Wednesday, 9 May 2018

St George Preca

Saint George Preca (1880-1962)
Today is the liturgical feast of Malta’s first and only saint, Father George Preca. Although some people claim St Publius as the first Maltese saint, the bishop who was in Malta when St. Paul was shipwrecked here in 60 AD. Born in Valletta on 12 February 1880, George was the seventh child in a middle-class family of nine. His father, Vincent Preca, was first a merchant and then a sanitary inspector. His mother, Nathalie Ceravolo, was a teacher. George's boyhood was nothing spectacular, but he did not lack that adventurous spirit and courage which form the backbone of any leader. Feeling that he was called to be a priest, he moved from the Lyceum to the Seminary where as a young student he distinguished himself in his studies, especially in Latin.
Moreover, at a time when the laity had not yet been officially recognised as important in the mission of spreading the Gospel, right after his ordination, St. George Preca entrusted his followers with the responsibility of teaching catechism. His little group of men and women grew up to be the Society of Christian Doctrine (known locally as M.U.S.E.U.M.) The acronym for M.U.S.E.U.M. is Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus! which in translation means: "Teacher, O that the whole world would follow the Gospel!" Today the society consists of about 110 Centres and 1100 members. They teach about 20,000 boys and girls in the Maltese islands, in Australia, Peru, the Sudan, United Kingdom, Kenya and Albania. St George died on July 26, 1962, age 82. He was beatified on May 9, 2001 by Pope John Paul II in an open-air ceremony in Malta.
St George was canonized on June 3, 2007 in the St Peter’s square at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI. An interesting anecdote about St George is the fact that back in 1955, he had suggested to his members to start praying another Mystery of the Rosary, the Mysteries of Light, and he devised the exact 5 Gospel scenes that were introduced by Pope St John Paul in 2002. Ever since his canonization, much more devotion spread around Malta, and a parish was dedicated to him, and various statues were crafted, in paper-mache and in bronze.

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