Apr Jun 2018

Inauguration of restored St Lawrence altarpiece

After some four months of restoration by ReCoop of Imriehel and prodding by the Archpriest of Vittoriosa, Can. Carmelo Busuttil, the Mattia Preti titular painting of St Lawrence depicting the martyrdom of the saint was formally inaugurated. A special event was organised to mark the occasion, starting with a keynote speech by Anton Attard, President of the Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society in which he traced the painter’s connection with Vittoriosa. Next followed a presentation by Paul Muscat of ReCoop who gave a detailed rendering of the restoration process. Short special written messages from the Prime Minister and H.E. the President of Malta were read. A final brief address was delivered by the Archpriest wherein he thanked all those involved in the project, in particular benefactors Bank of Valletta. The audience was entertained by classical music played by the St Lawrence Brass Quintet conducted by Mro. Jonathan Abela. The inauguration took the form of the switching on, by a little girl, of the painting illumination.

Refurbishment of marble pilasters at St Lawrence Church

Five years ago a major initiative was taken in hand at St Lawrence Church, Vittoriosa by former Archpriest Can. Joe Cilia for the restoration of the main pilasters in the church aisle. These badly needed repair as various marble slabs, of the rare rosso di verona type installed a 100 years ago, were cracked and others were in danger of falling. They were dismantled, repaired and refixed. The work has been entrusted to marble specialists from Italy recommended by the firm E. Theuma & Co of Valletta. Now it was the turn of the four central pilasters holding the dome. Fortunately, these were not in such a bad state as the others. Following a thorough reconditioning and the application of wax polish, they again look bright and shiny. What remain to be tackled now are the last four pilasters at the extreme corners of the side chapels, that of Our Lady of Charity and that of the Immaculate Conception.

Investiture of new Archpriest

The announcement by the Curia of Can. Carmelo Busuttil’s move to Vittoriosa to serve as Archpriest was circulated in October 2017 but, in view of the various works taking place in St Lawrence Church, the investiture had to be postposed till after Easter 2018. The Archpriest led a cortege, accompanied by band marches from the St Lawrence Band, from the Annunciation Church to the parish church. The ceremony was conducted by H.G. Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna. During the same occasion, five new Canons were appointed to form part of the St Lawrence Chapter. A reception was held afterwards at Couvre Porte. The Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society congratulated the new Archpriest and presented him with a copy of the prestigious two-volume publication: Vittoriosa – A Maltese Maritime City.

Francis Brincat passes away

Francis Brincat, who passed away at the age of 86, was a well-known Vittoriosa personality. During his younger days, he involved himself in whatever works were called for at the Church of St Lawrence and at the St Lawrence Band Club to whom he donated a banner on the occasion of the 1,750th anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Lawrence in 2008. For several years he was also team member of the Vittoriosa Stars F.C. He leaves to mourn him his two sons, Lorenzo and Stephen and their families.

Martin Moran’s new book

Martin Morana from Vittoriosa has already published a series of three books in Maltese making what can be described as an invaluable encyclopaedia of Maltese terms, popular sayings and expressions that originated throughout the ages and have now become part of Maltese idiom and folklore. This time Martin Morana has wandered into a subject as yet unaddressed: the Maltese trait from entertainment and amusement. Aptly entitled Maltese Humour – But Seriously, the book gives a detailed analysis of how the Maltese, since ancient times, managed to have a good time!

St Lawrence Band Club newsletter: May-June 2018

The highlight of the editorial in this issue is the successful award of financial support to the Band Club from the Good Causes Fund towards the restoration of the Band’s artistic Musical Archives made in 1925 by Vittoriosa carpenter and sculptor Emanuel Buhagiar. Anton Attard’s historical sketch in this issue of the newsletter deals with the anecdotes and legends surrounding the bronze bust of Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner which is found on the Notre Dame Gate forming part of the Cottonera fortifications, making reference in particular to Paul Xuereb’s novel on the same subject. Paul Micallef’s newsletter interview with people hailing from Vittoriosa this time is with Band committee member John Attard who promotes the game of billiard at the band club.

St Lawrence Band at Fort St Angelo

On the occasion of its 135th anniversary, the Vittoriosa St Lawrence Band held a festive musical programme at Fort St Angelo under the auspices of the Resident Knight Bailiff Fra John Critien, who is also Hon. President of the Band.

New Grand Master

The Sovereign Military order of Malta has elected Fra Giacomno Della Torre del Tempio si Sanguinett as Grand Master. He succeed Fra Matthew Festing who resigned owing to differences with the Vatican. During his state visit to Malta in 2003, the latter had paid a visit to Vittoriosa and was led to a tour around Great Siege historical sites.

Funds of the Vittoriosa Local Council

The Planning Authority awarded funds to various Local Councils for projects to embellish public areas in their localities. The Vittoriosa Local council qualified for a grant to install decorative benches in a number of open spaces at Vittoriosa.

Monteverdi concert at Vittoriosa

A musical concert featuring exclusively music by Italian baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi was held at the Malta Maritime Museum at Vittoriosa. The event included arias from the composer’s masterpiece L’Orfeo, to the accompaniment of the harp and cello. The programme formed part of the Valletta 2018 cultural celebrations.

Vittoriosa Local Council liable to St Lawrence Band Club

The St Lawrence Band Club has been successful in its Court claim against the Vittoriosa Local Council for damage sustained by water seepage on the band stand, which had been stored in a garaged which the band club had rented from the Local Council. The band was awarded € 1,200. It is ironic that in past years, the Mayor, when still a member of the philharmonic society, was one of the promoters for the construction of a new bandstand for the society.

Devotion of St Joseph

Two features by Lorenzo Zahra of Vittoriosa about devotion to St Joseph were published in the feast programme booklet of the De Rohan Band of Zebbug. The first article looks at the cult of St Joseph even as early as the 4th century. The second article narrates a miraculous event that occurred at Zebbug in 1899.

Demise of Sister Mary Lourdes Carachi

Sister Mary Lourdes passed away in April 20178 in Rome at the age of 88 years. For 69 years she formed part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Malta, also know was Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Egypt.

This religious order was first established in Malta in 1859 at Vittoriosa by the foundress St Catherine Troiani and later opened a new motherhouse at Hamrun. The nuns were popularly referred to at Vittoriosa as “tal-Karmnu” because they occupied the former Carmelite church and convent. They left Vittoriosa in 1999. Sister Mary Lourdes spent most her life as a missionary in Sri Lanka, mostly serving in orphanages and children’s homes. A relative of hers also from Vittoriosa was the former Labour politician Paul Cauchi.

Inauguration of renovated hall at Auberge de France

The Vittoriosa Local Council carried out a major overhaul at the main hall, referred to as Piano Nobile, of its offices at the old Auberge de France at Vittoriosa which dates to 1540. The hall is adorned with a beautiful mahogany conference table and side table donated by the Buttigieg family and armchairs donated by GreenMT. The high walls of the hall are decked with elegant curtains and paintings donated by wine merchant Max Castagna. Indeed, during the inauguration speech, Vittoriosa Mayor prided himself with having managed to undertake the renovation works with the minimum of expense to the Local council.

Birgu: a vigorous commercial hub after 1530

The Notarial Archives at Valletta are patiently and laboriously being restored and reorganised. As a result new and provocative knowledge about Malta throughout the centuries is being unearthed through study of the notarial documents. Historian Dr Joanna Abela, who is leading the project, has carried out detailed research about Birgu during a particular epoch: notably that following the arrival of the Order of St John in Malta in 1530. Her findings will be published in a book entitled Hospitaller Malta and the Mediterranean Economy in the Sixteenth Century. An intriguing discovery is that, though theoretically the knights were sworn enemies of Muslims and their subjects were not supposed to engage in trading with the Ottomans, several local traders were given licence to conclude partnership deals in relation to commodities and the exchange of slaves.

Sister Alfreda Grasso passed away

Suor Alfreda from Vittoriosa passed away peacefully at the age of 86. She formed part of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For many years she was Mother Superior at the community at the Archbishop’s Curia at Floriana where the nuns took care of the needs of the Archbishop and the Diocesan clergy at the Curia. In recent years, she has been serving first at Balzan, then at the nunnery at Msida. The Funeral Mass was held at St Joseph Parish Church, Msida.

An intrepid bike rider at Vittoriosa

Skilled and courageous bike rider David Cachon of Spain has been in Malta riding his mountain bika at the edge of perilous cliffs at Dingli and in Gozo. A video footage of his adventure, broadcast in the Times of Malta website, shows his breath-taking tour of the Islands. His tour included an easy ride through Noth Street at Vittoriosa, with the old Auberge of England in the background, followed by a awesome ride along the Vittoriosa Bastions, only a few centimetres from the edge. He had performed similar incredible feats on the Great Wall of China, on the walls of Jerusalem and on the steep Caminito del Rey in Malaga, Spain.

Donna Gerolama Ciantar remembered

This 17th century noblewoman from Vittoriosa possessed large tracts of property in the stretch of land between Siggiewi and Dingli, still known to this day as Gebel Ciantar. It is said that in a year of particular drought, the crops began to fail. She prayed to Our Lady and vowed to build a chapel if her prayers were answered. Indeed, it so happened that soon afterwards, a spring was discovered in the area of Fawwara outside Siggiewi. True to her promise, she donated money for the building of a chapel in the area dedicated to Our Lady of Charity. She bequeathed the chapel and surrounding fields to the Confraternity of Charity housed at the Church of St Paul Shipwreck, Valletta. The story of Donna Ciantar is narrated in an illustrated article in the Sunday Times of Malta by historian Jessica Arena which elaborates on the artistic treasures within the chapel and oratory of Our Lady of Charity within St Paul Shipwreck Church.