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George Preca

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Saint George Preca
Saint George Preca
Second Apostle of Malta
Born 12 February 1880(1880-02-12), Valletta, Malta
Died 26 July 1962 (aged 82), Santa Venera, Malta
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 9 May 2001, Floriana, Malta[1] by Pope John Paul II
Canonized 3 June 2007, Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI
Feast 9 May
Patronage Malta, Society of Christian Doctrine

Saint George Preca (in Maltese: San Ġorġ Preca) (12 February 1880 - 26 July 1962) was a Maltese Roman Catholic priest who founded the Society of Christian Doctrine,[a] a society of lay catechists. In Malta, he is affectionately known as "Dun Ġorġ" and is popularly referred to as the "Second Apostle of Malta", after Saint Paul of Tarsus. He was canonized on 3 June 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI.[2]



Saint George Preca has been likened as a successor to Saint Paul's evangelical work on the island of Malta.

Formation of the Society for Christian Doctrine, M.U.S.E.U.M.

While still a student, Preca began writing a Rule, in Latin, for use in a confraternity of "permanent deacons he intended to found."[b][3] However Preca modified this project into a less concretely defined group of well-informed young men, who would then be able to spread Christian doctrine on Malta. Preca was inspired to this end after he heard a sacristan teaching heresy to children and dedicated his society to ending such erroneous teaching.

On 7 March 1907 Preca rented a small house on Fra Diegu Street in Ħamrun. He began gathering young men and teaching them catechism. Preca's co-workers in the newly formed Society for Christian Doctrine were called, according to hierarchy, papidi, apostles, and then soċi. Preca's task was formidable. He directed a society of laymen who, while teaching catechism, needed to be instructed themselves.[1] Furthermore, the very idea of training laymen to spread Church doctrine was considered revolutionary[4] with some Maltese officials accusing Father Preca of insanity[3] at the very idea.

These fears were the cause of many clashes with the Church curia. In 1909, Preca was ordered to close down all his houses, as the bishops of Malta feared that the laymen trained by his society were not well-educated enough. The curia's order was later retracted, but it was not until until 1932 that Archbishop Mawru Caruana officially approved of the society.[1] One young man, Eugenio Borg, known as Ġeġè, eventually became the first Superior General of Preca's society.[4] Today the Society consists of approximately 110 centers and 1100 members. Altogether, it is responsible for over 20,000 young men and women in the Maltese islands, in Australia, Peru, the Sudan, United Kingdom, Kenya and Albania.

Natalino Camilleri is the fourth Superior General of the Society, following Victor Delicata. He was appointed as the Superior General of the Society on Wednesday 15th April 2009 during a General Chapter held in Santa Venera. [2]

Later life

On 21 July 1918, Ġorġ Preca joined the Carmelite Third Order, in the Carmelite Priory at Santa Venera. He professed as a member of the same Third Order on 26 September of the following year, assuming the name Franco, after the Carmelite Blessed Franco of Siena. In 1952, the Prior General of the Carmelite Order Fr Kilian Lynch affiliated Dun Gorg to the Order, in recognition of his untiring efforts to spread devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Preca was nominated as a secret Papal Chamberlain with the title of Monsignor in 1952, but was reportedly unaffected completely, as worldly things did not concern him. In 1957, Preca wrote the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, declared an official meditation of the Rosary by Pope John Paul II years later.[5] In 1961, after a whole lifetime in Ħamrun, his failing health forced him to move to his housekeeper's home in Santa Venera. She was Nelly Bartolo,[6] and had known Preca since before the war, listening to his daily sermons in il-Ħamrun. Preca, who by then had no earthly possessions, except for a single pair of shoes (a lace from which would prove instrumental in his becoming a saint), lived there for one year exactly to the day, dying on 26 July 1962. For years, Bartolo kept all his belongings neat and tidy as if he were still present in the household.[1]

Veneration and cause for canonization

Father Ġorġ Preca first came to the attention of the Ordinary Congregation of the Cardinals and Bishops of the Congregation for Causes of Saints, which examined the scientifically unexplainable healing of Charles Zammit Endrich in 1964. Zammit Endrich had suffered from a detached retina of the left eye. The healing was declared as miraculous, and was attributed to the intercession of the Father Ġorġ Preca[1] after Zammit Endrich prayed to him and placed one of the priest's belongings under his pillow. The healing took place outside of a hospital, overseen by the personal doctor of Zammit Endrich, Dr. Ċensu Tabone who was later to be appointed President of Malta.

On 24 June 1975, Archbishop Mikiel Gonzi issued a decree initiating the process of Preca's canonization. He was declared "venerable" on 28 June 1999, and on 27 January 2000, Pope John Paul II signed the decree which officially confirmed the Zammit Endrich healing.

In a ceremony in Floriana, Malta on 9 May 2001, Father Preca was beatified by Pope John Paul II with Nazju Falzon and Maria Adeodata Pisani.[1]


On 23 February 2007 during the Vatican consistory, Father George Preca was proclaimed the first Maltese Catholic saint. He was canonized in Rome on 3 June 2007 along with three other new saints.[2] In his homily, Pope Benedict XVI called Saint George Preca "a friend of Jesus", and at the end of the celebration, he spoke in Maltese, saying the newly declared saint is the second father in faith of the Maltese and Gozitan people.


  1. ^ The Society of Christian Doctrine is commonly referred to by the acronym "MUSEUM", which stands for the Latin "Magister utinam sequatur evangelium universus mundus!", translating to "Master, that the whole world would follow the Gospel!"[3]
  2. ^ Permanent deacons are deacons that are not candidates for priestly ordination. The purpose that Preca had in mind for the membership of his society would be helping the Maltese bishops in the doctrinal formation of those in their bishoprics.
  3. ^ For the words of Pope John Paul at the ceremony, see the Vatican press release: In the Footsteps of St. Paul: Papal Visit to Greece, Syria, and Malta. Notably, His Holiness makes parallels to the Society's title (Magister utinam..., etc.) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and refers to Preca as "Malta's second father in faith."


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Dun Gorg Preca". Newsmakers in 2001. Malta Today. 2001-12-30. Retrieved 2007-04-10. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Gorg Preca is officially Malta's first Catholic Saint". MaltaStar. 2007-02-23. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Jones, Terry. "George Preca". Patron Saints Index. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Meli, C. "Beatu Dun Gorg Preca". Retrieved 2007-04-10. 
  5. Christoffersen, Hans (ed.) (2003). The Rosary of Pope John Paul II. Liguori Publications. 
  6. Mizzi, Charles (2007-05-29). "Nelly of Saint Gorg". Retrieved 2007-07-07. 

External links

sq:At Gjergj Preka

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