Copyright The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Published by the Malta Historical Society]. 5(1969)2(192)

JOSEPH ZARB, Zabbar Sanctuary and the Knights of St. John, Zabbar, Veritas Press, 1969, pp. 124.

The Zabbar Sanctuary is undoubtedly one of the best known shrines of our Islands. But, though many illustrious persons had in past and present numerous contacts with this Sanctuary, no one knew about many interesting events that should impress an indelible name in history.

Undoubtedly, no one can boast to have a thorough knowledge of the facts and a passionate dedication to the Sanctuary as the Author has. In fact, Fr. Joseph Zarb lavished all his strength as a Parish Priest for a long span of time.

The volume means to present the bonds of affection that tied the Knights of St. John to the Zabbar Sanctuary. Each historical section is divided into two parts. Firstly, the Author briefly recalls the history of various exploits and campaigns of the Knights; then, he comments on the votive offerings donated to the Sanctuary through the successive epochs. Each section is abundantly decorated with illustrations. Each illustration refers to a historical fact.

Some, at least, of these paintings, jealously preserved in the Zabbar Sanctuary, are of a relevant artistic importance. Consequently, a brief artistic valuation of the most important votive offerings would had been highly appreciated.

A historical work is truly appreciated when it gives out something really new. This is the case of this book. Many facts were completely unknown. We highly appreciate the Appendix of this study. There we find a photographic publication of numerous extracts from the Sanctuary's 1679 and 1699 inventories. Besides, the extracts from Alexander VII's Diary (who had been an Inquisitor and Apostolic Delegate in Malta) are really valuable. But, since many of these documents do not refer to the Knights of St. John, I would have published them by themselves in a separate study.

Alexander Bonnici O.F.M.Conv.