[p.312]

Hermenegildus Grech, Our Lady of Consolation (1786), St Augustine's Church, Valletta

Photo: Joseph A. Vella,
F.R.F.S., A.F.I.A.B.

[p.313] Henry Schembri

THE AUGUSTINIAN FRIARS AND DEVOTIONS TO OUR LADY IN THE MALTESE ISLANDS[*]

Marian devotion within the Augustinian Order is deeply rooted and consequently after settling down in Malta they fostered it with enthusiasm. This brief study is limited to a very short analysis of certain aspects of this devotional life, thereby, it is hoped, a panoramic view, detailing the activity of the Augustinians in proclaiming various titles honouring the Blessed Virgin, will result. It is all too obvious that this study is limited to the two centuries under consideration, namely the 17th and 18th centuries.[1]

OUR LADY OF CONSOLATION

It is worth pointing out that, in Augustinian churches, the devotion to Our Lady of Consolation is closely related to another Marian title, namely the 'Madonna del Soccorso', which was indeed rather popular during the 16th century. From a petition sent by the Augustinians to the local Bishop, Fra Paolo Alpheran de Bussan in 1754, it may be inferred that the title of Our Lady of Consolation had also been in use many years before.[2]

The confraternity of St Monica and the confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation, although they may appear to be two different bodies, they form, in fact, one confraternity. They used, however, different names on various occasions.[3]

A papal brief, given by Pope Benedict XIV on the 10th May 1743, granted to the Augustinian Order, through its Father Prior General, the faculty of giving the Papal Blessing on certain feasts. The feast of Our Lady of Consolation was included among them, whenever it was celebrated in Augustinian churches.[4]

The same Pope, requested by the Prior General, Fr Agostino Gioia, granted on the 7th February 1749 the right of one privileged perpetual altar to all Augustinian churches.[5]

After these preliminary remarks, one may now proceed to examine and find out to what extent the devotion of Our Lady of Consolation spread it-self in the local Augustinian churches.

[p.314] THE ALTAR OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Pope Alexander VII in a Brief dated 25th June 1660, granted the right of a privileged altar for seven years to the Augustinians at Rabat, assigning this concession to the 'Madonna, del Soccorso' altar on condition that fourteen masses had to be celebrated daily in this same church. This privilege was also available to priests, on condition that they celebrated the mass for the dead on this altar on the day of the Commemoration of the Departed, i.e. 2nd November, and on its Octave. as well as on each Monday and Friday of the week.[6]

On the 25th September 1688, Pope Innocent XI elevated the same altar to a privileged one, granting an Indulgence to the souls in Purgatory, on condition that fourteen masses were to be said daily.[7]

During the following century, namely, on the 13th April 1749, the Bishop of Malta, Fra Paolo Alpheran de Bussan, requested by the Prior of the Rabat community, established the same altar as perpetually privileged in virtue of the special concessions that had been granted to the Augustinian Order by Pope Benedict XIV.[8]

In the meantime, the maintenance of this altar had, all the time, been properly looked after. As early as 1639, eighteen tart were paid, during April, to Mastro Fantino for panelling the altar of Our Lady.[9]

The Prior of Rabat, Fr M.ro Giovanni Agostino Sapiano manifested to his confreres a desire to show, in a tangible way, his great devotion to Our Lady. It was agreed by the Chapter Fathers on the 14th December 1677, to empower him to set up a new altar to Our Lady 'del Soccorso' at his own expense. Apart from this altar, store pillars and other ornaments were also added as well as other decorations. In token of gratitude, the Chapter Fathers decreed to have one thousand masses said for the souls of Fr Sapiano's relatives. They had left all their family's wealth to the convent.[10]

THE CHAPEL

This chapel had a venerated picture of Our Lady, which had been brought from Attard in August 1637. The present painting is the work of Stefano Erardi. On January 1642, Mastro Alberto received one onza and twenty four tarý for repainting part of this chapel.[11]

Many looked upon it as a place of spiritual solace and refuge. Many used to visit this place to ask for spiritual and material favours. Francesco Agius, on the 17th November 1716, willed to be buried in the above-mentioned chapel of Our Lady of the Consolation.[12]

POPULAR DEVOTION

The devotion of the faithful towards Our Lady 'del Soccorso' is testified by the fact that various persons bequeathed donations for its main-[p.315]-tenance. Fr Giuseppe Zammit in his 'Cabreo' mentions a vast number of these bequests from the first decades of the 17th century onwards.[13]

Throughout the 18th century, on many instances, persons from different places, especially from the nearby villages of Attard, Siġġiewi and Żebbuġ, used to have their investiture as members of the Third Order or Cinturati and later make their solemn profession on the altar of Our Lady of Consolation.[14]

SATURDAY FUNCTION

The faithful used to assist in church for the singing of the Litany of Our Lady and the Salve Regina every Saturday. On the 31st May 1628, Pope Urban VIII granted 100 days Indulgence to the faithful who attended such service in the church of St Mark at Rabat.[15]

A decree issued by the Provincial Fr Mro Fulgentius (Adernionete) to the Rabat Priory, gives the following description as regards the devotion shown on every Saturday.

This implies that before his visit, which occurred on the 30th June 1633, there was already a customary procession. He said that as from that day onwards the service was to proceed as follows. Every Saturday in the afternoon all the Friars gathered in the choir. were to walk processionally in twos with candles in their hands singing the Salve Regina accompanied by the playing of the organ. This procession, passing through the middle of the church, ended at the altar of the 'Madonna del Soccorso'. Here all the Friars were to kneel down and, together with those who would have remained to sing in the choir, would chant the Litany of Our Lady with the usual prayers. They had to wear the white habit and afterwards proceed through the door which led to the priory.[16] They used to buy appropriate candles for such occasions, at least, as from the beginning of the 17th century.[17]

This service was given special mention during the visits of the Provincials Fr Antonino de Vita on the 6th June 1751;[18] Fr Mro J. Alberto Petralia on the 24th August 1754;[19] and three years later on the 23rd August 1757, Fr Mro Agostino Cacopardi wrote a letter on the same subject, which was read to the community on the 25th September 1757.[20]

THE CONFRATERNITY

On the 1st December 1722 the Prior General of the Augustinian Order Fr Thomas Cervioni issued the Decree for the erection of the confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation in the church of St Mark, run by the Augustinians at Rabat. Among other things, he stated that he had issued this decree after being duly informed about the wishes of the faithful. This Confraternity "Cincturatorum et Cincturatarum Sanctae Matris Monicae" [p.316] was to be incorporated with "Archiconfraterniate Cincturatarum S. P. Augustini et S. M. Monicae sub invocatione Sanctae Mariae Virgins de Consolatione" of Bologna.[21] He gave certain powers to the local Prior and his successors, such as the blessing of the girdles. The Prior of Rabat had also the faculty to delegate other Augustinian priests to exercise the same power.[22] One of the conditions laid down required that no other such confraternity could exist either at Rabat or in any other place less than three miles away. Since a similar confraternity was already in existence at Mosta parish church, the Prior General, to eliminate any problems that could eventually arise, decreed that it would be wiser to give a dispensation with regards to this distance condition. On the 24th June 1723 the Prior General Fr Thomas Cervieni issued this letter of dispensation.

By this time the custom of asking for the final blessing before death in the name of Our Lady of Consolation was very popular. The Provincial Fr Antoninus de Vita, during his canonical visitation at the Rabat priory held on the 5th August 1752. was very strict about Friars leaving the house unaccompanied or after a certain hour of the day. He was, however, reasonable enough to allow the Procurator and the Guardian of the Confraternity to leave the premises and give this absolution at any time. If they were unable to do so, the local Prior was to take their place.[23]

THE PROCESSION QUESTION

The Very Rev. Archpirest of the Cathedral (Mdina), Canon Clemente Cuschieri, prohibited the Augustinians from holding the procession of Our Lady of Consolation in the limits of the parish of St Paul Outside the Walls, because Rabat at that time was under his jurisdiction The procession question had the following development.

Fr Mro Francesco M. Querni, Procurator General of the Order, informed the Prior of Rabat in a letter from Rome sent on the 10th August 1714, that the Augustinian community had earned the right to hold this procession.[24] Notwithstanding this decision from Rome, the Archpriest remained firm in his refusal.

On the 25th June 1715 the Augustinians of Rabat authorized Fr Mro Francesco M. Querni to institute legal proceedings in the Ro{man Court against the resolution of the Archpriest of the Cathedral.[25]

On the 30th September 1716 a sentence, supposed to be the final verdict, was issued from Rome in favour of the Augustinians, on condition that, first, they had to ask for permission, but to proceed just the same, even if permission was not granted. The procession was to be held on Sunday following the feast of St Augustine.[26]

[p.317] Fr Querni,[27] on the 10th October 1716, wrote from Rome to the Prior of Rabat Fr Mro Vella to enquire it the procession had taken place without any interference.[28]

However, the Archpriest Cuschieri gave rise to the question again be-cause by a Decree, signed by A.C. Cincio. The Roman Court on the 13th August 1719 reiterated a sentence in favour of the Augustinians, adding among other things that the Friars had been holding the procession in a calm, peaceful and devotional way.[29]

Don Clemente Cuschieri continued to hammer on the same point against the said procession. This time Cardinal Nicola Spinola himself interfered, and on the 6th July 1726 wrote to the Augustinians giving them permission to hold the procession of Our Lady of Consolation even if the Archpriest objected.[30]

INSTRUCTION AND FUNCTION FOR THE MEMBERS
OF THE CONFRATERNITY

On every fourth Sunday of each month the members of the confraternity used to attend for the conventual mass. A sermon was delivered to instruct them about their commitments. After the mass a procession inside the church took place. The members and the Friars left the high altar singing the Marian hymn "Ave Maris Stella". On arriving at the altar of Our Lady of Consolation, they sang the Salve Regina and recited other prayers as well.

During the priorate of Fr Mro Giulio Magri it was felt necessary to order new vestments for the main altar and for the function held in honour our Our Lady of 'Consolation every fourth Sunday, commonly known as "la Quarta". The Chapter Fathers accepted his suggestion on the 18th June 1701 giving full details about the vestments and the function itself.[31]

The Provincial Fr Antoninus de Vita on the occasion of the canonical visit on the 5th August 1752 reminded the 'Friars tnat the sermon should continue to be delivered, as was customary, by the same preacher for a period of a whole year.[32]

THE FEAST DAY DURING THE FRENCH OCCUPATION

In the year 1798 the feast of Our Lady of Consolation was to be celebrated on Sunday, 2nd September.[33] At that time, ;Malta was occupied by the French. On that day the French planned to take possession of precious objects from the oratory of St Joseph, Rabat and from the Carmelite church, Mdina.[34] The Maltese took the opportunity of the feast to gather into groups. Many people arrived at Rabat from Siġġiewi, Żebbuġ and other nearby villages. When Louis Mason, a French Commander, noticed all those people he felt suspicious, and asked them what they were doing there. They replied that they had turned up to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of [p.318] Consolation.[35] Later on quarrels and fights ensued between the French and the Maltese that led to the uprising of the latter against the former.

The internal and external celebrations of the feast could not be held that year by the Augustinians. The French Commissioner Regnaud de St Jean Angely, by a decree of the 16th June 1798, ordered the Augustinians to leave the priory and its church. They returned back to take once more possession of their house and church on the 24th December 1798 when the French had left the island.[36]

VALLETTA
THE CONFRATERNITY

Considering the similarity between the confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation and the confraternity of St Monica, it is interesting to remember that the latter was established on the 24th March 1612 by Bishop Gargallo.[37]

On the 7th June 1649 the Augustinians decided to grant to the Con-fraternity of St Monica "ovvero della Cintura" a site near their priory and church to build an oratory.[38] Later on, on the 8th May 1715 it was expressly stated that the members of Our Lady of Consolation, with the consent of the Augustinians, bound themselves to celebrate a sung mass on the first Monday of each month in the oratory for the deceased Brethren.[39]

On the 24th March 1717 the Friars granted a tomb to the members of the confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation on condition that they renewed the pavement. It was also proposed to the confraternity to carry out alterations on modern lines to the major altar of the church, thereby to make it more worthy for the services of God.[40] It seems however that the fulfillment of this proposal took place years later. On the 8th March 1785 with the consent of the community, the members of the confraternity proposed to finish the altar and the pillars which stood by its sides.[41]

With regard to the burials, other developments took place later on. As from the 1st September 1789 the Augustinians granted to the confraternity four tombs free of charge in the basement: of the new church.[42]

Among the members of the confraternity there were persons who showed direct interest in the spiritual benefit of its members and provided bequests for this purpose and for the monthly meetings of its members.[43] Among the distinguished members one meets Grand Master Fra Emanuel Pinto de Fonseca who was also its Rector.[44]

[p.319] In 1786, Hermenegildus Grech painted and signed the altar piece of Our Lady of Consolation which is still venerated on its altar at St Augustine's church, Valletta.

CINTURATES - CARMELITE QUESTION

In the year 1656 the confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation and that of Our Lady of ,Mount Carmel established in the Augustinian and Carmelite churches at Valletta respectively, involved the Bishop's Curia in Malta about a question of precedence between them. The Curia in 1663 decided that they were to take precedence over each other every alternate year. Since they were not happy with this decision, they appealed to the Metropolitan Curia of Palermo which in 1665 confirmed the sentence given by the Bishop's Curia in Malta. The Sacred Congregation of Rites, and 'Cardinal Nicola Spinola reiterated the same sentence in 1717.[45]

GOZO
PAINTING

In May 1692, Camillo Cassini painted part of the chapel of Our Lady of Consolation for which he received one onza and eighteen tarÝ.[46] The confraternity of Consolation paid six taxi for the painting of the internal pillars of the same chapel during 1694.[47]

A picture of Our Lady of Consolation, Our Lady 'del Soccorso' together with St Thomas and other works were painted by Melchiorre Witmar from Venice. He was paid for his work in October 1703.[48] The present picture, however, is the work of Tito Troia

CONFRATERNITY

The Confraternity of St Monica was established in the year 1611 on the altar of Our Lady of Consolation by the Prior Fr Bace. Antonino Attard.[49]

The members of the confraternity under the title of Our Lady of Consolation and St Monica, appealed to the Bishop, seeking his intervention to alleviate the poverty they were then facing. They petitioned him to allow them to beg alms. Since it was prohibited to do so without His Lordship's consent, they asked for this permission. They received a positive answer by the Vicar Capitular Dominic Sceherras on the 11th August 1721.[50]

From the decrees at the end of the canonical visit of the Provincial Fr Conversano on the 10th July 1781, results that it has been planned to build a marble altar in the chapel or Our Lady around the year 1724.[51]

[p.320] The confraternity catered also for the spiritual welfare of its members through instruction. Besides the annual panegyric about Our Lady, an-other sermon was also delivered on the fourth Sunday of each month while other sermons were given during the Christmas novena.[52]

PROCESSION

On the 17th February 1673, the Episcopal Court of Malta, passed a sentence in favour of the confraternity, rejecting the claim made by the con-fraternity of Charity at St George's church Rabat, Gozo, which insisted to have precedence over the confraternity of St Monica.[53]

On the 19th October 1759, the Fr Prior and the Fr Procurator asked the new Archpriest Don Giacomo Galea to give permission to the confraternity to hold the procession outside the church on the fourth Sunday of each month, as was customary during the time of the Archpriest Don Deodato Formosa. This consent was given in front of the witnesses Mastro Gio. Paolo Caruana and Giacomo Camilleri.[54]

OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL
PATRONESS AND PROTECTRESS OF THE PROVINCE

The newly elected Provincial of Sicily, Malta and Gozo, Fr Carolus Antonius M. Ficara on the 8th October 1763 declared the B.V. Mary of Good Counsel, venerated at the Augustinian church at Genazzano, to be Patroness and Protectress of the Province.[55] On the same day according to the decrees of the Provincial Chapter it was decided that her image be installed in each and every Augustinian church, and a feast celebrated on a convenient day.[56]

On the 2nd July 1773, Pope Benedict XIV by a Brief Iniunctae Nobis gave his approval to the Holy Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel and awarded indulgences.[57]

The Prior General Fr M.ro Franciscus Xaverius Vasques, on the 17th February 1781, asked the Congregation of Rites for the extension to the whole Augustinian Order of the Holy Office together with the mass in veneration of the Apparition of the Image of Our Lady of Good Counsel. This office had already been approved on the 18th December 1779. Pope Pius VI on the 18th September 1789 granted their request. This feast was to be held on the 26th April of each year "sub ritu dup. maj."[58]

RABAT

A picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel was installed below the main altar piece of Our Lady of Consolation

The Prior Fr M.ro Giuseppe M. Zammit in his desire to foster and [p.321] increase the devotion towards Our Lady of 'Good Counsel proposed to the community, on the 7th November 1755, the construction of a suitable frame for the picture ,of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The frame was to be made by Arrigo Renaud.[59] At this time many valuable things such as gold, silver and money were offered in devotion to Our Lady.[60] Many precious things were bought to embellish the altar during the feast of Our Lady, such as, decorated flowers, fine altar cloth, decorated candles, silver candlesticks, carpets and various other ornaments.[61]

Unknown 18th Century artist, Our Lady of Good Counsel, St Augustine's Church, Victoria, Gozo

Photo: F. Cremona

THE FEAST

In preparation for the feast a novena used to take place. During the canonical visit of 1755, the Provincial, Fr Pietro Giuseppe Majoli manifested his desire to establish and increase the devotion to Our Lady of Good [p.322] Counsel. Whereupon, he ordered that the seven sermons that usually used to take place on the seven 'Wednesdays preceding the feast of the Immaculate Conception be transferred to the period after Easter. Two more sermons were to be added to form thereby the novena of Our Lady of Good Counsel.[62]

Two manuscripts Esito del Buon Consiglio and Libro Bella Verpine del B.C., Introito conserved at the archives of St Augustine's Priory Rabat, give the following description of the feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

On the feast day, high mass and vespers were sung. On the 8th March 1772 the Maestro di Cappella of the Augustinian church, Don Benigno Zerafa received five scudi for the musical service he rendered.[63] As from the 28th April 1776 the church music was reinforced by "instrumenti di fiato".[64] On the following feast day, which occurred on the 18th May 1777, three singers were added.[65] To give a better image to the feast the Friars hired for the occasion, among other things, an organ apart from the usual services given by the orchestra. They paid seven tarý to the porters on the 10th June 1780.[66] In 1781 another two violinists were added to the orchestra. They were brought from Valletta and the Fr Procurator had also to pay their travelling expenses.[67] On the 29th April 1788 the Maestro di Cappella, M.ro Francesco Azzopardi, brought two musicians from Valletta;[68] while another was paid for handling the bellows during mass and vespers.[69] The custom to bring singers and musicians from Valletta continued also afterwards.

From the details given in these manuscripts, it is highly evident that, year after year, the music for the church service was well organized even during the French occupation when two feasts were celebrated, one on the 26th April 1799 and the other en the 18th May 1800. However no external feast was held during this period.

On the feast day they used to spread leaves on the floor of the church to refresh the air.[70] Moreover a sum of money was also distributed annually to the poor.[71]

From 1780 onwards priests came forward to help the community in the liturgical functions. Occasionally some Augustinian friars came also from [p.323] Valletta.[72] On other occasions secular priests were invited for the same purpose. In the same year besides two Augustinians, there were another ten priests.[73] On various occasions priests came forward to serve as deacon and subdeacon during the Triduum[74] or the Novena.[75]

Clerics also used to come to serve as accolytes and censerbearers.[76]

On various occasions preachers delivered the sermons, that is, the panegyric or novena ,out of devotion, that is, free of charge. In this respect mention should be made of the Archpriest of the Cathedral Don Thei and the Prior Fr Giuseppe Muscat. A copy of a panygeric of Our Lady of Good Counsel is still extant. Fr M.ro Vincenzo Thei OSA used to write the sermons he delivered in the Maltese language.

In his Tomo Primo, there is one about the Immaculate Conception delivered in 1792, and another one, about Our Lady of Good Counsel delivered in 1795.[77]

On the eve and on the feast day, at least as far back as 1781, special lights were used for the occasion.[78] Since 1787, Angelo Micallef and his brother Antonio used to play "il tamburro e pifera" on the feast day.[79] During the same year, fireworks displays began to take place as well.[80]

DEVOTIONAL MATERIAL

To foster greater devotion among the faithful the organizers used to distribute medals and pictures of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The Fr Procurator, on the 14th April 1778, paid five scudi for medals he brought from Rome.[81] The distribution of pictures was more popular. Year after year hundreds, even thousands of holy pictures were asked for. A number of [p.324] pictures were brought from Catania (Sicily),[82] and another quantity were even printed in Malta.[83] When they were short of pictures for distribution, the Fr Procurator used to buy the required amount from the priory of Valletta.[84]

There were cases when, out of devotion, people even asked to be buried in the chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The Rev. Don Giuseppe Bonello on the 10th December 1768 asked for a tomb for himself and his relatives. His desire was acceded to by the community.[85]

VALLETTA

The Provincial Fr Agostino Cacopardi, during his canonical visit carried out in 1758, decreed that no new images were to be placed on the altars because this practice would interfere with devotions already in existence. However he made one exception by ordering that the most prodigious image of Our Lady of Good Counsel, donated by Fr M.ro Benedetto Bonnici, had to be placed in an appropriate site to foster greater devotion.[86]

CONFRATERNITY OF GOOD COUNSEL

The Augustinians, on the 24th October 1761, petitioned the Bishop to establish in their church the confraternity of Our Lady of Good Counsel. They declared that, according to a papal brief given by Benedict XIV, the said confraternity would enjoy the Indulgences when it was canonically established by the local Bishop. The necessary decree was issued by Bishop Bartholomeo Rull on the 25th February 1762.[87]

GOZO

In less than two years after the decree of the Provincial Chapter to erect an image of Our Lady of Good Counsel in all the Augustinian churches (8th October 1763), her devotion in Gozo had already become widespread.

On the 27th May 1765, the Bishop Fra Bartholomeo Rull granted per-mission to the Fr Lector Giuseppe Dandalona, Procurator and Guardian of Our Lady of Good Counsel, to beg alms every Sunday from the streets of Gozo, to ensure the continuance of the devotion introduced in the Augustinian church in honour of Our Lady.[88] This permission was renewed also [p.325] later on. On the 9th June 1769, the Vicar Capitular of Malta, Can. Grixti granted on his own authority the permission to Fr Dandalona to continue the collection of alms in cash and in kind, whereby to defray the expenses involved in the celebration of this feast and for all other needs in connection with the Blessed Virgin of Good Counsel.[89]

It was felt necessary, that an appropriate and permanent place be found for this devotion-inspiring picture. This painting was ready in 1765. On the 9th October of that year it was brought in procession from the Collegiate Church of Gozo. All the members of the Regular and Secular clergy of Rabat participated, including the Rev. Canons who together with the Archpriest led this procession. Music and fireworks added further splendour to this event.

The V. Rev. Fr M.ro Giuseppe Lombardo, Vicar Provincial and General Visitator was also present. In preparation for such festivities the faithful attended a course of spiritual exercises preached by Fr M.ro Benedetto Bonnici, who was brought over for this purpose from Valletta by the Prior Fr Bacc. Francesco Farrugia and the Procurator Fr Giuseppe Dandalona.[90]

ALTAR

The Prior Fr Giuseppe Bonelli, at the request of Fr Dandalona, put forth to the Chapter Fathers the following suggestion which was approved on the 14th August 1767. Since the Virgin of Good Counsel had till then neither a chapel nor a fixed position of its own, and as popular devotion was so widespread that the church was too small to accommodate the multitudes of people who came to venerate the Blessed Virgin, it was high time to find a permanent site. It was therefore suggested that the picture of Our Lady be placed on the high altar, and that such altar be made of marble bought from the proceeds of her devotion. However, the ornaments (candle-sticks, flower vases, . . . ) for the time being were to remain the same as those already in use for the high altar.[91]

Sometime afterwards, the 'Custodia' of the Blessed Virgin on the high altar is also mentioned. This seems to imoly that the above mentioned proposal had been duly accepted.[92]

The design of the main altar was made by Capo Mastro Giuseppe Bonnici in 1767.[93] The work of the altar together with the Custodia of Our Lady was carried out by marble-mason Giovanni Antonio Durante from Senglea. He was given one thousand three hundred and seventy nine seudi and six tarý on the 10th January 1768.[94] The work was more expensive than expected. The Vicar Provincial Fr Giuseppe Lombardo on the 10th December 1771 exhorted the community to pay what was still due to the marble-mason and the sculptor.[95]

[p.326] THE DEVOTION AND FEAST

From the two canonical visits of Fr M.ro Giuseppe Lombardo on the 7th October 1765[96] and on the 10th December 1771,[97] and from that of the Provincial Fr Gaetano M. Garrasi on the 13th July 1778[98] the following information results.

Fr Lombardo made it clear in October 1765, that he had found the devotion already in existence, but he wanted at the same time to establish it on more solid grounds. He decreed that the Guardian Fr Dandalona was in duty bound every Sunday morning during his mass to deliver a short sermon. Later on Fr Garrasi (July 1778), to foster still further this devotion, ordered that this sermon had to deal with either the Blessed Virgin or with the day's Gospel.

Fr Lombardo decreed also that the feast had to be celebrated on the second Sunday of October. Its organisation depended on the proceeds derived from street collections.[99] The preparation for the feast included either a novena or at least a triduum, while vespers and mass with ministers were to be sung on the feast day. Fr Lombardo, during the second visit, introduced another development. Each year the feast was to be celebrated either in April or in October. However, he added that everything would take place as usual. He insisted on the spiritual preparation for the feast, suggesting that this preparation had to consist of spiritual exercises or some form of a mission. These mission days consisted of catechism and instruction on Religious Knowledge to the people. Fr Garrasi prohibited the playing of music during the days of spiritual exercises and insisted that the days of preparation should be days of religious instruction and spiritual formation.

When Fr Lombardo paid his second visit he found the devotion at its peak. Realizing the great pressure of work involved, he appointed a Vice Guardian in the person of Fr Lector Benignus Cutajar. He decreed, moreover, that the convent should keep at least two or three more Augustinian priests for the service of this Marian devotion. Since it was impossible for the house to maintain more priests, their living would be provided for from the proceeds of this devotion.

The post of Guardian of Our Lady of Good Counsel was a key position in the community of Gozo. When the Maltese Augustinian Province was established on the 30th March 1790, this Guardian was mentioned by name by the Prior General Bellesini himself. Eventually, this enactment, regarding the establishment of the Maltese Province, was withdrawn as an out-come of a decree of Grand Master de Rohan dated 27th October 1791.[100]

[p.327] PARTICULAR TITLES OF OUR LADY IN THE PROVINCE

In the Augustinian churches, the Blessed Virgin was venerated under other titles as well, although the celebrations were held on a [mere devotional level.

OUR LADY OF GRACES

The devotion of Our Lady of Graces was fostered by the Augustinians at Valletta[101] her altar served to popularize this devotion. In 1608, Anna Passera on the 25th August left a legacy of masses among which one monthly mass was to be celebrated on this altar.[102] Giovanella Zorba on the 2nd January 1609 willed that on each Monday of the week a mass was to be celebrated on the same altar.[103]

The celebration of masses on the altar of Our Lady of Grace indicated the depth of this devotion. Commandery Fra Giovanni Francesco de Puget Chiastuel on the 9th January 1612 willed that a mass be said each Saturday.[104] Girolama Tonelli on the 21st October 1633 left fifty Maltese scudi for masses to be said for the repose of her soul and that of her mother Stamata.[105] To show his gratitude towards the Augustinians for having consented that he could be buried in the chapel of Our Lady of Graces, Angelo Inguanez gave a reward to the community.

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

The feast of the Immaculate Conception was once celebrated by the Augustinians both at Valletta and at Rabat.

VALLETTA

Andreana Mallia on the 18th May 1607 left forty scudi to the Augustinians of Valletta so as to celebrate the feast of the 'Madonna del Soccorso' with the singing of first vespers and mass. The remaining income was to provide for the distribution of wine, bread and other things to the faithful present for the Vespers.[106]

It is clear, however, that this event used to take place on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. By a rescript given on the 6th December 1660, the Augustinians obtained permission from the Bishop to change the ways and means adopted to distribute the wine and food according to the wishes of Andreana Mallia. The Augustinians stated that according to an old tradition they used to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, although in brackets they added "cioe del Soccorso".[107] They said that they [p.328] used to spend a sum of money for the wine, apples, chestnuts and hazel-nuts, and distribute them during vespers. They added that since the faithful used to drink and eat everything in the church it seemed wiser from then onwards to distribute bread and wine to the poor outside the door of the church at the end of the celebration. In that way the deplorable habit would be avoided and the event would be more pleasing to God.[108] According to a legacy left by Giacomo Muscat on the 16th July 1638, the Augustinians were duly bound to celebrate the first vespers and a sung mass on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. These celebrations were to take place in the chapel of Our Lady 'del Soccorso'. Muscat wanted the Friars to bind themselves to light a candle in the same chapel on each Saturday, Sunday and feast of obligation throughout each year.[109] The legacy of Muscat refers unmistakably to the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

From available records results that the Friars mode use of the money left by Andreana Mania mainly for distributing supplies to the poor during the feast of the Immaculate Conception, while the legacy left by Muscat was kept for the church service.

RABAT

At Rabat, till 1755, sever. sermons on seven Wednesdays before the feast of the Immaculate Conception in preparation for this liturgical feast used to be delivered.[110]

OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

In 1671, the Governor of Gozo Era Carlo de Queralt erected at his own expense the altar of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in the church of St Augustine (Rabat-Gozo).[111] Its altar piece was painted by Stefano Erardi.[112]

On the 23rd February 1688 the confraternity of Our Lady of Mt Carmel was established at the Augustinian church in Gozo.[113] Fr M.ro Michele Cantelano DC, the Carmelite Provincial of Bohemia (Prov.lis Boemiae), who was Visitor and Commissioner General of the Province of St Angelo in the Kingdom of Sicily and the island of Malta, granted a special concession to the Augustinians of Gozo through the Prior Fr Fortunato Gauci OSA on the 23rd September 1683. The Augustinians were permitted to bless and receive the scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. However, should any Carmelite Father be present, he was to he given first preference, even in the Augustinian church. Special Indulgences especially "in articulo mortis" were also granted. At the end of this agreement there is a kind of Ritual for the reception and the Blessing of the scapular; and the form of Plenary Absolution approved by the mentioned Carmelite Provincial Fr Cantelano.[114]

[p.329] The devotion towards Our Lady of Carmel continued and laymen were directly involved in the running of this Marian devotion. During the canonical visit of 1708 the Provincial Fr Prospero Favara OSA decreed that Petruzzo Mampalao Apap and his descendants were to be in charge of the altar of Our Lady of Mt Carmel. He was to organise its feast and provide all the needs of the chapel.[115]

THE ITRIA MADONNA

Devotion towards the 'Madonna dell'Itria' already existed in the church of Valletta at the very beginning of the 17th century, without denying, however, the possibility also of an earlier existence.

From the manuscript "Proposte" results that the Chanter Fathers on the 22nd July 1604 accepted four hundred scudi from Capitano Pirachi binding themselves to say a daily mass on the altar of the 'Madonna dell' Itria'. They also bound themselves to light a lamp in front of her image.[116] This devotion was founded in the Augustinian church of Valletta by Pietro Coloriti.[117]

However it seems that this devotion faded away in the 18th century. When the Knights of the German Language asked the Augustinians to introduce the devotion of Blessed John Nepomuceno, on the 12th January 1724 they agreed that the painting of Bl. John be placed where there had been the picture of the 'Madonna dell'Itria'.[118]

OUR LADY OF SORROWS

At St Augustine's church Valletta, on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows a high mass with ministers used to take place on the altar, where there was a small picture of Our Lady of Sorrows. Anna Sillati left fifty scudi for this purpose on the 2nd November 1720.[119]

OUR LADY OF THE LILY

The Prior of Rabat, Fr Bacc. Lorenzo de Bonis, suggested to the community, that the Augustinians should take part in the procession of Our Lady of the Lily celebrated by the Carmelite Fathers of Notabile, while the Carmelites were to do the same thing in the procession of St Nicholas of Tolentino organized by the Augustinians This proposal was accepted on the 9th September 1760.[120]

PARTICULAR PLACES OF MARIAN DEVOTION

Besides their own churches the Augustinians had connections with other churches as well where Marian devotion was not lacking.

[p.330] MELLIEĦA

By the decree of General Inquisitor Costa, the Augustinians on the 27th July 1584 were left in charge of the Sanctuary of Our Lady at Mellieħa.[121] They took pastoral care in the face of great obstacles resulting not only from Turkish invasions but also from local people. On the 28th April 1600, Fr Giacomo Vella OSA, who was Rector of the Sanctuary, wrote to Bisho Gargallo asking for protection against local guardsmen.[122]

Notwithstanding the fact that. the Augustinians left the Sanctuary for good because of unsurmountable difficulties, they remained devoted towards this Shrine. It is worthwhile to note that the community of Rabat, who used to have this sanctuary under their care, maintained a soecial devotion towards this place. On various occasions the Friars used to pay a devotional visit. These visits, then, meant a whole day journey. For this reason they used to take food with them for the day.[123] They also availed themselves of the opportunity to take part in national pilgrimages to this shrine on various occasions. Thus, the community of Rabat joined in prayers for rain during such a pilgrimage held on the 20th April 1670.[124]

From various records detailing the celebration of masses results that whenever divine intercession was needed, the community used to go to the Sanctuary of Mellieha, were masses were celebrated. This seems to have been a common custom during the 18th century.[125]

PIET┴ AND THE " MADONNA DELL'ARCO"

In 1617, Bishop Cagliares granted to the Augustinians the church and convent of Our Lady of Sorrows at Pietß. They remained there until the house was suppressed by Pope Innocent X by the Bull "Instaurandae regularis disciplinae" of the 15th October 1652.[126]

In this church, besides the main painting of Our Lady of Sorrows, there was a devotion towards the "Madonna dell'Arco". On the 17th November 1631, Giovanni Sammut left a legacy, recorded by Notary Giov. Paolo di Lorenzo, providing for the celebration of a mass in this church every fortnight on a Saturday in honour of the 'Madonna dell'Arco', and another mass on her feast day.[127] Giovanni Semmut, perhaps the same person, on the 5th May 1646, left another legacy in favour of the house, so that masses would be said in the church at Pietß.[128]

[p.331] TAL-VIRT┘

Bishop Balaguer on the 4th December 1659 offered the church of Santa Marija tal-Virt˙ (Rabat) to the Augustinians "cum suis juribus et pertinentibus omnibus". We searched in vain for records to find out whether this plan ever materialised.[129]

MASSES AT VARIOUS MARIAN CHURCHES

From the records detailing the celebration of masses results that various Augustinians used to go to different localities at Rabat and its surroundings to celebrate masses in churches dedicated to Our Lady under different titles, such as, at Ta' Duna church, at that of the Immaculate Conception, at 'Santa Maria di Gesu', and even during the 18th century at Tal-Virt¨ church.[130]

As from the 18th June 1625, the Augustinians bound themselves to celebrate a mass every week on the privileged altar at St Paul's Grotto, in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. If for whatsoever reason this was impossible, they had to celebrate this mass on the altar of the 'Madonna del Soccorso'.[131]

CONFRATERNITIES OF OUR LADY OF CONSOLATION

Besides the confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation established in the Augustinian churches, there were twelve other confraternities in the parishes of Malta, mostly established in the 18th century, and one in a parish at Gozo.

MALTA

Attard; Għargħur; Gudja (1727); Lia (1727); Luqa (1719); Mosta (1721); Qormi (1633); Qrendi (1736); Tarxien (1778); Żabbar (1737) ; Żebbuġ and Żejtun (1911).

GOZO

Although the confraternity at Għarb was canonically established on the 4th January 1802, her devotion was already present in 1797, when a picture of Our Lady of Consolation, painted by Michael Busuttil, was inserted on the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary.[132]

In Gozo there are pictures of Our Lady under the title of Consolation and of Good Counsel in various churches. A picture of Our Lady of Consolation painted by Francesco Zahra (1680-1765) was donated by the Augustinians on the 8th July 1895 to the Qala parish church when it was transferred to the new premises.[133]

It is clear that in one way or another the Augustinians tried to foster Marian devotion in the Maltese Islands in the XVII and XVIII centuries.


[*] Particular Abbreviations
SAR: St Augustine, Rabat
SAV: St Augustine, Valletta
SAG: St Augustine, Gozo

[1] Benigno A.L. Van Luijk, L'Ordine Agostiniano e la riforma monastica dal Cinquecento alla vigilia della rivoluzione francese, Belgium 1963, 77, 275.

[2] SAR, Registro A: 1716-1754, Registro del Venle Conto di S. Agostino della Notabile in Malta dal-l' 1716 all'1754, 132v. Designazione dell'Altare Privilegiato fatta dal-l'Ill. Rmo Mgr Vescovo Diocesano, 7 Aprile 1749.

[3] SAV, An old official manuscript of the Confraternity reads so: Tutto quello che tiene e possiede la Compagnia della Venda ArciConfraternitÓ della Madre Santissima di Consolatione sotto titolo di Santa Monica.; SAV, Attuario, Proposta del 7 Giugno 1647; SAG, Supplica per la questua, in the year 1721; SAR, Decreto dell'erezione della ConfraternitÓ della Cintura nella Chiesa di S. Marco Evangelista, 1 Dicembre 1722.

[4] SAR, Reg. A, 1715-1715, 115r.

[5] SAR, Ibid., 132r.

[6] SAR, Serie Rescritti, p.n.n.

[7] SAR, Serie Rescritti, p.n.n.

[8] SAR, Reg. A, 1716-1754, 132v.

[9] SAR, Libro Esito, 142r.

[10] SAV, Attuario 1600 B (Notabile), 290r.

[11] SAR, Libro Esito, 118r.

[12] SAV, Miscellanea IIa, 391r.

[13] SAV, Cabreo di P. Giuseppe Zammit, 66r, 73r, 75r ff.

[14] SAR, Reg. A, 1716-1754, passim; Req. B, 1755-1837, Atti Ufficiali, passim.

[15] SAV, Brief preserved among the Priory's papers. St. Mark's church, Rabat, is an Augustinian church known as St Augustine's church as well.

[16] SAR, Libro Esito, 37r.

[17] Ibid., 64r-201v.

[18] SAR, Req. A, 1716-1754, 138r.

[19] Ibid., 151v.

[20] SAR, Reg. B, 1755-1837, 20r.

[21] SAV, There is a decree in the Miscellanea II, 111r, which says that the Confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation at Rabat was instituted and united with the Archconfraternity of Bologna on the 16th March 1676 by the Prior General Fr Nicola Oliva. However, we find no trace of what happened between this year and the year 1722.

[22] "Decreto dell'erezione della ConfraternitÓ della Cintura nella Chiesa di S. Marco Evangelista, Rabato-Notabile, 1 Dicembre 1722". Original copy conserved at the Chapter Hall of St Augustine's Priory, Rabat.

[23] SAR, Req. A, 1716-1754, 141r-141v.

[24] SAV. Miscellanea II, 379r.

[25] SAV, Libro delle Proposte: 1689-1715 (Notabile), 74r.

[26] SAR, Reg. A, 1716-1754, 10r.

[27] By this time Fr Querni had been appointed Prior Provincial, in fact his signature included the title "Provincial".

[28] SAR, Serie Rescritti, p.n.n.

[29] SAR, Reg. A. 1716-1754, 10v.

[30] SAR, Serie Rescritti, p.n.n.

[31] SAV, Libro delle Proposte: 1689‑1713 (Notabile), 35v.

[32] SAR, Reg. A, 1716-1754, 141r.

[33] SAR, Libro delle Proposte. Registro A, 141r.

[34] Andrew P. Vella, Storja ta' Malta, Vol. II, Malta 1979, 227-228.

[35] Carmelo Testa, Maż-Żewġ Naħat tas-Swar, Vol. II, Malta 1980, 219.

[36] "Istoria di quanto avvenne nelle due isole di Malta e Gozo, e specialmente in questo nostro convento della Notabile nella venuta dei Francesi successa li 12 Giugno 1798, scritta da me Fr Pietro Laferla, priore del convento nell'anno 1802", in SAR, Libro delle Proposte, Reg. A, 140v.

[37] SAV, Emanuel Letard, L'Ordine Apostiniano di Malta e Gozo, Vol. IV. p.n.n.

[38] SAV, Attuario, Proposta del 7 Giugno 1649, p.n.n.

[39] SAV, Libro delle Proposte 1701-1726, 73r.

[40] SAV, Libro delle Proposte 1701-1726, 78r.

[41] SAV, Libro delle Proposte 1727-1773, 39v.

[42] SAV, Libro delle Proposte 1774-1820, 54v.

[43] SAV, Cabreo, ff. 168r, 220r.

[44] SAV, Emanuel Letard, op. cit., Vol. VII, p.n.n.

[45] SAV, Emanuel Letard, op. cit., Vol. V and Vol. VI, p.n.n.

[46] SAG, Cinturati - Esito 1681, p.n.n.

[47] Idem.

[48] SAG, Libro delle Proposte dall'anno 1695, 25r. Melchiorre Witmar was a pilgrim to Jerusalem. During his sojourn in the Maltese Islands, at least as from July 1703, he stayed at the Augustinian houses on the recommendation of the Provincial of Sicily and Malta, Fr Ludovico Fazio.

[49] MNL, Gio: Pietro Francesco Agius, Il Gozo Antico-moderno e Sacro-profano, Isola Mediterranea adiacente a Malta Africana, Cap. V, 320r.

[50] SAG, Supplica per la questua.

[51] SAG, Libro-Proposte e Lettere Ufficiali dal 1724-1807, 118r.

[52] SAG, Cinturati - Esito 1681, p.n.n.

[53] SAV, Emanuel Letard, op. cit., Vol. V, p.n.n.

[54] SAG, Libro-Proposte e Lettere Ufficiali dal 1724-1807, p.n.n.

[55] SAR, Atti Ufficiali 1755-1837, Reg. B, 40v.

[56] Ibid., 41r.

[57] Analecta Augustiniana, Vol. I, p. 127.

[58] SAR, Series Rescritti, p.n.n.

[59] SAR, Libro delle Proposte: Dall'anno 1717-1854, Reg. A, 95r.

[60] SAR,Esito del Buon Consiglio, passim.

[61] SAR, Esito del Buon Consiglio, 29 luglio 1780, 3v.

[62] SAR, Atti Ufficiali 1755-1837, Reg. B, 3r.

[63] SAR, Esito del Buon Consiglio, lr: "Diedi al Sgr. Don Benigno Zrafa Mro di Cappella per la musica nel giorno della festa per Messa Cantata e Vespero, scudi cinque".

[64] Ibid., 2r.

[65] Ibid., 2v: "Diedi a 3 Preti che vennero a cantare una Messa in musica, a vespero nella festa della Madonna in una convenienza fatta, tarý undici meno un grano".

[66] Ibid., 3r: "... agl'uomini che trasportarono i cavalletti, tavole, organo per far l'orchestra tarý sette".

[67] Ibid., 5v: "Diedi onza una tarý otto per mano del Pre. B. Seijchel a due violinisti della Va(lle)tta Padre a figlio per la Messa e Vespero nel di della festa inclusa la vettura del calesse per li medesimi".

[68] Ibid., (Unnumbered page): "Die-di scudi quattro per mano del Mro di Cappella Francesco Azzopardi per aver portato due sonatori della Valletta, cioe onza "una, e tarý due per due serizij per uno, e tarý sedici per calesso e vice-versa".

[69] Ibid., (Unnumbered page): "Diedi tarÝ dieci a Ciappisa per aver alzato le Mantici nella Messa, e Vespero con Musica".

[70] Ibid., (Unnumbered page): "24 Aprile 1789. Diedi tarý 5 Der Fronda e suo Porto per la Chiesa per la suddetta festa"

[71] Ibid., (Unnumbered page) : "Ad di 4 Settembre 1783: ". . . tarÝ sedici e tarý due in circa dispensati a poveri".

[72] Ibid., 3r: "10 Giugno 1780: Diedi tarý dodici per il calesso che servi ai frati venuti dalla Valletta, per le sacre funzione, e sono il Mro Carinisi e P. Sejchel".

[73] Ibid., 3v: "29 luglio 1780: Diedi tarý 32 per una convenienza fatta a 10 sacerdoti li quali vennero per le sacre funzioni nel giorno della festa della Madonna".

[74] Ibid., (Unnumbered page): "24 Aprile 1789: Diedi tarý 6 alli Signori due sacerdoti per aver fatto il diacono e suddiacono nel Triduo".

[75] Ibid., (Unnumbered page): "17 Maggio 1791: Diedi a due sacerdoti Preti per aver fatto il Diacono e Suddiacono in numero sei Messa cantate tarý 12". "Esito per la festa 1792: Diedi tarý 20 ai due sacerdoti che anno fatto i ministri in 8 messe della Novena, nel giorno della festa, e nel 2nd Vespero".

[76] Ibid., (Unnumbered page) : "Ad di 4 Settembre 1783: Diedi tarý tre a tre Chierici per aver fatto gli Accoliti per la suddetta Vergine". "24 Aprile 1789: Diedi tarý 6 per li due Ceroferari ed Accolito per la Messa e Vespero in Musica".

[77] SAR, Panegirici in lingua Maltese recitati da Pre Mro Vincenzo Tej Agostiniano, l'anno 1792 e successivamente l'anni futuri (Tomo Primo), 31r-49r; 99r; 115r.

[78] SAR, Esito del Buon Consiglio, 5: "Diedi tarý dieci e grani 18 per la legna da abbugiarsi nella vigilia della festa del B.C.". "5 Maggio 1787: Diedi tarý due e grani que per legni per li diedi per la festa".

[79] Ibid., (Unnumbered page), "Diedi tarý sei ad Angelo Micallef, ed Antonio Micallef per aver sonato il tamburro e pifera per la festa di detta Vergine del B. Consiglio". "27 April 1788: Diedi tarý sei ad Angelo Micallef e suo fratello per aver sonato il tamburro e pifera per la festa del B. Consiglio".

[80] Ibid., (Unnumbered page). "Diedi tarý cinque al Sigr. D. Gio. Portelli per affitto di maschi". "Diedi tarý quattro al uomo che sparo detti maschi"

[81] SAR Esito del Buon Consiglio, 2r: "Diedi per medaglie fatte venire da Roma a cinque scudi".

[82] Idem: "12 Maggio 1778: Diedi per 400 figure della Madonna fatte stampare in Catania cioŔ per stampa e carta, e nolo e per corriere, scudi due, tari uno e grani tredici". "30 Dicembre 1781: Dato al Pre Segretario Bacc. Zammit tarý ventisette e grani otto prezzo di mille figurine della B. Vergine annessi tarý quattro di nolo provenienti di Catania".

[83] Idem: "5 Giugno 1779: Diedi per fare stampare in Malta 400 figure della Madonna una oncia e tarý due".

[84] Idem: "11 Maggio 1779: Diedi per 100 figure della Madonna comprate dal P. Priore della Valletta per mezzo del P. Priore Seychel tarý quindici".

[85] SAR, Libro delle Proposte: Dall'anno 1717-1854, Req. A, 119r.

[86] SAV, Registro 1726, 74v.

[87] SAV, Attuario dei censi, 1809, 124r.

[88] SAG, Madonna del Buon Consiglio. Ir, Suplica e Rescritto.

[89] Ibid., IIIr.

[90] Ibid., Ir.

[91] SAG, Libro-Proposte e Lettere Ufficiali dal 1724-1807, 49v.

[92] Ibid., 50r. The Custodia was a round case in which the image of Our Lady was to be enclosed.

[93] SAG, Madonna del Buon Consiglio, Anno 1767.

[94] Ibid., Anno 1768.

[95] Ibid., "Statuti per la Custodia di Maria Santissima del Buon Consiglio", 26v.

[96] SAG, Libro-Proposte e Lettere Ufficiali dal 1724-1807, 91v-92r.

[97] See Note No 101. On the first visit he is mentioned as Prior of Valletta, General Visitator and Commissioner Provincial, while on the second, he signed himself as the Vicar Provincial and General Visitator.

[98] SAG, Libro-Proposte e Lettere Ufficiali dal 1724-1807, 112r-113v.

[99] Speaking about the alms, Fr Lombardo made a special reference to the collection of cotton.

[100] SAR, Atti Ufficiali 1755-1837, Reg. B, 63v.

[101] In the whole Augustinian Order the mass and divine office "B.M.V. de Gratia" used to be celebrated on the 1st June. It was one of the principal manifestations of marian devotion in the Order.

[102] SAV, Registro 1583-1698. Obbligo di Masse, 22r.

[103] SAV, Cabreo (Zammit), 126r.

[104] Ibid., 119r.

[105] Ibid., 146r.

[106] SAV, Cabreo (Zammit), 161r.

[107] Anthony Luttrell, "The Madonna del Soccorso at Mdina" in Heritage 47, 927: "By 1575 there were churches of the Soccorso in Malta . . . therefore Maltese churches dedicated to the Madonna del Soccorso often changed their title to the more modern Immaculate Conception".

[108] SAV, Legati del convento di S. Agostino di Valletta, 42r.

[109] SAV, Cabreo (Zammit), 184r.

[110] SAR, Atti Ufficiali 1755-1837, Reg. B, 3r.

[111] SAV, Emanuel Letard, op. cit., Vol. V. (Anno 1671), p.n.n.

[112] At the bottom of the painting there is written: S. Erardi Dipinse.

[113] NLM, Gio. Pietro Francesco Agius, op. cit., Cap. V, 320r.

[114] SAG, Inventario delta Chiesa-Sagrestia e Convento (Gozzo), Anno 1657, 37r-39v.

[115] SAG, Libro-Proposte, Anno 1695, 44r.

[116] SAV, Libro Proposte, p.n.n.

[117] SAV, Cabreo (Zammit), 182r and 223r.

[118] SAV, Libro Proposte 1701-1726, 119r.

[119] SAV, Cabreo (Zammit), 186r.

[120] SAR, Libro delle Proposte dell'anno 1717-1854, Reg. A, 107r. At the Augustinian Priory, Rabat, there is a picture of St Nicholas of Tolentine together with Our Lady and fhe Guardian Angel. It was painted by Mastro Filippo Dingli in December 1643 (SAR, Libro d'Esito Ordinario Anno 1643, 235r).

[121] Carlo Cortis, Il Santuario e La Madonna tal-Mellieha, (Malta, 1921), 25r.

[122] SAV, Miscellanea I, p.n.n.

[123] SAR, Libro Esito, 155v: "Decembre 1639: Diedi per recreattione dell Pdri qdo semo adati alla Madonna della Mellieha onza una". Ibid., f. 256: "Maggio 1645: Diedi per cose di mangiare nel giorno qdo Sono andati Processione alla Madonna Santissima della Melliha . . onza una, tarý quattordici e grani dieci".

[124] SAV, Libro delle Messe 1666, p.n.n. It was the second Sunday after Easter.

[125] SAR, Giornale delle messe celebrate dentro, e fuori della Chiesa di Sant'Agostino del Rabbato Bella Not.le dall'anno 1731 all'1754. p.n.n. Special reference is made as from the21st August 1731 up to the 30th July 1752.

[126] Abela-Ciantar, Malta Illustrata, 287.

[127] SAV, Cabreo (Zammit), 1831 and 221r.

[128] SAV, Unnumbered Papers.

[129] SAV, Miscellanea II, 253r.

[130] SAR, Giornale delle messe celebrate dentro, e fuori della Chiesa di Sant'Agostino del Rabbato Bella Not.le dall'anno 1731 all'154.

[131] SAV, Cabreo (Zammit), 68r.

[132] Fl-okkazjoni tal-għeluq l-ewwel mitt sena ta' l-istatwa artistika tal-Madonna tal-Konsolazzjoni, Bażilika - Għarb, Gozo 1969.

[133] Anton Buttigieg P.E.P., Ġrajjiet il-Qala, Gozo 1980, 62-63; Nikol Vella Apap, "It-Tielet Kappillan tal-Qala, Il-Kan. Dun Ġwann Saliba (1891-1919) - Il-Kwadru tal-Madonna taċ-Ċintura" in Leħen il-Qala, Ir-Raba' Sena, Jannar 1977, 5-9.