Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Published by the Malta Historical Society]. 6(1973)2(201)

[p.201] Reviews 1973

G. LUPI, Il rito greco a Malta, estratto da “La Chiesa greca in Italia dall’VIII al XVI secolo,” Padova 1973, pp. 1247-1259.

Mgr. Lupi, lecturer in Patrology at the local Faculty of Theology, has regaled students of Maltese History and scholars in general with a very interesting, if brief, study of the Greek Church in Malta. He briefly examines the available data which lead to the conclusion that the Greek rite must have existed in Malta, along with the Latin, at some time before the coming of the Knights in 1530, long before which date, however, it had ceased to exist possibly under pressure from the Normans. These data include: the special relationship between Malta and Sicily, where the two rites co-existed for many centuries; old Maltese toponyms like Bieb il-Grekin and Wied il-Rum; the Oriental custom of Christian and Hebrew burials in Maltese catacombs; fundamental religious loan-words like quddiesa, magġmudija, qrar, tewba traced back to Syrian Christian terminology; liturgical feasts like Ġadd il-Gġid, Sibt Lazzru, Santa Venera showing clear links with Greek liturgy; religious terms like Lapsi, liti, miru, malluta that seem to be directly derived from Greek; a couple of Christian Greek inscriptions recorded by G.F. Abela in 1647. The Knights brought with them to Malta in 1530 about 4,000 Greeks from Rhodes, as well as a miraculous (and highly artistic) icon of Our Lady of Damascus. The Rhodians soon dwindled down to few scores, but a small community of Greek worshippers, despite adverse pressure from many quarters, not least the Inquisition, survived to this very day around the church dedicated to Santa Maria Damascena. An even smaller community of Orthodox Greeks, presumably dating back to the early 19th century, also exists in Valletta.

J. Mangion