Apr Jun 2016

Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici autobiography

Konvinzjoni u Esperjenza” is the title of the recently launched autobiography of Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, son of the renowned early 20th century politician Prof. Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, known as il-Gross. Like his father, he pursued a successful political career, both on the Opposition benches up to 1987 and thereafter in the Cabinet of Ministers as Minister of Education and Culture. He served as President of the republic between 1994 -1999. In the autobiography he divulges as yet unpublished details regarding crucial political landmarks. Aware of the unique historical heritage of Vittoriosa, he became a prime mover of the city’s revival which saw the establishment, on his initiative and personal interest, of the National Maritime Museum in the derelict Naval Bakery building at Vittoriosa Waterfront. He was also the person behind the acquisition by the state and the restoration of the Auberge d’Anglterre. This was after he was taken for a tour of the city by Lorenzo Zahra, Secretary of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society.

Demise of Vittoriosa St Lawrence Band Vice-President

St Lawrence Band has lost its Vice-President, Mr Twanny Gauci.  He died at the age of 76.  In his early years he was an active member of the Catholic Action and was always taking initiatives to organise amateur cinematic and drama events for the young members.  Once he himself played the part of St Lawrence in a theatrical representation on the life of the saint.  He was also member of the St Lawrence feast committee and in more recent years he became fully dedicated to the Vittoriosa St Lawrence Band Club where he was appointed Secretary and then Vice-President.   The band gave his mortal remains a Fanfare Salute as the catafalque was passing in front of the Band Club.  His Funeral Mass at St Lawrence Church was said by Archpriest Can. Joe Mizzi while the oration was delivered by Fr. John Avellino.

Fr. Manuel Camilleri’s mother passed away

Fr. Manuel Camilleri SDB is from Vittoriosa.  He joined the Salesians from the Vittoriosa Christian Doctrine Society, Museum.  He is at present posted at with the Salesian Brothers at St Philip’s Church, Senglea.  He often gives a helping hand in pastoral and community service at the Vittoriosa parish.  The bereavement of his mother was a sad loss to the people of Vittoriosa.

800th anniversary of foundation of the Dominican Order

The Dominican Community at Vittoriosa, established in the city since 1528, are celebrating, along with the Dominican Order worldwide, the 8th centenary from the foundation of the Order by St. Dominic. The Annunciation Church at Vittoriosa was the venue a special exhibition: the artistic Camilleri Cauchi statues representing Dominican saints that are used as part of the street decorations for the feast of St. Dominic have all been arranged in two rows along the church aisle, one on each side. The statue of St. Dominic on its silver plinth and mahogany stand was placed on the presbyterium right in front of the main altar.

Artistic and architectural landmarks in Citta’ Vittoriosa

This is the title of a two-part feature on the richness of the art heritage at Vittoriosa published in the Sunday Times of Malta by Lino Bugeja. He starts with glance at the city in medieval times when Birgu, dominated by the Castrum Maris, the Castle of St Angelo, was hub of maritime activity notably at the Porto delle Galere. Birgu then gained in prominence after the arrival of the Order of St John and the establishment OF their office in the city. The author describes the various icons that were venerated in Vittoriosa including the Triptych of The Candle Madonna at St. Scholastica Nunnery. Another lost medieval landmark was the Clock Tower in Vittoriosa Square, destroyed during the war. The author regrets that the hope for its reconstruction has sadly vanished.

60th anniversary of Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza

This year is the 60th anniversary of the inauguration of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, the hospital miraculously constructed at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, on the initiative of St. Padre Pio. One of the doctors who worked intensely to see this project through was Gugliermo Sanguinetti who came from Borgo San Lorenzo.

Relics and Reliquaries

Rev. Edgar Vella, ecclesiastical art connoisseur and curator of the Mdina Cathedral Museum, has published a monumental volume on relics and reliquaries in the diocese of Malta during the baroque period 1600 – 1798. It is a systematic study and catalogue of precious relics, accompanied by staggering photography. One of the reliquaries mentioned is Volto Santo venerated in the Chapel of the Holy Crucifix at St. Lawrence Church, Vittoriosa. This consists of an old icon of the Holy Face surrounded by twenty recesses each containing relics relating to the Passion of Our Lord, the most distinctive being the Vero Ligno. This unique reliquary was brought to Malta in 1753 by a Vittoriosa prelate, Don Michele Grima, with the help of Inquisitor Paolo Passionei. The book was reviewed in the Sunday Times of Malta by Giovanni Bonello.

Condolences to Vittoriosa Archpriest

The parish of Vittoriosa deeply regretted the passing away of Salvu Mizzi of Zebbug at the age of 81, leaving to mourn him Can. Joe Mizzi, Archpriest of Vittoriosa, and his family. The funeral was held at St Philip of Agira Church, Zebbug, led the Can. Joe Mizzi. He was interred at the Zebbug Parish Cemetery. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society extended its condolences to the Archpriest.

Art exhibition at Maritime Museum

Heritage Malta hosted an exhibition of paintings by Gulia Holland, works demonstrating experimental techniques.

Art Shop at Vittoriosa

A quaint art shop called Alvalenti, after its owner Alessandro Valenti, is in operation in Hilda Tabone Street, Vittoriosa, just opposite the Auberge de France. Alessando Valenti is a painter, humourist, designer and performer, sometimes appearing on Canale 5. His art is colourful, graphical and lively. He has depicted Vittoriosa on several of his works.

Rock opera by Vittoriosa youths

The Vittoriosa youths have again presented the acclaimed musical “We will rock you”. The musical, inspired by the songs of the legendary group Queen, was performed at the recently refurbished Parish Hall in Vittoriosa Square. The cast and crew comprised some 80 talented young people under the direction of Matthew Raggio.

Beauty at Fort St. Angelo

A seminar of beauticians and beauty retailers was organised by the firm Paloma Cosmetics. The seminar was held at the newly restored Fort St. Angelo, Vittoriosa, and was addressed by a beauty international trainer from Switzerland.

The Pre-Siege Maps of Malta”

Numerous rare and curious maps of Malta from the 2nd century till the Great Siege of Malta of 1565 are in this new book by map specialist Albert Ganado and parchment restorer Joseph Schiro’. Johannes Quintinus drafted a primitive map of Malta in 1536 which clearly depicts the city of Birgu in the Grand Harbour. A later map from 1551 again highlights the importance of Fort St. Angelo. This was the year when Sinan Pasha and Dragut laid siege on Birgu and then turned their attention to Gozo where they ransacked the island and took the whole population to slavery. This raid captured the attention of Europe and maps of Malta began to be produced more frequently.

Recycling Day

The Vittoriosa Local Council and their waste management contractors, Green MT Limited, organised a a Day. A skip was placed at Vittoriosa Square and people were invited to bring along electronic and glass waste.

Fr. Lawrence Caruana SJ

Il-Hbiebna, no. 01.2016, the journal of the Society of Jesus in Malta carries a features about a visit by the Rev. Provincial to the Jesuits Missions at Dumka-Raiganj, India. The Maltese Jesuits first arrived here in 1925 and have continued with their endeavours ever since. One of the missionaries was Fr. Lawrence Caruana SJ, from Vittoriosa. Through his initiative a Cathecism Centre was built in Torai, inaugurated in 1975. He was also behind the erection of a College for some 750 Hindi speaking students at Mundali.

Tragedy hits Vittoriosa

Manuel Micallef, 47, from Vittoriosa died tragically when he his car was involved in a traffic accident and overturned at Cospicua waterfront. He was a popular disk jockey and was known as DJ Lito, playing his best loved music from the rock genre. He whole-heartedly supported Radju Kottonera, the radio station broadcasting for the Cottonera. For some years he also conducted the rock music programme Fastbox on a Radio 101. He leaves to mourn his loss his dear mother and his brother, Paul Micallef, long-time enthusiast of his native city, Vittoriosa, and its historical traditions. The funeral Mass celebrated by the Rev. Archpriest, took place at St Lawrence Collegiate Church.

St Lawrence Band newsletter May-June 2016

The editorial expresses deep sorrow for the loss of the Band’s Vice-President Twanny Gauci who passed away in April 2016. The editorial also reports the resignation of the Band Club’s Treasurer, Oscar Adami. The two committee officials were replaced by Noel Gauci and Carmelo Abela, respectively. In his message, the Secretary announced that the Band Club had again qualified for a financial subvention from Agenzija Zghazagh for the promotion of musical training among young people. The newsletter carried the regular historical contributions by Anton Attard and George Cilia, both members of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. The former related the sad closing down in 2011 of the Vittoriosa MUSEUM Christine Doctrine premises while the latter is about another mishap for Vittoriosa taking place in 1571 – the transfer of the Order of St. John’s head- quarters to the new city, Valletta. The face-to-face encounter by Paul Micallef was this time with self-made musician Andrew Zarb who plays solo trumpet with St Lawrence Band and recently appointed tutor of brass band instruments for the same Band.

IMLI graduation ceremony at Vittoriosa

The International Maritime Law Institute of the University of Malta, as in previous years, held the 2016 graduation ceremony at the National Maritime Museum, Vittoriosa. The ceremony was introduced by IMLI Director Prof. David Attard and was attended by the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Hon. Joe Mizzi. The 30 new graduates, all lawyers in international maritime law from different nationalities, visited St Lawrence Church and the Church Museum after the event. They posed for a group photograph on the steps of the Oratory of St. Joseph.

Bro. Louis Camilleri (1923-2011) veneration process

The Lasallian Brothers have started an initiative for the documentation and recording of the life and virtues of Bro. Louis leading to the process for his veneration. The responsible group had meetings with Archbishop Charles Scicluna and the Postulatir General of the Brothers Bro. Rodolfo Meoli. Bro. Louis served the Brothers zealously for many years. During the post war period when he was head master at De La Salle College, Vittoriosa. thousands of students came under his loving care and supervision. He contributed towards the Dockyard Apprentices Courses.

450 years since the foundation of Valletta”

This is the title of an article by Denis Darmanin published in the feast programme booklet for the feast of St. Augustine celebrated by the Augustinian Community at Valletta. The site plan of the new city drawn up by engineer Francesco Laparelli was ratified by the Sicilian Viceroy Don Garcia de Toledo soon after the Great Siege victory in 1566 when it was decided that it should be called Valletta. On 28 march 1566, a solemn cortege led by the Grand Prior and Grand Master De La Vallette departed from Vittoriosa and crossed the harbour towards the new city where the foundation stone was lain. The Grand Master did not survive to see the completion of the new city: he died of a stroke in 1568. The Order moved to the new city in 1571, though the Order’s Fleet base remained at the Vittoriosa Grande Marina.

The architect-engineer at the time of the Order of St. John

This study by Mevrick Spiteri and Daniel Borg published by the University of Malta in The Journal of Baroque Studies Vol 01, No. 03, focuses on the formation and regulation of the architect-engineer profession during the 18th century under the Order of St. John. This was a time which saw extensive development in the Maltese landscape, with considerable civil and ecclesiastical construction in towns and villages. At Vittoriosa, in the years are the move of the Order’s seat to Valletta, work intensified on the naval facilities and defences and the increasing presence of the Inquisition. Two distinct roles are identified: the agrimensore, responsible for technical aspects involving surveys, property valuation, drawings and measurements; and the perito, engaged on the judicial aspects including court hearings and property litigation. Very often the two offices were performed by the same person. The actual works were entrusted to the capimastri and mastri muratori, the master builders. The Order formulated rules to govern construction activity and set out the requisite qualifications, first in the 1646 ordinance and later in the 1724 Codice Vilhena. There could only be 12 licenced architect-engineers at any time. In the absence of advanced academic training, candidates often studied abroad. Vittoriosa-born architect Lorenzo Gafa’ attended the Accademia San Luca in Rome. Back in Malta, he was given innumerable commissions for the building of churches and palaces. He worked alongside the Italian engineer Buonamci, and the French Blondel.

Reminder of Great Siege hero Toni Bajada’s feats

As part of the celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the foundation of Valletta, a variety programme entitles Pageant of the Seas was organised in Grand Harbour. Apart from music playing along Valletta wharf, a regatta and a display of colourful floats, a swimming event was held with participants swimming from Fort St. Angelo across to Valetta. This was intended as a reminder of Toni Bajada, famed for swimming at dead of night between Birgu and Fort St. Elmo during the Great Siege carrying important messages.

Mons. Joseph Caruana & De Fouchauld Fraternity

The late Mons. Joseph Caruana who served as Canon Theologian in the Collegiate Church of St Lawrence is remembered in a recent issue of the quarterly publication of the Blessed Charles De Fouchauld Fraternity. This is an association of the clergy who follow the principles and teachings of the saintly missionary Charles De Fouchauld. Mons. Caruana was an ardent member of the Society, acting for a time as its treasurer and never missing the Association’s meetings. Coincidentally, Mons. Caruana passed away this year on the centenary of the death of Charles De Fouchauld.

Excavations at St Augustine Church in Valletta

The Augustinian Province of Malta is developing an Interpretation Centre making use of the spaces within the church and convent. As the works were under way, archaeological remains were discovered from one of the earliest churches in Valletta, probably the pillars from the old nave of the old church. Mr Denis Darmanin, who is a Committee Member of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society, forms an active part of the Foundation in charge of the project.

Vittoriosa Clock Tower rebuilding must wait !

This is the gist of a commentary by Charlo Lautier in L-Orizzont saying that while all the plans are ready and the sponsor who will finance the re-construction has been identified, the Vittoriosa Local Council is still thinking of holding a referendum among the locals to decide on the fate of the project. It is a pity that the Vittoriosa Local Council is now backing out from its determination, even confirmed in the Council Minutes some years ago, to rebuilt the Clock Tower, to the extent that the Local Council had caused the excavation in Vittoriosa Square of the Clock Tower foundations. According to the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society, the holding of a restricted referendum on what can be considered as national heritage does not make sense.

Swim across Grand Harbour

As part of the celebrations to mark the 450th anniversary of the building of Valletta, a unique pageant was organised in the Grand Harbour. This included a swim by various participants from Fort St. Angelo across the harbour to Valletta. It was meant to recall the memory of Maltese hero of the Great Siege of 1565 Toni Bajjada who swam from Birgu to Fort St Elmo in the height of the siege carrying messages to the defenders.

SMOM Maltese Association Annual Concert

The Annual Orchestral Charity Concert by the Maltese Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta was held at St John’s Co-Cathedral on St John’s Day. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Goldberg Ensemble were directed by its resident conductor Mro. Michael Laus and the lead singer was Vittoriosa-born Soprano Miriam Gauci. The programme included works by Handel. Mozart, Palestrina. The Association organises philanthropic activities throughout the year with the major initiative being the annual pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The monastery of the Benedictine nuns in Vittoriosa

Fr Hermann Duncan O. Carm from Vittoriosa in an article under the above title in The Malta Independent on Sunday recall how as a child he served as an altar-boy at the church of the Monastery of St Scholastica in Vittoriosa and thereby nurtured his priestly vocation. In the article he narrates the history of the Benedictine nunnery: how they were organised as a separate order distinct from the Benedictine nuns at St Peter’s Monastery in Mdina, and how they established themselves at Vittoriosa in the old Holy Infirmary of the Order.

St Edward’s College, Vittoriosa profile

An excellently presented and designed three-page profile of the College with accompanying testimonials from parents was published on illustrated paper in the Sunday Times of Malta. It boasts the high educational standards provide at all levels: the nursery & kindergarten, the junior, middle & senior schools, the sixth form, and the International Baccalaureat Diploma programme. The feature is embellished with pictures of the school children and campus.

The Maltese Sailor who died on HMS Grafton”

Saviour Azzopardi in an article in the Sunday Times of Malta bearing the above title, recalls the tragic circumstances when Domenico D’Agostino of Valletta, who served in the Royal Navy on HMS Grafton 750 crew, lost his life in the presence of his brother Carmelo, when the cruiser was torpedoed on 29 May 1940 while evacuating British troop from Dunkirk. There were numerous other fatalities among whom many Maltese upon the sinking of the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious on 8 June 1940. A commemorative memorial in honour of the Maltese men who died on board these battleships is held annually at the Vittoriosa Maritime Museum.

Artistic gems in Vittoriosa”

This is the title of one of a two-part serial in the Sunday Times of Malta by Lino Bugeja. The first article traces the origin of the impetus to Vittoriosa’s artisitic and architectural heritage, dating back to the middle- ages when Fort St Angelo, the Castrum Maris, became the centre of cultural and artistic events. The outlaying city of Birgu, especially after the Great Siege Victory, became a safe haven for galleys hailing from Venice, Pisa, Catalunjya, giving a cosmopolitan aspect to the city. Even before the arrival of the Knights, Birgu had a Greek community. There was also a Jewish Ghetto. The Knights endowed Vittoriosa with numerous buildings and auberges. The conventual church of St Lawrence was eventually rebuilt to the baroque design of Lorenzo Gafa’. It prides various magnificent paintings and objects d’art. The second article describes the unique defence bastions that surround Vittoriosa culminating in the unique three-gate entrance to the city and in its busy maritime and arsenal activities along its wharf. Within the city itself, the Order organised itself within the Collacchio. However, the city life focussed on Vittoriosa Square which was the scene of many historic occurrences.

Lino Bugeja – Honorary Member

By a unanimous resolution of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society, Mr Lino Bugeja was designated Honorary Member of the Society in recognition of his untiring life-long endeavours toward the promotion of Vittoriosa’s historic and artistic heritage though his publications and press reviews. This is the first time that the Society, since its foundation over 60 years, has ever conceded this prestigious award.