Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.
Source: Melita Historica. [Published by the Malta Historical Society]. 6(1973)2(210-211)
BONAVENTURA FIORINI OFM CONV., Ancora sul culto a San Antonio nell'isola di Malta: Il Santo, Anno XIII, fasc. I, Padova 1973, 177-186, illustrated.
In another study, published in 1965,1 Fr Fiorini has traced the origins of St Anthony’s cult in Malta as well as its impact on Maltese art and life in their various manifestations. The present study is meant to be complementary to his previous contribution. This time, apart from providing further documentary evidence illustrating the aspects analysed before, the author presents also an account of the saint’s influence on Maltese literature. Fr Fiorini is to be congratulated for his patient work to bring out and to record the Saint’s devotion among the Maltese. It is to be hoped that other research dealing particularly with social and religious life in Maltese parishes will, eventually, furnish other important information in this regard.
Incidentally, some time ago, while analysing documents relating to Siggiewi, I came across a reference to a stone statue of Padua’s saint. [p.211] This statue had been donated to the old parish church of the village by the conventual chaplain fra Gio. Anonio Vattable sometime before 1653. During that year, it was adorning one of its side altars.2 It is quite probable that this is the earliest statue of the saint existing in our parish churches recorded so far. Similarly, in 1651, this saint shared, together with St Dominic, one of the side altars at the old parish church of Mosta.3 The same saint appeared in the altar piece placed sometime about 1723 in the right hand transept of Tarxien parish church. He is here found together with Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Philip Neri.4 When a thorough analysis of our parish churches and chapels scattered in our islands will be ready, Fr Fiorini will be provided with other interesting information which, I am sure, he will appreciate.
The benefice entitled “Sant’Antnin tal-Gharb,” mentioned by the author, does not refer to St Anthony of Padua, but to St Anthony the Abbot.5 The latter had quite a widespread devotion in Malta during the 16th century and even afterwards. In Dusina’s days, there were, in all, about eleven chapels and altars dedicated to the hermit saint. At Gozo, apart from the ecclesiastical benefice bearing St Anthony’s name mentioned above, there were another three having similar nomenclature, namely, San Antonio ta’ Casal Caccia, San Antonio ta’ Ghajn Xejba and San Antonio ta’ Qabbieza. Once more, these three refer to St Anthony the Abbot.6
1 Bonaventura Fiorini OFM Conv., Il culto a Sant'Antonio nell'isola di Malta: Il Santo, Anno V, fasc. 3 (Padova 1965), 269-285.
2 AAM (Secretariat), Pastoral Visit Balaguer 1653-54, 176v.
3 AAM (Secretariat), Pastoral Visit Balaguer 1656-59, 179v.
4 AAM (Secretariat), Pastoral Visit Gori Mancini 1722-23, 522v. A reproduction of this altar piece is found in my book Il-Knisja Parrokkjali ta' Ħal Tarxien (Malta 1973), 59.
5 G.F. De Soldanis (Farrugia’s translation), Għawdex bil-ġrajja tieħu, Vol. II (Malta 1953), 25.
6 Ibid., 63, 24.