On this day we celebrate the feast of St. ?or? Preca, Malta's first canonized saint.
Dun ?or? Preca, known as the Second Apostle of Malta, was beatified on this day ten years ago, when Pope John Paul II, as part of his pilgrimage tracing the journeys of St. Paul, visited Malta and celebrated the beatification.
Bd. ?or? Preca was canonized in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI.
In Holiness is Always in Season, Pope Benedict sums up the life of St. ?or? Preca:
"He was a priest totally dedicated to evangelization: by his preaching, his writings, and, first and foremost, by the example of his life. The Johannine expression 'Verbum caro factum est' always directed his soul and his work, and thus the Lord could make use of him to give life to a praiseworthy institution, the 'Society of Christian Doctrine', whose purpose is to guarantee parishes the qualified service of properly trained and generous catechists."
Click here to see Pope Benedict XVI delivering a message in Maltese at the canonization. (The English translation is beneath the video.)
For information about the Society of Christian Doctrine, click here.
In "Blessed George Preca (1880-1962): Pioneer of the Lay Apostolate and Promoter of the Bible", we learn of the support given by St. ?or? Preca to "Prof. Mgr Peter Paul Saydon (d. 1971), a world-renowned Biblical scholar, [who] was the first to translate the whole Bible into Maltese from the original languages - a classical translation which cost him thirty years (1929-59) of painstaking work."
Click here for the bible in Maltese. Click on "Atti tal-Appostli" and go to chapters 27 and 28 for the account of Paul's shipwreck at Malta where "the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold".
Paul is bitten on the hand by a viper, but he shakes it off into the fire. Paul heals the father of Publius, "the chief man of the island", and "others also". "And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux."
Click here to see a documentary (in Maltese) about Dun ?or?. (Notice, at 2:31, the women in the funeral procession wearing g?onnielen.)
San ?or? Preca, itlob ghalina!