Thursday, May 19, 2011

FIUV Statement in Response to the Publication of Universae Ecclesiae.

FIUV Statement in Response to the Publication of Universae Ecclesiae.

The publication of the document Universae Ecclesiae on 13th May 2011 has generated much comment and been the subject of detailed analysis in the media. The International Federation Una Voce would like to present a different perspective on this document which it welcomes enthusiastically.

The Una Voce movement started in late 1964, before the end of the Second Vatican Council, to ensure the retention of the age-old Latin language for the celebration of the Holy Mass. National societies were formed and the International Federation Una Voce (FIUV) came into being formally in 1967. In 1970, following the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae, the emphasis had changed and the members of the Una Voce Federation decided to strive for the preservation of the traditional Roman rite as decreed by the Council Fathers in Sacrosanctum Concilium (Art. 4), the document on the liturgy.

In 1970, Dr Eric de Saventhem, the first President of the FIUV, said that the suppression of the
traditional Mass had been achieved de facto only and not de jure. It would be unthinkable, he said, for the older form of Mass to be forbidden as one would have to argue that it had been wrong or bad – either doctrinally or pastorally.

In 1984 the Indult Quattuor Abhunc Annos of Pope John Paul II granted a partial relaxation for the celebration of the traditional Mass which was a small step forward. In 1988 the Indult Ecclesia Dei Adflicta was more generous but the difficulty remained that a bishop’s permission was required and in most instances this was not forthcoming. The situation remained very unsatisfactory – both for priests and laity.

When Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005 he asked that people pray for him that he may not flee for fear of the wolves. Notwithstanding the great obstacles being faced, the Holy Father promulgated the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in July 2007 and affirmed the right of all priests of the Roman rite to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, thus confirming the position of the Una Voce Federation since 1970 that the traditional Mass may have been suppressed de facto but not de jure. To their shame, some in the Church refused to accept the will of the Holy Father and the legitimate aspirations of many of the faithful and were determined to undermine this Motu Proprio at every opportunity. It was this negative and obstructive stance that made necessary a subsequent document to clarify certain matters.

Although some have commented that Universae Ecclesiae still leaves some questions unclear, what is perfectly clear is that the Holy Father has fully restored to the universal Church the traditional Roman rite as enshrined in the liturgical books of 1962, that the rubrics in force in 1962 must be strictly observed, and that Latin and the Usus Antiquior must be taught in seminaries where there is a pastoral need. And this pastoral need must be determined by those who wish to benefit from Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae, and not be decided by those many in authority whose natural desire is to prevent their implementation.

The International Federation Una Voce has worked patiently and tirelessly for the restoration of the traditional liturgy for more than 40 years and is now witnessing a vindication of its fidelity to Holy Mother Church and the See of Peter. The Federation expresses its thanks, prayers, and admiration to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and praises his courage in not fleeing in the face of the wolves.

The Federation also extends its thanks and gratitude to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and to those bishops and priests who have also striven, often in great personal difficulty, to preserve and foster the traditional liturgy for this and future generations.

Leo Darroch, President – Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce.
17th May 2011.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae” on the implementation “Summorum Pontificum”


on the application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum


I. Introduction

1. The Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio on 7 July 2007, which came into effect on 14 September 2007, has made the richness of the Roman Liturgy more accessible to the Universal Church.

2. With this Motu Proprio, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a universal law for the Church, intended to establish new regulations for the use of the Roman Liturgy in effect in 1962.

3. The Holy Father, having recalled the concern of the Sovereign Pontiffs in caring for the Sacred Liturgy and in their recognition of liturgical books, reaffirms the traditional principle, recognised from time immemorial and necessary to be maintained into the future, that "each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally handed down by apostolic and unbroken tradition. These are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but also so that the faith may be passed on in its integrity, since the Church's rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of belief (lex credendi)."1

4. The Holy Father recalls also those Roman Pontiffs who, in a particular way, were notable in this task, specifically Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Pius V. The Holy Father stresses moreover that, among the sacred liturgical books, the Missale Romanum has enjoyed a particular prominence in history, and was kept up to date throughout the centuries until the time of Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently in 1970, following the liturgical reform after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI approved for the Church of the Latin rite a new Missal, which was then translated into various languages. In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II promulgated the third edition of this Missal.

5. Many of the faithful, formed in the spirit of the liturgical forms prior to the Second Vatican Council, expressed a lively desire to maintain the ancient tradition. For this reason, Pope John Paul II with a special Indult Quattuor abhinc annos issued in 1984 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty under certain conditions to restore the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II, with the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988, exhorted the Bishops to be generous in granting such a faculty for all the faithful who requested it. Pope Benedict continues this policy with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum regarding certain essential criteria for the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite, which are recalled here.

6. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the last edition prepared under Pope John XXIII, are two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as ordinaria and extraordinaria: they are two usages of the one Roman Rite, one alongside the other. Both are the expression of the same lex orandi of the Church. On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honor.

7. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was accompanied by a letter from the Holy Father to Bishops, with the same date as the Motu Proprio (7 July 2007). This letter gave further explanations regarding the appropriateness and the need for the Motu Proprio; it was a matter of overcoming a lacuna by providing new norms for the use of the Roman Liturgy of 1962. Such norms were needed particularly on account of the fact that, when the new Missal had been introduced under Pope Paul VI, it had not seemed necessary to issue guidelines regulating the use of the 1962 Liturgy. By reason of the increase in the number of those asking to be able to use the forma extraordinaria, it has become necessary to provide certain norms in this area.
Among the statements of the Holy Father was the following: "There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the Liturgy growth and progress are found, but not a rupture. What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well, and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful."2

8. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum constitutes an important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and of his munus of regulating and ordering the Church’s Sacred Liturgy.3 The Motu Proprio manifests his solicitude as Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church,4 and has the aim of:

a.) offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved;

b.) effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees;

c.) promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

II. The Responsibilities of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei

9. The Sovereign Pontiff has conferred upon the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei ordinary vicarious power for the matters within its competence, in a particular way for monitoring the observance and application of the provisions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (cf. art. 12).

10. § 1. The Pontifical Commission exercises this power, beyond the faculties previously granted by Pope John Paul II and confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, artt. 11-12), also by means of the power to decide upon recourses legitimately sent to it, as hierarchical Superior, against any possible singular administrative provision of an Ordinary which appears to be contrary to the Motu Proprio.

§ 2. The decrees by which the Pontifical Commission decides recourses may be challenged ad normam iuris before the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

11. After having received the approval from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will have the task of looking after future editions of liturgical texts pertaining to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

III. Specific Norms

12. Following upon the inquiry made among the Bishops of the world, and with the desire to guarantee the proper interpretation and the correct application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, this Pontifical Commission, by virtue of the authority granted to it and the faculties which it enjoys, issues this Instruction according to can. 34 of the Code of Canon Law.

The Competence of Diocesan Bishops

13. Diocesan Bishops, according to Canon Law, are to monitor liturgical matters in order to guarantee the common good and to ensure that everything is proceeding in peace and serenity in their Dioceses5, always in agreement with the mens of the Holy Father clearly expressed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.6 In cases of controversy or well-founded doubt about the celebration in the forma extraordinaria, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will adjudicate.

14. It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The coetus fidelium (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 5 § 1)

15. A coetus fidelium ("group of the faithful") can be said to be stabiliter existens ("existing in a stable manner"), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such a coetus ("group") can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

16. In the case of a priest who presents himself occasionally in a parish church or an oratory with some faithful, and wishes to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, as foreseen by articles 2 and 4 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the pastor or rector of the church, or the priest responsible, is to permit such a celebration, while respecting the schedule of liturgical celebrations in that same church.

17. § 1. In deciding individual cases, the pastor or the rector, or the priest responsible for a church, is to be guided by his own prudence, motivated by pastoral zeal and a spirit of generous welcome.

§ 2. In cases of groups which are quite small, they may approach the Ordinary of the place to identify a church in which these faithful may be able to come together for such celebrations, in order to ensure easier participation and a more worthy celebration of the Holy Mass.

18. Even in sanctuaries and places of pilgrimage the possibility to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria is to be offered to groups of pilgrims who request it (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 5 § 3), if there is a qualified priest.

19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

Sacerdos idoneus ("Qualified Priest") (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art 5 § 4)

20. With respect to the question of the necessary requirements for a priest to be held idoneus ("qualified") to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, the following is hereby stated:

a.) Every Catholic priest who is not impeded by Canon Law7 is to be considered idoneus ("qualified") for the celebration of the Holy Mass in the forma extraordinaria.

b.) Regarding the use of the Latin language, a basic knowledge is necessary, allowing the priest to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.

c.) Regarding knowledge of the execution of the Rite, priests are presumed to be qualified who present themselves spontaneously to celebrate the forma extraordinaria, and have celebrated it previously.

21. Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin8 and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

22. In Dioceses without qualified priests, Diocesan Bishops can request assistance from priests of the Institutes erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, either to the celebrate the forma extraordinaria or to teach others how to celebrate it.

23. The faculty to celebrate sine populo (or with the participation of only one minister) in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite is given by the Motu Proprio to all priests, whether secular or religious (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 2). For such celebrations therefore, priests, by provision of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, do not require any special permission from their Ordinaries or superiors.

Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Discipline

24. The liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria are to be used as they are. All those who wish to celebrate according to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite must know the pertinent rubrics and are obliged to follow them correctly.

25. New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and ought to be inserted into the 1962 Missal9, according to provisions which will be indicated subsequently.

26. As foreseen by article 6 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the readings of the Holy Mass of the Missal of 1962 can be proclaimed either solely in the Latin language, or in Latin followed by the vernacular or, in Low Masses, solely in the vernacular.

27. With regard to the disciplinary norms connected to celebration, the ecclesiastical discipline contained in the Code of Canon Law of 1983 applies.

28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

Confirmation and Holy Orders

29. Permission to use the older formula for the rite of Confirmation was confirmed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (cf. art. 9 § 2). Therefore, in the forma extraordinaria, it is not necessary to use the newer formula of Pope Paul VI as found in the Ordo Confirmationis.

30. As regards tonsure, minor orders and the subdiaconate, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum does not introduce any change in the discipline of the Code of Canon Law of 1983; consequently, in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, one who has made solemn profession or who has been definitively incorporated into a clerical institute of apostolic life, becomes incardinated as a cleric in the institute or society upon ordination to the diaconate, in accordance with canon 266 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

31. Only in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and in those which use the liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria, is the use of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962 for the conferral of minor and major orders permitted.

Breviarium Romanum

32. Art. 9 § 3 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum gives clerics the faculty to use the Breviarium Romanum in effect in 1962, which is to be prayed entirely and in the Latin language.

The Sacred Triduum

33. If there is a qualified priest, a coetus fidelium ("group of faithful"), which follows the older liturgical tradition, can also celebrate the Sacred Triduum in the forma extraordinaria. When there is no church or oratory designated exclusively for such celebrations, the parish priest or Ordinary, in agreement with the qualified priest, should find some arrangement favourable to the good of souls, not excluding the possibility of a repetition of the celebration of the Sacred Triduum in the same church.

The Rites of Religious Orders

34. The use of the liturgical books proper to the Religious Orders which were in effect in 1962 is permitted.

Pontificale Romanum and the Rituale Romanum

35. The use of the Pontificale Romanum, the Rituale Romanum, as well as the Caeremoniale Episcoporum in effect in 1962, is permitted, in keeping with n. 28 of this Instruction, and always respecting n. 31 of the same Instruction.

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 8 April 2011, approved this present Instruction and ordered its publication.

Given at Rome, at the Offices of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, 30 April, 2011, on the memorial of Pope Saint Pius V.

William Cardinal LEVADA

Mons. Guido Pozzo

1 BENEDICTUS XVI, Litterae Apostolicae Summorum Pontificum motu proprio datae, I, AAS 99 (2007) 777; cf. Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, tertia editio 2002, n. 397.

2 BENEDICTUS XVI, Epistola ad Episcopos ad producendas Litteras Apostolicas motu proprio datas, de Usu Liturgiae Romanae Instaurationi anni 1970 praecedentis, AAS 99 (2007) 798.

3 Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 838 §1 and §2.

4 Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 331.

5 Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canons 223 § 2 or 838 §1 and §4.

6 BENEDICTUS XVI, Epistola ad Episcopos ad producendas Litteras Apostolicas motu proprio datas, de Usu Liturgiae Romanae Instaurationi anni 1970 praecedentis, AAS 99 (2007) 799.

7 Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 900 § 2.

8 Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 249; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36; Declaration Optatum totius, 13.9 BENEDICTUS XVI, Epistola ad Episcopos ad producendas Litteras Apostolicas motu proprio datas, de Usu Liturgiae Romanae Instaurationi anni 1970 praecedentis, AAS 99 (2007) 797.

Godwin's comment: This is surely Great News! Thanks be to the Holy Father Benedict XVI! This will surely help Pro Tridentina (Malta) in its work. Let us pray that the local church authorities will implement the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum according to this Instruction. That the current Pontiff loves the forma extraordinaria is amply demonstrated, e.g. the photo above showing then Cardinal Ratzinger celebrating this form at Wigratzbad in 1990.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saint George Preca

I am putting this brief account of Saint George Preca, Malta's first canonised saint, on the occasion of his feast day (9 May). It fills me with pride and at the same time with humbleness to know that this saint is a distant relative from my mother's side. Godwin

Diocesan Priest

Founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine, M.U.S.E.U.M.

(Valletta, Malta, 12 February 1880 - Sta. Venera, Malta, 26 July 1962)

SAINT GEORGE PRECA was born in Valletta, Malta on 12 February 1880 of Vincenzo and Natalina Ceravolo. He was baptised in the Parish Church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo, Valletta, on 17 February. In 1888 the Preca family moved to Ħamrun, a fast growing town not far from Valletta. George received his Confirmation and his first Holy Communion in the parish church of St Cajetan. One day when he was 17 years old George was walking along the Maglio Gardens (Il-Mall) in Floriana. He met one of his Lyceum Professors, Fr Ercole Mompalao, who told him: “Preca, when you grow up, people who revere God will befriend you and you them. You will find your good fortune through them and they through you”. After his studies at the Lyceum, George entered the Seminary of Malta with the aim of becoming a priest.

His confessor, Fr Aloysius Galea, died on 8 April 1905. Blessed George used to recount how Fr Galea appeared to him a few days later and told him: “God has chosen you to teach his people”. George Preca was enthused with this idea. He wrote a rule in Latin which he wanted to send to Pope Pius X for approval. He envisaged groups of seven permanent deacons in every parish who, with the help of lay auxiliaries, would be responsible for the formation of the people of God. It was around this time (1905-1906) that George met a group of young people at Ħamrun and invited them to start attending his spiritual conferences. He set his eye on their leader, Eugenio Borg, and started explaining the Gospel of John to him. (Later on Eugenio Borg became the first Superior General of the Societas Doctrinae Christianae and was renowned for his holiness when he died in 1967).

A few months before his ordination to the priesthood George Preca almost died of a very serious sickness. Through the intercession of St Joseph he survived the ordeal, but as a consequence of the illness his left lung was permanently impaired. He was ordained priest on 22 December 1906 by Bishop Pietro Pace, and he celebrated his first Solemn Mass at the St Cajetan Parish Church in Ħamrun on Christmas Day. For a number of weeks after ordination George would not venture out of home except to say Mass, after which he would retire to a small room on the roof and remain there all day bereft in meditation and contemplation. Towards the end of January 1907 he called the same group of young people and invited them for a spiritual conference on 2 February at the Ta’ Nuzzo Church at Ħamrun. The little group subsequently rented a small place at n. 6, Fra Diegu Street, Ħamrun and met there for the first time on 7 March 1907. These two dates mark the beginning of the Society of Christian Doctrine: a group of lay people leading an exemplary life, well formed in the principles of the Catholic faith and sent to teach the faith to the people. At first, Fr George called his society Societas Papidum et Papidissarum (Society of the Sons and Daughters of the Pope). In the meanwhile, however, the rundown place where the first members met was jokingly referred to as the “museum”. The nickname soon became the name of the group itself and it stuck. The founder had no alternative but to devise an acrostic in Latin: M.U.S.E.U.M., Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus! which in translation means: "Teacher, O that the whole world would follow the Gospel!" The female branch of the Society was inaugurated in 1910 with the help of Giannina Cutajar who later became the first Superior General of the same branch.

It was around 1910 that Dun George had a very powerful mystical experience which he always referred to as “the extraordinary vision of the child Jesus”. One morning, he was passing in the vicinity of the Marsa Cross when he suddenly saw a twelve-year old boy pushing a low cart with a bag full of manure. The boy turned to George and ordered him imperiously: “Lend me a hand!” The moment Fr George put his hand on the cart he felt an extraordinary spiritual sweetness and he never could remember where they went or what happened to the young boy. He later understood however that the boy was Jesus and that the Lord was asking him and his followers to help him with nurturing the Lord’s field and vineyard with sound doctrine and formation.

The M.U.S.E.U.M. developed along the years into the society we know today: a group of lay people who dedicate themselves to the apostolate of catechesis, lead a simple evangelical lifestyle, commit themselves to a life of prayer using short prayers or meditations at regular intervals during the day (“The Museum Watch”), teach the young catechesis for an hour everyday, which is then followed by a group meeting for personal permanent formation (“The Assignment”).

The Society had its difficult moments. In 1909 Dun George was ordered to close his Museum centres. Broken-hearted but without hesitation, he started following superior orders until the parish priests themselves protested with the ecclesiastical authorities and the ban was revoked by Vicar General Salvatore Grech. Between 1914-1915 a number of daily newspapers carried articles and letters denigrating the new Society. Dun George ordered his members to take a vow or promise of meekness, gladly forgiving anybody who poked fun at them and taught them “to love the contempt” they suffered and not to let it trouble them unduly. In 1916 Bishop Mauro Caruana ordered an enquiry concerning the Society. After many humiliations for the founder and his close followers, the Curia issued a favourable report. Although some changes were required, the way was open for definitive ecclesiastical approval. Bishop Caruana canonically erected the Society of Christian Doctrine on 12 April 1932.

Dun George Preca strived unceasingly to spread the values and teaching of the Gospel in the Maltese islands. He wrote a great number of books on dogma, morals and spirituality in Maltese. He also published numerous booklets with prayers for the private use of his members and for popular devotion. He was undoubtedly a great apostle of the Word of God, especially of the Gospel which he used to call “The Voice of the Beloved”. He would encourage his followers and the public in general to memorize sentences and phrases from the Gospel and his charismatic preaching constantly referred to parables and stories from Scripture and the life of the saints. He zealously defended the honour due only to God and persuasively illustrated how ugly sin was. He never shied away from openly preaching about death, judgement, hell and heaven. Utterly convinced of God’s justice, he nevertheless movingly proclaimed the Lord’s infinite mercy.

People flocked to him for advice or a word of encouragement. They trusted in his intercession and many still recount stories of healings wrought by God through Fr George’s prayers. He was endowed with many supernatural gifts, among which were the knowledge of hearts and of the future. He was nonetheless a priest of great humility, goodness, meekness and generosity. He was truly a holy pastor of the people of God.

Dun Ġorġ, as the Maltese know him, is well known for his constant efforts to promote devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation. From 1917 he propagated devotion for the text from the Gospel of John: “Verbum Dei caro factum est!” (Jn 1, 14). He wanted the SDC members to wear a badge with these words. On Christmas Eve 1921 the Society organized the first “Demonstration in honour of the Baby Jesus” in the towns and villages of Malta and Gozo and this event has since become a typical aspect of Christmas celebrations on the islands. Fr George wanted every child who attended catechism classes to take a small crib or statue of the baby Jesus home for Christmas.

The holy priest learnt to trust in the maternal protection of Our Lady, especially during the difficult moments of the Society. He was enrolled as a Carmelite tertiary on 21 July 1918 and at his profession in September 1919 he chose the name of Fr Franco. Children attending the Society’s centres are still enrolled in Our Lady’s scapular. Dun Ġorġ also nurtured a filial devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel; he promoted use of the Miraculous Medal and in fact wanted the Church of the Society’s Motherhouse to be dedicated to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. In 1957 he suggested the use of five “Mysteries of Light” for the private recitation of the Rosary.

On 19 May 1951 he blessed the foundation stone of the St Michael School at Santa Venera, and in 1952 he sent the first members to start the Society in Australia. The SDC is today also found in England, Albania, the Sudan, Kenya and Peru.

On 2 October 1952 Pope Pius XII nominated Dun Ġorġ as Privy Chamberlain with the title of Monsignor. Dun George was mortified. He kept the title for six years until Pope Pacelli passed away in 1958.

In 1955 Dun George blessed the foundation stone of the Sacred Family Institute at Żabbar which later housed SDC members living in common who had been staying at Żebbuġ ever since their establishment in 1918.

After a long and very active life in the service of the Gospel and of the Christian formation of the people of God, Dun Ġorġ Preca died on Thursday evening 26 July 1962 at his house: “San Cajetan”, Parish Street, Santa Venera, Malta. He was deeply missed by all the Maltese population. He had wished for a very simple funeral but thousands, including the highest civil and ecclesiastical authorities, turned up to pay him homage. He was buried in the crypt of the Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at Blata l-Bajda which soon became a venue for constant pilgrimages.

Fr George Preca was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Malta on 9 May 2001 and canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on 3 June 2007. His liturgical feast is celebrated on 9 May.