[p.332]

Antonio Catalano di Messina, The Visitation (1600c), St Mary of Jesus Church, Valletta

[p.333] George Aquilina

THE MALTESE MINOR FRANCISCANS AND MARIAN DEVOTION

IN THE 17th AND 18th CENTURIES*

St Mary of the Angels, or simply La Porziuncola, is the cradle of Franciscanism and Marian devotion within the same Religious Order.[1] The poor man of Assisi himself started this trend which then developed in a articular school of thought and apostolate proper to the Franciscan Order. St Bonaventure, St Anthony of Padova, Duns Scotus and other Franciscan theologians continued to develop the Marian worship which Francis him-self learned at his beloved Porziuncola.

The Friars Minor through the years always linked the renewal of their spiritual life to Mary as their guide. But their enthusiasm was never so manifest as that shown during the Reform that took place during the 15th century when St Bernardine of Siena, St John Capistran, St James of The Marches and Bl. Albert of Sarteano promoted the reform which gave the Order its original ideals.

In Sicily, the reform knows its origin to the work of Bl. Matteo of Agrigento and it was this influence that reached our Islands.

The Maltese wished to have in their midst the Friars of the "Observance", as these Friars themselves wholeheartedly wished to be known. The request of the Maltese, forwarded to Pope Sixtus IV by the Jurates of the Mdina Università, was granted by tine Bulla Pia Fidetium of the 7th November 1482[2] whereby the first franciscan friary was founded. This could not be realised until 1492, when a benefactor left all his property to this end. As ten years had elapsed, another permission was required[3] and subsequently granted in 1494. So, by 1500 Malta had its first Friary and church dedicated to Santa Maria di Gesù which the Maltese soon labeled as Ta' Giesu. Even with the building of the new city of Valletta, the Franciscans [p.334] were among the first religious to have a friary and a church under the same title of Santa Maria di Gesù,[4] and it is from these two centres that the Franciscans developed ;Marian cult during the following centuries.

In this paper this development will be analysed under three aspects, namely:

1.             National titles (common to other churches in Malta)

2.             Particular titles

3.             Franciscan Marian devotions

With the arrival of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem (1530) the old city of Notabile declined in importance. Consequently, the city of Valletta acquired more significance. In this new city, our church and friary were so situated as to be right in the middle of commercial activity and the grand harbour marina and thus easily reached by the population of the three cities across the harbour The Apostolic Syndic, Fra Giovanni Battista Gannettario OSJ stated under oath at the Bishop's Curia on the 28th November 1707, that the church "was more than a parish". This was even confirmed by the chronicler, P. Gio Antonio Mercieca a few years after in 1730.[5] And consequently with the growth of the copulation one can imagine the increase in religious devotion. This is perhaps one of the reasons why in Rabat Marian devotions were not so intense as in the city of Valletta.

NATIONAL TITLES

THE ASSUMPTION

One of the altars in the Valletta church was immediately dedicated to the Assumption and was in the care of Noble Pietro Cassia, who bequeathed that a light be lit every Saturday and Sunday on vigils and feasts through the year and Mass was to be said on the seven principal feasts of Our Lady.[6] Later, in 1607, Francesco and Vincenzo Bonello added two other Masses on every Saturday;[7] Isabella Cassar and Gaspero Borg added another Mass on every Wednesday[8] whilst provisions for another daily Mass was left by Pietro Paolo Bonello[9] this same benefactor instituted in this altar a marriage legacy that was to be awarded on the feast of the Assumption.[10] This proved to be the more popular altar outshined only by that of the Miraculous Crucifix. Another Mass was later included by Mar-[p.335]-gherita Bonello[11] and other devotees.

The devotion to the Assumption continued to the extent that in 1674 its altar piece was decorated with a silver crown and two silver halos, on the head of the Assumption and two silver halos around the heads of St Peter and St Paul depicted in the same picture on either side of Our Lady.[12] Up to 1705, the feast was preceded by fifteen days of devotion with the singing of the Litany every evening and a solemn high Mass in the morning.[13]

As there was no such altar in the Rabat church, the devotion was limited to Mass said on other altars[14] besides the solemn high Mass usually said on the main altar.

OUR LADY OF GRACES

It is not common to find one Marian title having two altars within the same church. At the Valletta. church, Our Lady of Graces had two such altars although one of them also featured a statue of the Immaculate Conception. This all goes to prove the extent of devotion given by the Maltese to this title. Leonardo Abela whose family owned the juspatronatus of the Chapel of St Trophimus and a clerical benefice left to it by the historian Gianfrancesco Abela, Vice Chancellor of the Order of St John, in 1637 instituted a legacy consisting of a Mass every Saturday.[15] But a more fervent devotee of Our Lady of Graces was the Noble Grazia Torrensi who apart from instituting a Mass every Wednesday and Saturday, wished that seven Solemn High Masses and first and second vespers be said on the principal feasts of Our Lady. She even requested another Mass on the feast of the Name of Mary.[16] Other devotees requested Masses to be said on these two altars, like Persia Crispo who wanted a Mass to be said every Wednesday.[17] Up to 1674, one of these two altars which stood near the sacristy had its altar piece decorated with two silver crowns.[18] The other altar, apart from the crowns and the halos surrounding St Francis' and St Anthony's heads, was decorated with ex-voto and other decorations.[19]

[p.336] THE ANNUNCIATION

The Rabat church had an altar dedicated to this title since the building of the church. In 1526 Giovanni Cumbo[20] requested that a Mass be said every day; Teramo Camilleri in 1586[21] instituted the feast day Mass; Damiano Allegritto[22] bequeathed other Masses and Vincenzo Borg[23] a Solemn High Mass on the feast day.

In Valletta, the feast on the 25th March was celebrated by Mass being said on three altars.[24]

OUR LADY OF VICTORIIES

Till 1705, apart from the usual devotions and high Mass, three Masses were said on another three altars.[25]

At Rabat, every fifteen days, since 1584, another two Masses were said[26] two others were added later;[27] finally, every year on the proper feast day, Nativitatis B.V.M. nostrae Patronae, Ascanio Surdo left a legacy for the singing of the first and second vespers and money for lighting the sanctuary light a mane usque ad solis occasum on all feasts of obligation. He bound himself also to pay for all the candle consumption on all these feasts.[28] A marriage legacy was awarded in Valletta on this feast bequeathed by Grazia Vaschez.[29]

PARTICULAR TITLES

OUR LADY OF SORROWS

The Franciscans, as custodians of the Holy Land, cherished among their special activities the promotion of devotion to the passion of our Lord, and our Lady of Sorrows. A crucifix altar was set up immediately occupying a prominent place both at Rabat (1500) as well as at Valletta (1573). It is worth noting that at the Valletta church there were two altars dedicated to the Crucifix, one of which was known as di Lucca. Next to the miraculous Crucifix, there was one known as della passione, in reality depicting The Pietà.

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows traces its origins to this time and continued to flourish until a confraternity was instituted later. Since 1636, a regular Mass was said on Fridays[30] and popular devotion [p.337] increased; the altar piece was decorated with two silver halos.[31] In 1730, Fr Giov. Anton Mercieca gave a detailed description of the altar piece. We also know that, as there was no altar, its functions were fulfilled on the nearby altar of the Crucifix.[32]

It is worthwhile noting that when the confraternity of the Crucifix was instituted, its oratory was dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. The same chronicler, in 1730, noted that previously there was a confraternity catering for both the Crucifix and Our Lady of Sorrows devotions.[33]

The first oratory, situated behind the choir dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, had a painting attributed to Stefano Erardi.[34] When the new oratory as built under the same title, the Erardi painting was placed in the church and the one which it replaced was given to the Capuchin Friary in Gozo.[35]

The confreres in their 1709 statutes prescribed that after holy communion on the first Sunday of each month they had to consecrate themselves to the Crucifix and to Our Lady in the same oratory.[36] The oratory was endowed with some silverware. Two hanging silver lamps bearing the coat-of-arms of Grand Master Ramon Perellos were dated 1712.[37] In 1726, Brothel Francesco Abela presented a silver 'baciera' which was to be used, at least, in this oratory,[38] while in 1752, silversmith Zaccharia Ansaldi was paid thirty seven scudi for a silver monstrance.[39]

The devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows dates back to the time of the building of the church itself, and continued to develop with the institution [p.338] of the confraternity of the Crucifix. So much so, that since 1713 it had a procurator who took care of having sermons preached during the settena. The feast day festivities were bequeathed by Dominic Matrenza, as shown in the Acts of Notary Giuseppe Simon on the 7th March, 1700. It is worth mentioning that Maestro Saverio Laferla was commissioned to make the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, which until this very day is venerated by the Maltese. He was paid the sum of one hundred and nineteen scudi and nine tarì by Girolamo Grugnò.[40]

In 1765, the confraternity of Our Lady of Sorrows was to some extent separated from the confraternity of the Crucifix. On the 12th April of that year the Lenten preacher at St John's conventual church, Padre Alessio Petroni, with the consent of the said confraternity, instituted the Pia Sodialità dell'Addolorata and its administration was entrusted to the pro-curator of the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows. However, it was now required that a register of members was to be duly kept. These members were given un abitino ed una coronella dei Dolori della B.V. ed un libretto con devozione against payment of a tarì.[41] Processions were to be held - one every first Sunday of the month and another one on the third Sunday of September - but these were never held. The only procession held was the one on the last Friday in Lent which is held to this day with great devotion.

MADONNA DELL'ITRIA

This title and devotion probably knows its beginning to the coming of the Knights of the Order of St John. This devotion could have been introduced in Malta by some Greeks from Rhodes.[42]

At Ta' Giesu church it was venerated in one of the side altars where a Mass was said every Wednesday bequeathed by Marietta Bonaventura de Bonetiis.[43] Her heir, Can. Alessandro Bologna added a daily Mass and paid for the lamp oil.[44] He, moreover, instituted a ius patronatus laicorum and left it in the gift of his grand nephew, the Captain of the Rod, Martino Antonio Perdicomati Bologna.[45]

It seems that it was venerated mostly by Maltese of Greek origin, descendants of Marietta Bonaventura de Bonetiis. In 1659, Antonia Coloriti Bologna bequeathed a number of masses to be said between October and the end of March.[46] But since the end of the eighteenth century nothing has been added. The devotion declined and up to the coming to Malta of the French the altar became renowned for the effigy of the miraculous Child Jesus that was placed on it, brought to Malta from the Holy Land by Bro. Bonaventura Fava.

[p.339] OTHER TITLES

During the same period, there existed also a small picture known as the Madonna per partorienti and it was customary to take it to expectant mothers. From ex-voto offerings one can judge the devotion that was attributed to it.[47]

The community's sicilian friar; enhanced the church with a marble statue of Our Lady of Trapani. Later on this was placed in the main corridor of the Friary that leads out on to St Ursola Street, then known as Strada S. Pietro. It was later put in a niche richly decorated in baroque style and Bishop Bartolomeo Rull, on the 29th January, 1763 endowed it with indulgences[48] described in a marble slab that stands to this day.

At Rabat, on the altar of the Crucifix, in the first chapel on the left side on entering the main door, one finds a Madonna in Byzantine style. It was put in the chapel because it is said that it had been in all sanctuaries of the Holy Land. It was painted in tempera in Aleppo by a certain Atanasio, nephew of the Patriarch of Antioch, between 1690-1699 and was brought to Malta by Bro. Cosimo da Malta (14-7-1735).[49]

Another devotion associated with our Friars is that of the Madonna of Liesse positam in sacra huius Civitatis Vallettae.[50] Here, Chevalier Fra Enrico de la Salle wanted that at least six of our Friars go to Liesse Church every Saturday evening to sing the Salve Regina, the litany of our Lady and Ave Maria.[51] Again here, the Bailiff of Morea, Fra Giocchino di Calmeson requested that the Friars say Mass every Wednesday in the same church.[52]

FRANCISCAN MARIAN DEVOTIONS

THE VISITATION

The Franciscans were the first to celebrate the feast of the Visitation since 1263. In 1389, the feast was extended to the whole church on the same [p.340] standing as Corpus Domini. The Franciscans, in their General Chapter held at Assisi in 1399 added an Octave to this feast.[53]

The Franciscan reform had this feast much to its heart, especially at the time of Saint Bernardine and his disciples. Together with the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and St Joseph, Mary was the inspiration of these reformers in all their efforts and initiated the new title of Santa Maria di Gesù which name was synonymous with the Franciscan "observant" provinces.

The Franciscan province of Val di Noto and Malta, which comprised twenty two friaries and of which the Rabat and Valletta friaries formed part, had fourteen of them named to Santa Maria di Gesù the churches being dedicated to the Visitation. This feast was first solemnly celebrated in Malta on the 9th July, 1525.[54] The devotion to this title was greater in Rabat[55] than in Valletta where other devotions abounded.

In 1748 Pope Benedict XIV decreed as privileged the main altars of our churches quotidiani perpetui. Previously, in 1725 Benedict XIII decreed privileged those altars which were not perpetui as the St Francis altars, beside others. By decree given in 1749 Bishop Alpheran de Bussan, the main altars of Rabat and Valletta were declared privilegiati quotidiani perpetui.[56] This enactment increased devotion to the main altars; the main altar piece at Valletta had already been enhanced with three silver crowns and two halos.[57]

During the 18th century the main altar at Rabat was still embellished by a triptych of the famous artist, Antonello da Messina. Two panels of this painting are still extent and only two particulars remain, which can be seen in the sacristy of the same church.[58] This painting was still on [p.341] the main altar till 1785 when it was replaced by a work of Enrico Arnaux[59] after the restoration of the choir. The altar piece of the Valletta church was painted by Antonio Catalano in Messina in 1600.[60] The feast is celebrated on the 2nd July and it is not known if it was ever held on any other date. However on the 15th May, 1733 the Fr Provincial of Sicily and Malta, Giov. Costanzo Parnis specifically ordered that it had to be celebrated only on the 2nd July.[61]

SAINT MARY OF THE ANGELS

A feast dear to all Franciscans was that of The Pardon of Assisi, La Porziuncola or Saint Mary of the Angels, which is celebrated on the 2nd August. In the Valletta church, since its foundation, there was an altar dedicated to our Lady under this title in a chapel endowed by Lucrezia Vasco.[62] In the month of August, many devotees visited the church to acquire this famous indulgence.[63] It is expected that the same was done at Rabat.

In 1602 a legacy provided for the sanctuary light to be lit on every Saturday and major feasts and on the feast of the Porziuncola.[64] Some time later daily Mass was added pro festivitae Porziunculae qua.e quolibet anno cum tanta devotione fidelium solemnizatur in nostra Ecclesia,[65] whilst in 1641 Marcella Psaila added another weekly Mass.[66]

A confraternity of Saint Mary of the Angels was instituted sometime about 1686. This is known from a petition forwarded by its rector to the superior of the Friary for a suitable meeting place for the confreres.[67] How long this confraternity lasted is not known. It is surprising to note [p.342] however that in a plan of the church drawn up in 1721[68] the name of the chapel appears dedicated to St Peter of Alcantara, a great franciscan saint.

One must understand that the indulgence of the Porziuncola is linked to the church itself and not to a particular altar. As a matter of fact, in this confraternity's statutes, approved by the Provincial Fr Francesco Ignazio di Modica;[69] it is stated that they had at their disposal the main altar, where the feast, on the 2nd August, was celebrated with a solemn high mass, first and second vespers, while a procession and a panegyric could be held in the morning or in the afternoon.[70]

The main altar piece that is still preserved in the friary was paid for by the Fr Guardian Fr Giacomo di Malta,[71] whilst that of the Rabat church, the one which is found in the choir to this day, was painted by Francesco Zahra.[72] It is worth noting that Fr John Abela, nephew of Mgr Leonardo Abela, Bishop of Sidon, instituted in 1626 a juspatronatus and a benefice in a church which he himself built in Vittoriosa sotto l'invocazione della Madonna degli Angeli ovvero della Porziuncola[73] whilst his brother, Vice Chancellor of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, Gianfrancesco Abela, on the 18th December of the previous year Lad instituted a juspatronatus and a benefice in the chapel of St Trophimus in Valletta.[74]

THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Devotion towards the Immaculate Conception has been close to the heart of the Franciscan Order from the beginning. The teaching of this privilege is to be identified with the existence of the Franciscan school. To this end, Franciscan theologians, preachers and thinkers, have done their utmost to promote the dogmatic teaching of the Immaculate Conception "from the very first instance".

Malta inserted itself in this movement. The many manuscripts still preserved in our provincial library, manifest how this doctrine was so very dear to the Maltese friars. But here we will limit ourselves only to Marian devotions.

Very soon after the building of the Rabat church, the friars thought of commissioning a marble statue of the Immaculate Conception. The con-tract with Antonello Gagini, a famous sculptor was signed on the 23rd February, 1504.[75]

Devotion to the Immaculate Conception began at this altar of our Lady known as Della Madonna di marmo. Another painting of the Immaculate [p.343] Conception was to be found on the altar of St Cajetan, to the extent that this chapel was referred to as that of the Immaculate Conception where every Monday, a Mass was said in her honour.[76]

Antonello Gagini, Immaculate Conception (1504c), Our Lady of Jesus Church, Rabat, Malta

In 1534, Gabriele Denoto bequeathed a Mass every week on the altar of the Madonna di marmo; Andrea Buttigieg did the same in 1586;[77] at the same time a Mass was said there every Saturday.[78] We also note that [p.344] Vincenza Denote requested that the friars sing the litany every Saturday at the altar of the Immaculate Conception at the Rabat church ten years earlier to that requested by De La Salle at Ta' Liesse church in Valletta - 1667.[79] As from 1680, a solemn high Mass was sung every Saturday.[80]

Around the year 1701, under the guardianship of Fr Illuminato da Malta, the chapel was rebuilt.[81] Again in 1730 a foundation was instituted to pay for the panegyric preached at the some altar[82] and sometime later for the celebration of the fifteen Saturdays preceding the feast of the Immaculate Conception.[83]

The feast was celebrated with due solemnity. In 1797 eight scudi were paid 'alli musici e stromentisti e Preti nel giorno della Concezione'.[84] The same can be said with regards to the celebration in Valletta. Not only were legacies left for Masses to be said[85] but well before 1699 a Sodality known as the Pia Unione dell'abitino dell'Immaculata[86] already existed and had members coming from all parts of the island. The register, which is still preserved in the provincial archives, gives the names of 9,127 members.[87] At the start of the 18th century, one comes across a strong movement for the institution of these confraternities in our Province of Val di Noto and Malta. It is worth noting also that at the time there were two Maltese Provincials Fr Costanzo Vella, the founder of the Way of the Cross in Malta, and Fr John Constance Parnis. This zeal was perhaps due to the [p.345] fact that on the 1st April 1727 Pope Benedict XIII through the Bull Ex Quo started an archconfraternity of the Immaculate Conception at the Franciscan Basilica of Aracoeli in Rome.[88] During his provincialate, Fr Vella insisted on the institution of these confraternities in all the province, according to the ordinary laws of the Order.[89] On the 27th June, 1732 the Provincial Fr John Constance Parnis again ordered and requested the celebration of high Mass to be sung on every Saturday.[90] This knows its origins to the time of St Francis.[91]

As for Valletta, there was always a statue of the Immaculate Conception at the very same altar that exists to this day. But during the period under discussion, the altarpiece represented Our Lady of Graces and the Immaculate Conception figured only as a wax statue!![92] It was here that all the friars reunited every Saturday to sing the litany con candele accese.[93] It can be easily noted that devotion was great. The inventories show a great number of ex voto which are highly indicative of the devotion of our people to our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception.[94]

[p.346] It would be interesting to go through the manuscripts found in the Provincial library[95] but this could lead us out of subject.

It is certain that the Maltese Franciscans during this time did credit to the doctrine and devotion to the Immaculate Conception no less than other friars in the Order. They swore on oath and publicly promised to defend this privilege of Our Lady[96] they embellished their friaries with more than one image and statue of the Immaculate Conception[97] to the extent that by the order of Fr Provincial Parnis they even added prayers [p.347] to the Immaculate Conception together with that to the Blessed Sacrament.[98]

CONCLUSION

To conclude, it is befitting to bring to the limelight some Marian devotions that existed during the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as other Marian customs in the community life of the friars.

The Franciscans, as custodians of the Holy Land, held dear those devotions linked to the mystery of the Incarnation. The Angelus Domini was a preferred subject preached often by the Franciscans. Before St Bona-venture (+1274) the custom of ringing the bell to remind the faithful of the mystery of the Incarnation had already been introduced.[99] This prayer always carried a lot of indulgences. In 1727 this prayer carried a plenary indulgence as decreed by Benedict XIII.[100]

It is certain that in our churches during the 18th century, the Angelus was rung three times daily. Fr Provincial Parnis, in his circular letter dated 15th May, 1733 complained that some local superiors were limiting this old franciscan tradition to feast days only.[101] In 1748, Bishop Fra Paolo Alpheran de Bussan extended this pious custom to all churches in Malta.[102]

Candlemass was always a feast celebrated with great solemnity. The offering of the candles was a sign of honour and respect given to the Bishop, to the Grandmaster and to the Inquisitor. Candles were also given to benefactors of the Friaries and to those devotees who attended the function of the blessing of candles.[103] On this feast, the confraternity of [p.348] the Crucifix in Valletta was bound in perpetuity to give a candle to the Fr Guardian in exchange for the land given to the confraternity for the building of the Oratory.[104]

Likewise, as the Valletta friars used to say mass at 'Ta' Liesse", the Rabat friars used to do the same every Wednesday at "Ta' Duna".[105]

The Crown of the Seven Joys or the Francican Rosary, was devoutly recited by all religious and tertiaries. On the day of each joyful mystery, Mass was said together with other devotions. These Masses were instituted by a legacy in Rabat on the 24th February, 1611.[106] On these feast days, the Tota Pulchra was sung by all the friars in the refectory where an image of the Immaculate Conception is found in a prominent position. This is a very old tradition that has no known beginning.

Other Marian devotions are common to all religious communities. We know that when Pope Benedicet XIII enriched the rosary said before the Blessed Sacrament by a plenary indulgence, Fr Provincial on the 18th June, 1730 ordered that this pious exercise be recited by all the community before meditation.[107] And in the year after, the General Commissary of the Order, P. Francesco di San Severino, on the 8th October, 1729 urged the recitation of the Little Office of Our Lady per lodare in Coro serafico quella gran Regina.[108]

This is not a complete study of Franciscan Minors Marian worship in Malta but one hopes that it gives an insight into the Marian devotions developed and practised in their communities and churches both in Rabat and Valletta.


* Particular Abbreviations
APM: Archivum Provinciae Sancti Pauli Ap., OFM, Melitae.
AN: Atti Notarili alias Notarial Acts. SD: Selva di Documenti.
AAC: Archivum Archiconfraternitatis SS.mi Crucifixi.

[1] "Matrem Jesu indicibili complectebatur amore . . . Sed quod laetiheat plurimum, Ordinis advocatam ipsam constituit, suisque alis quos relicturus erat filios usque in finem fovendos et protegendos submisit" Thomas de Celano, Vita Secunda, n. 198, in Analecta Franciscana, X, Quaracchi 1941, 243-244.

[2] L. Wadding. Annales Minorvm seu Trium Ordinum a S. Francisco institutorum, ad an. 1482, n. 64, "ex libro hodie non amplius extante", 136 Bullarium Sixti IV. fol 95; Alva y Astorga, Indiculus Bullarii Seraphici, Romae 1655, Ind. II, n. 41, 100.

[3] This permission was granted by Alexander VI, on the 27th January 1494 as per Bulla Apostolicae Servitutis, L. Wadding, op. cit., ad an. 1494 n. 1; Alva y Astorga, op. cit., n. 123. This benefactor was the Notabile Jurat Giacomo Hakim, known as "Il-Malf". In his last will recorded by Ingomez de Brancato, Notary, left the fulfilment of this foundation in the hands of the Universita (ACM, Miscellanea Notitiarum, 18, 87r-89r; ACM, Notizie diverse (1418-1688): Documenta, Series A, Tomus III, Ms. 3, fol. 19r-20r; Ibid., Tomus II, Ms. 2, 14r-15v; APM, Miscellanea del Convento della Notabile OFM, pp. 87-89; About the fulfilment of the will Cfr. Misc. Notitiarum cit., Tomus 18, 105r).

[4] AN Placido Habel, 14th May 1571 (APM, SD, Vol. VII, doc 3 and 4).

[5] "I fedeli vi concorrono in gran numero nella Chiesa di detti RR.PP. piiz the se fosse qualsisia Parrochiale", APM, in SD, Vol. XVIII, doe. 56; ". . . incolae (tres aliae civitates) sive festivis diebus ad sacra audienda sive ad piacula expianda, praesertim Indulgentiarum, et Jubilei occasione ad hanc nostram Ecclesiam coaceniatim confluunt, quasi ea esset omnium Paroecia communis" (APM, Ms. Chronaca Duorum Conventuum S. Mariae Iesu Notabilis et Vallettae, p. 68).

[6] AN, Francesco Imbroll 29th September 1590 (APM, Brevis Enuncleatio piorum Legatorum Ecclesiae S. Mariae Jesu Vallettae relictorum, 1r).

[7] AN, Ambrogio Xiberras, 27th August 1607, and in the Acts of the same notary of the following clay (APM, loc. cit., 8r).

[8] AN Ambrogio Xiberras, 10th January 1619 and again on the 18th November 1621 (Ibid., 10v).

[9] AN, Mario Saliba, 28th October 1653 (Ibid., 7v).

[10] ACM. Visita Pastorale Mons Molina (1680) Valletta. Stato di tutte le Chiese di Malta. Pastoralia, Tomo 1, Ms. 180, p. 378.

[11] AN, Michele Vella Attard, 20th October 1669.

[12] APM, Inventario del 12 febraro 1674, in SD, Vol. IV, doc. n. 13: Inventario del 1706, in Lettere Circolari H, 2v; See also Chronaca cit., p. 63.

[13] APM, in SD, Vol. XVIII, doc. n. 56.

[14] Agatuccia Bonnici requested a "missa in quolibet XV die mensis augusti", AN, Ferdinando Ciappara, 18th September; and Pietro Mangion: "missam unam quolibet die festivitatis Sanctae Mariae", as per Acts of Notary Simone Galea, 5th April 1595 (APM, Giuliana Rabat, 43r, 86v).

[15] AN, Pietro Zammit, 23th February 1637 ( APM, Brevis Enuncleatio, cit., 10r).

[16] AN, Michele Ralli, 26th September1645 (APM, Libro Mastro dei Legati di Valletta, 67; G. Scerri. Ms. Raccolta di Documenti A, 73r).

[17] AN, Pietro Fiore, 2nd April 1686 (APM, Brevis Enuncleation cit., 8v-9r).

[18] Inventario del 12 febraro 1674 (APM, SD, Vol. IV, doc. 13); In 1706 a giglio e due cordoni d'argento were added, (APM, Inventario in Lettere Circolari H, 2v).

[19] "2 mani d'argento e due piedi d'argento et anco 2 diademi nella testa di S. Francesco e di S. Antonio, 6 fill di perli et un filo di corallo con bottoni d'oro". Inventario cit.,; Moreover it is recorded that: "una Golera di bottoncini d'oro alla Madonna della Grazia vicina alla porta della Chiesa. Un altra Golera con venti sei bottoncini d'oro con una crocetta d'oro con pietre false" (APM, Inventario, loc. cit.).

[20] AN, Antonio Rapa, 14th April 1526; Atto concessione delle Cappella della SSma Annunziata Vanno 1526, (APM, Giuliana Rabat, 6r).

[21] AN, Nicola Camilleri, 18th August 1585 (APM, Carte Vecchie del Convento di Notabile OFM, Vol. I, doc. 1;Giuliana cit., 63r).

[22] AN, Andrea Allegritto, 12th June 1620 (APM, Carte Vecchie, cit., Ibid., Giuliana cit., 96r).

[23] AN, Giovanni Azzopardi, 13th November 1676.

[24] Attestato giurato, cit., (APM, in SD, Vol. XVIII, doe. n. 56).

[25] Idem.

[26] Legacy of Paola Xerri in her will drawn in the Acts of Notary Antonio Sillato, 11th August 1584 and again renewed by her heirs in the Acts of Notary Public Ignatio Debono, 13th May 1705; (APM, Carte Vecchie, cit., 54r).

[27] Legacy of Innocenza Sillato Falzon in AN, Andrea Allegritto, 24th February 1611 (APM, Ibid., Vol. I, 24r and 100r).

[28] AN, Michele Ralli, 13th January1652 (Ibid., Vol. I, 47r and 130r-131r).

[29] ACM, Visita Pastorale Mons Molina (1680). Stato di tutte le Chiese di Malta, Pastoralia, Tomus I, Ms. 180, 378.

[30] Legacy of Girolama Cuccia, AN, Paolo Vella, 13th March 1636 (APM, Brevis Enuncleatio, cit., 10v).

[31] APM, Inventario, in. SD, Vol. IV, n. 13; Ibid., in Lettere Circolari H, 2r.

[32] "Quinturn et ultimum altare non habet ad linea aliarum, sed solam tabulam cum Beatissimae Virginis figura Christum de Cruce depositum sibique donatum per piisimos ab Arimathea et Nicodemum in sinu suo habente, que Mater Pietatis sic depicta comuniter nuncupatur" (APM, Chronaca cit., pp. 65-66).

[33] "In hoc eadem Sacro Altare SS.mi Crucifixi D.N. in quo ob ejus honore et SSmae Genitricis et Matris Pietatis, seu Septem Dolorum a multis annis humilis Cordigerorum Confraternitas erecta fuit" (Ibid., D. 66). And the same he repeats when describing the Oratory: "Atrium hoc ad dexteram ingredientis per portain habet ostium Oratori Confratrum SS.mi Crucifixi et B.mae Virginis Pietatis, seu Septem Dolorum, auro et picturis satis decori. . . (Ibid., p. 70).

[34] The Procurator Carlo Rosselli notes: "Per fattura del quadro (1674) dell'Oratorio fatto da Stefano il Pittore a tempo del mio antecessore a buon conto, scudi 10". Later on a further sum of seven scudi was paid. (AAC, Libro dei Conti 1672-1703, 27r, 169r. See also G. Scerri, Raccolta di Documenti E, p. 90).

[35] AAC, Libro Consulte 1738-1767, Consulta del 16 dicembre 1746.

[36] "In tutte le prime Domeniche del mese, et ogni volta, che si farà la SS.ma Comunione nel nostro Oratorio, finita la Messa, fra tanto che il Padre si lava le mani, si deve recitare con voce alta, e chiara, l'offerta al SS.mo Crocefisso et alla B.ma Vergine dal Sig.r Ministro inginocchiato avanti l'artale fra li due assistenti similmente inginocchiati con due torcie accese in mano, nel tempo tutti li fratelli ancor loro s'inginocchieranno dicendo sotto-voce la medesima offerta, e col cuore la quale finita, tutti s'alzeranno, e sederà ciascuno al suo posto" (Statuti Confraternità del SSmo Crocefisso, APM, in SD, Vol. XVI, doc. 89 §7).

[37] G. Scerri, Monografia dell'Arciconfraternità del SSmo Crocifisso canonicamente eretta nella Chiesa dei Frati Minori di Santa Maria di Gesù della Valletta, Malta 1932, 48.

[38] Ibid., 49.

[39] AAC, Inventario: Argenteria; G. Scerri, Ms. Raccolta di Documenti E, p. 92.

[40] Ibid., p. 36.

[41] AAC, Libro Consulte 1738-1767. Consulta del 12 Aprile 1765. For further reference see Scerri, Op. cit. 34-36.

[42] Confer Vinc. Borg, "The Hodegitria Madonna" in this same publication.

[43] AN, Giovanni Callus, 8th March 1625.

[44] APM, in SD, Vol. I, doe. 75, 18th April 1671.

[45] AN, Luca Mamo, 23rd October 1678; Benedetto Vassallo, 11th May 1686 and Ibid., on the 21st March 1692 (APM, in SD, Vol. II, doe. n. 77).

[46] AN, Giovanni Callus 23rd May 1659 (APM, Brevis Enuncleatio, 10r).

[47] "Coperto d'argento et guarnito con diversi voti di argento et oro", Inventario del 12 febraro 1674 (APM, in SD, Vol. IV, doe. 12). In another inventory it is noted: "tutto coverto d'argento, nel quale ci sono attaccati alcuni miracoli" (APM, SD, Vol. IV, doe. 15).

[48] Inventario loc. cit. For the origin of the Madonna di Trapani, confer C. Nicotra, Il Carmelo Sicilia-no nella Storia, Messina 1979, 227 ff. (APM, Inventario, in Lettere Circolari H, 3r). On the marble slab it is referred to as: Maria Vergine della Provvidenza.

[49] This historical note is found at the back of the frame of this painting, which is now kept in the Valletta Provincial Library for security reasons. Cfr also G. Scerri, Raccolta di Documenti A, p. xx.

[50] This Church was built for the use of the French Langue by Jacques de Chenci de Belly in 1620. It was rebuilt by the funds of the same Langue in 1744 (AOM, Ms. 1953, Lib. IV, cap. xxviii, 247, nn. 1 and 5).

[51] AN, Pasquale Debono, 1st December 1667. (APM, Giuliana Valletta, 78r-79r). It is not known for how long this legacy was fulfilled by the friars. In 1705 we note that in the friary Church: "ogni Sabbato nella Cappella del Immacolata Concezione dela B.V. . . si cantano le litanie dela Madonna nostra Signora assistendoci tutti i Religiosi di detto Convento con candele accese". Cfr. Attestato giurato, cit., (APM, SD, Vol. XVIII, doc. n. 56.). However, the Salve Regina is still sung every Saturday by the Community at the friary's choir.

[52] AN, Pasquale Debono, 7th February 1668( APM, Giuliana Valletta, 79v-80v).

[53] N. Glassenberger, Chronica, in Analecta Franciscana, Vol. II, Ad Claras Aquas, Firenze 1887, 219, 224; L. Wadding, Annales Minorum, ad an. 1399, n. 8; De Gubernatis, Orbis Seraphicus, Vol. III, Rome 1684, 77 n. 68; A. Matanic, Devozioni Francescane, Rome 1965, 94.

[54] "Determinazione fatta dal Capitolo della Cattedrale e Consiglio della Città per la Solenne celebrazione da farsi perpetuamente nella festa della Visitazione della Madonna in questa Diocesi" (ACM, Notizie diverse 1418-1688, Documenta Series A, Tom. II, Ms. 3, 28r; ACM, Misc. Notitiarum, 18, 181r).

[55] Regular Masses were said as bequeated by Paolo Gandolfo, Acts of Giacomo Sillato, 6th September 1581; another every Wednesday by Carlo Casciaro, Acts of Andrea Allegritto, 8th July 1612; another weekly Mass by Don Gregorio Xerri, Acts of Simone Galea, 7th December 1615; another every Saturday by Grazia Mompalao, Acts of Domenico Buttigieg, 23rd February 1616 (APM, Giuliana Rabat, 45r, 102r, 175r, 157r; Carte vecchie, cit., Vol. I, doe. 5, 25. 1).

[56] APM, Giuliana cit., 153v.

[57] APM,Lettere Circolari H, Inventario del 1706, 2v.

[58] Fr. Giov. Antonio Mercieca in 1730 gives the following description: "Icon veneratur antiquissima, et gothico more in tres ordines divina in quodam primo, e superiori representat in medio Corporis Christi Domini extincti depositionem de Cruce in sinum afflictiis V. Matris, a latere dextero D. Paulum et post ilium Divum Antonium Patavinum, a sinistro S.P.N. Franciscum, et post hunt S. Episcopum Ludovicum. In medio secundi ordinis B.mam Virginem in Cathedra sedentem cum divina Prole super ejus dexteram genu stante, et Angelus utrinque sacras adorantes Personas: a dexteris Deiparentis S. et Virgines stant Agatha et Catherina, a sinistris vero Lucia et Barbara: tertius et infimus ordo unius circiter palmi altitudinis adest, in quo Salvator Mundi in medio existens, et equali numero Apostolorum suorum ad dexteram, sinistramve associatus ostenditur . . . opus Messanae elaboratum anno 1517" (APM, Chronaca cit., p. 15. See contract of payment APM, Misc. Antica di Notabile OFM, pp. 3, 61, 104).

[59] APM, Giuliana Rabat, 365v. The present main altar piece was painted by Giuseppe Hyzler in 1855.

[60] Signed: "Antonius Catalanus Pic-tor Messanensis Pingebat 1600." Cfr. also A. Ferres, Descrizione storica delle Chiese di Malta e Gozo, Malta 1866, 208.

[61] ". . . per rendere uniformi quei conventi che hanno le Chiese sotto titolo di Santa Maria di Gesu abbiamo decretato con nostro Deffinitorio che in avvenire debbano solennizzare detto titolo coll'ufficio e Messa a 2 Luglio, e non altrimenti, non ostante qualsiasi inveterata consuetudine, onde comandiamo in virtù di Sta Ubbidienza ai Superiori locali che inviolabilmente osservino questo nostro Decreto sotto pena della privazione dell'ufficio" (APM, Lettere Circolari S. 374r).

[62] APM, Liber protestationum pro acceptatione piorum legatorum ecclesiae Sanctae Mariae Iesu Vallettae relictorum n.F, 2r.

[63] "Nei mese di Agosto la festa della Porziuncola che si celebra con gran pompa et innumerabile concorso de popoli anche de'Casali, per guadagnare l'Indulgenza confessandosi e communicandosi in detta Chiesa" (APM, Attestato giurato, cit., (an. 1705); SD, Vol. XVIII, doc. n. 56).

[64] AN, Ascanio Scaglia, 15th February, 1602.

[65] This legacy bequeated by Lucrezia Vasco and accepted by the community on the 22nd December 1603 provided also that: "per modum simplicis et pure elemosine manualis et modo licito qui puritati nostrae Regulae non obijciatur applicari in emptione lanae seu panno pro usu Religiosorum huius Conventus in tanta paupertate existentis . (APM, Liber Protestationum, cit., 1r).

[66] AN, Giuliano Felice, 29th January 1614 (APM, Brevis enuncleatio, cit., 12r).

[67] APM, SD, Vol. VII, doe. 35.

[68] APM, Liber Propositionum, 74v; and again noted by Fr Giov Antonio Mercieca in 1730 (APM, Chronaca cit., p. 61).

[69] APM, SD, Vol. VII, doc. 47.

[70] Idem.

[71] List of benefices provided for by this Fr Guardian between 1676-77 (APM, SD, Vol. IV, doc. 13).

[72] In the Rabat Giuliana it is stated: "Due quadri laterali, rappresentanti la Porziuncola e le Stimmate di San Francesco, lavorati dall'artista Maltese Sig.r Francesco Zahra a conto solo di scudi quarantaotto, il resto per carita; 15th September 1760" (Ibid., 365v).

[73] ACM, Ristretto, Ms. 165, 86v-87r.

[74] APM, Notizie de'Benefizi esistenti nell'Isola di Malta, Vol. 1, 9r-11r.

[75] Antonello Gagini declared that he received "habuisse uncias tres et tarenos viginti quatuor" and that up to the coming Easter the Pro-curator (Apostolic Syndic) had to add "unciarum sex". One can find this contract published by G. Di Marso, I Gagini e la scultura in Sicilia nei secoli XV e XVI, Vol. III, Palermo 1880, 60-61.

[76] "Fratres ... sponte concesserunt et concedunt hon. Michaeli Vella de Rabbato . . . quandam arctam cum uno altari cum eius quatro sub titulo Conceptionis Mariae Virginis ... intus Ecclesiasm predicti Ven. Conv. prope ianuam maiorem ex parte dextera ipsius Ecclesia". AN, Giuliano Muscat, 22nd September 1561( APM, Giuliana Rabat, Vol. I, 32r).

[77] AN, Antonio Rapa, 17th September 1539; AN, Demetrio Bonello, 6th July 1586 (APM, loc. cit., 15r-16r; 55r-56r).

[78] Legacies Pietro de Mazara, AN, Ferdinando Ciappara, 3rd January 1590 (APM, loc. cit., 75r-77v); Paolo Gandolfo, AN, Giacomo Sillato, 6th September 1581, (Ibid., 46r-52r); Vincenza Denoto, AN, Luca Mamo, 4th May 1657 (Ibid., 133r); Giacomo e Francia Callus, AN, Ferdinando Ciappara, 20th May 1595 (APM, Carte Vecchie, cit., Vol. I, doc. 4).

[79] "Fratres ejusdem Conventus quolibet sero Sabbati teneantur decantare litanias B.M.V. cum candelis accensis in manibus" (APM, Giuliana cit., 133r).

[80] Bequeated by Marietta Tonna, AN, Nicola Allegritto, 7th June 1680, (Ibid., 188r ff).

[81] APM, Miscellanea Antica del Convento di Notabile O.F.M., p. 84.

[82] A legacy left by Domenica Stuzino Alvè', AN, Ignazio Debono, 2nd November 1730 (APM, Giuliana cit., 363r).

[83] Maddalena and Maria Cuschieri, AN, Giacomo Filippo Tonna, 31st August 1735, (Ibid., 259r); Marzia Manduca, AN, Salvatore Chetcuti, 9th July 1752 (APM, Carte Vecchie, cit., Vol. II, doc. 1).

[84] APM, SD, Vol. XVII, doc. 136.

[85] Another legacy left by Gaspara Clemenzia Moutet, AN, Giuliano Felice, 23rd January 1658 (APM, Brevis Enuncleatio, cit., 3r).

[86] On the 23rd May 1699 permission was granted to Fr Anselmo di Malta to promote this devotion. I think it is useful to give the Congregation's reply: Molto Rev. Pre. Pre Oss.mo, Devo con particolarità d'ossequio rivenire il mento di V.P.M. Rev. perché colla devozione che vuol promulgare dell'Immacolata Concetione sempre purissima, mi da motivo di consolarmi in vedere ardor di spirito verso la Vergine SS.ma in altri cuori si fervorosi, che non contenti delle proprie fiamme voglion accendere nei cospetti de'fedeli, che sono in Malta il loco della venerazione dovuta alla detta SS.ma Madre di Dio, col benedire e dispenzare i suoi sacri habitini. Co'i dovuti ringraziamenti alla V.S.M. rimando inclusa la facoltà, acciò possa Ella, e suoi successori della Guardiania di cotesto Convento promuovere una tanta divozione. E mentre la prego a raccomandar alla stessa purissima Vergine Immacolata Madre e la mia Religione la supplico vivamente de' suoi riveriti comandi.
Roma li 23 maggio 1699, di V.P.M.R.
Rev.te e Obbed.mo Serv.re
D. Gregorio del Palzo C.R. M.R.P. Fr Anselmo di Malta Guardiano di Santa Maria di Gestt de' Minori Osservanti di S. Francesco Malta - Valletta. (APM, SD, Vol. XIII, doc. n. 46).

[87] APM, Registro: Nomina adscriptorum in Scapulari Immaculatae Conceptionis Deiparae.

[88] "... concessimus et indulsimus ut in Ecclesia B.Mariae de Aracoeli de Urbe Conventus eorundem Fratrum Minorum Observantium Archiconfraternitas Conceptionis B.Mariae Virginis Immaculatae institueretur cui aliae quemcumque confraternitas aggregari possent " (APM, Lettere Circolari S, 160v). Moreover the Minister General O.F.M. "privilegio erigendi ubique privative quod ad alios, Confraternitates Conceptionis Immaculatae B.M.V., tam in ecclesiis Ordinis, quam in aliis, pollet" Cfr. P. Capobianco, Privilegia et Facultates Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, Editio altera, Nuceriae Sup. (Salerno) 1948, 254.

[89] "Sono già stampate le Costituzioni Apostoliche per ciaschedun Convento circa l'erezione della Confraternità dell'Immacolata Concezione e si manderanno ai conventi fra breve quando capiterà da Roma la raccolta delle istituzioni, in tanto potranno i PP. Superiori locali prevedere, disporre, e tirare li devoti per un'opera si santa" (Lettera Circolare del 18 giugno 1730, APM, Ibid., 231r).
In the 1729 Milan General Chapter it was decided that: "in omnibus conventibus promoveantur confraternitates Immaculatae Conceptionis Ordinis nostri patronae" Cfr. C. Michelesius, Codex Redactus Legum Fratrum Minorum, Romae 1796, col. 435, n. 6.

[90] "Ordiniamo parimente e vogliamo assolutamente, che a tenor dello statuto milanese . . . che in tutti i Sabbati dell'anno non impediti da Santo di rito doppio debbasi cantare pel motivo cennato, si canti quella del Santo in onore della Concezione Maria dovendoci tutti impegnare a celebrare con pompa le glorie d'una Madre si benefica, e singolare Prottetrice sotto quest'unico privilegio del Nostro Serafico Ordine, intimando contro i trasgressori le pone tassate dalli nostri statuti, riferiti dal cennato statuto milanese" (Lettera Circolare del 27 giugno 1732, Ibid., 313r).
These Milan Statutes (1729) Codex Redactus cit., col. 443, n. 69, refer to the Toledo Statutes (1633) : "Exceptis Lectoribus actualibus theologiae, omnes, etiam patres, intersint missae singulis sabbatis non impeditis decantandae in honorem Conceptionis. Qui abfuerit prima, et secunda vice, incurrat notam indevotionis: tertia, expellatur a conventtr". (Ibid., col. 351, n. 4).

[91] Ibid. col. 1, n. 1.

[92] . . in parva capsula christallina palmaris figura cerea Immaculatae Conceptionis totius Religionis nostrae dilectissima Patrona" (APM, Chronaca, cit., p. 63).

[93] APM, Attestato giurato, cit., SD, Vol. XVIII, doc. n. 56.

[94] "Una croce d'oro - un cerchino d'oro senza l'effigie di S. Elena. Uno anello con tre fosse - altro piccolo con tre fosse - un circhetto d'oro liscio - una medaglia piccola d'argento un pie col cuore d'oro - una corona d'argento di peso once tre, e 7 ottavi Bottonelli d'oro numero venti un cuore di oro con 27 perle di peso un ottavo e 12 cocci, dodici stelle -d argento - due pendenti d'oro con 133 perle. Un calascinde d'oro - due brazzoletti d'oro - due pendenti d'oro a filograno - due orecchine d'oro liscie. Sotto il giorno 17 luglio 1787 furono portati due orecchini d'oro piccoline a filograno. Pia una piancia d'argento fatta a cuore" (APM, Inventario del 4 agosto 1784, in Lettere Circolari H, 174r).
The gold and silver ex-voto of this altar, as well as other Church valuables that the friars were unable to hide were stolen by the French. "1798, luglio 24: Dal Cittadino Carusson proveniente dalla Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesa, No 18 Una Cassa Suggellata ed un avant'Altare. idem 1798, luglio 24: Dal Cittadino Carusson provenienti dal Convento di Santa Maria di Gesa + No. 193. Una cassa suggellata che dice con oro ed argento: + 28 luglio Dal Cittadino Carusson proveniente dalla Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesa detta dei Zoccolanti No 31: Una cassa piccola suggellata a chiave. Da Santa Maria di Gesa Libri 3. 3. 6 oro Rotoli 123 argento" (Cfr. NLM, Ms. 437, p.n.n.).
We know also that each altar had its own silver sanctuary lamp (12) and every altar piece had a crown or silver halo (14) (APM, Inventario del 1741, ibid., 10r).

[95] Of great interest is the manuscript Le Glorie dell'Immacolata Concezione di Maria Mostrate in tragica Rappresentazione (author unknown c. 1706). Of further interest are the three rhythmic writings by Fr Giov. Antonio Mercieca delivered in the course of three successive years (1733-35) at Conventual Friars' Church in Valletta. a) "Se fosse maggiore l'allegrezza degli angeli o la pena de'demoni Immacolato Compimento di Maria"; b) "Se sia stato maggiore l'utile che Maria recò all'uomo sottratto da fallo originale o maggior il danno che Eva apporto all'uomo caduto nella colpa originale"; c) "Qual'or Maria Immacolata s'interessa a proteggerci, lo fa per motivo di giustizia, e perché deve, o per benignità, e perché vuole?" (APM, Lettere Circolari Y, 73r ff, 83r ff, 99r if).

[96] This was a common custom of the Order, but on the 6th November 1620, the Minister General P. Benigno di Genova ordered this vow in all Provincial Chapters "con maggior grandezza, solennità e devozione che fosse possibile" Cfr. C. Mariotti, L'Immacolata Concezione di Maria ed i Francescani, Quaracchi-Firenze 1904, 156-57. When on the 15th March 1721 our Provincial P. Giovanni Battista di Scicli ordered that the Friars are to renew their religious profession (16th April 1721) and those who were to be ordained to the priesthood to vow and defend the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, the formula used by the Maltese Friars is more explicit than that ordered by the said Minister General: "Pia fo voto, e giuro di difendere anche a costo del proprio sangue L'Immacolata Concettione di Maria in quel modo, che si difende, ed insegna nella nostra Scotica scola. " (APM, Lettere Circolari R, 16r).

[97] Worthy of mention is the ceiling painting of the Provincial Library in Valletta, attributed to Francesco Zahra depicting the apotheosis of the Franciscan School and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception,

[98] "Le orazione si termineranno col dire: "`Sia per sempre lodato il SSmo Sacramento, e la gran Madre di Dio Concetta senza macchia di peccato originale nel suo primo istante" (APM, Lettera Circolare del 15 maggio, S, 383r).

[99] Chronaca XXIV Ministrorum Generalium in Analecta Franciscana III, Quaracchi-Firenze 1897: Cap. Gen. Pisis habito an. 1263, 329; Cap. Gen. Assisii 1269, 351; Chronica Historica Legalis Seraphici Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, Vol. I, ed. a Michaele Angelo a Neapoli, 1650, 27; Firmamenta Trium Ordinum Beatissimi Patris Nostri Francisci, Parisiis 1512, pars I, fol. xxix; S. Van Dijk, Sources of the Modern Roman Liturgy. The ordinals by Haymo of Faverscham and related documents (1243-1307), Vol. II, Leiden 1963, p. 441, n. 8; D. Cresi, Il Beato Benedetto Sinigardi d'Arezzo e l'origine dell'Angelus Domini, Firenze 1958.

[100] APM, Lettere Circolari S, p. 104.

[101] "Ordiniamo inoltre che in tutti i Conventi si suoni ad hora debita it mezzo giorno, ed Ave Maria, per godere le indulgenze concessi dalla S. di N.S. Benedetto XIII di fel. mem. essendo vergogna che in taluni conventi li Superiori locali in cio trascurati, allegando non esservi quest'usanza se non nelle festività" (APM, Ibid., p. 376).

[102] "E perché vogliamo che sia introdotta in tutte le Parrocchie della nostra Diocesi la Sagra devozione nel mistero dell'Immacolata Concezione di Maria SSma … pertanto ordiniamo che per l'avvenire nelle Parrocchie sul nascer del sole, con la campana maggiore si suonino dodici tocchi a nello stesso tempo il popolo istrutto reciterà dodici Ave in onore del detto mistero dell'Immacolatissima Concezione et in onore dei Suoi Privilegi et a quelli che li recitano, concediamo quaranta giorni di Indulgenza" G. Scerri, Ms. Raccolta di Documenti E, p. 209).

[103] We give two examples from the books of administration: Introito: Cerca di Fra Pietro da Malta - 2 febraro 1736 - Scudi 6 per la cera della Candelora per li devoti". Esito: 2 febraro 1762 "Cera per la Candelora rotoli 40 once 3: Scudi 66, 10 tarì 2 grana". We note even of an increase of 12 gr. In payment for whoever crossed over with the candle to Vittoriosa for the Inquisitor (APM, Introito 1736, Esito 1762, p.n.n.). In the Attestato giurato several times mentioned it is stated that "si distribuiscono ogni anno a tutti devoti the sono molti, nel giorno della Purificazione della B.V.M.", (APM, SD, Vol. XVIII, doc. n. 56).

[104] APM, Concessione sito Oratorio - 9 qennaio 1696: "Item li sudetti Ministri e Fratelli saranno tenuti et obbligati in perpetuo di dare e consegnare al R.P. Guardiano di detto Ven. Conv.... jus recognitionis nel giorno della Purificazione della Vergine una candela . .." (APM, SD, ol. XVI, doc. 6).

[105] A legacy left by Imperia Xerri, 27th January 1627, AN, Bernardo Azzopardi (APM, Giuliana Rabat, 183v).

[106] Another legacy left by Innocenza Silato Falzon, AN, Andrea Allegritto; (Ibid., 100r-101r).

[107] "Ogni sera nel sonare l'orazione si reciti in comunità avanti il SSmo Sacramento la terza parte del Rosario a voce alta, et a Coro per guadagnare l'Indulgenza ultimamente concessa dalla felice memoria di Benedetto XIII, e finito il Rosario si seguiti l'orazione mentale " (APM, Lettere Circolari S, 230r).

[108] APM, Lettere Circolari Z, 99v-100r.