa Local Council to organise a cultural walk for students and their parents around the city’s streets using electronic audioguides. This innovativer approach created a stimulating learning envirmonment and helped the participants appreciate the city’s cultural richness.
Painting of St Lawrence at Wignacourt Museum, Rabat
The Summer 2008 Edition, No. 4, of Treasures of Malta, the prestigeous cultural journal of Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, carries a detailed appraisal of an oil painting by unkown painter of St Lawrence displayed at the Wignacout Museum, Rabat, Malta. Art critic Joanna Lace, author of the study, indicated that the painting could well have been painted by Adam Elsheimer, a German artist who has been greatly revalued in recent years. The article is accompanied by a reproduction of the painting.
Lecce statue of St Lawrence
The youth section of the Marsa Holy Trinity Bank Club have put together an excellent exhibition of artistic statuettes of saints manufactured in Lecce, Italy, entitled Lecce Treasures: Miniatures of Heaven. The objects were painstakingly gathered from private collections. Among the exhibits was an exquisite statue of St Lawrence posing his the typical dalmatica and holding the gridirion. It seems the statue struck the attention of the organisers at it featured on the poster for the exhibition. One such poster was placed at the traffic juncture opposite the Addolorata Cemetry, Marsa.
Art Exhibition at Maritime Museum
The theme of the photographic exhibition by young artisits Kenneth Borg and Paul Mizzi is Girls. The concept behind this exhibition is the interaction of different art media wiht photography as basis. The theme aimed at displaying the elegance of the portrayed individuals and the artistic uniqueness of the emotions evoked. Both artists support with their art the Stop Violence Against Women Campaign of Amnesty International.
Art Exhibition at Inquisitor’s Palace
An exhibition of paintings by Antonio Mifsud entited Anima: the Soul Within was held at the Inquisitor’s Palance Main Entrance Hall. It was inaugurated by HE the President of Malta.
100 years from the demise of Salvatore Luigi Pisani
The great 19th century Maltese Physician Prof. Salvatore Luigi Pisani was born in Vittoriosa on 27 May 1828. His foresight, hard work and experience and his professional achievements benefited immensely the society of his times when the state of public health in Malta was poor. His renown also spead outside Malta: Florence Nightingale was so impressed with his work during the Crimean War that she felt obliged to write to the Governor of Malta to praise his skills and dedication. Pisani spent his retirement years at Villa Sans Souci, Marsaxlokk, where he died on 27 October 1908. His story is narrated in an article by Louis Borg Manche in the Sunday Times of Malta of 26 October 2008. A monument to Pisani is found at the Mall, Floriana.
150 years from birth of Dwardu Cachia
Born in Senglea on 25 August 1858, Dwardu Cachia was one of the early proponents of the Maltese language and author of many poems in Maltese, of which the one which brought him fame was Katrin ta’ l-Imdina. He had a close link with Vittoriosa because for many years he was a teacher at the Vittoriosa Government Primary School. He died at the age of 49. His close colleague and friend was Vittoriosa-born Wistin Levanzin, another Maltese language enthusiast and writer.
Historic Building Signs
More than 20 histroic buildings in Vittoriosa have informative signs, sponsored by Rotary Club Malta. A presentation to conclude the three-year project was made to Vittoriosa Mayor, Mr John Boxall, by Rotary Club Malta President Mr Simon Bonello and the Club’s Comminity Services Officer, Mr Frank Salt. The initiative is part of the Club’s ongoing efforts towards the conservation of historical place. Two other signs have also been fixed by the Vittoriosa Local Council through the sponsorship of The Gollcher Foundation and the Mizzi Organisation, respectively.
Articles by Vittoriosa Authors on L-Imnara
The autumn issue of L-Imnara, the official publication of the Maltese Folklore Society, carries various articles by authors from Vittoriosa. Anton Attard, Vice-President of the Vittoriosa histrocial & Cultural Society, writes about architect Lorenzo Gafa’: during his research at the archives, he uncovered an inventory of the architect’s possessions at his house at St Lawrence Street. Lorenzo Zahra, the Society’s Secretary, is features in two articles, one about old customs at Birgu, and the other about folk traditions surrounding the feast of St Lawrence. A third author from Vittoriosa, George Cilia, writes about the myths and legends on the stupid yet cunning character from old Maltese folkore: Bertolt. It should be pointed out that ‘Bertoldu ‘ was the name of one of the first-ever Maltese language periodicals to be published after the 1838 grant of freedom of the press in Malta.
Article on Vittoriosa toponomy
In the November-December 2008 issue of the St Lawrence Band Club magazine, Lorenzo Zahra features with an article on placenames at Vittoriosa. Some of these are still popular but others are gradually falling into disuse, either because they have been forgotten eg. Il-Prexxa, Is-Suq tal-Hut, Is-Sur tal-Kurdara, id-Dawra ta’ l-Isptar, or because the historic location to which they refer no longer exists, eg. Il-Pjazzetta, Il-Mandragg, L-Imgarraf.
Radju Kottoner Magazine Programme
The December Quarter Magazine Programme of Radju Kottoner carries two articles highlighting Vittoriosa: one on the Cottonera Fortifications written by Anton Attard; and one on the Grey Lady, the ghost that haunts Fort St Angelo.
Superyacht at Vittoriosa Marina
The Vittoriosa Marina was again the host of a magificent and rather unusual superyacht, MY Aleksandra: it costs USD 300 million and belongs to the Russian billionnaire Andrey Melnichenko but is used exclusively by his wife, the former Serbian model Aleksandra, hence the name of the yacht.
Birgu By Christmas Lights
Once again the Vittoriosa Local Council organised a weekend of Christmas celebrations at Vittoriosa with typical season events during the evening. The principal attraction was the pageant of the Nativity enacted around the candle-lit streets of Birgu. There was carol singing in the churches, and popular Christmas songs in the Square next to a huge Christmas Tree while snacks of Christmas delicacies were served from the food stalls nearby.
Joy Gospel Singers at St Lawrence
The Joy Gospel Singers have once again displayed their choir-singing versatility in a concert they gave at St Lawrence Church, Vittoriosa, in Boxing Day. Classical hymns and popular carols were included in the programme.
‘A Tangible and Intangible Heritage of Christmas’
This was the theme of a special Christmas-time exhibition of miniature cribs from around the world held at the Inquisitors’ Palace. The exhibition included various items which were donated from a private collection to Heritage Malta last year. The exhition also included a practical culinary session of traditional festive seasons recipes.
Radju Belt Rebieha
With the initiative of Fr John Avellino and John Raggio and the the enthusiatic collaboration of various Vittoriosa youths, the Radju Belt Rebbieha was again on air during the Christmas period, broadcasting topics of interest with special reference to Vittoriosa. The transmission also included a fund-raising appeal in aid of Dar tal-Providenza.
Christmas MUSEUM procession 85th anniversary
A small note affixed in the Notice Board of St Lawrence Parish Church reminded visitors that it was in 1923 that the children’s Christmas procession organised by the Vittoriosa MUSEUM started to be held in accordance with the wishes of the Society’s founder, St Gorg Preca. A few years later a group of bandsmen from the Duke of Edinburgh Band were organised by Mro Pacifico Scicluna to accompany the procession along the streets of Birgu playing Christmas carols, arranged specifically for the occasion by himself.
TV war-time drama
AudioVision Productions Limited have set a fiction drama entitled “Il-Mera” entirely at Vottoriosa. It was screened on TVM during the Christmas period. It relates how a boy who showed keen interest in the World War II epic went about saying that he was haunted by his grandfather who had purpurtedly been killed during the war while serving as a soldier. The boy was seeing the apparition at the Vittoriosa War Shelters at Couvre Porte. It then transpired that his grandfather had in fact been murdered and the story ended up being reported on New Year’s Day in the newspaper entitled “Il-Mera”.