John Paul II Beatifies 3 in Malta

Half the Republic Turns Out for Mass

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VALLETTA, Malta, MAY 9, 2001 ( John Paul II culminated his pilgrimage in St. Paul´s footsteps with a beatification Mass attended by 200,000 people — more than half of the population of Malta.

It was the largest gathering in the history of this Mediterranean island, which is south of Sicily. Maltese emigrants from as far away as Australia attended the event. The papal visit was declared a national holiday.

During the Mass, celebrated in Floriana Granaries square, the Pontiff beatified the island´s first three people: Father George Preca, deacon Nazju Falzon and Italy-born Abbess Maria Adeodata Pisani.

Applause, singing and the pealing of bells greeted the papal pronouncement of the liturgical formula for beatification, while portraits of the new blessed were unveiled beside the altar.

During the homily, the Holy Father reviewed the history of Christianity in Malta, which began when St. Paul was shipwrecked off the island, while being taken a prisoner to Rome.

Father George Preca (1880-1962) was founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine, an institution especially dedicated to catechesis. Its mission, the Pope reminded the Maltese, is timely, given the great need for priests, religious and catechists to proclaim the word of God.

The miracle that was attributed to Father Preca had benefited a compatriot who was cured of an irreversible detachment of the retina.

John Paul II then referred to Nazju Falzon (1813-1865), a successful lawyer who left his career to consecrate himself to God and dedicated himself especially to catechizing youth and adults.

«He renounced the worldly success for which his background had prepared him, in order to serve the spiritual good of others, including the many British soldiers and sailors stationed in Malta at the time,» the Pope said. «In his approach to them, few of whom were Catholic, he anticipated the ecumenical spirit of respect and dialogue, which is familiar to us today, but which was not always prevalent at that time.»

Lastly, the Holy Father recalled the example of life of Italian Benedictine Abbess Maria Adeodata Pisani (1806-1855), who arrived in Malta at age 19. She lived in a cloistered convent for 26 years, yet became famous in the island for her holiness and love for the poor.

The Pontiff said, «There is a need for a renewed appreciation of the deeper theological reasons for this special form of consecration. We still await a full flowering of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the transcendent value of that special love of God and others, which leads to the vowed life of poverty, chastity and obedience.»

John Paul II has beatified 1,235 of the faithful, and canonized 443 others, during his 22-year pontificate.

Before bidding the faithful farewell, the Pope made mention of the sick and the prisoners in Corradino Corrective Facility. The prisoners had hoped to organize a possible papal visit to the prison in memory of Paul, the apostle and prisoner. This «has not been possible,» the Pope said. «I embrace you all spiritually, and I invoke upon you abundant divine graces.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation