Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Malta Historical Society]. 6(1974)3(333-335)

C. SCICLUNA — G. B. GAUCI (editors): 350 Sena Kolleggjata 1623-1973, Lux Press, Malta, 1974, 75 pp., illus.

In December 1973 special celebrations were held in Gozo to comme­morate the 350th anniversary of the erection of the Collegiate Church of the Assumption. This Church subsequently became the Cathedral of [p.334] Gozo when it was made a diocese in 1864. A fully illustrated diary of the celebrations is presented in this book. It includes commemorative essays and poems as well as analytical and juridical articles of historical interest. The poems are written by Anton Buttigieg, Gorg Pisani and Mgr. A. Gauci. The results of an essay competition and excerpts from the speech of Mgr. N. Cauchi, Bishop of Gozo, which was made on the conclusion of the festivities, are also published here.

Chev. J. Borg reviews the history of the Collegiate Church in his article "Il-Knisja 'Matriċi', Kolleġġjata u Katidrali t'Għawdex". He explains how the canonical prebends were established and gives lists of privileges granted to the church and of parish priests and archpriests who were at one time or other in charge of the Church of the Assumption. It is of particular interest to note that a new church was built on the plans of Lorenzo Gafa following the destruction of the earlier building as a result of the earthquake of 1693 and that the pectoral cross that the Gozitan canons wear, is a decoration awarded by Grand Master De Rohan.

In "Il-Ġrajja Bikrija tal-Knisja Matriċi t'Għawdex 1435-1551", Dr G. Wettinger throws new light on ecclesiastical history: the Church of St. Mary was already referred to as a matriċi (senior church) in 1435; there are various 15th century notarial acts which refer to this church as matriċi; the 'Rollo' of Bishop De Mello of 1436 gives a list of already existing benefices including ten parishes in Malta. The Church of the Assumption was especially popular among the richer families: they enriched it by favouring it with legacies and the building of chapels. In 1494 the Noble Lady Paola de Navarra wanted to set up a chapel dedi­cated to Our Lady of Loreto; by 1543 the Castelletti had a chapel dedicated to St. Catherine; by the beginning of the 16th century the Pontremoli and the Monpalao also had established their chapels. The Church of the Assumption was popular among the Gozitan upper class and especially among those who lived within the walls of the Cittadella.

Rev. Dr. Alexander Bonnici examines critically the erection of the Collegiate Church in "It-Twaqqif ta' l-Ewwel Kolleġġjata f'Għawdex". Mgr. Cagliares, Bishop of Malta (1615-1633), erected the Collegiate Church so that a number of pious bequests could be fulfilled — a transcription and a translation of the Edict (1623) are provided. Since 1623 the parish priest of the Assumption was referred to as Archpriest. Sub­sequently a number of acts were made to confirm the Erection: in 1625 the bequest of Nicola Mahnuq was applied; in 1631 the Congregation of the Council confirmed the Bishop's deeds; in 1639 Pope Urban VIII issued the Bull Nostri Pastoralis Officii thereby reviewing what had been done so far; in 1661 Inquisitor Casanati sent an appeal to Rome asking for an [p.335] official confirmation of the Erection. In answer to an appeal made by the people and the clergy of this church, Pope Alexander VII issued the Bull Superna Dispositione in 1663. In this memorable Bull the history of the Church of the Assumption is again reviewed and an official apostolic approval to the Erection of the Collegiate Church is given.

The publication of such a collection of articles and literary works certainly renders the commemoration of such an occasion memorable.