[p.223] II - SYNTHESIS OF THE DIVERSE DEVOTIONS

The building of churches and chapels dedicated to Our Lady, their eventual restoration and preservation, enlargement and embellishment, showed in a most tangible 'manner the deep devotion of the Gozitans to the mother of the Lord.

As one can perceive from the dedication of the forty-eight chapels reviewed, Our Lady was venerated under a host of different titles. In this second part, an attempt is made to delve deeper into the devotional practices of the people of Gozo by synthesising all marian titles met with between 1600 and 1800. The synthesis starts with the earliest recorded liturgical celebration in honour of Our Lady - her Assumption into heaven - and proceeds to the less ancient feasts and to the least diffused ones. As the particular devotions enkindled by the three mendicant Orders working on the island is treated elsewhere, they have been excluded from this synthesis.

SANTA MARIJA or THE ASSUMPTION - THE PIVOT OF PIETY

It is presumed that in medieval Gozo the majority lived inside or close to the Castello - the other areas being too isolated and insecure. In the middle of this Castello rose majestically the already mentioned matrice of Santa Marija - the pivot of Marian piety on the island of Gozo.

Devotion to the Domitio of Our Lady must have reached the Maltese Archipelago during its diffusion from 'East to West between the middle and the end of the seventh century. The matrice may well have been the first church of the Dormitio on the island. When the people left the Castello they carried the devotion with them. No wonder that seven of the fifteen Marian chapels at the beginning of the seventeenth century and twenty-three of the forty-eight Marian chapels referred to during the following two hundred years were dedicated to the Assumption.[1]

One of the stimuli of this devotion was provided by the portrayal of Our Lady. An idea of the Assumption iconography in Gozo is offered by the main altarpiece of the matrice - a panel of stucco .on wood executed, probably, in Sicily and now considered one of the earliest examples of Renaissance art in Malta. Our Lady is pictured being assumed into heaven on an almond-shaped cloud, handing, at the same time, her girdle to the incredulous Thomas surrounded by the other Apostles.[2] This representation, very popular from the late Middle Ages, is based on the Assumption Apocrypha that cropped up at that time.[3]

By the passage .of time other pictures were added around this initial panel. The first extension was provided by two side panels of Saints Peter and Paul, the Princes of the Apostles.[4] Another two panels representing the Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel to Our Lady were placed on each side of the initial panel some years afterwards.[5] By 1644, the altarpiece of the matrice had grown into a seven-piece polyptych covering 200 x 305 [p.224] cm. The final additions were the Coronation of Our Lady by the Holy Trinity and Our Lady with the Child together with two angels placing a crown on Mary's head. These were respectively placed above and below the original panel.[6] The artists of these additions tried and, to a certain extent, succeeded to copy the style and medium of the original panel.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, stucco on wood was not the only medium employed. At Għajn Xejba, the Assumption altarpiece was painted directly on the back stone wall.[7] Of the two Assumption paintings at ta' Gajdoru, one, presumably the older, was stucco on wood, another was oil on canvas.[8] While the Assumption at Dwejra was carta conglutinata in tabula, maybe, an engraving.[9]

The feast of Santa Marija was very important for the mainly agricultural community of Gozo. It follows the harvest and marks the beginning of another agricultural year. Farmers paid their land rents and entered upon new contracts around this feast. As the proverb runs: Santa Marija f'nofs Awissu, kulħadd jieħu dak li jmissu -- Saint Mary's feast in mid-August, when everyone takes what is due to him. The feast hence offered reasons for rejoicing materially and spiritually.

So that rich and poor alike could share the joy of this festivity, the founders of several Assumption chapels had set aside some annual income for the provision of food on this feastday. At the Assumption chapel, Marsalforn, two tmiem (36.37dm3) wheat baked bread, kwarta (5.39 litres) wine and three sigħan (9dm3) almonds were distributed to the faithful on Santa Marija.[10] It must be immediately noted that wheaten bread and imported almonds were a commodity that only a tiny fraction of the Gozitans could afford.

"A sumptuous dinner”[11] was to be set for the very poor at the Assumption chapel, Mġarr ix-Xini. Later on a benefactor also provided for the distribution of twenty tomna (363.7dm3) wheat baked bread.[12] Four tmiem (72.74dm3) wheat baked bread were to be distributed at the Assumption chapel at Għajn Xejba.[13] While the priest celebrating the feast was to be given a free dinner.[14] At the nearby chapel of il-Qasam tal-Għeżien, bread and wine were also distributed.[15] Wheaten bread in varying quantities was also handed out in the Assumption chapels at Wied il-Għasri,[16] at Qala,[17] at Wied il-Mielaħ[18] as well as at the matrice.[19] At least on one day of the year the poor had no problem for the provision of their meal.

Several of these distributions actually took place on the morrow of the Assumption[20] for on the feastday proper the majority of the people converged on the matrice in the Castello[21] where the principal festa was taking place. Preparations for the festa began many days before. The faithful were inflamed to Marian devotions by the delivery of sermons on the glories of Mary. Early in the morning on August 15, four to six very poor Gozitan brides got married in the matrice to receive a dowry provided [p.225] by a marriage legacy known as tal-foqra, of the poor.[22]

In 1726, ten years after the consecration of the new matrice, the Pro-Vicar of the bishop, the Archpriest Nikol Cassia Magri, introduced a novelty that steadily became more and more popular. Before the solemn high mass on August 15, 1726, he led a procession with the participation of the collegiate chapter all Rabat priests and friars and a multitude of faithful.[23] In the afternoon, after the chanting of the Second Vespers, a street beneath the Castello, aptly called it-Tiġrija, the racecourse, was the venue of very popular quadruped races, jointly sponsored by the 'Collegiate Chapter of the matrice and the government.[24]

The feast of the Assumption was, and actually still is, the most eagerly awaited as well as the most widely celebrated Marian, and not only Marian, festivity of the whole year.

After the matrice, the Assumption chapel most worthy of mention is that of Għammar. A chapel stood on the spot from time immemorial, certainly from before 1545, when it is recorded that the chapel had just been rebuilt.[25] It was profaned in 1575,[26] but through the efforts of Pinu Gauci, hence its appellation ta' Pinu, it was restored to a very handsome condition after 1615.[27] It is recorded that it later ,became one of the best well-kept countryside chapels.[28] It was probably profaned in 1665 and by 1676 it was in a dilapidated condition. However it was soon restored to its former magnificence.[29] Until the middle of the 1730s, it was well cared after by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood and by the noble family De Piro[30] who, unjustifiably, claimed possession to the church. During the following years it began to be neglected,[31] but thanks to a few devotees[32] it did not share the fate of other countryside chapels. The ta' Pinu chapel and that of the Annunciation at tas-Saqqaja succeeded to withstand the ravages of time.

The great particularity of this chapel will be illustrated in conclusion. Though not as important, it is certainly as interesting to review shortly the other Assumption chapels - following the order set in Appendix 1.

The chapel at Ghajn Xejba was without doubt one of the oldest Marian chapels on the island.[33] As already noted, its altarpiece was painted directly on the back wall.[34] It was in a rather ruinous condition between 1575[35] and 1615.[36] It was eventually restored and another painting was placed over the original.[37] After some years it was abandoned again and it had almost fallen down by 1657.[38]

Equally old was ta' Korvel chapel at ta' Madliena, erected by a certain Andreotta Theobalda.[39] It was profaned in 1575 but was eventually re‑[p.226] stored.[40] It probably collapsed during the first decade of the seventeenth century.

The chapel of Santa Marija ta' nofs Awissu  Saint Mary of mid-August - at il-Qortin, Sannat, was looked after quite satisfactorily[41] - for from time immemorial its founders had bequeathed property to provide for its upkeep.[42] In 1630, the feast day was being celebrated on November 21, feast of the Presentation of Our Lady in the temple.[43] It was profaned in 1657.[44]

The uniqueness of the chapel on ta' Dbieġi, the highest peak ,of the island, has already been noted. It was so popular among the folk that once they bequeathed enough property for a mass to be said every week.[45] The chapel was one of the few with a bell on the roof.[46] Out of devotion to Our Lady, some people, amongst them Don Ang Modlun, parishpriest of San Ġorġ, chose to be buried there.[47] It was also profaned in 1657.[48]

The chapel of Santa Marija at Għajn Meddew was in a dilapidated condition in 1598[49] and notwithstanding the fact that it possessed some property, nothing was done to save it from utter ruin.[50] In similar conditions was the closely situated Assumption chapel at Marsalforn.[51] In 1615 it was partly restored[52] but this did not save it from crumbling down some time afterwards.

Next to nothing is known about an Assumption chapel situated at Wied Sara. It is mentioned once during the 1608 pastoral visit - at that time it had already been abandoned for some years.[53]

The Assumption chapel at Wied il-Għasri, originally built by the Cini family[54] was in a satisfactory conditions in 1615[55] and was kept so for many years afterwards.[56] It was profaned in 1657.[57]

Another Assumption chapel stood in the locality known as San Dimitri close to Għarb.[58] In 1608 it was noted that it had been in ruinous condition for forty years.[59] Close by at Santu Pietru, there was another Assumption chapel;[60] by 1615, its dedication had been changed to the Visitation of Our Lady.[61]

The Assumption chapel at tal-Ħamrija, limits of Xewkija, was in a mediocre condition until about 1610,[62] when the Governor of Gozo, Eugenio Romirez Maldonato (1610-12) restored it in a most excellent manner out of his own purse.[63] Mass was celebrated every Sunday. However, the devotion inflamed by the Governor, who also initiated the cult of Saint Ursula on the island, was short-lived.[64] It was profaned in 1657.[65]

Almost nothing is known about the Assumption chapel at it-Qasam tat‑[p.227]-Għeżien, Xagħra,[66] and very little about another at Dwejra.[67] The latter was always in a mediocre state. During the 1630 pastoral visit, the bishop ordered that its door be blocked with stone.[68]

The Assumption chapel at Żebbuġ, with a cemetery in front, was one of the best kept on the island.[69] The main altarpiece resembled that at the matrice - Our Lady was flanked by Saints Peter and Paul.[70] It was frequented by many and masses were celebrated very often.[71] Around 1640, the community living in the vicinity felt the need to build a new larger chapel Which they finished by 1644.[72] On April 28, 1688, the chapel eventually became the seat of a new parish. It again proved itself too small, and the people began to build another much larger church around the former one. It was consecrated on October 28, 1726.[73]

Francesco de Domenicis, The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin (1725c), Parish Church, Żebbuġ, Gozo

[p.228] Just below Żebbuġ, at the port of Marsalforn, there were two Assumption chapels. One has already been described above; the other, on the left of the port, was well looked after and several had Saturday devotions there.[74] By 1630, it had collapsed.[75] However its memory survives in the name of the spot where it stood il-ponta ta' Santa Marija guards the entrance to Marsalforn Bay.

Still another Assumption chapel stood at Qala before 1575.[76] In 1615, it was rededicated to the Immaculate Conception.[77]

A very weli4kept Assumption chapel was situated at Mgarr ix-Xini, in a locality known as Santa Barbra. It was built before 1575 by Rainerio Mahanuq,[78] a very rich person who provided the chapel with whatever was necessary.[79] His heirs continued to care for the chapel,[80] but by the passage of years it was forgotten and had to be profaned.[81]

Very little is known about two Assumption chapels first mentioned during the pastoral visit of 1621. The first at to Qabbieża[82] had the door blocked with stone in 1630.[83] It may be the chapel referred to as at tal-Qasam ta' San Pawl in 1575.[84] The other at tal-Qasam[85] close to Marsalforn, suffered the same fate.[86]

The last mentioned Assumption chapel stood at Wied il-Mielaħ, limits of Għarb. It had been built by a certain Andrea Apap, who also bequeathed property for its upkeep.[87] The feastday was celebrated on August 5.[88] In 1639, the chapel was rededicated to the Transfiguration of Our Lord.[89]

This review of the Assumption chapels shows all too clearly how much did the Gozitans enhance the greatest and holiest moment in the life of Our Lady. In Gozo, the Assumption reigned supreme.

THE ANNUNCIATION - VARIABLE VENERATION

The Annunciation of Our Lady is, with the Assumption, one of the oldest commemorated (Marian feasts. In Gozo, it seems, it was also the next commonest title. There were five chapels dedicated to the Annunciation. Veneration to Our Lady under this title seemingly much alive before 1600, decreased to quite an extent the following years. Only the chapel at tas-Saqqaja, better known as tal-Lunzjata, survived after 1657 and still stands to this day.

De Soldanis sates that the first chapel at tal-Lunzjata was built in 1357.[90] In 1370, it became part of a royal benifice, appointments to which were subsequently made by the Grand Master:[91] The benefice rendered the then sumptuous sum of thirty scudi and many strove hard to obtain it.[92] The beneficiary was obliged to chant first Vespers and to say a sung mass on the feast-day as well as to say mass every Saturday.[93] As the benefice was mostly enjoyed by priests living in Malta,[94] the obligations were delegated to a Gozitan priest. The chapel was well-cared after by devotees,[95] in fact at [p.229] a time when many countryside chapels were falling down, it was in an optimum condition.[96] The altarpiece was "an elegant painting'',[97] by the knight hospitaller Luca Garnier.[98] Towards the middle of the eighteenth century, devotees placed a silver crown on the head of Our Lady.[99]

Devotion to the Annunciation was also rooted in the matrice, where sometime between 1575 and 1592, the Platamone family had raised an altar under that title on the right hand side of the church.[100] The altar, with an oil on canvas picture,[101] was very well kept and masses were celebrated upon it every week.[102] The Platamone family also bequeathed property for its upkeep.[103] Around 1615, as has been already referred to, the mystery of the Annunciation was also added to the main altarpiece of the matrice.[104] Devotion to the Annunciation must have reached its zenith at the time. By 1630, the Platamone family was no more, but the chapel was looked after by devotees.[105] Sometime after 1644,[106] the altarpiece was exchanged by a crucifix and the original dedication was soon completely forgotten.[107]

A second Annunciation chapel stood in the Rabat cemetery area known as it-Tomba. At the beginning of the seventeenth century it was in a dilapidated condition[108] and no mention of it is ever made again.

The Annunciation chapel at Wied Sara, with a good painting of Our Lady, was in a relatively better condition.[109] In 1629, the Archpriest of the matrice, Don Salvatore Pontremoli, took the chapel under his care and bettered its condition further.[110] On a feast-day, the celebrant was given a free dinner and a quantity of bread was distributed to the poor.[111] In 1644, the chapel was falling apart.[112]

Another chapel stood at Ghajn Meddew; it was raised between 1608 and 1615 most probably on the ruins of a chapel dedicated to Santa Marija.[113] Inside, there was "an oil on canvas altarpiece ... executed by an expert artist".[114] The chapel was situated on private property[115] and when the owners died, it was abandoned and its door had to be blocked with stone.[116]

The last Annunciation chapel, built from at least 1543,[117] was situated at Għajn Qatet on the very outskirts of Rabat. It was commonly known both as ta' Platamuni[118] from the just mentioned Platomone family who had bequeathed property for its upkeep, and as tas-Salib from a cross on a tall stone column just in front.[119] It had an excellent altarpiece made of stucco on wood.[120] The chapel, which also had a cemetry in front,[121] was visited by lots of people on Saturdays.[122] The chapel was still functioning in 1644 but by 1657 it had to be profaned.[123]

Devotion to the Annunciation did not get rooted in the new parish [p.230] churches. No altar was raised in her honour, but at Xewkija there was a small oval painting of the Annunciation above the altar of Saint Elijah.[124]

THE NATIVITY - INCREASING INTERCESSION

The celebration of the Nativity of Our Lady also goes back to the early centuries. The feast must have long been rooted in Gozo as one of the late medieval parishes, Savina, was dedicated to the Nativity. Its importance increased ,by leaps and bounds after the Great Siege of 1565 which ended with a major victory for the Knights of Saint John ,on September 8 of that year.

The first documented reference to Santa Marija ta' Savina, as the parish was commonly called from the locality where it stood, goes back to 1479.[125] The parish flourished until 1551[126] when it was ransacked during the Great Siege of Gozo and abandoned.[127] Its parochial status was suppressed in 1575.[128] It was still in ruins by the turn of the century,[129] when increased devotion to the Nativity spurred the people to build the chapel once again. The new edifice was begun in 1615 mainly through the efforts of Gio Pietro Formosa.[130] When finished it was one of the largest and preetiest chapels on the island[131] and, through the interest of devotees, it remained so through-out the seventeenth[132] and eighteenth centuries.[133] Masses were celebrated inside every Friday and Saturday.[134] The main altarpiece was donated by the Governor of Gozo Richard de Nini Claret in 1622. An indulgence of forty days could be won by reciting twelve Hail Marys for seven successive days.[135]

The Nativity was also venerated inside the matrice. The noble Paula de Navarra had on August 21, 1494, bequeathed property for the building of a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto next to the matrice[136] - the first of four chapels eventually annexed to the church.[137] Sometime after 1551, the chapel was rededicated to the Nativity and a mass was celebrated there every Saturday.[138] Between 1598[139] and 1608[140] the chapel was in a state of complete abandonment. Archpriest Giovanni Ciappara (1603-21) revived the devotion once more and by 1615 its altar was privileged by Pope Paul V.[141] The altar and chapel were hence among the best kept inside the matrice[142] though the altarpiece needed some restoration.[143] Instead of being restored, it was exchanged by one of Our Lady of Solitude[144] the chapel had had its dedication changed once more.[145]

There were two Nativity chapels in the vicinity of Għasri. The first built by the de Manueli family before 1575[146] was held with much esteem by the [p.231] people and was hence well kept.[147] However by 1615 it was abandoned[148] and it was formally profaned in 1657.[149] Two tmiem (36.37dm3) wheat baked bread were distributed on the feast-day.[150] The second, popularly known as ta' Ħġieri, flourished between 1615[151] and 1630.[152] Little else is known about it.

The increasing devotion to the Nativity of Our Lady is best sensed at Xagħra. When in 1692 the people finished the building of a new parish church, they decided to dedicate it not to Saint Antony Abbot as the original one but to the Nativity.[153] The altarpiece was brought from the Senglea parish in Malta, but in 1744 it was replaced by a painting by Carlo Gimach.[154] Since those years the people of Xagħra have never ceased to honour the Nativity and to embellish further their now monumental church.

A unique devotion to the Nativity was begun at San Ġorġ in 1745.[155] A wax statuette of a reclining baby representing Our Lady, il-Bambina, was placed in a glass case on the altar of Saint Cajetan. At first it appealed to the imagination of many but its popularity soon abated.[156]

THE VISITATION OF OUR LADY - WELCOMED IN THE WEST

The feast of the Visitation, celebrated from time immemorial on July 2, was extended to all the church by Pope Boniface IX through the Bull Superni benignitas conditoris of November 9, 1389. It must have soon established itself in Gozo where there were five chapels under that title. These were often referred to as Sancta Maria Virtutis and, colloquially as tal-Virtú[157] and, more precisely, as tal-Mirakli, in reference to the miracle with John the Baptist on the occasion.

One of the oldest Visitation chapels, popularly referred to as tal-Ġilju[158] stood at il-Belliegħa[159] just beneath the Citadel. It was in a very poor state between 1598[160] and 1608[161] and afterwards it was seemingly abandoned for several years. Through the devotion of the faithful, it was completely restored by 1621[162] and lots of people visited the chapel on Saturdays.[163] By 1657, when the people shifted their devotion to the closely situated chapel of Our Lady of Graces,[164] it had to be profaned.[165]

Yet the warmest devotion to the Visitation was accorded by the communities to the West of the island. The best known Visitation chapel in the area, known as taż-Żejt, of the oil, was already in an optimum condition in 1575.[166] According to a pious tradition, a spring of oil, which was to be used in the lamp in front of Our Lady, once flowed from beneath the church, The reports of the pastoral visits of 1608,[167] 1615[168] and 1630[169] amply prove that it was very well looked after. Four tmiem (72.74dm3) wheat made bread were distributed to the congregation on the feastday.[170] As referred to above, the chapel was for once profaned in 1657;[171] maybe the people of the neigh‑[p.232]-bourhood were then too poor to convey their help. Yet six years later it was back on its feet,[172] and on August 29, 1679, it became the seat of the new parish of Għarb.[173] After the transfer of the parish to a new larger church in 1729, the chapel of taż-Żejt continued to function[174] and it still stands to this day.

The new parish church, a perfect copy of Sant'Agnese at Piazza Navona, Rome, was also dedicated to the Visitation. The altarpiece, by the Maltese Francesco Zahra, was half paid for by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena.[175]

The Għarb community was inflamed with so great a devotion to the Visitation that an Assumption chapel in the area known as Santu Pietru was about 1615 rededicated to the Visitation.[176] In the 1620s and 1630s devotion to the Visitation had reached its best.[177]

Another Visitation chapel stood at Forn il-Ġir,[178] probably in the vicinity of Xlendi - but the location could not be determined with complete certainty. The elegance[179] and devoutness[180] of the altarpiece attracted many pious people to the chapel. As it was probably perched on the southwestern cliffs of the island, it was not always visited by the bishops and hence little else is known about it. It was profaned in 1657.[181]

The last Visitation chapel, situated at Għajn Ħosna, Xagħra, flourished especially during the sixteenth century. Eight tmiem (154.5dm3) wheat baked bread and barmil u tlett kwarti (75.5 litres) wine were distributed on the feast-day.[182] During the seventeenth century, when its founder Federico Pontremoli had passed away, the chapel was abandoned[183] and it soon became a mere heap of stones.[184]

In 1568, Pope Pius V abolished the office and mass proper to the Visitation and ordered that the prayers of the Nativity be recited instead on the feast-day. Pope Clement VIII reintroduced a proper office in 1602. Due maybe to this change, both the tal-Ġilju chapel and that at Forn il-Ġir were sometimes referred to as Nativity chapels.[185]

THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION - IMPRESSIVE INTERCESSION

The feast of the Immaculate 'Conception originated in the East towards the end of the seventh or the beginning of the eighth century and hundred years afterwards it passed from there to Sicily and the Western World. Yet until the seventeenth century devotion to the Immaculate 'Conception was not deeply rooted in Gozo. Its principal promoter was the half Gozitan bishop of Malta and Gozo, Baldassare Cagliares. On November 21, 1615, during his pastoral visit to the Assumption chapel at Qala, he donated an oil on canvas painting of the Immaculate Conception[186] by Federico Barocci di Urbino (1528/35-1612)[187] to the rector, Don Domenico Apap, expressing his wish that it be hung in the chapel.

[p.233] The Qala chapel is with all probability one of the earliest Marian churches on the island. It had been profaned in 1575[188] and hence remained abandoned for some years. However, by 1615, it was one of the best kept[189] as well as one of the largest chapels.[190] It was unique under one aspect. Though situated on the far eastern tip of Gozo, it was "frequented with the greatest devotion by faithful from all over the island".[191] It was due to this fact that the bishop chose this chapel for his precious picture.

Its impression on devotees was instantaneous. People began flocking to the chapel more than ever before.[192] Ex-voto offerings steadily increased day after another.[193] News of the favours being granted by the Immaculate Conception soon crossed the channel and many Maltese journeyed and sailed to Gozo to ask intercession from il-Madonna tal-Qala.[194] The four walls of the chapel were by the mid-1640s covered up by a numberless ex-votos, each of which proclaimed a tale of favours received and petitions granted.[195] As a result of the many offerings of the faithful, the chapel had been converted into a gem: with several altars and a whole lot of silver utensils, not a common possession at that time.[196]

Until the late 1620s the chapel still kept its former name and dedication. On January 18, 1630, Bishop Cagliares directed that the feast day will hence be celebrated on December 8.[197] The already mentioned rector immediately put aside the Assumption altarpiece and placed the Barocci Madonna in its stead. It was hence referred to as the Immaculate Conception chapel.[198] In the early 1650s, the chapel was "enlarged... and given a better shape".[199]

The devotion of the faithful increased by the passage of years as the ex-votos from its walls attested to one and all.[200] Several miracles were attributed to the Qala Madonna. On June 17, 1742, the Governor of Gozo Carlo Federico Baron of Remching miraculously recovered from a severe stroke after invoking the Immaculate Conception of Qala. This amazing occurrence was witnessed by the Gozitan historian De Soldanis.[201]

Due to this increasing devotion to the Immaculate Conception, another chapel was raised in her honour at ta' Qabbieża on the ruins of a former chapel known as tal-Warda, of the flower:[202] It was paid for by the cleric Simon Apap and it began functioning by September 1634.[203] The chapel flourished until 1654.[204]

Around the same time another chapel was raised in her honour at Rabat.[205] The people called it il-ġdida, but it was not destined to remain for long as it was profaned in 1657.[206] However, in 1663, it was rebuilt through the interest of Albino Apap, son of the late cleric Simon who had built the tal-Warda chapel.[207] It is not known what befell it afterwards.

The fourth chapel in honour of the Immaculate Conception, the last to be built in Gozo during the eighteenth century, was raised about 1770 half a kilometre away from the other chapel at Qala.[208] As already alluded to [p.234] above, it overlooks the island of Comino. According to tradition, when, owing to rough seas, no priest could cross over to Comino, the inhabitants of that island used to come to the coast and from there assist to a mass said in this chapel.

It is no wonder that two chapels in honour of the Immaculate Conception were built so close to another. By the middle of the eighteenth century, devotion to Our Lady immaculately conceived was steadily increasing everywhere. Gozo was no exception.

At San Ġorġ the Immaculate Conception was pictured in the upper part of the altarpiece of Saint Paul Shipwreck[209] the author wanted perhaps to infer that it was Saint Paul himself who had first preached devotion to the Immaculate Conception. A very similar altarpiece hung inside Xewkija parish church.[210] There was an oval picture of her beneath Saint Lawrence altarpiece at Xagħra[211] an altar in her honour had been raised in Nadur.[212] Inside Żebbuġ parish church there was a chapel dedicated to her.[213] It was referred to as tal-Virtú[214] as several miracles were attributed to Our Lady there.[215] Several people could swear that they saw the radiant face of the Immaculate Conception turning yellowish and pale before the occurrence of natural catastrophes.[216] Notwithstanding the dedication, the feast-day of the chapel was celebrated on August 15.[217]

The Immaculate Conception also dominated the altarpiece of the chapel of Saints Cosmas and Damian situated on the west outskirts of Rabat.[218] The altarpiece in the chapel of Saint John the Baptist Hospital, Rabat, inaugurated in June 1728, also had the Immaculate Conception in its upper part.[219]

OUR LADY OF ROSARY - FLOWERING FERVOUR

The centuries-old devotion to Our Lady of Rosary reached the form that has survived to this day during 1500. Its popularity rocketed after the Christian victory on the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. It was around this time that the devotion became rooted in Gozo. It all began around 1578[220] when the Dominican Giuseppe la Rocca[221] founded the Confraternity of Our Lady of Rosary in the matrice. It was well organised with a rector and a procurator who together with several members began spreading the devotion among the Gozitans.[222] On January 14, 1595, Giovanni Castelletti donated his private chapel of Saint Catherine inside the matrice to the Confraternity.[223] An image of Our Lady of Rosary was soon hung and the feast began to be celebrated with certain pomp.[224] By 1615, the image had been replaced by a larger oil on canvas painting[225] which represented Our Lady with the child presenting rosary beads to Saint Domenic on the right and Saint Catherine of Siena on the left. The fifteen mysteries of the Rosary were represented all around.[226]

[p.235] It must be noted here that, since the Castelletti donation, three of the four chapels inside the matrice of Santa Marija were dedicated to Our Lady: the Navarra chapel to the Nativity; the one owned by the Plata alone to the Annunciation and the Castelletti chapel to Our Lady of Rosary.

The members of the Rosary Confraternity were very active. By 1630, though still caring for the Castelletti chapel,[227] they erected their own altar to Our Lady of 'Rosary on the right hand side of the matrice.[228] They also hung a picture in the sacristy.[229] Donations and bequests to the altar were continually on the increase as an inventory drawn on June 19, 1663, attests.[230] The confraternity had everything to embellish the altar: from a solid silver chandelier to a gold plated crucifix, from eighteen rosettes for the feast-day to three altar-fronts made of gold cloth.

It is also obvious from the same inventory that the Confraternity had been organising a procession in honour of Our Lady for quite a time. They had every indispensable item: a large white damask standard, a big cross, several white sackcloths, a lot of tall candles, a cape for the officiating minister, and even a statue set on a plinth.[231] With all probability this was also taken round in the procession held on the first Sunday in October. As if this was not enough, during 1663, the Confraternity bought the head and the hands of a statue together with a Baby Jesus from Rome[232] so that a dressed-up Madonna - and hence more appealing - would be taken in procession instead of the former one.

In the meantime, devotion to Our Lady of Rosary spread from the matrice throughout the island. By 1608, the original altarpiece of the chapel of Our Lady of the Snow, situated in the middle of the Rabat cemetery, had been replaced by a picture of Our Lady of Rosary.[233] The faithful had begun to invoke Our Lady on behalf of souls in purgatory.[234]

By 1621, the devotion had entered the parish of San Ġorġ in the form of a small picture placed on the altar of Saint Barbara.[235] Before long, through the initiative of the parish priest Don Ana Modlun, an altar was raised in her honour.[236] After the death of Don Ang devotion seemingly subsided again. The necessity of a confraternity was not felt due to the closeness of San Ġorġ to the matrice.

The devotion spread to the village parishes soon after their establishment. The confraternity of the Rosary was subsequently erected at Xewkija on June 10, 1682[237] at Għarb on March 21, 1689[238] at Xagħra on April 18, 1690[239] at Nadur on May 30, 1705[240] at Żebbuġ on August 20, 1716[241] and at Sannat on July 12, 1721.[242] Simultaneously an altar in her honour was erected in the parish church.

The altar at Xewkija was the first on the left. Several masses were said upon it including one each on the seven main feasts of Our Lady.[243] The Confraternity of Xewkija soon brought a statue to take round in processions.[244]

[p.236] At Għarb, the altar was the second on the right. The altarpiece was surrounded by fifteen smaller pictures of the mysteries.[245] Through the devotion of the faithful, the lamp in front of the altar burned from early morning till late at night throughout the whole year.[246]

The altar at Xagħra was the first on the left. The confraternity had been formally transferred from the original parish church to the new one on April 21, 1718.[247] It was one of the most active on the island. Two feasts of Our Lady of Rosary, both with processions, were celebrated: one on the first Sunday of May, another on the first Sunday of October.[248] The confraternity owned what was probably the most precious statue of Our Lady on the island: her hands, head and crown were of solid silver while her dress was of white silk embroidered with gold.[249] It was donated to the Confraternity by Grand Master Manoel Pinto de Fonseca sometime before 1760.[250]

For the feast of October 1767, the Confraternity inaugurated a new altar-piece by Rokku Buhagiar. The painting was bordered by the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary executed by Francesco Zahra.[251]

At Nadur the altar was the first on the right. As at Xagħra, the altar-piece was surrounded by fifteen smaller pictures representing the mysteries of the Rosary.[252] Besides organising and taking part in the procession on the feast-day, members also took part in a procession on the first Sunday of each month.[253] From time to time, the Confraternity organised collections to embellish its altar.[254]

The altar at Żebbuġ, with a ,marble front, was the second on the left. The altarpiece was surrounded by several related pictures.[255] Soon after its foundation, the Confraternity carried out a collection to sculpture their chapel.[256] A small silver statue of Our Lady with Baby Jesus was carried around in procession on the first Sunday in October.[257] Members also participated in the procession organised on the first Sunday of every month.[258]

At Sannat the altar was the first on the left. The altarpiece with Our Lady, Saint Domenic and Saint Rose of Lima  mentioned here for the first time - was bordered by fifteen smaller pictures.[259] These lacked a frame and during the 1760 pastoral visit Bishop Bartolomeo Rull ordered a collection so as to provide the said pictures with a stone frame.[260]

Devotion to Our Lady of Rosary had, by the end of the eighteenth century permeated the lives of all the islanders. This is crystal clear from all that have been said and it is enough to :mention, in conclusion, the many ;masses left to be said on the altar of Our Lady of !Rosary in the matrice. So great was the trust of the faithful in the intercession of Our Lady, that they had, by 1768, bequeathed enough property for the saying of masses on almost everyday of the year.[261] On Wednesdays and Saturdays, especially, their number multiplied many times over.[262] There were also a lot of sung masses.[263] The people's devotion knew no ends.

[p.237]

Attributed to (?) Gafá, Our Lady of Graces, Ta' l-Erwieħ (1642), St George Collegiate Basilica, Rabat, Gozo

[p.238] OUR LADY OF GRACES - GRACIOUS GRANTS

Devotion to Our Lady of Graces was initiated by the Archpriest of the matrice Don Anton Attard (1569-1603) in 1597.[264] Towards the end of the sixteenth century, after organising a collection throughout the island, he raised a chapel in honour of Saint Agatha at Forn il-Ġir and dedicated the left side altar to Our Lady of Graces.[265] The chapel soon became a centre of devotion[266] but it was not destined to stand for long: it was no more by 1615.[267]

Sometime after 1608, a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Graces proper had been built in the vicinity.[268] Devotion immediately shifted to the new church, which had already became a centre of devotion by 1615.[269] Masses were offered on Wednesday and Saturday throughout the whole year.[270] The altarpiece portrayed Our Lady with the Child looking mercifully at souls in purgatory.[271] The feast-day was celebrated on the Nativity of Our Lady[272] when a marriage legacy was conferred upon a poor Gozitan bride.[273]

Devotion to Our Lady made a big stride forward after the earthquake of January 11, 1693, which destroyed Noto in Sicily and caused widespread distress on the island. The people attributed their deliverance from further damage to Our Lady of Graces. The Collegiate Chapter of the matrice resolved to visit the church in procession on the second Sunday of January every year.[274] Since then the priest in charge began to sing the litany of Our Lady every Wednesday. Many faithful participated.[275] About the same time, the mentioned Chapter commissioned the artist Stefano Erardi to execute a new altarpiece with a portrayal of the votive procession.[276]

In 1736, the Capuchins took over the running of the chapel. Thanks to the never ending offerings of devotees, the chapel was slowly enlarged into a spacious church to which a convent was soon annexed.[277]

Devotion to Our Lady of Graces was not confined to this church. In 1642, through the interest of Ġorġ Muscat,[278] the first altar on the right at San Ġorġ was dedicated in her honour.[279] The altarpiece pictured Our Lady with the Child surrounded by angels with several souls in purgatory below. Our Lady was portrayed squeezing her breast so as to alleviate the suffering souls.[280] The marble altar, upon which masses were said in abundance,[281] was very well kept. It was looked after by the Society for the Dying, which organised prayers and offered masses for dying and dead members.[282] Altars of Our Lady of Graces, sometimes referred to simply as ta' l-Erwieħ, of the Souls, were eventually raised in the other parishes. There were such altars at Għarb,[283] at Nadur,[284] at Sannat[285] and at Żebbuġ[286] where a feast was celebrated in her honour on the Sunday falling in the octave of the Nativity.[287] By the passage of years, the Holy Trinity replaced Our Lady of Graces in the ta' l-Erwieħ altarpieces. So happened at San Ġorġ[288] and [p.239] at Xewkija.[289] While at Xagħra it was Our Lady of Rosary that interceded for the souls.[290] By the close of the eighteenth century, devotion to Our Lady of Graces became concentrated once more in the chapel at For nil-Ġir.

OUR LADY OF THE SNOW - DORMANT DEVOTION

Legend says that the Basilica of Sancta Maria Maggiore, Rome, the first church dedicated to Our Lady in the West, was built around 358 on the site of a miraculous snowfall. Hence the title. The dedication of the Basilica has from time immemorial been celebrated on August 5.

The story was not unknown in Gozo. A tiny old chapel at it-Tomba was dedicated to Our Lady of the Snow. In 1575, the chapel was without a door,[291] however by 1598 it was well cared after.[292] Due to its location in the middle of a cemetery, it was visited by lots of people, especially on Saturdays, when a mass was also occasionally said.[293] By the passage of years the proper title of the chapel became meaningless to the people, more so after 1608 when, as already alluded to, the altarpiece was replaced by a picture of Our Lady of Rosary.[294] The chapel was hence referred to either as taċ-Ċimiterju, of the cemetery,[295] or as tal-Ħniena, of Mercy.[296] Its door was blocked in 1630.[297]

The feast-day of the Assumption chapels ta' Gajdoru[298] and ta' Apap, at Wied il-Mielah,[299] were also celebrated on August 5. In the latter, two tmiem (36.37dm3) wheat baked bread were distributed.[300]

OUR LADY OF SUCCOUR - AID IN AFFLICTION

Our Lady has been for centuries invoked by people in times of affliction: her succour was especially sought for during times of plagues which were not a rare occurence four hundred years ago. Next to San Coll there was a small chapel with an altarpiece of the Immaculate Conception[301] but commonly referred to as Our Lady of Succour.[302] The chapel was already standing in 1575[303] and though nothing is known about its origin, it is not far fetched to imagine that it was built by devotees in thanksgiving of aid received during difficult times.

A mass was said in the church every Saturday[304] and the feastday was celebrated with sung Vespers and mass on December 8.[305] The further celebration of mass was forbidden in 1630.[306] Though the order was not completely adhered to,[307] it led to the slow downfall of the chapel.[308] But not of the devotion, perpetuated further on an altar in Saint Augustine Church at Rabat.[309]

OUR LADY HODIGITRIA - A DYING DEVOTION

The veneration of Our Lady of Itria was deeply rooted in Gozo. The title, an abbreviation from the Greek Hodigitria - she who shows the way - was given to a portrayal of Our Lady pointing her finger to her Son, He [p.240] who is the Way: an affirmation of the Christological dogma. The devotion must have reached Gozo from the Byzantine World through Sicily, where it was held with much esteem.[310] There were once three other chapels in her honour on the island,[311] but only one survived up to the beginning of the seventeenth century, when devotion to her was slowly gaining momentum once more.[312] This chapel was situated in the very centre of Rabat and on Saturday evenings people never ceased thronging inside to pray.[313] The feast-day was celebrated on March 25, when qubbajt, nougat, was distributed to the faithful.[314]

The already mentioned final addition to the matrice altarpiece, Our Lady with the Child, represented precisely the image of Itria.[315] This panel was added in the late 1630s. Devotion to Our Lady of Itria began waning soon afterwards and with the profanation of the chapel in 1657,[316] it slowly died out altogether.

OUR LADY OF JOYS - JUSTIFIABLE JUBILATION

The commemoration of all the seven joys of Our Lady, in remembrance of the seven most joyful moments of her life, was not that common. The chapel of Our Lady of Joys at Ramla  popularly known as tal-Ferħat or better still as ta' Gajdoru, a corruption from the Latin Gaudiorum - was in fact the only one with that title in the Maltese Archipelago.

The chapel was in all probability founded in 1453 by the first Augustinian friars who settled on the island. The friars however soon left the place which was too close to the coast and established themselves near it-Tomba at Rabat. The chapel however was not abandoned for devotees continued to look after its needs.[317] Someone had even bequeathed property for the solemnization of the feast-day, celebrated on the occasion of 'Mary's most joyful and ecstatic moment - her Assumption into heaven body and soul.[318]

In 1575, the chapel was in a very poor condition,[319] however it was restored in 1608 and a stucco on wood panel portraying Our Lady of Joys hung on the altar.[320] By 1615, the original altarpiece was replaced by an exceptionally beautiful[321] oil on canvas painting representing the Assumption.[322]

The celebration of the feast-day had by then became very popular and so as not to coincide with the one at the matrice, it was from 1635 celebrated on August 5.[323] The chapel reached its zenith the following decade[324] but then it began to decline as well. It was profaned in 1657[325] - but its title remains in the name of the region which it once dominated.

OUR LADY OF SORROWS - SOLACE IN SORROW

The commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of Mary was, on the other hand, quite common. During the 1618 pastoral visit, the bishop noted a tiny chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Piety, situated, very probably, in the vici-[p.241]-nity of San Ġorġ.[326] Little else is known about it, yet the chapel denotes the beginning of the devotion to the sorrowful mother of Jesus. The commemoration, which began to be celebrated in the Western world around 1423, did not gain much ground at first.

It was inflamed again some years afterwards by the Governor of Gozo Francisco Salinas (1647-49). In 1644, bishop Balaguer had decreed the renewal of the Nativity altarpiece inside the matrice.[327] Nothing was done at the time. In 1647, the Governor, who as a Castilian was a great devotee of Our Lady of Sorrows, suggested the altarpiece be replaced by a painting of Our Lady de Solidad which he had brought with him from Castile.[328] The offer was accepted and the devotional picture of Our Lady of Solitude[329] or of the Seven Sorrows soon struck at the hearts of the people.[330] On September 24, 1649, the Grandmaster conceded to the Universitá, the government of Gozo, to provide for the daily burning of two lamps in front of Our Lady.[331] On the Fridays of March, the Chapter sung the Stabat Mater Dolorosa in her chapel.[332] After 1727, the feast was celebrated on the Friday after Passion Sunday.

When the new matrice was finished in 1711, the picture was hung in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. On November 7, 1751, Bishop Paolo Aipheran de Bussan erected in there the Sodality of Christian Doctrine and placed it under the patronship of Our Lady of Solitude.[333] He also chose two priests to organise a collection among the Gozitans in order to provide the chapel with a marble altar.[334]

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows had in the meantime got rooted in the chapel of Saint James, ideally situated at it-Tokk, Gozo main square. Since 1742, an oval painting of Our Lady of Sorrows had been placed beneath the main altarpiece.[335] The offerings of devotees were never wanting and around 1780 the priest in charge brought a small statue of Our Lady of Sorrows.[336] This immediately caught the imagination of the faithful. Several of them, including 'many professionals, met together and decided to petition the erection of a confraternity. Bishop Vincenzo Labini granted their request on February 2, 1788.[337] Since then devotion increased by the passage of years and was still much alive in 1980, when through a chain of human errors, the chapel had to be brought down.

Due probably to its concentration in the chapel of Saint James, the devotion did not spread to other parishes. In fact, by 1800, none of them had a picture of Our Lady of Sorrows.

OUR LADY RETURNING FROM EGYPT - THE JOYFUL JOURNEY

A very particular devotion was proffered to Our Lady by the people on Camino. Since 1716 the chapel had been dedicated to a very joyful moment in her life - her safe return from Egypt to her hometown in Nazareth. The [p.242] feast-day was celebrated on January 7 through the devotion of the few islanders living there.[338]

It is interesting to note that the altarpiece of the chapel of Saint Joseph within the Castello represented Our Lady and Saint Joseph fleeing with Baby Jesus to Egypt.[339] Yet it was Saint Joseph who was especially venerated inside this chapel.

OUR LADY OF LIGHT - BRIEF BRIGHTNESS

Devotion to Our Lady of Light was inflamed among the Gozitans by some Jesuit Fathers during a popular mission in the 1720s. The devotion appealed especially to the folk at Rabat, where in 1730, they raised a chapel

Francesco Zahra, Our Lady of Light (1760c), Collegiate Basilica, Xagħra, Gozo

Photo: J. Camilleri/J. Refalo Rapa

[p.243] in her honour next to San Ġorġ on the site of the former chapel of Our Lady Hodigitria.[340] In 1731, Basilio Grima set aside some property for the celebration of the feast-day[341] which took place on March 19.[342] Saint Joseph was in fact pictured prominently in the altarpiece. The chapel, situated in the middle of the Rabat suq, market, was continually visited by the people.

A picture of Our Lady of Light quickly found a place in all the village parish churches: in Xewkija as a small painting above the altar of Our Lady of Rosary;[343] in Għarb as the central figure in an altarpiece which portrayed several other saints;[344] in Xagħra between two other images beneath the altarpiece of Saint Lawrence;[345] in Nadur underneath the altar-piece of the Immaculate Conception;[346] in Żebbuġ under the altarpiece of Saint Francis Xavier[347] and in Sannat above the alterpiece of Saint Paul.[348]

The devotion to Our Lady of Light though rather intense for some years was quite brief and by the end of the eighteenth century it was already in decline.

PATRONAGE OF OUR LADY - GUARANTEED GUARDIANSHIP

The feast of the Patronage of Our Lady was founded in 1656 by the former Inquisitor of Malta and Gozo, Pope Alexander VII after being petitioned by King Philip IV of Spain. The feast was extended to the whole church by Pope Benedict XIII (1724-30) and its devotion was introduced in Gozo soon afterwards.

Fully knowing that the protection of Our Lady is never ending, the faithful have always sought refuge under her mantle. This is the message that Francesco Zahra wanted to convey through the very impressive altar-piece of the chapel tal-Patroċinju at Wied il-Għasri. Built between 1737 and 1739, it was blessed on May 8 of that year.[349] It immediately attracted devotees from all over the island, especially on the feast-day, celebrated on the second Sunday in November.[350]

The chapel of the Patronage soon proved too small for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood and the many devotees. So it was razed to the ground, built on a larger scale and blessed again on October 5, 1754.[351] The devotion of the people did not abate. On May 10, 1789, during his pastoral visit to Gozo, Bishop Vincenzo Labini solemnly consecrated the chapel,[352] becoming thus the only consecrated countryside chapel on the island. Many masses were celebrated inside.[353] The chapel still stands as a witness to the guardianship proffered by Our Lady throughout the years.

OUR LADY OF CHARITY - OUR MUNIFICENT MOTHER

This title probably proceeds from the belief of the people in the munificence of Our Lady towards souls in purgatory and the poor. Our Lady of Charity was venerated on the altar of Saint Lazarus in San Ġorġ. Around 1619 an artistic alabaster bust of Our Lady with the Child was placed upon [p.244] this altar,[354] upon which the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and Charity were founded around the same tirne.[355] Devotion of the people fluctuated between Our Lady[356] and Saint Lazarus[357] and it was the latter that eventually dominated.[358] The feast-day of Our Lady of Charity was celebrated on August 15.[359]

The alabaster bust was placed in the same place and upon the same altar in the new parish church built after 1672.[360] The devotion had by then abated - yet the title remains to this day in the name of a narrow street running on the left of San Ġorġ.

OUR LADY OF HOPE - TRUST IN TRIALS

Our Lady of Hope was the title conferred by the people of Għarb.[361] to a figure of Mary appearing in the altarpiece of Saint Nicholas of Bari.[362] The title may have been transferred to Our Lady from the several merciful acts attributed to Saint Nicholas when he was bishop of Myra in Lycia - acts which brought hope and trust where they were utterly wanting.

OUR LADY OF MERCY THE MEFRCIFUL MOTHER

Our Lady of Mercy was venerated in the chapel of Saint Bartholomeus, Xewkija. The devotion knows its origin to parish priest Don Pietro Aquilina who introduced it through a new altarpiece in the said chapel soon after his election in 1735.[363] The altarpiece, painted by Gio-Nikol Buhagiar and paid for by Horatio Gilestri,[364] pictured Saint Bartholomeus interceding with Our Lady, who dominated the painting, on behalf of souls in purgatory portrayed in the lower part.[365]

Our Lady of Mercy was thus another version of that iconography related to Our Lady of Rosary and the Souls. The chapel of Saint Bartholomeus stands to this day and is now simply known as tal-Ħniena, of Our Lady of Mercy.

THE NAME OF MARY - HALLOWED HERITAGE

The celebration of the feast of the name of Mary was another Marian devotion introduced on the island during the eighteenth century. This feast was extended to the universal church by Pope Innocent XI on July 17, 1683. In Gozo it was probably launched from San Ġorġ where in 1715 an altar was raised in honour of the names of Jesus and Mary. The Confraternity of Jesus and Mary was contemporaneously founded on the same altar.[366] Members solemnised the feast of the name of Mary on the Sunday following the commemoration of her Nativity.[367] The feast was also celebrated in the just mentioned chapel of Saint Bartholomew from 1752 onwards.[368] This was made possible through the efforts of parish priest Don Pietro Aquilina and the offerings of a certain Gio-Maria Magro.[369]

THE PRESENTATION OF OUR LADY - GIFT TO GOD

The commemoration of the Presentation of Our Lady in the temple, [p.245] held in the East from time immemorial on November 21, was introduced in the West by Pope Gregory XI in 1372. The feast. was seemingly celebrated in the Assumption chapel at il-Qortin, for in 1630 it was reported that the only mass held there during the whole year was said precisely on November 21.[370] The event was also commemorated by a small picture beneath the altar-piece of Our Lady of Graces at Żebbuġ.[371]

It must be noted in conclusion that the very old feast of the Purification of Our Lady - also known as of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple and locally as il-Gandlora - was not iconographically represented in Gozo. The feast was nonetheless celebrated in all parish churches.[372]

THE RELICS OF OUR LADY

At the close of this section, it is interesting to enumerate the so-called relics of Our Lady referred to during pastoral visits. All the parishes, except San Ġorġ, were proud of a marian memorial in their reliquary. Evidently enough it is next to impossible to prove their authenticity. The commonest was a minute piece of thread from the veil of Our Lady: there was a piece at the matrice[373] as well as in the parish churches of Xewkija,[374] Għarb,[375] Xagħra,[376] Nadur.[377] and Sannat.[378] They were all enclosed in a silver theca which carried the seal of either a local[379] or a foreign bishop.[380] The Marian relic at Żebbuġ consisted of a fragment from the tomb of Our Lady - this was authenticated by Francesco Rivera, titular bishop of Cittá Ducale.[381]


[1] Confer chart on pp. 247-248.

[2] The altarpiece now (1983) hangs in the Cathedral Museum, Gozo. For comparision with contemporary iconography of GABRIELE M. ROSCHINI, Dizionario di Mariologia. Roma 1961, 69.

[3] CONSTANTINUS TISCHENDORF, Apocalypses Apocryphae Moysis, Esdrae, Pauli, loannis, item Dormitio Mariae, Leipzig 1866, 113-123.

[4] AAM, VP 1592, 50v. AEG, VP 1608, 1v.

[5] AEG, VP 1615, 2r.

[6] AEG, VP 1644, 2r.

[7] AEG, VP 1615, 34v.

[8] Ibid., 33r.

[9] Ibid., 20v.

[10] AEG, VP 1644, 29r; At No 29.

[11] AEG, VP 1615, 41r.

[12] AEG, VP 1644, 17r.

[13] AEG, VP 1615, 35r.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., 16r.

[16] Ibid., 28v.

[17] Ibid., 39v.

[18] AEG, VP 1630, 35r.

[19] AAM,1758-60 II, 724v.

[20] As at Għajn Xejba, of AEG, VP 1615, 46v.

[21] AEG, VP 1630, 44r. VP 1644, 12r.

[22] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 603 fn: AEG, Miscellanea, Relazione delle Chiese the vi sono in tutta l'Isola del Gozo (c. 1678), lv-2r; also AEG, VP 1663, 43r-44r.

[23] Rabat, Gozo, ARCHIVES OF THE FRANCISCAN CONVENTUALS, Cabreum sive Inventa rium omnium et singulorum bonorum, towards the end.

[24] For example, RECORD OFFICE MALTA, Blue Books (1831) 62-63.

[25] VP 1545 quoted by DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 655.

[26] PLG, VA 1575, 271.

[27] AEG, VP, 1615, 25r.

[28] AEG, VP 1630, 33r.

[29] AAM, Suppliche 1(1668-84), 568v‑569v.

[30] AAM, VP 1723, 665r.

[31] AAM, VP 1736-40, 673r.

[32] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 672r.

[33] PLG, VA 1575, 269.

[34] AEG, VP 1615, 34v.

[35] PLG, VA 1575, 269.

[36] AEG, VP 1608, 14r; VP 1615, 34v.

[37] AEG, VP 1630, 46v.

[38] AEG, VP 1657, 15v.

[39] PLG, VA 1575, 273

[40] AAM, VP 1598, 169r.

[41] PLG, VA 1575, 271.

[42] Ibid., AEG, VP 1615, 42r-v.

[43] AEG, VP 1630, 40r.

[44] AEG, VP 1657, 16r.

[45] INDRI DE BENIAMIN, Acts, 19 May 1446, quoted by DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 691.

[46] AEG, VP 1615, 26r.

[47] AEG, VP 1630, 31r.

[48] AEG, VP 1657, 12r.

[49] AAM, VP 1598, 166r-v.

[50] AEG, VP 1608, 13v.

[51] AAM, VP 1598, 166v.

[52] AEG, VP 1615, 31v.

[53] AEG, VP 1608, 10v.

[54] Idem.

[55] AEG, VP 1615, 28r-v.

[56] AEG, VP 1630, 36r.

[57] AEG, VP 1657, 13v.

[58] AEG, VP 1608, 11r.

[59] Idem.

[60] Idem.

[61] AEG, VP 1615, 22r.

[62] AEG, VP 1608, 13v.

[63] AEG, VP 1615, 43r.

[64] AEG, VP 1630, 43r.

[65] AEG, VP 1657, 17r.

[66] AEG, VP 1608, 16r.

[67] AEG, VP 1615, 20v.

[68] AEG, VP 1630, 28v.

[69] AEG, VP 1615, 29v.

[70] Idem.

[71] AEG, VP 1621, 33r; VP 1630, 36v.

[72] AEG, VP 1644, 21r.

[73] AAM, VP 1736-40, 662r-v.

[74] AEG, VP 1615, 32v-33r.

[75] AEG, VP 1630, 37v.

[76] PLG, VA 1575, 270.

[77] AEG, VP 1621, 38r.

[78] PLG, VA 1575, 269.

[79] AEG, VP 1615, 40v-41r.

[80] AEG, VP 1630, 42v.

[81] AEG, VP 1654, 16v.

[82] AEG, VP 1621, 26v.

[83] AEG, VP 1630, 28v.

[84] PLG, VA 1575, 267.

[85] AEG, VP 1621, 41r.

[86] AEG, VP 1630, 38r.

[87] Ibid., 34v-35r.

[88] Ibid., 35r.

[89] Ibid., 34v note in margin.

[90] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 641.

[91] PLG, VA 1575, 265.

[92] Idem.

[93] AAM,VP 1598, 163v.

[94] Idem.

[95] AEG, VP 1615, 9v.

[96] AEG, VP 1663, 15v.

[97] Idem.

[98] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 641.

[99] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 653r.

[100] AAM, VP 1592, 50v-51r.

[101] AEG, VP 1615, 4v.

[102] AAM, VP 1598, 150v.

[103] Idem; AEG, VP 1608, 2r.

[104] Idem.

[105] AEG, VP 1630, 7v.

[106] AEG, VP 1654, 2r.

[107] AEG, VP 1663, 3v.

[108] AAM, VP 1598, 162r.

[109] AEG, VP 1615, 27v,

[110] AEG, VP 1630, 33r.

[111] PLG, VA 1575, 272.

[112] AEG, VP 1644, 19v.

[113] Reference to chapel No 14.

[114] AEG,VP 1615, 32v.

[115] AEG, VP 1630, 45v.

[116] Idem.

[117] AEG, VP 1644, 15v.

[118] AEG, VP 1615, 44v.

[119] AEG, VP 1657, 17r.

[120] AEG, VP 1615, 44r.

[121] AEG, VP 1644, 15v.

[122] AEG, VP 1630, 39r.

[123] AEG, VP 1657, 17r.

[124] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 675v.

[125] NAM, R 399/7, 289r.

[126] CEM, Regesta Acta Originalia, 1541-56, 237r-241v.

[127] PLG, VA 1575, 203.

[128] Idem.

[129] AAM, VP 1598, 163r. AEG, VP 1608, 7r.

[130] AEG, VP 1615, 13v-14r.

[131] AEG, VP 1630, 22r.

[132] AEG, VP 1663, 7v-8r.

[133] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 649v.

[134] AEG, VP 1630, 22v.

[135] AAM, VP 1781, 121v.

[136] PINUS SALIBA, Acts, 21 Aug 1494, quoted in NAM, R 399/7,259v.

[137] GODFREY WETTINGER, Il-Ġrajja Bikrija tal-Knisja Matriċi ta' Għawdex, 1435-1551, Malta 1975, 9.

[138] PLG, VA 1575, 195.

[139] AAM, VP 1598, 153r.

[140] AEG, VP 1608, 3r.

[141] AEG, VP 1615, 7v.

[142] AEG, VP 1621, 8r.

[143] AEG, VP 1644, 3r.

[144] AEG, VP, 1657, 4r.

[145] Cf infra.

[146] PLG, VA 1575, 273.

[147] AEG, VP 1608, 12v.

[148] AEG, VP 1615, 29r.

[149] AEG, VP 1657, 13v.

[150] Idem.

[151] AEG, VP 1615, 28v.

[152] AEG, VP 1630, 25v.

[153] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 680r-v.

[154] JULIAN REFALO RAPA, The Xagħra Monumental Church, Gozo 1969, 13-15.

[155] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 630.

[156] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 644v.

[157] AAM, VP 1598, 158r; AEG, VP 1608, 11r.

[158] AAM,VP 1598, 158r.

[159] PLG, VA 1575, 272.

[160] AAM, VP 1598, 158r.

[161] AEG, VP 1608, 10r.

[162] AEG, VP 1621, 43v.

[163] AEG, VP 1630, 47v.

[164] Ibid., 14r.

[165] Ibid., 15r.

[166] PLG, VA 1575, 273.

[167] AEG, VP 1608, 11r.

[168] AEG, VP 1615, 22v.

[169] AEG, VP 1630, 31r.

[170] AEG, VP 1615, 22v.

[171] AEG, VP 1657, 12v.

[172] AEG, VP 1663, 16r.

[173] ACM, Acta Originalia, 11, 229r-v.

[174] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 667r.

[175] Ibid., 668v.

[176] AEG, VP 1615, 22r; VP 1630, 29v. Reference to No 19.

[177] AEG, VP 1634, 7r.

[178] AEG, VP 1615, 36v-37r.

[179] AEG, VP 1657, 17v.

[180] AEG, VP 1615, 36v.

[181] AEG, VP 1657, 17v.

[182] GULIERMO SANSONE, Acts, 22 Apr 1533, quoted by DE SOLDANIS, 697.

[183] AEG, VP 1621, 38v.

[184] AEG, VP 1644, 21v. That the heap of stones was this chapel is inferred from DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 697.

[185] AEG, VP 1644, 22v; VP 1657, 15r.

[186] AEG, VP 1630, 43v.

[187] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 748,

[188] PLG, VA 1575, 270.

[189] AEG, VP 1615, 38v.

[190] Ibid., 39r.

[191] Idem.

[192] AEG, VP 1630, 43v.

[193] Idem; VP 1634, 16v.

[194] AEG, VP 1630, 43v; VP 1634, 16v.

[195] Idem.

[196] AEG, VP 1630. 43v-44r; VP 1644. 27r-28r; VP 1663, 19v-20r.

[197] AEG, VP 1630, 44r.

[198] Idem.

[199] AEG, VP 1657, 17v.

[200] AAM, VP 1760, 688v.

[201] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 775-776.

[202] AEG, VP 1630, 27v.

[203] AEG, VP 1634, 4r.

[204] AEG, VP 1644, 14r.

[205] AEG, VP 1657, 15r.

[206] Idem.

[207] AEG, VP 1663, 19r.

[208] AAM, VP 1781, 175v-176r,

[209] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 644r.

[210] Ibid., 675r.

[211] Ibid., 681r.

[212] Ibid., 686r.

[213] Ibid., 656v.

[214] Idem.

[215] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 675-676.

[216] Ibid., 676.

[217] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 656v,

[218] Ibid., 672v.

[219] Ibid., 652r.

[220] ANTONIO CASSAR, Acts 1577-79. NAM, R 160/17, 10r-l1r.

[221] AAM, VP 1592. 54v.

[222] Idem; AAM, VP 1598, 151r-v.

[223] TOMASO GAUCI, Acts 1695 quoted in AAM, VP 1598, 151r.

[224] Idem; AAM, VP 1608, 3v.

[225] AEG, VP 1615, 5r.

[226] AEG, VP 1644, 3v.

[227] AEG, VP 1630, 7v.

[228] Ibid., 9v.

[229] Ibid., 11r.

[230] AEG, VP 1663, 36r-v.

[231] Idem.

[232] Ibid., 36v.

[233] AEG, VP 1508, 8r; VP 1615, 13r.

[234] AEG, VP 1630, 23r.

[235] AEG, VP 1621, 17r.

[236] AEG, VP 1630, 50r,

[237] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 646.

[238] AAM, Suppliche 2 1686-1706, 34r-v.

[239] Ibid., 62v-63r.

[240] Ibid., 432r-434r.

[241] AAM, VP 1758-GO 77. 657v.

[242] AAM, Suppliche 4 (1714-41/1), 59r-62v.

[243] AAM, Suppliche 10 (1776-85), 606v-608r.

[244] AAM, VP 1758-60 II. 675v.

[245] Ibid., 669r.

[246] Idem.

[247] AAM, Suppliche 3 (1710-21). 494r.

[248] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 680v.

[249] Idem.

[250] Idem.

[251] REFALO RAPA, op. cit., 16.

[252] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 686r.

[253] Idem.

[254] AAM, Suppliche 4 (1714-41/1), 90v-91r.

[255] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 657v.

[256] AAM, Suppliche 4 (1714-41/I), 85v-86r.

[257] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 657v.

[258] Idem.

[259] Ibid., 636r.

[260] Idem.

[261] Ibid., 716r-721v passim.

[262] Ibid., 716v. 717v.

[263] Ibid., 721v.

[264] AEG, VP 1608, 10r.

[265] AAM, VP 1598, 157v.

[266] AEG, VP 1608, 10r.

[267] AEG. VP 1615, 35v.

[268] Cf DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 741.

[269] AEG, VP 1615, 35v.

[270] AEG, VP 1630, 38v.

[271] AEG, VP 1657, 14v.

[272] AEG, VP 1615, 36r.

[273] AEG. Misc, Relazione delle Chiese, 15r.

[274] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 742.

[275] Ibid., 743.

[276] Ibid.. 743-744.

[277] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 727v.

[278] AEG, VP 1663, 10v.

[279] AEG, VP 1644, 6v.

[280] Idem.

[281] AEG, VP 1678, 66r.

[282] AEG, VP 1663, 10v.

[283] AEG, VP 1644, 6v-7r; VP 1663, 10v; AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 643r.

[284] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 669r.

[285] Ibid., 686r.

[286] Ibid., 636r.

[287] Ibid., 657v.

[288] Ibid., 645r.

[289] Ibid., 675r.

[290] Ibid., 680v.

[291] PLG, VA 1575, 201.

[292] AAM, VP 1598, 160v.

[293] Idem.

[294] AEG, VP 1608, 8r.

[295] AEG, VP 1615, 13r.

[296] AEG, VP 1630, 23r.

[297] Idem.

[298] AEG, VP 1634. 26r.

[299] AEG, 1630, 34v.

[300] Ibid., 35r.

[301] AEG, VP 1608, 8r.

[302] AAM, VP 1598, 160r.

[303] PLG, VA 1575, 200.

[304] AEG, VP 1615, 16v.

[305] Idem; AAM, VP 1598, 160r.

[306] AEG, VP 1630, 51r.

[307] AEG, VP 1644, 7r.

[308] AEG, VP 1657, 8r.

[309] Ibid., 9r.

[310] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 697 fn.

[311] Ibid., 701.

[312] AAM, VP 1598, 160r.

[313] AEG. VP 1615, 16v.

[314] PINU SALIBA, Acts, 7 May 1515, quoted by DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 700.

[315] AEG, VP 1644, 2r.

[316] AEG, VP 1657, 8r.

[317] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 707, 710 quoting BONAVENTURA ATTARDI, Il Monachismo in Sicilia196.

[318] PLG, VA 1575, 271.

[319] Ibid., 271-272.

[320] AEG, VP 1608, 13v.

[321] AEG, VP 1657, 15v.

[322] AEG, VP 1615, 33v.

[323] AEG, VP 1634, 15v.

[324] AEG, VP 1644, 26r.

[325] AEG, VP 1657, 15v.

[326]

[327] AEG, VP 1644, 3r.

[328] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 606.

[329] The original was eventually replaced and set in a niche under the archway leading to the Castello where it hung until the 1950s. One day it was removed for restoration and vanished in a private collection. A poor copy, 144v-158r. with the original 1559 date, now hangs instead.

[330] AEG, VP 1657, 4r.

[331] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 606 fn.

[332] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 630v.

[333] Idem.

[334] Idem.

[335] Ibid., 650r.

[336] AAM, VP 1781, 122v.

[337] AAM, Suppliche 11 (1786-94),

[338] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 626v.

[339] AEG, VP 1678, 61v.

[340] Cf DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 638.

[341] GANFRANGISK DEBONO, Acts, 1 Oct 1731. 4 Nov 1731, quoted by DE SOLDANIS, 640.

[342] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 650v.

[343] Ibid., 675v.

[344] Ibid., 669v.

[345] Ibid., 681r.

[346] Ibid., 686r.

[347] Ibid., 657r.

[348] Ibid., 637r.

[349] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 653v.

[350] Ibid., 654r.

[351] Idem.

[352] AAM, VP 1789, 41v-42r.

[353] Idem.

[354] AEG, VP 1621, 15v.

[355] Idem.

[356] AEG, VP 1630, 49v-50r.

[357] AEG, VP 1644, 6r.

[358] AEG, VP 1663, 10v.

[359] AEG, VP 1630, 50r; VP 1663, 11r.

[360] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 644v.

[361] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 653.

[362] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 669v.

[363] Ibid., 677v-678r.

[364] Ibid., 678r.

[365] Idem.

[366] DE SOLDANIS, op. cit., 629.

[367] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 642v.

[368] Ibid., 678r.

[369] Idem.

[370] AEG, VP 1630, 40r.

[371] AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 657v.

[372] This is clear from the many foundation of masses on the seven feasts of Our Lady, one of which was that of the Purification. Cf, for example, AAM, VP 1758-60 II, 721v.

[373] Ibid., 629r.

[374] Ibid., 677r.

[375] Ibid., 670v.

[376] Ibid., 681r.

[377] Ibid., 686r.

[378] Ibid., 636r.

[379] Ibid., 629r.

[380] Ibid., 681r.

[381] Ibid., 656r.