Oct Dec 2017

Can. Karm Busuttil – Archpriest of Vittoriosa

Can. Karm Busuttil of Zurrieq has been installed by H.G. the Archbishop to serve as Archpriest of Vittoriosa to succeed Can. Joe Mizzi who has been appointed Parish Priest of Santa Lucija. Can. Karm Busuttil who is qualified in theology, international law, human rights and diplomatic studies, forms part of the Chapter of St. Paul Shipwreck Collegiate, Valletta. After his ordination in 1987, he was for a long period vice Parish Priest of Zabbar and then moved to the Legates Office at the Archbishop’s Curia. He is qualified in international law and diplomacy and is active in the Maltese Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society bid farewell to and thanked ex-Archpriest Can. Joe Mizzi and greeted the new appointee Can. Karm Busuttil.

Birgufest 2017

Thousands of people thronged the streets of Vittoriosa for the three-day Birgu By Candlelight festival successfully organised by the Vittoriosa Local Council and the active participation of the people of Vittoriosa. Various cultural, folklore and entertainment events were organised, museums were open to the public, exhibitions held and numerous food stalls set up. On the first day students and children from different schools led by their teachers were shown around historical sites. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society guided them at St Anne’s Church within the Monastery of St Scholastica, formerly the Holy Infirmary of the Order of St. John.

Drawing of national lottery at Vittoriosa

In his weekly biographical rubric in Il-Lehen on his life-time experiences, Carmel Portelli, ex-Civil Service official and for many years Director of Public Lotto, recounts the revamp of the national lottery system in 1981 with the introduction of a modern infrastructure. His article is accompanied by a 1982 photo of the drawing of the national lottery in Vittoriosa Square being compered by the ex-Rediffusion and television personality, the late Victor Galdes.

History of the Early Church

Fr. Herman Duncan O. Carm of Vittoriosa has been allocated a weekly column in Il-Lehen dedicated to a narrative of the history of the early years of Christianity following the time of the apostles, with details of the spread of Catholicism throughout Europe and Asia Minor.

ATM at Vittoriosa Square

At long last, Vittoriosa now has an ATM by one of the major banks. Bank of Valletta has installed an ATM right at the heart of the city in Vittoriosa Square where it is easily accessible. The ATM is also conveniently located close to the bus stage. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society has thanked the Archpriest of Vittoriosa who was instumental in this initiative, and Bank of Valletta for their praisworthy investment which also serves a social purpose.

Confraternities in Malta

The feast programme of Our Lady of the Rosary celebrated at Gudja carries a lengthy article by Lorenzo Zahra on the history of confraternities. After tracing the origin of these lay entities in the middle ages in Europe, the article follows their development in Malta, the first known confraternities going back to the 12th century being in Birgu at the Castrum Maris, the Castle of St. Angelo, with the Confraternity of Our Lady of the Candlemas (tal-Kandlora, or otherwise tac-Ceraiuola), and at Rabat with the Confraternity of St Joseph. Innumerable other confraternities, very often associated with different crafts, or for the purpose of spiritual intercession, subsequently flourished throughout the Island.

Children’s song for Europe 2017

The video for the song chosen to represent Malta in the Junior Eurovision 2017, sung by Gianluca Cilia, was filmed on location at Vittoriosa and Cospicua, highlighting the old narrow streets of Cottonera. The song, echoing the traditional Maltese folk dance Ongi-Ongi-Ongella was composed by Dominic Cini from Vittoriosa.

PPJ Art gallery

A modern art gallery was opened at no. 10-11 Nestu Laiviera Street, Vittoriosa. It is run by artist Peter Pugh Jones and has a very inviting setting with comfortable settees around an attractive exhibition. The specialism of the PPJ Art gallery is prints and designs, most of them with scenes of historical sites at Vittoriosa. Besides these, one admire postcards and original paintings.

The artistic pulpit at St Lawrence Church

Fr. Herman Duncan O. Carm features in an article in L-Orizzont on the artistic pulpit at St Lawrence Collegiate, a masterpiece in design and wood carving inaugurated in 1890. It was commissioned by Mons. Francesco Marmara’, designed by Perit Giuseppe Soler, Superintendent at Malta Gas, and carpentry and sculpture by Vincenzo Vassallo and Giuseppe Pace. Various other artists contributed to the final product: F. Ellul, V. Serracino, M. Pace. The bronze pulpit base reperesting the symbols of the four Evangelists, and the bronze statuettes of the four Patriarchs that surmount the pulpit drum, St Augustine, St Jerome, St John Chrysostome, St Gregory the Great, were cast by the Fim Poli of Milan. The pulpit used to be decorated with a beautiful ivory crucifix donated by the Bosco family of Vittoriosa, until it was stolen during the war. The article explains in detail the significance of the religious and biblical symbols portrayed in the structure.

Homage to Lawrence V. Farrugia

The Banda Vittorjozana San Lawrenz organised a grand concert at the Vittoriosa Parish Hall to pay homage to Lawrence V. Farrugia on the 30th anniversary of his appointment as President of the Band Club. Various classic and modern musical pieces were played under the direction of the young Vittoriosa Maestro Jonathan Abela. Vittoriosa trumpet player Andrew Zarb was among the soloists. A speech for the occasion was delivered by Simon Farrugia, Secretary, in which he extolled Lawrence V. Farrugia’s significant contribution toward’s Vittoriosa’s civic and cultural heritage. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society congratulated Mr. Farrugia.

Encounter of young and old people

From October through December a programme of creative events, with the participation of the Vittoriosa Local council, are being held which bring together young and old people from the Cottonera. The events include drama, reading and revisiting of memorable experiences.

Envin Cremona masterpiece at Vittoriosa

Emvin Cremona was one of the great post-war artists that dominated the local artisic scene and became famous for his innumerable church paintings and decorative works. He was also renouned for his beaurtiful post-Independence postage stamp designs. Among his best works is the magnificant altarpiece at the Annunciation Church, run by the Domincan Community, at Vittoriosa. It is to be recalled that Emvin Cremona’s wife was from the Bosco family of Vittoriosa. The painting is a mystical and fantastic representation of the Annunciation. A detailed profile of Emvin Cremona, written by Fr. Julian Cassar, appeared in Il-Lehen.

Rev. Paul Spiteri O.S.A. (1905-1997)

For many years a missionery in Brazil, Rev. Paul Spiteri, born at Vittoriosa, is commemorated in a short biography by Can. John Ciarlo’ in his periodic column in Il-Lehen about leading contemporary religious personalities. Before his priesthood vocation, he was a Dockyard apprentice. He studied theology and eventually became provincial of the Augustinian Order in Malta. This was during World War II when he the priory was at the Augustian Convent at Rabat, Malta. In his account of his experience during the war as given in Lawrence Mizzi book Maltin fil-Gwerra, Rev. Paul Spiteri recalls how, on the aftermath of the destruction by bombing of the Chapter Hall and Sacristy of St Lawrence Church on 16 January 1941, various church objects recovered from the debris were transported to the Augustinian Convent, including the silver pedestal and artistic woioden plinth of the statue off St Lawrence. After the wasr Rev. Paul Spiteri went to do missionary work and spent several years in Brazil. When he retired he became a prolific writer on religious subjects and was a regular contributor to Lehen is-Sewwa.

BOV shareholders’ magazine

The latest issue of the BOV shareholders’ magazine features as its cover a full size areal colour picture of Fort St. Angelo, taken from Vittoriosa side, which clearly evidences the excellent resortation works carried out some years ago. The foreground is almost completely taken by the massive D’Homedes Bastion which is so prominent is illustation of Fort St. Angelo during the Great Siege of 1565. The background of the picture is dominated by the lofty Grunenberg Tower with its historic bell cote.

St Gorg Preca’s devotion to St. Peter

Dun Gorg Preca, founder of the Christian Doctine Society, the MUSEUM, had a special admiration and devotion to St Peter. Even to this day, members of the Society are bound to beseech St Peter’s intercession every Monday. When the Society was founded St Peter was chosen a model of virtue to be imitated by Society members. The Society was literally called the society of the papists, the Pope being the successor of St. Peter. This devotion is narrated in an article by Raymond Damato in the Birzebbugia St Peter festa progamme booklet. The article mentions an episode when in the 1930s Dun Gorg once admired a statue of St Peter which was venerated in the Vittoriosa MUSEUM.

Fr. Juan De Bono O.C.D. appointment

Il-Lehen announced the appointment of Fr. Juan De Bono O.C.D., who is from the Zammitello family of Vittoriosa, as President of Council of Provincial of the Theresian Order in Europe. He is the current provincial of the Theresian Order in Malta.

Another biography on Mons Michael Gonzi (1885-1984)

Various books have been written on the dominating figure of Archbishop Michael Gonzi. Yet another 573-page biography written by Louis Cilia has been published by Klabb Kotba Maltin. Born at Vittoriosa, Mons Michael Gonzi wended his way up, first as Bishop of Gozo, then as Archbishop of Malta. He lived at the most tumultuous political period of Malta during the post-war years and into the 1960s. His strong and militant leadership characterized his style at a time when the dogmatic pre-conciliar church was a powerful element of society. He continued to serve the Church until he was 91.

St Lawrence Band Club Newsletter: November-December 2017

In the editorial the President thanks the Committee for organising the band concert in his honour on the occasion of his 30 years as president. He thanks the outgoing Archpriest and welcomes the new one. In a comment on the Birgu By Candlelight festival, he complains about the need for a better allocation of space for the setting up of food stalls. The newsletter historical corner by Anton Attard narrates the dismal years for Vittoriosa and Cottonera during the French occupation when the area, together with Valletta, were besieged by the Maltese insurgents. George Cilia says how pleased he was when he visited the beautifully restored Fort St Angelo on Victory Day and his conversation with Bailiff Fra John Critien. He narrates how the armour of De La Vallette, which was displayed in an exhibition at Fort St Angelo, had been the main attraction at Vittoriosa Square in 1965 during the 4th centenary celebrations of the Great Siege Victory by the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. Paul Micallef’s newsletter interview is with Fr John Avellino who, despite his academic comitments as lecturer of philosophy at the University of Malta, dedicates himself to parish duties including involvment with youths.

Humour from Vittoriosa author

Marika Mizzi, actor and television personality from Vittoriosa, has published a book in Maltese entitled Praspar mill-Klinika containing humour and funny ancedotes around the medical profession. The book was inspired from a health awareness programme she used to present on a local TV station.

Gaming comes to Vittoriosa

A newly established company invovled in the gaming sector called Game Plan Limited has its registered address at Vittoriosa at no. 31 Triq Pacifico Scicluna. It is owned and run by Mr Jeremy Tristan Harding-Roberts, a British resident.

Winston Lawrence Zammit passed away

Winston Lawrence Zammit of Sliema, who passed away at the age of 67, was a dedicated history teacher and philantropist. Well before his retirement he volunteered as archivist of the Capuchin Order at Floriana and wrote innumerable articles on the Capuchin Order, besides his works on his native town Sliema. He was related to the Vittoriosa Zammit family.

Sad news about the Toqba project

The promenade running from Kalkara to Vittoriosa from the Post of Castille and the Post of Allemgne, known to Vittoriosa residents as Ix-Xatt tat-Toqba has been in a bad state for quite some time. The Vittoriosa Local Council had laid plans for its repair and rehabilitation as it is a popular leisure spot. Unfortunately, the Local Council was informed by the authorities that the project cannot be undertaken due to lack of funds.

Superior General of the Lasallian Brothers at Vittoriosa

Bro. Robert Schieler FSC from America, Superior General of the Salesians, visited the De La Salle College at Vittoriosa while on a visit to Malta. He is the 27th successor of St. John Baptist De La Salle, founder of the Lasallian Brothers, pioneers in education and culture, present in Vittoriosa since 1903.

Vittoriosa Square parking arrangements

In a bid to open up and allow more space in Vittoriosa Square, the Vittoriosa Local Council has removed the parking space in the middle of the Square, thereby removing the clutter and noise caused by the innumerable daily parked vehicles. The Victory Monument can now be viewed and enjoyed much better.

Various works at St Lawrence Church

The Archpriest-to-be , Can. Karm Busuttil, as he gratually established himself and familiarises with the Vittoriosa parish, has taken in hand various embelishment initiatives at St Lawrence Church, including the repair and re-installation of the former bronze eight-pointed cross of the church frontispiece; the return of the Mattia Preti main altar painting of the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence which had been removed for refurbishment; the replacement of the red damask of the High Chair and Side Chairs of the main altar. He has also called a meeting of the wardens who show visitors around the Church of St. Lawrence.

Strange visitors at St Scholastica Monastery

A man pretending to be a Benedictine bishop accompanied by two assistants presented himself at the Benedictine Monastery of St. Scholastica and some other convents, soliciting donations. At Vittoriosa, he even asked for a special audition with Abbess M. Tiralongo, who has been at the head of the Monastery for the last 50 years. The visitors turned out to be imposters. A statement from the Curia warned about these fake prelates, stating that they had not authorised to perform religious sermons.

Giovanni Francesco Abela (1582-1655)

Gian Frangisk Abela was born at Vittoriosa from a noble family and earned for himself the title of Commendatore. He studied at the famous University of Bologna, was qualified in law and became a priest, subsequently also a Conventual Chaplain of the Order of St. John to serve the galley fleet. He was the first Maltese to write a history of Malta in 1647 Della Descrittione di Malta isola nel Mare Siciliano, which has remained a landmark in Maltese written history. A brief biography of Gian Frangisk Abela, written by Charles Briffa, is found in Il-Lehen.

Feast of Christ the King

In a short letter to the press, Lorenzo Zahra recalls the large crowd that used to gather in past years at The Granaries, Floriana, on the occasion of the solemnity of Christ the King. In contrast, the crowd now returns to The Granaries to hail foreign pop singers and entertainers.

L-Ghid tal-Erwieh at Inquisitors’ Palace

This is the theme of a special evening held by Heritage Malta at the Inquisitors’ Palace, Vittoriosa, to celebrate All Souls’ Day. Popular traditions and beliefs were revived and relived during the event. An exhibition was installed with various artifacts connected with the liturgy and rites of funerals for the repose of souls in purgatory. Popular customs and folklore were also highlighted including the meal based on the roasted pig, the hanzira tal-erwieh, which was served in a thematic supper in the courtyard of the Inquisitors’ Palace.

From the Holy land to Malta”

This is the title of a three-day event held at Fort St Angelo that, through re-enactments of chivalry and life in medieval times, a series of talks and tours around the Fort traces the evolution of the Order of St John and follows its footsteps from Jerusalem to Rhodes and then to Malta. Heritage Malta managed to rope in the participation of Historical Reenactment Group and various similar renowned associations from Italy including the Compagnia di Chiaravalle from Milan and the Mansio Templi Parmensis from Parma. A contingent from the latter marched through the streets to Vittoriosa and also visited the Vittoriosa Museum. The unique collection of playing cards on display at the Museum caught their attention and they asked permission to take photos with the aim to making reproductions for use in their shows. They were requested to acknowledge the Vittoriosa Museum as source.

St Ambrose of Milan (339-397)

Prof. Hector Scerri, in his monthly rubric of Church Patriarchs in Il-Lehen, dedicated his recent contribution to St. Ambrose who became Bishop of Milan and became famous as a preacher and a prolific author of religious writings, meditations and hymns, most of which are recited to this day. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church. With the testimony of the martyrdom of St Lawrence in Rome still in living memory, St Ambrose heaps praise on St Lawrence in his sermons De Officiis Ministrorum written in AD 380.

The Notarial Archives at Valletta

Il-Lehen carries an interview with Dr Joan Abela, a history graduate from the University of Malta and a Master’s degree from the University of Exeter and foundress of the Resource Council for the Notarial Archives. She has dedicated herself to the conservation of the Notarial Archives which contain a mine of historical information that goes back to the 13th century. Among the oldest volumes she mentions the records of Not. Paolo Bonello from 1467. She also refers to Not. Bartolomeo Selvagii De Via (1530-1551) who practised from Birgu. Like Not. Placido Abela, also based from Birgu, was engaged by the Order of St John to write contact for the acquisition of land at Valletta when still under construction.

Devotion towards St Andrew

On the occasion of the feast of St Andrew the Apostle, Fr Hermann Duncan writes in The Malta Independent about the devotion toward the saint which is widespread in Malta, which include a various church dedications and innumerable artistic representations. Medieval frescos at Bir Miftuh, Gudja, are evidence of the early cult of St Andrew. He has always been venerated as patron saint of fisherman and that is why he was predominantly invoked in coastal villages and towns with statues of him at Marsaxlokk and at Cospicua, now disappeared. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society had written to the Cospicua Local Council recommending the reinstallation of St Andrew’s statue opposite the refurbished Dock no. 1. At Birgu wharf on the way to Fort St Angelo there was also a small church dedicated to St Andrew, frequented by fishermen, which had to be demolished in 1685 to make way for the erection of stores and living quarters for seamen from the Order’s Fleet by Grand Master Gregorio Caraffa. A large painted cross, protected by a covered shutter, still marks the site of the old church. Two large paintings representing the martyrdom of St Andrew were removed from the church when it was knocked down and now hang in the choir of St. Lawrence Church.

Rita Gatt passes away

The death was announced of Rita Gatt, aged 82, widow of Carmelo Gatt of Vittoriosa, long-time teacher and head master at Vittoriosa Boys Primary School and for several years President of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society. Rita Gatt also served on the Society’s Committee for many years, leading the Lady’s Circle and organizing cultural and social activities for members. She is survived in the Society by her nephews Vanni Gatt and Stanley Spiteri, who have both inherited their uncle and auntie’s love for Vittoriosa. She was from Hamrun but was a teacher at the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Egypt School at Vittoriosa where she met and married Carmelo Gatt. She later moved as teacher at the Sacred Heart Convent, Sliema.

Christmas message from new Archpriest

Can. Karm Busuttil, new Archpriest of Vittoriosa, augurs best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to the people of Vittoriosa in his first message on the parish bulletin AHNA. He mentions the various blessings that endow the city, particularly the Monastry of the Benedictine Nuns of St Scholoastica and the Cathecism Centre.

Christmas carol singing at St Lawrence Church

This year’s carol singing service at St Lawrence Collegiate Church was held by the St Paul Choral Society, one of Malta’s leading polyphonic choirs. The choir was welcomed by the Rev. Archpriest. The repertoire included various classical pieces and hymns around the theme of Christmas.

Burglar breaks in at St Lawrence Church

A thief managed to break in at St Lawrence Church at night, climbing a scaffolding erected on a nearby palazzo that is undergoing repair and restoration. Once on the roof, he gained access to the church through a low-lying window. Fortunately, he went away with very little booty safe for a few coins from a collection box. Silver and precious items had been removed.

Lawrence Mizzi – a model of active aging

A recent feature on active aging in Il-Lehen is about Lawrence Mizzi. He was born at Vittoriosa where he spent his early childhood but was evacuated with his family to the village of Gudja. He then became a teacher and retired at an early age He then dedicated himself to the communications field, becoming one of the pioneers of the Church communications organs Media Centre and the Church radio station RTK. His involvement in telecommunications led him to be appointed chairman of the Malta Broadcasting Authority. He wrote several books among which many chronicles of World War II.

Book by Fr Joe Adami MSSP

After many years in the missions in Australia, Fr Joe Adami from Vittoriosa retired to Malta two years ago when he celebrated his 50th ordination anniversary. He now serves at the St Paul Missionary Motherhouse at Rabat. For Christmas, he was invited to say Mass at the newly refurbished chapel at Villa Messina Home for the Elderly at Rabat. During the Mass, he announced that he is about to publish a book of Marian thoughts and reflections entitled Walks with Mary.