Tribunal sessions for witnesses

Malta 1987

 

 

ne pereant (Norm 16a[ii])

 

 

 

Sessio Prima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo sexto die vero 1a Dicembris in Aula Tribunalis adsunt Reverendus Dominus Arthurus Said Pullicino, Vicarius Judicialis et ab Exc.mo D.no Josepho Mercieca, Archiepiscopo Melitensi ad hoc specialiter deputatus, et infrascriptus Notarius.

 

Viso et perlecto Decreto Exc.mi Archiepiscopi Melitensis diei 12a Novembris 1986, comparuerunt Rev.dum Fratrem Aloijsium Pisani, OCD, Judicem Delegatum, Rev.dum Dominum Josephum Bajada, Promotorem Justitiae, Rev.dum Dominum Carmelus Farrugia Notarius, necnon Rev.dum Fratrem Marium Scerri, MSSP, actuarium adiunctum

 

Omnes juramentum de munere fideliter ad implendo et de secreto servando, tacto pectore, prestiterunt uti constet ex documentis alligatis.

 

 

Frater Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delagatus Episcopalis;

Sac. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

Frater Marius Scerri MSSP

A. Said Pullicino, Vicarius Judicialis

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Secunda

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo, die vero nona ianuarii, (sive 9-1-1987) hora 9.30 a.m.

 

Coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, praesentibus Promotor Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Domina Carmela Mallia, testis a Postulatione inducta, cui dilatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam adnexam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Carmela Mallia testis iuravi:

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotore Iustitiae et dicta teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum iudex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita:-.

 

I. Generalia

 

1.         Iuramentum praestitit ut supra.

 

2.         Mi chiamo Carmela Mallia moglie del fu Giuseppe, e figlia di Giovanni Maria Sant e Maria nee Deguara, nata a Naxxar, il 2 Gennaio 1901, di religione cattolica e pratticante; casalinga.

 

3.         Non ho nessuna parentela col Servo di Dio; e non ho nessuna relazione con la Societa’ Missionaria di San Paolo. Ho conosciuto ii Servo di Dio quando avevo circa sette anni e mi trovavo allora nell’Istitutu “Fra Diego”. Mi sento obligata al Servo di Dio perche’ durante la mia fanciullezza, e anche dopo, mi ha auitato molto nella mia formazione specialmente spirituale.

 

4.         Do la mia testimonianza perche’ i membri della Societa’ formata dal Servo di Dio hanno chiesto quelli che sanno qualcosa circa la vita, etc. del Servo di Dio di dare la loro testimonianza. E perche’ io ho conosciuto Mons. De Piro quando ero ragazza, e anche dopo, e perche’ voglio che la sua virtu’ sia nota, ho accettato di testificare.

 

Nessuno mi ha suggerito che cosa rispondero’ durante questo interrogatorio.

 

5.         Io ho conosciuto il Servo di Dio personalmente quando ero ricoverata nell’Istituto “Fra Diego”, dove lui era allora Direttore. Io stavo nell’ Istituto per dodici anni; poi continuavo ad avvicinare il Servo di Dio nelle mie difficolta’, e le sue parole mi recavano molta consolazione.

 

6.         Iam provisum.

 

7/8       Negative ad omnia.

 

II-VIII

 

Interrogatio ex officio No. 1:  Sa il teste qualcosa sulla vita, etc. del Servo di Dio fino alla sua Ordinazione Sacerdotale?

 

Non so niente.

 

IX        Ministero Sacerdotale e Predicazione.

 

1-15    Lo conosco come un sacerdote zelante, che confessava, predicava, assisteva i moribondi. Era devoto dell’Eucaristia e della B.V. Maria. Largiva molta elemosina ai bisognosi.

 

XI-XIV

Su questi punti Ia teste non sa niente.


 

XV       Come Direttore dell’Istituto “Fra Diego” per ragazze.

 

1.         So da altri che quando il Servo di Dio fu nominato Direttore dell’ Istituto “Fra Diego” questo Istituto si trovava in condizioni precarie. Quando Mons. De Piro assunse il ruolo di Direttore ( e questo lo so di esperienza propria) le cose si cambiavano radicalmente in tutto: finanziariamente, spiritualmente, nell’educazione, istruzione e formazione tanto materiale quanto spirituale. Come esempio pratico cito questo fatto: una volta la Madre dell’Istituto ci diceva che non avevamo pane, e l’Istituto aveva un debito di £90; e ci esortava di pregare. Cosi’ facemmo, e Mons. De Piro (ci diceva la Madre Superiora) provvedeva tanto per pagare il debito, quanto per ottenere il pane.

 

XVI-XXI

 

Ex audito so anche che fu Direttore di altri istituti, cioe’ “San Giuseppe” a Harnrun, di “Gesu’ Nazzareno” a Zejtun; di San Francesco de Paoli” a B’Kara, e San Giuseppe” a Gozo.

 

Peractis supradictis interrogationibus testis declaravit se nihil aliud habere deponendum. Declarationem (Doc. 2) inclusam Tribunali submisit fecitque uti sua et confirmavit atque iuramento subsignavit.

 

 

Document No. 2

 

Statement submitted by Carmela Mallia, of 67, Old Mill Street, Mosta, concerning the Servant of God, Joseph De Piro.

 

I was admitted to Fra Diego Institute in 1906. At that time the Franciscan Fathers were in charge of the Institute as they had taken over responsibilities for it in place of the Founder Fra Diego Bonanno. I remember when, later, Mgr. De Piro became Director of the Institute.

 

The very first thing I remember about Mgr. De Piro is the great devotion he had for the Eucharist. When I was eight years old I was ready to receive my first Holy Communion along with eight other girls of the institute. At that time Mgr De Piro had to visit the Pope and he spoke to His Holiness about these girls from the Institute who were about to receive their first Holy Communion. The Pope was so pleased that he sent us, children, a small cross with his image on it as a souvenir.

 

I also remember how careful Mgr. De Piro was to attend regularly at the weekly adoration. Before the Eucharistic Congress we used to have this weekly adoration every Friday, but after the Congress we started holding it on Thursdays and Mgr. De Piro never failed to be with us. Moreover, when on special feast days he would say Mass at Fra Diego Institute we were much impressed by the devotion with which he officiated. He not only lived this devotion in his own life but he also managed to instill it in us, children.

 

He also had a great devotion for our Lady and his mother often told the children at Fra Diego’s that their Director felt the priestly call precisely on the feast of our Lady of Pompei, the 8th of May. He established a custom among us girls when he first named us aspirants in our devotion towards Mary. Later, if in the meantime our conduct had been good, he nominated us  “children of Mary” marking the transition from one stage to the other with a short ceremony.

 

Every 8th of May he encouraged us, children, to make a list on a piece of paper of all our personal intentions and the graces and favours we sought. He then invited us to present these petitions to our Lady, on the altar during Mass and place them in front of the tabernacle. Then after Mass he recited the petitions to our Lady of Pompei and we repeated the prayer after him.

 

Whenever he found it possible, and as long as his increasing responsibilities allowed, it was a pleasant duty with him to say a few words to us girls, especially on feast days.  He liked doing this in the evening at the end of the day’s work and before he imparted his blessing.

 

After Easter he would arrange for a priest or other to come over to the Institute and to preach a course of spiritual exercises to us over a period of eight days. On one occasion he could find no priest to undertake this task and so he stepped in and gave us a series of sermons himself.

 

Mgr. De Piro concerned himself not only with the children’s spiritual welfare but also with their material well being. In fact apart from what I have already stated I may add that he also supervised the schooling the children received.  He gave great importance to this and he would follow us in our studies individually to satisfy himself that we were making good progress.

 

He also gave much importance to the teaching of trade subjects and crafts. Before he came to Fra Diego’s certain trades were being taught at the Institute but Mgr. De Piro added other subjects to the list and brought about a great improvement in their teaching. And he was not alone to interest himself in this connection because even members of his family liked to place orders for work to be done for them at the Institute. There was a first class dressmaker to teach the girls her craft and the Franciscan Sisters who looked after the Institute, and especially those among them who hailed from Gozo, taught us lace making. At the end of the day Mgr. De Piro would go round the workshops and inspect carefully the work done during the day. He also enjoyed taking visitors round to the workshops to see the girls at work.  One particular visitor I remember was Lord Strickland with whom Mgr. De Piro was very friendly, and he used to tell us that Lord Strickland was a benefactor of our Institute.

 

He was fully aware of the value of recreation and made sure that we had our share of it and he constantly encouraged the children to take part in stage activities. This was especially so at the time of his first arrival at the Institute when he would make us go on stage and act a part or other. Later on he stopped making us use the stage and we then began acting on the floor instead.

 

In summer he used to take us to the seaside and we loved going for a forthnight’s stay at Santu Rokku between Floriana and Valletta where he rented accommodation for us and he also arranged for our transport there and back. Every now and again his mother would take us to St. Paul’s Bay where Mgr. De Piro’s brother Father Santino had a house close to the sea where we would spend whole days.

 

Mgr. De Piro was a tall and well built man, neat in person and cautious in manner, with a commanding presence. This is not to say however that we children were afraid of him, because he was at the same time kindness itself and was much devoted to us children. In his capacity of Director the Sisters of the Institute came to him for all their needs and he was always ready to provide all they required.  He never ever mentioned where or how he obtained the things which were asked of him and sometimes it was evident that it was he himself who was the donor. One day the Mother Superior asked us to say special prayers as the sum of ninety pounds was urgently needed to pay off our debt for bread.  Soon after we came to know that the Director had acquired the sum in question. During the war (the First World War) he saw to it that we never lacked anything even though the times were difficult. We had all we needed and never missed our morning tea and we also had sugar and bread every day.

 

His care for us was not limited to our stay at the Institute but followed us even when we came to leave. It pleased him to buy bales of cloth for making into clothes, and when we reached the age of fifteen he would tell the Mother Superior to prepare a parcel with the clothes we needed when we left the Institute, and to start putting by a little money regularly to be given to girls at the time of their departure.

 

Mgr De Piro’s solicitude for the girls of Fra Diego’s never weakened. Some time after I had left the Institute, and when I was married, I went to see him. As soon as he saw me ha asked me about my husband and his work.  He did this because he wanted to know if all went well with us and if we needed any assistance. The Director always gave his help to any girl who left the Institute and those among them who needed advice and assistance in order to get married.  And apart from giving financial aid, he also counseled and helped in finding suitable husbands for them. This is in fact what he did for Julia Zarb and Rosina Franco. Similarly and to the same extent he gave his help and support to those girls who were inclined towards a religious calling and there were many he helped to embrace the religious life. In my own time I know of four girls who became nuns thanks to his help.

 

His generosity did not only benefit the girls of the Institute but he also gave a helping hand to any of his penitents who asked for his help. When any girl at the Institute fell ill he would give her particular attention and would also find the time to visit such girls when they had to go to hospital. In fact during one of my visits to him after my departure from the Institute he reminded me of an occasion when I was about seven years old, and was ill, and he would come to visit me in hospital.

 

He was so thoughtful of the girls and kept them so constantly in mind that when he gave a party to celebrate his twenty-fifth anniversary as Director of the Institute, he invited all ‘old girls’ of the Institute.

 

We often heard that he also aided the Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth Institute in their work for children entrusted to them and moreover, he also gave them his support to have them established as a Congregation of Sisters.

 

The parents of children at the Institute also benefited from his generosity. On many occasions he was called to the deathbed of one or other of the parents of a girl and he would go to assist them in the last moments of their life. He also gave financial aid to those families who needed it.

 

He gave so much in charity that his mother used to say that he would end by bringing about her financial ruin. Whenever she saw him coming she would say jokingly: “Look, here comes my beggar!” And this would always make him laugh. He was always generous and open handed and with all those who stood in need.

 

Mgr. De Piro was a priest whose life was entirely dedicated to the Church. I remember how he would stay for long hours hearing confessions at St. Cajetan’s Church. He was a very good preacher too, and I remember the Parish Priest of Hamrun praising his ability in this connection.

 

When Lord Strickland was involved in his quarrel with the Church Mgr. De Piro did all he could to straighten things out. In fact Lord Strickland used to seek his advice and the Monsignor would invite us to pray for him. It was through his efforts that Strickland eventually acknowledged his error and sought reconciliation with the Church. Mgr De Piro often remarked that Lord Strickland was a good man.

 

The morning of the day he died, after he had said Mass for the children, he told us that he was not feeling well. In the evening he went to St. Cajetan’s Church to take part in the feast of our Lady of Sorrows, and after the procession, and while he was imparting the Sacramental Benediction, and after he had invited the congregation to pray for their Parish Priest who had recently passed away, he was taken suddenly ill. He was rushed to hospital but he died soon after.

 

Whenever he went abroad he used to nominate Fr. Savoiur Manduca to act as deputy for him.

 

Carmela Mallia

Sac. J. Bajada., Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius

 

Et sic absoluto praedictae testis examine, de mandato delegati Episcopalis, ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlexi integram depositionem, data ei facultate addendi, minnuendi, corrigendi, si neccessarium reputaverit. Ipsa eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione dixisse et confirmo omnia quae superius diposui.

 

Carmela Mallia, testis;

Fr. J. Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Judex Delegatus.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandata Judicis Delegati hoc pnblicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum Notariatus signum apposui.

 

Ita est die 9 Jannuari, 1987

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Tertia

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo, die vero vigesima tertia Januarii (sive 23-1-1987) hora 9.45am.

 

Coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, praesentibus Promotore Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Dominus Giorgius Wilson, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Giorgius Wilson testis iuravi:

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum iudex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quesita:

 

1.         Iuramentum praestitit ut supra.

 

2.         I am Mr. George Wilson son of the late Edmond and Ludgarda née Schembri, born at Sliema, Malta, on the 8th October, 1896, pensioner, practising Catholic, now residing at 4 Our Saviour Street, Mdina, Malta.

 

Testis documentum praesentat tribunali et declarat: “I declare that all that I have presented in writing in the document attached (doc. 3), which I have formed together with Fr Tony Sciberras mssp, together with the comments I have made to the Tribunal, is all true and according to my conscience. I admit that there could have been some case where I could not have been that precise in the declarations I made because of the many years that have passed.”

 

 

Document. No. 3

Statement submitted by Mr George Wilson regarding the

Mgr Joseph De Piro.

 

I knew Mgr. De Piro ever since I was a boy and he had not yet been made a Canon of the Cathedral. I lived in Mdina, then, as I still do today, and quite close to the house of the De Piro family. I know that the Monsignor studied in Rome and that he was ordained priest there. I also know that he came over to celebrate his first Solemn Mass at the Cathedral of Mdina and that he then hosted a big luncheon party at his mother’s home. I know this from hear say because at the time I was only a little boy. Later, when I was employed at St. Joseph’s Institute, I came to know that after he had spent some time abroad, and after some time at Qrendi, he was made Director of various institutes. During this time his family lived in Mdina and I remember people saying that he used to come up to Mdina only to discharge his Canonical duties at the Cathedral. But later, when he had founded his own Society he would come up regularly every day. The first premisis occupied by his new Society was a house in St. Roque Street, but they moved later to Xara Palace. Their maid servant used to say that Mgr. De Piro slept in these houses along with members of the Society.

 

I also remember Mgr. De Piro at St. Joseph’s Institute Hamrun, where I was employed as a bookbinder, from the time when tie Director of this Institute was Fr George Bugeja who was Mgr. De Piro’s predecessor. I also taaght bookbinding and other subjects to the boys at the Institute and I can therefore say that I was very close to him and came to know him very well.

 

Mgr De Piro was a very charitable man and he could always be seen giving alms to the poor who would be waiting for him in the street, as 1 myself often noticed. He used to say that he would never forget the poor. He was so generous with the poor that he would often be obliged to walk back home because on leaving the Institute to go home he would find that he had given away all the money he carried, even the tram fare to take him home. I myself have seen him take to the road to walk back home.

 

The brothers of his Society used to say that when his Institute was being built his mother was often heard saying, when she saw him approaching: “ Here comes my penniless one!”because of his constant demands to her to help in this work. He was very generous with his money and he helped in various ways whole families who were in need of financial aid. To mention one particular case, I know that he paid out of his own pocket, to the wife of a certain Karmenu Abela, her husband’s wages because he (the husband) was out of work and a patient at the Connaught Hospital. This I heard from Mrs. Abela herself who also told me that he actually used to give her something more than her husband’s usual pay. Fr. Joseph Spiteri, who was Mgr. De Piro’s assistant, told us that the Monsignor would hand the employees at the Institute their wages, and that he did this so that if any of them needed any extra money he would provide what was needed himself without anybody knowing how much and what he gave in charity.

 

He thought nothing of visiting any of the employees who happened to be ill, and I myself have heard him say that he was on his way to visit one or another. Not only this, but according to the members of the families of these employees, he would find out if they were in need of help which he then did his best to provide. If circumstances so reqiuired he would see that they had the services of the doctor. The lay brother used to say that the Monsignor never had a pair of shoes repaired, because he would always give his shoes to some poor man before any repairs were needed.

 

When Fr George Bugeja, who was the Director of St. Joseph Institute, passed away, the Archbishop and some Monsignori, among whom was Mgr. De Piro, attended a service for the repose of the departed. When the service was over the Bishop turned to Mgr. De Piro and said to him, “You are now the Director here.” “Who, I, Your Grace?” asked Mgr. De Piro in astonishment. “Yes, you “ confirmed the Bishop. I was present on this occasion and heard this conversation. And in fact Mgr. De Piro became the new Director of St. Josoph’s Institute after Father.

 

Every now and again I used to do the cooking at the Institute, and I can say that .Mgr. De Piro took the same food the boys had without any difference whatsoevor because he wanted to have absolutely the same treatment they had in all respects.

 

He had a great love and respect for the boys and he was always thinking of how he could improve things for them.  On their part, the boys also held him in great respect.  Before he came to St. Joseph’s, the general sitituation there left much to be desired. The boys’ evening meal, for instance was very meagre indeed.  This was because  Fr Bugeja, De Piro’s predecessor, held the opinion that as the boys there were the children of poor parents, they would not have any fine foods when they left the Institute and he therefore was against having good food served to the boys so that they would not miss it (and suffer more) when they left. I can say that Mgr. De Piro changed all this. He improved the quality of the food and conditions in the dining room.  He also thought of improving conditions at night and he had a night light installed. During working hours be would go  round to see the boys working, showing appreciation of their work and encouraging them in what they did. I too was included in these visits of inspection. He insisted on the boys getting good schooling and he engaged qualified teachers for them. This was not necessary before Mgr. De Piro became Director at St. Joseph’s because the De La Salle Brothers were present then, and they taught the boys themselves. But after Mgr. De Piro took over, the Brothers left for some reason unknown to me and he then took responsability for the boys’ schooling. He also held a prize giving cermony every year.

 

He was very impartial and treated everybody alike.  He spoke with authority and he was universally respected.  He never lost his temper and he was also very humble and unassuming, so much so that his meals were made up of the same food served to the boys. He respected everybody irrespective of rank or position.

 

When aeroplanes first appeared in Malta he was quick to remark, “Now it will not take long to go and visit our boys and our Institutes”, and I must exptain that he was here referring to those institutes which he intended to establish in Abyssinia.

 

He had a great devotion for our Lady and was always to be seen with his rosary beads in his hand.

 

At the time of Lord Strickland’s quarrel with the Church Mgr De Piro called on him at his home in Attard one evening, at nine, and he did not leave before 2 a.m. Later, when he came across Carmenu Callus (who like me was employed at the Institute) and me, he said to us, “He gave in; he has accepted the Church’s ruling like the cultured and noble person he is.”

 

He rejoiced in all things and even the smallest gift made him happy. If one gave him an apple he aopreciated the gift and thanked the giver, and very likely he would then give it to someone else to enjoy. This characteristic of his reminds me of the occasion when the relic of the arm of St. Francis Xavier was brought to Malta for veneration. Mgr. De Piro had been waiting for a very long time and as he was feeling faint he asked me to get him a cup of coffee. This, of course, I did and then some moments later I saw him handing it to Canon Aquilina of Hamrun.

 

He was a very clean person, neat, and precise in all he did. Rosario Catania, the sacristan, told me more than once that Mgr. De Piro used to carry out personal inspections especially in all that concerned the chapel, to make sure that everything was clean and orderly and that all things were in their proper place.

 

Every now and again I would give him a haircut and one day he told me that when he was a student in Rome he once went to have a haircut and the barber could not manage to shave his tonsure properly. He tried again and again while excusing himself for his inability to do the job properly.  When he saw that the barber was really embarrassed, Mgr De Piro said to him, “Oh, never mind, if you cannot manage a perfectly round tonsure do it as nearly round as you can!”

 

I came to know indirectly from Mgr. De Piro himself, that when Fr. John Vella, a priest of his Society was thinking of leaving the Society, Mgr. De Piro often exhorted him not to do so telling him repeatedly: “Your mind tells you to do one thing and your heart suggests another course.” This was with reference to discipline because although Mgr. De Piro knew the value of discipline and wanted it to be observed he hinself was not capable of enforcing it. This was so not only in the case of Fr. John Vella, who ended by leaving the Society, but with everybody. In fact the maintenance of discipline was the responsibility of others. He knew well enough that in certain cases a hard line had to be followed, but as he himself was so kindhearted he was always inclined to be lenient. He was kindness itself.

 

I had also heard that during the riots on the 8th June, 1919, when a crowd near Francia Buildings, opposite the Royal Opera House, had started breaking up the place, Mgr. De Piro spoke to the gathering from the steps of the Royal Opera House and calmed them down.

 

He gave much help to Dun George Preca in his work to set up the Society of Christian Doctrine, better known as MUSEUM. I have it from the brothers of his own Society that Mgr. De Piro desired that his Society and those founded by Dun George Preca and Father John Mamo would merge into one single institution. However this was not to be, because, as Dun Gorg himself used to say publicly, he (Dun Gorg) once had a vision in which be saw a boy pushing a wheelbarrow full of rubbish while he was passing by the Marsa Cross. Dun Gorg spoke to his Father confessor about this vision and sought his advice on what he should do concerning the merging of the three Societies into one. Fr. Louis Galea, his confessor, asked Dun Gorg what exactly the boy in the vision had said to him: “He asked for my help to push the wheelbarrow,’ said Dun Gorg. “Well then,” his confessor said, “Once he asked only you personally and did not include any one else, my advice is to carry on on your own. And this is what in fact happened as all three of the Founders set up a distinct and separate society.

 

I do not remember seeing Mgr. De Piro often at any recreational activity. On one occasion he was invited to a football match organised to raise funds for orphan children, and he accepted the invitation precisely because of the charitable scope involved. The match was between those old rivals Sliema Wanderers  and Floriana, and just before kickoff he went down on to the football pitch to start the game by giving a kick to the ball. “It was a very inauspicious kick”, he told us later, “because the match ended in a free for all among the two teams!” And this was the last time ever that he attended a football match.

 

He always struck me as being a very reserved person, a man of few words who did not have many friends. I have an impression that shortly before he died he told us that he was reading Carmagnola.

 

According to some of the priests of his own Society, whenever the students were asked to take part in some feast or other he would let them go to take part in the procession or to help in any other way in the ceremonies. But at the same time he never wanted them to accept any money for their services.

 

Karmenu Callus once repeated to me a story which he had from Dun George Preca. This Karmenu Callus was the brother of Fr Michael Callus (of Mgr. De Piro’s Society) and he was employed at St. Joseph’s Institute. Dun George told him that one day while Mgr. De Piro was leaving St. Joseph Institute, he saw a boy standing near the door. This boy asked for alms and Mgr. De Piro gave him half a crown (2s. 6p) and then each went on his own way. The boy then went to the Bugeja Institute where he met Dun George to whom he related what had happened. Dun George realized that this boy was in fact none other than Jesus himself.

 

Mgr. De Piro often spoke of Abyssinia and used to say with happy anticipation that he would one day go there to look up Brother Joseph. But he never went. He always felt very deeply for all those who left his Society.

 

Et sic absoluto examine praedicti testis, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, alta et intelligibili voce integra depositione perlecta, data ipsi testi facultate addendi, minuendi corrigendi dictam depositionem, si necessario reputaverit, ipse testis eam ratam habet et confirmat his verbis:

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione dixisse et confirmo omnia quae superius deposui.

 

George Wilson, testis;

Sac. J. Bajada., Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

Sac. Carrmelus Farrugia, Notarius.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singuli ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum Notariatus sigillum opposui.

 

Ita est. Die 23 Januarii, 1987

Sac. Carrmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quarta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero trigesima Januarii (sive 30-1-1987) hora 9.30 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente domui Pauli Azzopardi, testis, 21, Via Sancti Pauli, Rabat, Malta, praesentibus Promotore Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario comparuit dictus testis a Postulatione inductus cui dilatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Paolo Azzopardi testis iuravi:

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui. plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

I am Mr Paul Azzopardi, 95 years old, born at Rabat, Malta, on the 6th January, 1892, pensioner, and practising Catholic. I am a widower. My father’s name was Vincenzo and my mother Marianna née Galea.

 

1.         When did you get to know the Servant of God?

 

I got to know him when I was about sixteen years old and used to go to the Cathedral to help the sacristans.  I knew him for about thirty years, and met him and  his family often.

 

2.         What idea did you form of the Servant of God? a) as a priest; b) with the members of his family; c) with the other priests and members of the Cathedral Chapter; d) with the servants and employees of the Cathedral ?

 

He used to come to the Cathedral to carry out his duties only, and consequently I never saw him praying at the Cathedral.

 

He respected his family, and was respected by the members of his family. His mother called him “Il-fqir tieghi”, (my poor one) because he never kept any money, and what he had he gave to the institute.

 

He respected the other priests and monsignors, and was respected by them.  He was calm. When some commented on the fact that some of the members of the Society left, he defended the individuals concerned.

 

He was calm, and was never angry with anybody.

 

3.         Have you anything to add?

 

I wish to add that in the beginning of the politico-religious question between Lord Strickland and the Church, during disturbances, Archbishop Caruana deputized Mgr. De Piro to speak to the people from St. John’s balcony. This the Servant of God did, and succeeded to calm the crowd gathered in front of St. John’s Co Cathedral. The people did not react, but obeyed him.

 

Et sic absoluto examine praedicti testis de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, alta et intelligibili voce integra depositione perlecta, ipsi testi facultate data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi dictam depositionem, si necessario reputaverit, ipse testis ratam eum habet et his verbis confirmat:

 

Juro me integram veritatem tota in mea depositione  dixisse, et omnia quae supra deposui confirmo.

 

Paolo Azzopardi, testis;

Fr. J. Bajada Promotor Iustititae

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D. Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 30 Januarii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quinta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo dei vero tertia Februarii (sive 3-2-1987) hora 9.30am coram Rev.mo. Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in domo Religiosa, “Jesus of Nazareth Institute”, Zejtun degente, praesentibus Promotore Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Soror Maria Pia Caruana, testis a Postulatione inducta, cui delatum fuit iuramentum inxta formulam in sessione secunda adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Sr. Maria Pia Caruana testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotore Iustitiae et dicta teste, ego Notatius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

            I am Sister Maria Pia Caruana, member of the Congregation of “Jesus of Nazareth”, daughter of Francesco and Marianna née Bonnici, born at Zejtun, Malta, on the 30th April, 1893, a religious sister, residing at “Jesus of Nazareth” Institute, Zejtun.

 

1.         What do you know about the Servant of God?

 

I remember only a little about the Servant of God. However I remember that he was a man whose pleasure was to help others. Even in his corrections he was calm, though he would always correct anyone if there was need to. For example, I remember that on one occassion he drew my attention to something, from which I tried to excuse myself; but he replied: “Tiskuzax ruhek” (Don’t excuse yourself). All the sisters thought highly of him.

 

2.         Have you anything to add, correct or omit?

 

Negative.

 

Et sic absoluto examine praedictae testis, de mandato Delegati. Episcopalis, alta et intelligibili voce integra depositione perlecta, ipsi testi facultate data addendi, minuendi et corrigendi propriam depositionem si necessario reputaverit, ipsa testis eam ratam habet et his verbis confirmat:

 

Juro me veritatem tota in rnea depositione dixisse et omnia quae superius deposui confirmo.

 

Sr. Maria Pia Caruana, testis

Sac. J. Bajada Promotor Iustitiae;.

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D. Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Its est. Die 3 Februarii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Sexta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octagesimo septimo die vero decima tertia Februarii (sive 13-2-1987) hora 9.30 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in domo Religiosa ‘Jesus of Nazareth Institute”, Zejtun degente, praesentibus Promotore Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Soror Cecilia Abdilla, testis a Postulatione inducta, cui dilatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quad illa statim praestitit et sese signavit ut infra.

 

Ego, Sister Cecilia Abdilla, testis signavi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Promotore Iustitiae et dicta teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

I am Sister Cecilia Abdilla, member of the Congregation of Jesus of Nazareth, daughter of Carmelo and Saveria née Carabott, born at Zejtun on the 30 th March 1905, a religious sister, residing at “Jesus of Nazareth Institute”, Zejtun.

 

The above mentioned Sister Cecilia Abdilla appeared before this Tribunal at “Jesus of Nazaret Institute” and presented  the attached document (doc. 4). All she could state to the Tribunal is contained in the said document.

 

Document No. 4

Statement submitted by Sr. Cecilia Abdilla MSJN regarding Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I was not a girl of the Institute but I wished to join the Sisters of the Nazzarenu because I hailed from Zejtun. I entrusted this wish to Madre Tereza. On her part she told me to talk to Mons. De Piro when he went to Zejtun. I told Madre Teresa that my mother was against my becoming a nun.

 

In the meantime when once the Monsignor was in Zejtun I went to talk to him and I also told him about the difficulty of my mother. He told me how in his mother’s house he had all the comforts, servants and many other things and yet he left all this. He told me that now he had one room which he had to clean himself. He told me that he had done all this for God. To encourage me he offered to go and speak to my mother. I told my Father Confessor about this. He did not agree about this because the Street where I used to live was too rough. He thought it would be better if he went to speak to my mother and advice her to go to talk to the Monsignor. In fact my mother agreed. We went and he left a good impression on us. When we were with him he again told us about what he had left and how he was living. And all this for God. My mother changed her opinion and went out saying that the Monsignor was not a human being but a saint. All this occured in the Institute of Zejtun.

 

My mother and I met the Monsignor once more at his own request.

 

Mons. De Piro was stout, tall and smart. I was not at all afraid of him. The contrary is true! When he came to the Institute in Zejtun he liked to walk up and down the corridor and at times he also went to have a meal. Once he told me that the Madre fed him so generously that digestion took a long time.

 

He loved the children very much. He was good and generous.

 

Sr. Cecilia Abdilla

Fr. J. Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

Fr. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.

 

Et sic absoluto examine praedictae testis, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, alta et intelligibili voce integro documento perlecto, ipsi testi facultate data addendi, minuendi et corrigendi, si necessario reputaverit, ipsa testis idem documentum confirmavit et his verbis confirmavit:-.

 

Juro me veritatem toto in meo documento deposui et secretum servaturam.

 

Sister Cecilia, testis;

Sac. J. Bajada Promotor Iusititiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani O.C.D. Delegatus Episcopalis;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 13 Februarii,1987

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Septima

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco, coram iisdem membris Tribunalis, hora 10.00 am comparuit Soror Scholastica Pace, testis a Postulatione inducta, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Sister Scholastica Pace testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Promotore Iustitiae et dicta teste, statim diventum est ad examen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Sister Scholastica Pace, daughter of Antonio and Maria née Darmanin, born at Cospicua on the 12th August 1912, a professed religious Sister of the Congregation of “Jesus of Nazareth”, residing at “Jesus of Nazareth Institute”, Zejtun, Malta.

 

The above mentioned Sister Scholastica Pace presented the attached Document (Doc. 5 ). All she could state to the Tribunal is contained in the said Document.

 

 

Document No. 5

Statement submitted by Sr. Scolastica Pace MSJN regarding the Servant of God Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I joined the Institute of the Good Councel when I was nine. At that time the director wss Fr. Paul Zammit. It was the year 1921. A little later Fr Paul died and he was ssucceeded by Mgr. De Piro. The Monsignor was tall, stout and had a big stature. He was very serious and we children did not have a chance to approach him. Those who were in charge of us kept us back. I cannot say if it was he who personally asked them to let us approach him. We children were shy of him. The maidens who were with us always told us to be quiet whon he was in the home.

 

On the 19th of March, feast of St. Joseph, we liked to celebrate as he was named Guzeppi. On this occassion we also made some brief recitation. He appreciated this very much and appeared to enjoy it very much.

 

Teaching was of a low standard. Also, when De Piro took over there was no change. I do not remember that he wanted to know how we were getting on. On the other hand he was very interested in gold embroidery on sacred vestments. It was he who told us how to appreciate it.

 

In the case of us children, food was bad: it was very poor and also unhygienic. The Monsignor never came down to see what meals we had nor did be send anything to us. It seemed that he did not know about this because this went on for a long time. I do not know if he asked the Sisters about us.  However, he had no contact with us whatsoever. His visits were purely administrative.

 

Discipline in the Institute was very rough.  Those who were in charge even beat us. Our clothes, especially what we wore out of doors, were not bad.  Also cleanliess was fairly good.

 

We had our recreation and also some activities. Once the Madre wrote to De Piro asking for the construction of a stage on which the children could recite. He did not agree and told her that, if they had a stage, the children would go for it when they grew up. Also, once a six year old girl began to dance. De Piro was not at all pleased.

 

Asked if I knew if De Piro gave us some help, my answer is that I do not know if he gave us any. I am certain that we received help from Mr. Fons Marija Galea.

 

When the new Institute, or the present one, was almost ready, three maidens went to live in it together with Madre Teresa.  I was one of them. The day following the first night De Piro rang up to see how we got on. It seems to me that he could have come to see better who slept there. In fact only once did we have contact with him; he was going abroad and we gathered to bid him farewell. He had come and met us in the entrance hall. On that day he gave us two handkerchiefs by lot.

 

I remember when he commemorated the 25th year of his ordination. After his Mass at the Cathedral he held a reception at the Seminary. Among the many guests there were many children from the Institutes.  We were among them. He gave us a quantity of sugared almonds so much so that we filled our pockets, our handkerchiefs and our hands. On that day he was very happy.

 

In the new home there was Madre Teresa who, among other things, used to tell me to fry hazel nuts for him. I wished to give it to him myself but she would not let me. In fact they did not let us approach him. I believe that if he asked them to come near us they would not deny him.

 

Once the Padre gave a reception for Cassar Torreggiani as he had given them the site for the Institute. I had to read to him an address in Italian. Before the reception De Piro wanted to hear me.  While I was trying to read it I made a mistake and be corrected me. I feel that the way he did this was wrong; he seemed to mimic me. So much so that I was ashamed and even cried. Nor did I want to read it. At the reception I read it only out of obedience. Again when I finished he didn’t even congratulate me. I think he did this to try me.

 

Before I became a sister I was ordered by the General Superior to be examined by De Piro. I met him in the room near the main door. Although I was twenty one years of age, I was afraid of him because I had never talked to him. He asked me about my vocation, if I wanted to become a nun. He also asked me why I wanted to do this.  He wanted to know if I loved sacrifice, for, he told me, the religious must love sacrifice. To this I probably did not reply. He also told me that some Sisters were going to join and he wished me to be one of them. I showed him that I did not want to join with those sisters. He kept on insisting and I still refused. I told him that I wanted to be a nun but in a cloister. To this he replied that I was delicate and therefore not fit for seclusion. He added that these nuns were punctilious. I then obeyed but still gave no positive answer. After this neither he nor Madre Teresa spoke to me. Madre Curmi told me something in private. Therefore both because of him and of what Madre Curmi had told me I accepted against my conviction to stay here, since I had not the means to become a cloistered nun. De Piro called me only once. I wished to talk to him but I did not communicate my wish because I knew it would be in vain because we were not allowed to speak to him. On the other hand, I do not mean, by what I have said, that he spoke to me roughly and angrily.  On the contrary he spoke to me gently and kindly. He allowed me to talk freely. In spite of this I still maintain that he made me a nun against my wish. I had told him I did not want to stay in this place. But they left me to struggle alone and with God. I did not want to stay here because there was open dissent among the Sisters.

 

In fact I became a postulant. When I entered, the Monsignor preached a sermon for me and the other six girls who were going to become nuns. It was about detachment.

 

A fact which was almost similar was about a general confession. De Piro was our extraordinary confessor. I remember before I joined we went to confess to him in the chapel of St. Gregory in Zejtun. When I approached him he told me to make a good general confession. In no way did I want to consent. However he insisted that I should make it. I had to make a big effort to succeed. Again when I finished my confession he seemed to doubt that I might have kept something from him.

 

I also remember Madre Teresa had told me that the Padre wished to bring a nun to teach them about the religious life. At the same time the Madre seemed to be much annoyed. In fact she told me she did not want this to happen. “Because”, she said, “we know the matter!” About this I agreed with De Piro and not with the Madre. In fact her opinion prevailed and no nun was brought. It means that she made a stand against De Piro. I think that this was our ruin because this caused us always to remain backward.

 

I remember that before becoming Madre, Sister Teresa Degabriele had told us that De Piro was going to send her to the Sacred Heart for eight days. After the eight days she did the perpetual profession. I remember her saying that she learned everything.

 

During my novitiate (1938-1941), Madre Teresa once took me in a room and insisted that I should tell her what I told the extraordinary confessor and what he told me. I was adamant and said nothing. I do not remember that she asked me again after this occasion.

 

I have now been told that once Madre Teresa was irritated.

 

The Foundress called De Piro who told her that Madre Teresa began to scream because she was tired. And in fact he took her for a tour to Rome. These different facts seem to show that Mgr. De Piro was too kind and did not insist and he was a little lax in discipline. He followed more the dictates of his heart.

 

When De Piro began to run St. Joseph’s, he found a lot of dirt.  Even after his taking over there was lack of cleanliness. The reason was that he had many tasks and therefore probably he could not cope. He took care of spiritual and formative matters, e.g. in the case of the nun he wanted to help us in our formation. He also took care of the administration. However, he did not seem to have time for daily needs. As regards administration I can give information because from what I heard, overytime he came to us he was always with the registers open before him. It seemed that he came for this pupose.

 

When we went to the new house he came once every month. At the same time when the Sisters needed him they went to him.  He was so interested in us that he even went to Rome to bring us the information that we could have the habit.

 

Again I want to emphasize his goodness. When the Padre died I went for his funeral.

 

There were occasions when I went to his mother with Madre Teresa. She was like a saint. At that time she could not walk. When referring to him she liked to say, “My Peppinu.” Madre Teresa used to say that she loved the Padre very much.

 

Sr. Scholastica Pace

Fr. J. Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.

 

Et sic absoluto examine dictae testis, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testis alta et intelligibili voce documentum perlexit, addendo et corrigendo ubi necessario reputavit, his verbis documentum iuramento confirmavit :

 

Juro me veritatem totam in meo documento deposui.

 

Sister Scholastica Pace

Fr. Joseph Bajada Promotor Iusititiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD Delegatus Episcopalis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum canfeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 13 Februarii, 1987

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Octava

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima Februarii (sive 20-2-1987) hora 9.30 am coram Rev.mo .Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribanali sedente in Domo Cleri, Fleur-de-Lys, Birkirkara, praesentibus Promotor Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario comparuit Frater Paulus Spiteri OSA, testis a Postulatione inductus cui dilatum fuit iuramentum iuxta fornulam in secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fra Paolo Spiteri testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato Episcaplali, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim di—ventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

            I am Brother Paul Spiteri OSA, professed Religious Brother, in the Maltese Augustinian Province, son of Savior and Mary née Agius, born at Hamrun, Malta, on the 21st October, 1910, now residing in the House for elderly and sick Clergy at Fleur-de-Lys, B’Kara.

 

The above mentioned Br. Paul Spiteni OSA, presented the attached document (Doc. 6 ). All he could state to the Tribunal is contained in the said Document.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document No. 6

Statement submitted by  Bro. Paul Spiteri OSA regarding the Servant of God Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

The first time I met Mons. De Piro was at the Institute of St. Joseph, Hamrun. My father died and left us very young. As we were eight siblings, my mother could not cope with us. It was our parish priest of Hamrun, Fr. Guzepp Muscat, who arranged for me to enter St. Joseph’s.

 

When I entered the Institute, Mons. De Piro was not yet there; I found Fr. Georg Bugeja. This priest wasn’t bad but when De Piro replaced him there was great improvement. The chapel was more often used. I have the impression that we began to go to the chapel to pray more often. At times the Monsignor was there praying with us. Food also improved. At times, only rarely, food was not plentiful; we had enough. I was very happy.

 

As regards teaching we had school in the Institute itself. There were three different classes and we were placed in them according to age. The teachers were outsiders employed by the Institute. The young ones attended most and had more hours of teaching. Since at the Institute, besides school we also had trades, those who began to learn the trade of printing, bookbinding, tailoring, carpentry or shoemaking, did not attend school as before. If the Monsignor did so much for the school that he even held a prize day annually, no less was his effort for the trades.  At the time of Pr. Gorg these trades were still at their very beginning.  With De Piro, they made very great progress.  I remember that he used to visit the workshops and inquire about us.  He also encouraged recreation. Every evening we played ball in the yard. He also liked to watch us. On Sundays we used to go for a walk. In summer we often went to the beach, most probably we would go to B’Bugia. At Carnival, then, be used to organise many games. One of our best outings was a visit to Qrendi in the house of the Monsignor’s mother, although we probably went there to clean the house. I remember that when we went there and he was with us, the people of this village began to say, “The saint has come.”

 

De Piro was tall and well built.  He was always serious although he had a certain smile on his face. Without words he kept discipline among us.  Rarely did we see him indulging in small talk. We really felt awed in his presence. At the same time he did not cause fear. On the contrary he always treated us with great sweetness. To us he was a very good man

 

I have already said that after my father ‘s death the financial situation of my family was precarious. I remember that my mother had to sell the gold she had and at one time she had also to incur debts. The Monsignor was so well known for his kindness that someone suggested to my mother to go to him for help. So she did and I still remember her saying how kindly he received her. She had told the Monsignor that she had no clothes to give me.’ I still hear her say that he told her not to worry. In fact her debts were settled by Mons. De Piro and Parish Priest Muscat. Do Piro went on giving her something every week. He also told her not to tell anybody about the help he was giving her. Also, to encourage her and show her the great faith he had in providence, once he told her: “At the moment I am making an appeal for the needs of the children, because their supply is diminishing.” I also remember that my mother had told me about this statement. However, I was ready to tell her that on that same day we received a lot of supplies.

 

My mother was not the only person to receive help from De Piro. Many poor people called at St. Joseph’s, especially women with children, and he gave something to each of them. His charity was so great that it was said he gave all his money and he had to go to his mother to get something from her.

 

Once I told him I wished to join his Society. He didn’t show too much zeal and enthusiasim. He only told me that that decision was one I had to take. However, after this, everytime he met me he asked me about my vocation. In fact he showed that he took great interest in me. I know that this was his approach to those who showed a wish to join the Society.  He spoke to us individually.  He wanted to know how we were getting on. He had delegated Fr. Joseph Spiteri to be in charge of us.

 

After some time I was admitted as a prenovice into the house the Society had in Strada Celsi. I remember that on the door there was written, “Piccola Casa di San Paolo per le missioni estere”. The Padre, this is how the members of the Society used to address him, visited us about twice a week.  He would arrive in the evening and leave in the morning. When he was with us he himself said Mass. I want to say that such was his wish to say Mass properly that, although he had a pain in his knees, he still knelt touching the floor (with his knees). We noticed that everytime he visited us, he spent a long time in the chapel, especially at night. He prayed alone. Also, it was he who conducted the Examination of Conscience and Eucharistic Benediction.

 

Every time he came he lectured to us. In this house in Mdina the Padre had his own room. This was not luxurious. It was a very small one and it contained only a desk, a chair, a crucifix and some books, and, I believe, a picture of Our Lady of Sorrows.

 

I remember that when he went for some celebration in some village he took us with him. Once he had to celebrate high mass to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Coufraternity of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Qrendi. I was there. I remember that during the Mass the canopy around the Statue of Our Lady caught fire. The fire went out suddenly. Thank God this happened because a disaster could have occurred.

 

I did not remain in the Society for a long time. This was not because of the Padre or of some other member. In fact, I still love the Society and for some time after I still wished to join them again. Before I left I went to inform him of my decision. He showed great sorrow for me. I remember he told me these exact words. “I pray for you to remain a religious, and not a layman even if not with me.” He did not use any pressure, nor did he try to keep me or influence me. I did not tell him that I intended to leave because I had in mind to join the navy. In fact I left and went to enrole. I had not told my mother about this. When she got to know about this she stopped everything.

 

After some time I again felt like joining the Society. The only reason for not doing this was that I used to meet Bro. Lipp of the Augustinians and he urged me to join them. In fact today I am an Augustinian.

 

I know exactly what happened in the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows which the Padre was conducting in Hamrun, because, after leaving the Society, I became an altar boy at St. Gajetan’s and I was taking part in that same procession. I remember that when the procession was a little away from the church, exactly near the house with columns, De Piro turned towards the statue, pressed the reliquary against him and then went on with the procession. Later on the people who had seen him doing this remembered all this and said he had done this because probably he had felt some pain and prayed Our Lady to help him reach the church.

 

N.B. This point of information was confirmed by Miss Albina Spiteri, Bro. Paul’s sister, who at the time of the interview entered his room, in the House of the Clergy, to pay him a visit.

 

As regards the funeral I do not remember anything.

 

Bro. Paul Spiteri OSA

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

Fr. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Carmel Farrugia, Notarius

 

Et sic absoluto examini dicti testis, de mandato Delegati Bpiscopalis, postquam testi, alta et in- telligibili voce documentum perlectum fuit, ei facultate concessa addendi, minuendi et corrigendi ubi necessario reputavit, his verbis documentum iuramento confirmavit:

 

Juro me veritatem totam in meo documento deposui.

 

Fra Paolo Spiteri, testis

Sac. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in Forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est Die 20 Februarii 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nona

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima Februarii (20-2-1987) hora l0.30am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri Fleur-de-Lys, Birkirara, praesentibus Promotore Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario comparuit Pater Ugolinus Gatt.0.S.A. testis a Postulatione inductus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in sessione secunda adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Ugolinus M. Gatt 0.S.A. testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Promotore Iustitiae et dicta teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

            I am Fr. Ugolino Gatt O.S.A., professed religious priest in the Augustinian Province of Malta, son of Emanuel and Rose née Darmanin, born at Vittoriosa on the 4th July 1908, now residing at St. Augustine’s Priory, Rabat, Malta.

 

The above mentioned Fr. Ugolino Gatt 0.S.A. presented the attached Document (Doc. 7). All he could state to the Tribunal is contained in the said Document.

 

Document No. 5

Statement submitted by Fr. Ugolino Gatt OSA regarding the Servant of God Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

When I was still a child I cannot say that I often met Mons. De Piro. I come from Vittoriosa and that was not an area frequented by De Piro. His repute reached there among the workmen. At the same time once I met him. This is how it happened: at the Dockyard there was the Victualing Yard and there they collected money for the Institute of St. Joseph. My father was one of those who by turn took the money collected to the Director of the Institute. When my father went to De Piro he liked to take with him one of us children. Once it was my turn. Immediately I formed a good impression of the Monsignor; he received us with the greatest gentleness and cordiality; he really knew how to love those who visited him.

 

When I grew up and joined the Augustinians, I could have much more contact with De Piro. We Augustinians, like other friars, had several occasions when we took part in some celebrations at the Cathedral. We used to go there at least 12 times a year. On these occasions I myself could see De Piro. Besides this, on these occasions, I could meet the employees of the Cathedral who could give a lot of information about the Monsignors. Often, while we were there, they began to talk about him as a Founder of the Society. They also talked about his family. They always had words of praise for them especially for their mother.

 

I regarded Mons. De Piro as a serious and saintly priest who was much aware of his duties. One could notice his seriousness whilst he passed in the street. He would not stop to indulge in small talk. He always gave the impression that he was absorbed in his work and therefore did not waste his time talking when this was not necessary. However, this does not mean that he was temperamental, proud or moody. He was so much the opposite of this that when someone went to talk to him he showed him that he was ready to listen to him.

 

In liturgical acts and in the sacristy he showed the same seriousness. And here one could observe the solemnity of his comportment. He showed most clearly that there was something in him which he really lived and showed externally.

 

That he was a dutiful person no one doubted. He showed this most clearly in the Institutes he directed; he knew what he wanted to do and performed it at whatever cost. The same can be said about all his other tasks. He coped with everything, in a regular way, and with great interest.

 

Here reference is to be made to his interest and dedication. One can freely say that De Piro had a great dedication to ecclesiastical life. All his life, hour by hour, was dedicated to a continuous service to the Church. His work was connected with the Church in a most direct way.

 

Again he achieved all this while showing great control over himself. Thus, for example, these tasks brought him in contact with many people. Never was it heard that he got angry with or shouted at anyone.

 

His saintliness showed clearly, in a special way, in the fact that he was utterly conscious of his vocation and of his position in the Society arround him: he was noble in the way he treated the poor and the unfortunate.

 

Mons. De Piro had what I call “humility of the Cross”. He was born in honours and nobility but he never showed pride in his acts or words. Thus one notices that while some of his peers put on airs, he never had any pretensions.

 

His chief aim was to found a Congregation. Several were the works of charity in his mind and he was greatly dedicated to them. However, he loved the Society very much. The fact that he did his utmost to go to Mdina daily to sleep with the members is proof enough. It wasn’t easy for him to do this. On the other hand it meant many sacrifices in different ways. Besides this proof, his determination and commitment to the Society are seen clearly when two of the members, preoccupied about the future of the Society, went to him to put their mind at ease. Such was his conviction that he turned to these two and promptly said to them: “If everyone leaves, I will start all over again.”

 

He began to achieve his aim certainly when Bro. Guzepp went to the Mission in Abyssinia. De Piro always had him in mind. So much so that he mentioned him in almost every publication of his Almanacc. He also included some photographs of his.

 

All this is nothing but a proof of another of his qualities: his perseverance, inspite of difficulties, of which he had many, one being the vocations. Several were those who joined him but left after a short while. These left because they had no vocation. Or what was worse, they were already priests. It is possible that some individuals joined the Society to be provided with the means, and once their aim was attained, they left him. I know of one individual who went to De Piro and told him he wished to become a priest, but not in the Society, but he had no means. De Piro provided the means for him to study at the Seminary. Whatever the difficulties he still looked forward. Even the other Monsignors continually discouraged him. Rarely did he hear a word of encouragement from them. On the other hand they wanted him to leave everything and live in peace. It had to be De Piro to persist in spite of this.

 

For the members this was a great encouragement; they had an example to follow. In fact he was a continual example and model for them. Apart from this determination and strong perseverance in him, they saw in him detachment and sacrifice. In his time the members lived modestly as regards accontodation, food and clothes. However, he was a living example who helped the continuously in their progress without ever losing heart.

 

It has already been said that De Piro was a man of few words, but the fact that he felt satisfied when he saw the Society progressing was something he continually communicated. There was progress especially in the time of Fr. Bugeja OSA. It was at this time, for example, that the members had their own cassock. Also, the members regarded and held him as their Founder.

 

One must not forget another element in the person of De Piro. He was good, humble and without any pretensions. This, however, does not mean that he was weak and unable to speak his mind. So much so that once he had to go abroad and left Fr. Michael Callus in charge of the ordination of some members. Fr. Michael seemed to be uncertain about presenting these members for ordination and in fact he did not present them. When the Founder came back and found this, he was not in the least soft with Fr. Michael! He even made it clear to him that he, De Pira, was the Superior of the Society and not Fr. Michael. After this De Piro sent them for this ordination.

 

On that day when De Piro collapsed in Hamrun I was there seeing the same procession that De Piro was conducting. When the day after, news of his death spread, we Augustinians were shocked. We promptly went down to St. Joseph’s in Hamrun to see him lying in state.

 

I always heard words of praise about him. Even Dockyard workmen praised him.

 

I have been informed by Fr. Tony Sciberras MSSP that Fr. D. Glavina S.J. told him that when he planned to collect material leading to the Case of Beatification of Mons De Piro, he went to Fr. Adeodato Schembri of our Order and asked his advice about this.  Glavina told Sciberras that Fr. Adeodato had told him promptly, “Do not waste your time!” Sciberras wished to know what exactly Fr. Schembri meant.  I told Sciberras that Fr. Adeodato had great admiration for the De Pica family. I remember that he talked about them in the best way. He was in a position to be well acquainted with them because he was in charge of the “Madri Cristiane”, a group organized by the Augustinian Order, and the mother of Mons. De Piro belonged to this group. He had so much familiarity with the family that he referred to her as Kikka.  And he often mentioned her especially for her great charity.

 

Most probably the reason why he said this to Fr. Glavina was that, at that time, there were other attempts to promote the cause of Nazju Falzon and Adelaide Cini. Everyone thought, however, that the Maltese would not succeed in promoting a cause. This was a clear fact and everyone expressed this idea. Fr. Adeodato was not, therefore, obscuring Mons. De Piro with the advice he had given to Fr. Glavina. He was expressing a preoccupation of the Maltese Clergy and Ecclesiastical sources that to make a Maltese saint was impossible and so it was waste of time to promote his cause. I have been consulted about this obviously because I am an Augustinian like Fr. Adeodato and, besides, I remember him very well.

 

I do not know if there were people who asked favours after his death. He had the repute of a saint in his lifetime because he was a priest who lived his state according to the will of God. People noticed his comportment as a priest who, although a noble, lived a life of charity and penitence. This was in great contrast to the attitude of other priests. He made no difference between people, and respected everyone alike.

 

Although he had a certain goodness, his paternal aspect was so dominant in him that he was very careful not to offend anyone. In fact this was not a goodness which allowed everything; he had his own personality. For example, when De Piro went abroad and delegated Fr. Michael Callus to present some members for some ordination and Fr. Callus failed to present them (my own brother was one of the). When he came back, De Piro reproached him and made it clear to him that, as a superior, he was the one to give orders. I do not know what the relations were between Mons. De Piro and Fr. Callus.

 

De Piro was not a priest who was easy in his judgement. During De Piro’s lifetime there was never any trouble either among the members or with the local ecclesiastical authorities. Some trouble arose after the death of De Piro.

 

 

Et sic absolute examine dicti testis, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testi, alta et intelligibili voce documentum quod praesentavit perlectum fuit ei facultate concessa addendi, minuendi et corrigendi ubi neccessario reputavit, his verbis documentum iuramento confirmavit.

 

Juro me veritatem totam in meo documento deposui.

 

Fr. Ugolino M. Gatt, O.S.A.

Fr. J. Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani O.C.D., Delegatus Episcapalis.

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 20 Februarii 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Decima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima septima Februarii (sive 27-2-1987) hora 9.30 am coram Rev. mo Judice Delegato infrascipto pro Tribunali sedente in domo “Pax et Bonum” No 9, Zurrieq Road, Qrendi, praesentibus Promotore Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Louis Galea testis a Postulatione inductus cui dilatum fuit iura-mentum iuxta Formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Louis Galea testis iuravi:

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Promotore Fidei et dicto teste, ego notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mr. Louis Galea, son of Nicholas and Catherine née Bezzina, born on the 16th January, 1907, now residing at 9 Zurrieq Road, Qrendi.

 

The above mentioned witness presented a document (Doc. 8). All he could state to the Tribunal is contained in the said document.

 

Document No. 8

Statement submitted by Louis Galea regarding the Servant of God Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

As I was born in Qrendi in 1902, I know Mgr. De Piro well. Besides the age, I always frequented the Church. I was a grown up boy and I used to see the family of Mgr. De Piro together with his brother the baron, his mother, Madame Ursula, and they lived at No.11 Tower Road. In the War they gave this house to the Discalced Carmelites. I also know that when De Piro went to Qrendi he stayed there for three months.  When he left he still visited the Village of Qrendi to have a rest.

 

The Monsignor was tall and smart and he had golden small spectacles.  When he was out of doors he carried an umbrella. When he was passing by he liked to greet everyone.  He also stopped to stroke the head of the children. He would not encourage any familiarity; in fact he would not stop to talk to anyone. At the same time he was very gentle. When we children noticed that he was in church we would go to the choir to be blessed by him.  His example was very great.  All the villagers, with one accord, always said: “A saint is passing by.”

 

The Monsignor loved the confessional and a great number of penitents went to him to confess. When he was in Qrendi he would go to the church and spend a long time hearing confessions. He did the same when, after having left the village, he returned on some particular occasion. In fact on feast days he loved to go to Qrendi to be of help to the Church.

 

As the people who were with him to look after his house, or better, the house of his family, belonged to the Confraternity of Our Lady of the Girdle, he took part in that feast with greater solemnity. Again that feast was not connected with any party and therefore he found it easier to take part.

 

On the 9th July 1928 it was the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Lourdes. Mgr. De Piro was invited for the Pontifical Mass of the occasion.  During the service, one of the altar boys hit a candlestick which tilted towards the mantle of Our Lady. The mantle turned into a big flame and there was a whole confusion in the church. Mgr. De Piro appealed for calmness and said that Our Lady would protect us. The flame soon went out, the iron of the mantle melted and that was all the demage. But the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, although made of papier mache, remained undamaged.

 

He was a charitable priest. Charity was the hallmark of both the Monsignor and his family. The people in need often asked each other: “Have you been to the De Piros?” His mother was like Our Lady.

 

Mgr. De Piro was also a man of prayer. In fact, he liked to go to the church of Our Lady of Mercy or that of St Matthew of Maqluba saying the Rosary. He also liked to stay in the garden of their palace walking and saying the Breviary. The children used to go to wait for him near his door to be blessed by him. When he saw them, although he loved children very much, he did not stop praying. Instead, he would tell them to wait for him until he finished the Office. After this he would go to bless them.  De Piro never got involved in the parties there are in Qrendi and which existed even in my time. Nor did they ever involved him. Even the supporters used to say that they would not approach him for he was a good man and would not be involved in the parties.

 

On the 17th January, 1918, the Home in trend was inaugurated. This Community owes its beginning to Marchioness De Piro’s zeal for the souls.  She was his mother who, with great sacrifices, succeeded in seeing her good wishes actuated together with her son, Mgr. De Piro.

 

The sisters started their work on two years probation in this home for the spiritual welfare of the village which, because of lack of priests, lacked the teaching of catechism. During this period the said Marchioness, together with her son, gave a sum of £36 to these sisters for their upkeep. They used to teach sewing and lacermaking to the young girls, as well as catechism to the children.

 

After two years, the Marchioness promised to pay their rent during her lifetime, but she did not give them any more money since the villagers began to help them by giving them alms. Later, the Sisters began to give lessons but one day they had to leave the house because the owner needed it. On this occasion the Sisters sought the help of Mrs. Ursula who offered them her house in Qrendi until they found a suitable house.

 

This went on for a whole year with loss of lessons and other beneficences although they still taught catechism to children in the church of Our Saviout at 7 o’clock in the morning before they went to school which was nearby. After a lot of prayers by the parishioners together with the Sisters, they succeeded in persuading a certain person who had a house in Strada Reale Main Street, to rent it to them.

 

Here it was clear that God heard the prayers of the parishioners and the Sisters together with the noble family of De Piro. This house was in a bad state of repair but it was suitable for them. With the help of Marchioness Ursula and her son they repaired it and eventually following the advice of Monsignor Giuseppe De Piro, son of the Marchionoss, they bought it by borrowing the money they needed from a certain person. Later they paid this money back by yearly instalments. At last the house was theirs and thus the Sisters could continue their redeeming work in this village where they still are.

 

As a conclusion, a celebration was held in this house; the boloved Dean Monsignor G. De Piro said Mass and  was assisted by the beloved Parishpriest, Fr Alphonse Tabone, and the priest Fr. Michael Zammit, and the people of Qrendi. After a short sermon he begged the parishioners to give their help so that this project might progress and yield fruit among the people of Qrendi. He then imparted Benediction.

 

I, the undersigned, remember very clearly what I have mentioned and even more. However, I mantain that the family of the Monsignor Dean, together with his mother, the Marchioness Ursula and all the family were greatly attracted to the quiet and peaceful village of Qrendi. [I was born in Qrendi, married, and went on living in Qrendi]

 

Louis Galea

Fr. J. Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Vincentius Borg,  Notarius adiunctus.

 

St sic absoluto examine dicti testis de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testis intelligibili voce documentum perlexit, addendo et corrigendo, ubi necessario reputavit, his verbis documentum iuramento confirmavit.

 

Juro me veritatem totam in meo documento deposui.

 

Louis Galea, testis;

Fr. J. Bajada Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Super quibus omnibus et singulis et supta gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 27 Februarii, 1987

 

Sac. Vincentius Borg, Notarius Adiunctus.


 

Sessio Degima Prima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima septima Februarii (sive 22-2-1987) hora 10.30 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Ecclesia Paroechiali M. Assunptae terrae Qrendi, praesentibus Promotore Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Joseph Brincat testis a Postulatione inductus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese snbsignavit ut infra:

 

Ego Joseph Brincat testis signavi:

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste, ego notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium  et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Joseph Brincat, son of the late Albert and Mary née Borg residing at 31 Main Street, Qrendi, born 16-4-1903 at Qrendi.

 

The above mentioned witness presented the attached document (Doc. 9). All he could state to the Tribunal is contained in the said document.

 

Document No. 9

Statement submitted by Joseph Brincat regarding the Servant of God Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I remember that Mons. De Piro often came to Qrendi, my village. The Monsignor’s mother had a large house with a garden in this village. Quite often he spent some time there. On such days he said Mass everyday in the parish church. His connection with this church was so close that the parish priest even gave him a locker on a permanent basis. He also had the confessional where he could hear confessions. De Piro was also invited to the parish for some special occasion. For example, I remember that the Monsignor was invited as a principal celebrant for the pontifical high mass which was held on the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Lourdes. On this occasion the canopy around the statue of our Lady caught fire.

 

Monsignor De Piro loved to go to Qrendi with the students of his Society. Usually they used to go in September and stayed at his mother’s house for about a fortnight. He was much wanted when he was in Qrendi. Quite often he was asked to help in some parish trouble as well as in some family problem. However, he did not get involved in party questions.

 

Mons. De Piro was a person of great charity. Besides Qrendi, he was involved in many projects of beneficence and charitable institutions. I hear the people of Qrendi mention the Monsignor for this charity.

 

When passing along the street he did not stop to talk to people. He was serious, tall and smart. He did not allow familiarities with anyone. In spite of this the people never thought that he was proud and standoffish. So much so even children approached him with the greatest simplicity. In fact, for example, when I was in church and saw the Monsignor I would go to him and ask him to give me holy pictures. Also when people greeted him he did likwise. He was a very affable person.

 

J. Brincat

Fr. J. Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

Fr. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Vincent Borg, notarius adiunctus.

 

Et sic absoluto examine dicti testis de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testi intelligibili voce documentum perlexit addendo et corrigendo, ubi necessario reputavit, his verbis documentum iuramento confirmavit.

 

Juro me veritatem totam in meo documento deposui.

 

Joseph Brincat, testis;

Fr. J. Bajada Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 27 Februarii 1987

 

Sac. Vincentius Borg, Notarius Adiunctus


 

Sessio Decima Secunda

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septima die vero vigesima septima Februarii (sive 27-2-1987) hora 10.45 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Ecclesia Paroechiali Maria Assumptae terrae Qrendi, praesentibus Promotore Iustitiae legitime citato meque Notario comparuit Dominus Angelus Falzon. Testis a Postulatione inductus cui delatum iuramentum fuit iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Angelo Falzon testis signavi:

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus, Judice Delegato, Promotore Iustitiae, et dicto teste. Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mr. Angelo Falzon son of Louis and Josephine née Ellul, residing at 21 Mercy Street, Qrendi. Born on the 4th December, 1898 at Qrendi.

 

The above mentioned witness presented the attached document (Doc.10 ). All he could state to the Tribunal is contained in the said document.

 

 

Document No. 10

Statement submitted by Angelo Falzon regarding the Servant of God Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I remember Mgr. De Piro when he went for three years in Qrendi. I remember him already at Church before daybreak. He used to say Mass and hear confessions. In fact he heard a lot of confessions, especially of women. He also used to go to tal-Hniena or San Mattew tal-Maqluba and while going there he used to say the Rosary. He was procurator of the Confraternity of Our Lady of ‘Cintura’.

 

In the streets he used to salute everyone. At the same time he would not stop and talk. This does not mean that he was proud of himself.

 

I also remember that Mgr. De Piro led the Pontifical High Mass on the feast of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of ‘Lourdes Confraternity”.  On that occasion the big curtain that surrounded the statue of Our Lady got fire. Monsignor offered to pay for the expences. At that time I was already married and therefore old enough to notice what was happening.

 

Monsignor was very charitable. At that time there were many beggars, none the less at Qrendi. These used to go a lot to De Piro and he used to help them. Many a time he helped secretly.

 

After he left Qrendi he used to go every now and then, and on certain occasions, as the feast mentioned above. Mgr. De Piro was greatly loved at Qrendi.

 

Angelo Falzon

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iusititiae

Fr. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Vincenrt Borg, Notarius adiunctus.

 

Et sic absoluto examine dicti testis de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testi intelligibili voce documentum perlexit, addendo et corrigendo, ubi neccessario reputavit, his verbis documentum iuramento confirmavit.

 

Juro me veritatem totam in meo documento deposui.

 

Angelo Falzon, testis

Fr. J. Bajada Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani O.C.D. Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 27 Februarii, 1987

 

Sac. Vincentius Borg, Notarius Adiunctus.


 

Sessio Decima Tertia

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septima die vero sexta Martii (sive 6-3-l987) hora 9.45am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis in Curia Archiepiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Pater Daniel Glavina S.J. natus Civitate Senglea,Malta, die 9 Septembris 1902 ex Vincenzo et Carmela née Calascione, presbyter Societatis Jesu Provinciae Melitensis, nunc degens “Manresa Retreat House”, Victoria, Gozo, testis a Postulatione inductus cui dilatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit tacto pectore, et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Daniel M. Glavina, S.J. testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita.

 

Witness submitted the attached statement [document 11]:

 

 

Document 11

Statement presented by Fr. Daniel Glavina SJ regarding the Servant of God Mons. Joseph De Piro*

 

I did not know Mgr. G. De Piro personally. But since I was Superior Delegate of the Society of St. Paul between 1940 and 1948 I heard a lot about him.

 

While Archbishop Maurus Caruana OSB, was talking to me about the opposition existant in Malta against the Society, and from some of the clergy, after the death of the Founder, Mgr. De Piro, he also told me that he had great respect for Mgr. De Piro and that he wanted to save it, if possible. In fact Mgr. Caruana told me these words: “I had great veneration towards Mgr. De Piro, and if possible I wish to save the Company.”

 

After the death of the Founder, the Archbishop chose Mgr Albert Pantalleresco as Superior of the Society of St. Paul. This was after Mgr. Henry Bonnici led the Society for a short time. In 1940 Mgr. Pantalleresco was interned and therefore someone else had to be chosen to take his place. In fact Mgr. Caruana chose me in order to strengthen it and save it. In this way the Archbishop wanted to give it another chance. In fact I began on the 14th November 1940.

 

The first time I heard about Mgr. De Piro was when I was still a child and I was with some relatives. I have the impression it was the time when a certain Paul Spiteri, a young aspirant from Senglea, left the Society. My mother was talking to an aunt and I remember her saying, “See what they do!  They leave him.”

 

The second time was when I was studying Theology in our Theologate in Dublin. The Secretary of the Apostolic Nuntio to Ireland had been taken to Africa by the Holy See. At the end of my studies, I was therefore asked by the Provincial to help the Nuntio in his correspondence. Mgr. Robinson, the Nuntio, had been in Malta as Apostolic Delegate, in order to help solve the politico religious question between the Church and Lord Strickland. Mgr. Robinson told me that at the time he was in Malta he never went to any family. He only went once to the De Piro family. He also told me about the good impression he had about this family. Obviously he went to this family out of respect towards Mgr. De Piro. He gave me the impression that he esteemed Monsignor a lot. In a letter he wrote to me afterwards, Robinson referred to Mgr. De Piro as “of happy and saintly memory.”

 

While Superior Delegate of the Society of St. Paul, once I mentioned Mgr. De Piro with Father H. Grima, SJ. He told me, “That one was a saint!” And this with great emphasis.

 

During the term of my being superior Delegate I resided at St. Joseph’s Home, Hamrun, because of the war. This made it possible for me to meet Mgr. Louis Catania, occasionally. He once told me that Mgr. Do Piro: “Aveva un cuor doro ed una testa di legno.” On that same occasion he told me that when he was a seminarian and Mgr. De Piro was Rector of the Seminary the seminarians used to go home and at times remain there longer than expected. More than once they would go to Valletta and there meet Mgr. De Piro. On such occasions he used to tell them: “Fili, quare derelicuisti me?” Mgr. Catania seemed to want to imply that Mgr. De Piro was too soft and too much kind.

 

If I remember well, in 1949 there came to Malta on a visit a certain Father Antonio Leanza SJ. This Father had been for some time a contributor to Civilta’ Cattolica’and afterwards rector of St. Aloysius College, B’Kara. We said only one word or two when we once met and started talking about Mgr. De Piro. Father Leanza told me: “Non ne parliamo.” As if he disapproved something in De Piro which he did not specify. I have the impression that at the time of Fr. Leanza’s rectorship at St. Aloysius, there were at the College the aspirants of Mgr. De Piro.

 

Father Michael Callus, MSSP, a holy person, esteemed a lot Mgr. De Piro because of the latter’s sanctity. At the same time this Callus told me more than once that the foundation of a religious Congregation was not a joke. Because he felt that the Founder did not dedicate enough time for it. This can be explained by the fact that Mgr. De Piro was entrusted with many responsibilities from the side of Mgr M Caruana, the Archbishop.

 

Father Joseph Spiteri, MSSP, who was one of the followers of Mgr. De Piro used to mention the Founder frequently. I am not able to quote the exact words, but his were always positive words.

 

As regards the spirituality which Mgr. De Piro wanted to pass on to the Society of St. Paul one can make reference to the Rules and Constitutions which he wrote. Whether he had ever explained them I do not know because I had never talked to anyone about this. What I know is that he entrusted the formation of the novices in the hands of a good Augustinian Friar.

 

Once I saw the notes which Mgr. De Piro took during his Ignatian Spiritual lixercises. From these same notes it is quite clear that Mgr. De Piro had not only done the Exercises well, but also that he had gone deep into them. These notes left a good impression on me. Besides these notes there are others which I did not come across, but which are in the Archives of the Society of St. Paul.

 

When I became Superior Delegate I felt I had to gather together all relevant material regarding Mgr. De Piro. This I did motivated by the sanctity of this Servant of God and in order to serve for his cause of beatification. I was inspired to do this by one of my companion Jesuits, John Peppercorn, who during our studies in Dublin, had gathered a lot of material for the cause of Mat Talbot.

 

In order to have the advice of one who knew Mgr. De Piro I went to Father Adeodato Schembri, O.S.A., a professor at St. Augustine’s College. Without any hesitation this one told me not to loose time. Because of this I stopped completely. At the same time I continuously insisted with the first members of the Society to love each other and live in unity. Together with the Founder, they were the foundation stones of the Society of St. Paul.

 

Fr. Daniel M. Glavina, SJ

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Carmel Farrugia, Notarius

 

 

[*] At the beginning of the Tribunal’s sitting, Fr. Glavina presented a statement about the Servant of God; but considering that during the interview he made certain clarifications, he insisted to review his original statement. The above is the amended statement.

 

Fr. Carmel Farrugia, Notarius.

 

 

Supplementary questions

 

1.         What was the opinion of the various priests you mentioned viz. Mgr. P. Robinson OFM, Mgr. Aloysius Catania, Fr. Antonio Leanza S.J., Fr. Emanuel Grima S.J., Fr. Adeodato Schembri OSA and Fr. Michael Callus, MSSP, about Mgr. De Piro’s sanctity and practical judgement?

 

(1)       As regards Mgr. De Piro’s sanctity:

 

i.          Mons. Pasquale Robinson O.F.M. had a high opinion of Mgr. De Piro’s sanctity, and I produce a letter of the said Mgr. Robinson in which he says that Mgr. De Piro was a saintly man [cfr.  attached extract]

 

ii.         All the others considered him as a very spiritual man.

 

(2)       As regards his practical judgentent:

 

Generally speaking, they had a good opinion of Mgr. De Piro’s practical judgement.  Yet I must add that Fr. Michael Callus lamented with me because, in his opinion, Mgr. De Piro had not enough time for the Society. Besides Mgr. Aloisius Catania said that Mgr. De Piro had “un cuore di oro e una testa di legno.”

 

Besides, Mons. Archbishop Mauro Carnana O.S.B., told me that he had great veneration for Mgr. De Piro, and he tried always to save the Congregation.

 

II.         What do you personally think about Mgr. De Piro?

 

I begin by stating that I do not know Mgr. Joseph De Piro personally. But from what I came to know about him, I came to the conclusion that he was a saintly man; that he looked after the Society he had founded.

 

Et sic absoluto examine dicti testis, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testi intelligibili voce integram depositionem perlexi, facultate ipsi data addendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputavit, his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit:

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui.

 

Daniel M. Glavina S.J., testis

Fr. J. Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

Fr. Carmel Farrugia, notarius

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judici Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est, die 6 Martii, 1987

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.

 


 

Extract from a letter of Bishop Paschal Robinson OFM written to Fr. Daniel Glavina SJ on the 10 th June 1941. Bishop Robinson had been the Apostolic Delegate visiting Malta during the period marked by the conflicts between the local church and Lord Gerald Strickland, Prime Minister of Malta [May 1929]

 

                                                                        Nuntiatura Apostolica

Dublin

10 th. June 1941.

 

Dear Father Glavina,

 

I have noted with much interest and pleasure … you say about your appointment as superior of the Maltese Society of St.Paul, founded by the late Msgr. De Piro of happy and saintly memory RIP

 

 

+ Paschal Robinson.


 

Sessio Decima Quarta

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram eodem Tribunali, hora 11.30 am comparuit Fr. Augustinus Grech, MSSP, natus die decima prima Junii, 1906, a Hamrun, Malta, filius Josephi et Elisabeth née Cremona, religious professus in Societate Missionaria Sancti Pauli, degens in St. Joseph’s Institute, Hamrun, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP. testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste, statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quesita.

 

Testis perlexit documentum (11a) antea preparatum, sed ob tarditatem horae, sessio suspenditur, hora 12.20pm, resumenda die 13 Martii, 1987, hora 9.30 am

 

Document 11A

Statement presented by Fr. Agustine Grech MSSP regarding the Servant of God Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I was born in Hamrun and, in my childhood, I resided there, right opposite the parish church of St. Gajetan. It was because of this that, when still young, I got to know Mons. De Piro. The Monsignor, on his way to Fra Diegu, would walk down Strada Reale, Hamrun. He always had the Breviary in one hand whilst in the other he had an unbrella. This was a black one in winter, and a sunshade for summer. I remember that as a child, I saw him tall, well built and smart. He always wore a hat, and often an ‘overall’. He would not stop in the street to talk. On the contrary, he passed with lowered eyes, looking downwards and walking slowly. The time I am referring to was when De Piro was still young (before 1916) and not old.

 

As a child, I remember the Monsignor at Fra Diego’s. I was familiar with this Institute because my father supplied its coal. It was the Monsignor who signed a sort of ticket to get this coal.

 

Also, as a child I used to go to St. Joseph’s Institute to confess. Mons. De Piro heard confessions regularly in the chapel of the Institute every Saturday evening. He attracted the children to him because he had the manners and ways adapted to them. So much so that they went to him again.

 

Time passed and I came to choose my vocation. As a hobby I had a small church and my father had tried to persuade me to enter the Seminary. On the other hand I never thought of the priesthood. I preferred to join the MUSEUM. I knew well Fr. George Preca who was the founder of this Society. At the same time, however, it happened that at Hamrun there was a certain Fr. Nikol Zammit who had a private school, named St. Michael.  He prepared students for the Lyceum or the Dockyard. After junior school I went to this school and so Fr. Nikol got to know me well. Again, we also met at the parish church. It happened that Fr. Michael Callus MSSP celebrated a kind of first Mass in Hamrun on the Epiphany of 1924. The preacher was the parish priest, Fr. Guzepp Muscat. He also spoke about the mission. Fr. Nikol Zammit happened to be in the church and noticed that I was there too. He then turned to me and said, “Don’t you think you should become like this one?” I knew nothing about the Society and I had not the least idea of becoming like Fr. Michael. In fact my immediate response to Fr. Nikol was, “Leave me”. The other, however, soon said to me: “I’ll talk to the Monsignor about you.” In fact he did so and a little later, when we met again, Fr. Nikol told me that Mons. De Piro wished to see me on the 24th January in the morning. I did not wish to, but Fr. Nikol persuaded me.

 

At that time I was about 14 years of age and I went to St. Joseph’s and found De Piro in his office. I did not expect that we were going to talk about the vocation, etc. I went there simply to keep the appointment with the Monsignor. He made me welcome. He gave me a chair and asked me several questions about myself and my family. As De Piro knew that I was acquainted with Fr. Michael, he started me off through Fr. Michael.  He asked me if I wanted to become like him by going to the mission. I told him that I had heard the parish priest preach about the mission on the feast of Fr. Michael. I let him know that I had a little disposition. Then De Piro wanted me to become fully aware and said to me: “You know what a mission means, don’t you’? It means you have to leave home and family and there may be lions and tigers! Aren’t you afraid of these?” And he added, “You think it over, take advice from your mother, and then, if you want to, come to Mdina.” And he mentioned to me a Sunday on which he gathered all those who wished to join the Society.  This took place every month. He even offered to me with whom I could go to Mdina. This meeting was to be held in February, 1924. In fact I went there and found Fr Bugeja OSA who was in charge of the formation in the house of the Society. Those who were already members were there to receive us. There was also Mons. De Piro.  He was present also in later meetings. He used to say Mass and speak to us in a group or individually.  He asked us about school, spiritual life, vocation etc. We would spend a whole day there.

 

Before we left in the evening the Monsignor told me that if I made up my mind to go on I should tell him so that he might make the necessary arrangements for me to attend St. Aloysius’ College, of the Jesuits, for secondary schools

 

I decided to go on. I told De Piro and he made arrangements for St. Aloysius’. In this period, when we were aspirants, we did not live in the house of the Society but lived at home and went to College from there. At the same time we were obliged to go to Mdina for the monthly meeting of one day.

 

After two years I was going to be admitted. However, I had a cyst in my eye. My father wished me to have it removed but the doctors did not agree. When my time of admittance approached Fr. Bugeja and Mons. De Piro insisted that I should have it removed. In fact I accepted to do this. It happened, however, that for some reason the specialist did not perform the operation and sent me back home. Instead, he operated on me at my home. There, some members of the Society came to visit me. Also Mons. De Piro came. After all this I joined the Society for probation on the 25th October, 1926. My colleagues had entered before, in July of the same year.

 

The Padre, for this is how we members addressed Mons. De Piro, paid great attention to our formation.  Although we had Fr. Bugeja as our master, everytime it was De Piro’s turn for the service at the Cathedral he came on the eve of the day before and stayed with us all the evening till the following morning. As soon as he arrived at the house he would meet Bugeja, our master. They discussed together how we were getting on. After this a bell rang as a signal for the Padre’s lecture.  He did this everytime he came. The topic was what had been discussed by Fr. Bugeja and himself, and other points which he deemed necessary: seperation from the family, silence, poverty, the use of things, liturgy, etc., etc.

 

Besides these community meetings, be also called us regularly, more exactly every time he came, one by one, to talk to us. We noticed that he also made notes of what was said.

 

The same as regards school. After he ascertained that we received a good secondary education at St. Aloysius’ College, of the Jesuits, when we were admitted on probation, he made arrangements for us to go to the College of the Augustinians in Rabat for Literature. There we studied Latin, Italian and also a little French. Besides this he wanted us to speak Italian at home to practise the language. Also, during meals or recreation he liked to introduce an arguaent to see us exercising our minds. In our private meeting, among other things, he would see how we were getting on at school. He wanted us to obtain good results. In the timetable we had enough time for school in the morning and for studies in the evening.

 

No less was his attention to the spiritual side of the formation of the aspirants. Our daily timetable shows this clearly. We had daily community meditation. When he was in the house he was always present for it. After this we would have spiritual reading and the particular examination. When we finished our meal we paid a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. In the evening then we had the reading of the Padre’s lecture, the Rosary and Sacramental Benediction before our meal. After this we made the general examination and prepared the points for the meditation of the following day. He was with us not only for the lecture but also for the other common acts. He himself conducted the general examination. He wished to see the probands much imbued with the idea of the mission. In his lecture he often spoke to us about the mission in general. It was also in connection with this that he talked to us about detachment from our family. He wanted to prepare us gradually for this. Besides, he often invited Fr. Ang. Mizzi O.F.M. Cap., who was a missionary in Abyssinia, to talk to us (at that time Bro. Guzepp Caruana had not yet gone to the mission.  He went there in June, 1927).

 

The house of Xara Palace, where we lived, lacked all comforts. Food was not very good. This was prepared by some one of the brothers who probably began to learn cooking after he had joined the Society. One can imagine!

 

We held the Padre in awe. We were not in familiar terms with him. At the same time he was so gentle that we were never afraid of him. Everytime he came to the house of the Society he had his recreation with the members. However, besides this time and the time he spent talking to us privately, we did not have much time to meet and talk to him.

 

After the probation year, my mates and I were ready for the novitiate. I remember he talked to us one by one and after he had consulted Fr. Bugeja we were admitted.

 

The novitiate started with the taking of the habit. The Monsignor wanted to conduct this with the greatest solemnity. First of all he was present and he himself presided. He wanted to hold it in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Institute. He invited many people; relatives of the new novices, benefactors and children from different Institutes. On that day he also changed our names. He was very strict about the choice of names. In fact, for this occasion Fr. Bugeja had approached him to try to suggest what names we novices wished to have. De Piro said promtly, “No, I choose the names.”

 

During my novitiate the Founder still came regularly to Mdina as before. He still gave the lecture and talked to us privately. It is to be said that De Piro had the habit to be with the members for the yearly retreats and to use the occasion to talk to us one by one. He talked to us in a special way about how we were getting on. In fact he liked to talk to us about the defects we had picked up. As regards these he kept warning us and talking to us also in the private meetings held during the year. During retreats he himself used to serve us at table.

 

For daily things, including formation, there was Fr. Bugeja. In the novitiate we had a different programme from that of the probation period. First of all we stopped attending school. As regards this, in my case there was an irregularity which the Monsignor found a way to remedy. He had allowed me to start studying Philosophy. However, soon the doubt arose if this was allowed in the novitiate. When the Founder found out that this was not right he stopped it. At the same time he wrote to Rome to see if the months I had already done could be regarded as valid. Rome answered that they were, provided the right course was followed and I sat for the necessary examinations.

 

The novitiate was also different because Fr. Bugeja himself began to give us instructions. He did this following the rule and notes he himself had compiled. He also used the ‘Cotell’. For the brothers he had also translated the Rule into Maltese.

 

Mons. De Piro insisted very much that the novices should learn the letters of St. Paul very well. He even wanted us to learn them by heart. In fact he had assigned me the letter to the Romans.

 

Even at this time he went on exhorting the missionary spirit. He still talked about the missions in his lectures. As Bro. Guzepp Caruana had already gone abroad, he often talked to us about him. He also read to us the letters he received from him. He also bought a large globe and would explain to us the whereabouts of our colleague. He would also give me the stamps of Abyssinia to stick in my album.

 

All this apart, the Padre did his best to teach the novices some trade. In fact in our timetable we had an hour every day for this. He would even bring us an instructor from St. Joseph’s to teach us, and inquire about our progress. He himself took great interest in learning what we were doing. Especially during recreation he would inquire about what we had done.

 

After the year of the novitiate we made the profession (September, 1928). We were examined by him and by Fr. Bugeja. After the profession we became students. Now the programme changed; now there was more concentration on study and schooling. In fact we spent the morning at St. Augustine’s and the evenings were devoted to study. The Monsignor was very careful about our progress in this. He wanted to be informed about our results and he also started discussions with us on some point of our studies.

 

Besides our studies, he still took care of our religious formation. As before, he still came to Mdina and gave lectures.

 

As there was still a lack of members when the education section was opened at the Oratory of B’Kara, De Piro sent me there to help Ft. Michael. At that time I was in my second year of Theology. I still attended school at the Augustinians’ in Rabat.

 

The lack of members was always in his mind especially when he saw the volume of work his Society already had. He therefore wished to push us a little.

 

At the same time he was always careful to follow the rules of the Church.  He was always very prudent in this regard. My case is an evidence of this. The Padre desired to start the ordinations but according to the Diocesan Synod of Bishop Cocco Palmieri one could not receive the tonsure if one did not have the title. The religious received this title when they made the profession, solemn or perpetual. However, I had not yet made the perpetual profession and therefore we waited to follow the procedure. After some months I made the perpetual profession in September 1931. In October, Archbishop Mauro Caruana gave me the tonsure and the first two minor orders. The Founder was very pleased with this progress, so much so that he made the cermony of the Minor Orders with great solemnity. He even held a reception for the guests: relatives, benefactors and other friends. All this was held at the Oratory in B’Kara.

 

He continued to ask for certain exemptions (a shorter time) and gradually I was ordained a presbyter in September, 1932.

 

In the meantime Xara Palace closed down and all the members went to the Oratory. Later another house was found in Mdina, 10 Strada dei Celsi. Also here De Piro came regularly and gave the lecture. I do not remember if De Piro slept there. In the meantime Fr. Frangisk Camilleri, a priest of the Society, replaced Fr. Bugeja. He had started at Xara Palace because before the members had left there Fr. Bugeja had become ill and could not continue. However, Fr. Frangisk also fell ill and had to stop. When I was ordained I replaced him (in December 1932).

 

The Founder had for a long time tried to build a large house for the Society. In fact, with the help of Fr. Nerik Bonnici, parishpriest of Rabat, he obtained the Archbishop’s permission to take over the church of St. Agatha and all that belonged to it for the Society. Thus he separated it from the parish of St. Paul. It was when he came for the permission to build the house that he met a lot of difficulties from the Curia. Also it took him a long tine to acquire the land around the Church. At last he succeeded in starting the project.

 

On the 30th June 1932 he celebrated a pontifical Mass in the parish church of St. Paul. He was assisted by Fr. Guzepp Spiteri as deacon and by myself as subdeacon. After the pontifical Mass we went in procession to the site where the work was to start. With us came the parish priest Buhagiar, the clergy, the members of the Society and others. There De Piro and the parish priest dug a hole each and fixed a cross where the foundation stone was to be laid. Later, work started on the foundations.

 

On the 3rd October the foundation stone was laid. The description of the ceremony had been published in the Almanacc of 1933.

 

It is to be said here that at this time De Piro came more often then before. He needed to see the progress of the building. In fact he used to take me with him and carefully inspect the building that was going up. He liked to talk to the master mason and the builders. These he respected very much although at times their delay upset him.

 

For this building he was continually helped by his benefactors. He had a special register in which to record all their donations. He also recorded why the money was given. These detailed records were of great help later because when his relatives claimed the right of this place because the Monsignor had built it with his money, it could be clearly seen that this was not true.

 

The blessing of the place was to occur in June 1933. He wanted to celebrate this occasion with all solemnity. Again he invited the Archbishop who said Mass in the chapel of St. Agatha. After Mass the Holy Eucharist was left in the Tabernacle there to remain for ever. Then we went out in procession to the corridor for the blessing of the place. For this occasion many people were invited among whom the benefactors again. Again he wished so much to show his appreciation for the workers that he treated them as the nobles did when the building of a palace was completed. After some time he prepared a great dinner called the qarew, in the ground floor corridor of the new house and for this he invited all the workers. He himself and we served at table.

 

In the meantime the rooms were not completely finished. At the same time there was the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. The Padre, therefore, sent two students to sleep in the old sacristy which was near the chapel. Every morning I together with the other members of Strada Celsi would go to St. Agatha’s to say Mass. The Monsignor paid great attention to the building and therefore came often. He would come in the evening and the day after he himself would say Mass. Here the sofa had to serve as his bed. It was on the 24th July 1933 that everyone moved to St. Agatha’s. Here he had his own room. This is how it was furnished: a high iron bed, near it a simple commode, a bureau, beneath the stairs window he had a stand with a pitcher, two chairs and an iron safe.

 

On 12th September of that year all the members went for a retreat at St. Calcedon’s. Only Fr. Alwig remained at St. Agatha’s. Whilst we were there, the Padre died. We seemed to notice that he was ill. He himself gave a hint and said something, especially that he was afraid of the month of September. At the same time his morale was high and he did not give up. No one suspected that his death was to come in this way.

 

Since there was a time when in Malta the Monsignors were allowed to be burried at the Cathedral and the parish priests at the church where they served, I had asked Bishop Mauro to transport the remains of the Founder from the Addolorata Cemetery to St. Agatha’s. We had already prepared a grave in front of the high altar, within the church. The second world war started and everything stopped. When Father D. Glavina S.J. became a superior delegate he wished to revive this. He spoke to me about it and I told him that permission had already been granted. In spite of this Glavina had to apply for permission again. In the meantime such permissions had been withdrawn, including that of De Piro. In fact it was only after some time had passed, and Fr. Mikiel Callus S.S.P. became superior general, that the remains of the Padre could be tranported and burried at St. Agatha’s. However, they laid him in the charnelhouse beside the chapel and not in the grave in front of the altar.

 

The Padre was a eucharistic priest. He said Mass with great devotion. He always insisted on the priests of the Society to observe the rubrics. He attended Adorations where this was possible for him. He belonged to the group of Adorer Priests. Even on Mission Day he wanted to introduce the Adoration. In fact he was the first one who introduced an hour’s adoration on this day. He held it in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Institute. On the feast of Christ the King he had introduced the practice to hold an hour’s adoration, also at St. Joseph’s chapel, before the cortage at Valletta.

 

He had great devotion to Our Lady. He connected his vocation with her. He always tried to spread the devotion of the Rosary. He wrote many sermons on Our Lady. He named the Aspirants’ Branch of the Oratory in B’Kara, “Santa Maria”. Once when he was in Rome he learnt that the Institute of Mosaic had just opened. He went there and asked them to make an image of Our Lady which he wanted to put in a central place of the House of the Society so that the members might be continually reminded of her.

 

He had a special love for St. Paul. On the feast of the 25th of January he would go to the House of the Society and celebrate it with all possible solemnity.

 

He also had the habit, that after the pontifical Mass of the feast of 25th January and Mnarja (29th June), he took the reliquary of St. Paul and held it to be kissed by the congregation. And this he did when he was not an Archpriest. In his lectures to the members he often referred to this Saint. It has already been said that he wanted the novices to learn the letters of St. Paul by heart.

 

Mons. De Piro encouraged the ‘Heroic Act’ for the souls in purgatory. He had placed a picture near the chapel of the house so that everyone who entered there offered the merits for the souls in purgatory.

 

Fr. A. Grech, MSSP

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis,

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Decima Quinta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero decima tertia Martii, (sive 13-3-1987) hora 9.30 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis Curiae Archiepiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Pater Augustinus Grech MSSP, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit at infra;

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

1/2.      Omit.

 

3.         I am not related to the Servant of God, but I am a member of the Society founded by the Servant of God.  I feel bound to the Servant of God both as a member of his Society and because of the help I received from him.

 

4.         I am giving my evidence because I feel it my duty that I do my part so that, God willing, Mons. De Piro would be given the honour of the altars. No one has told me what to say during these interviews. As I am a senior member of the Society, I was asked by the Vice-Postulator to give my evidence.

 

5.         I knew personally the Servant of God. I first came to know him when still a boy of about ten years, I used to go to confession to Mons De Piro. When I was fifteen, I chose him as my spiritual Director. Then on the 25th October, 1925, I entered the Society and knew him intimately until his death in 1933.

 

6.         Iam provisum.

 

7.         Yes, I have read much correspondence when I was Superior. This correspondence, as far as I know, is in the Society’s Archives. I, personally, have no such correspondence in my possession.

 

8.         I received information about the Servant of God from other persons. Some are dead. Others are still living, among them I can mention the following: Fr. Alwig Gatt, MSSP, living at St. Agatha’s Rabat; Br. Venantius Gales, MSSP, living at St. Agatha’s, Rabat;  Br. Felix Muscat, MSSP, living at St. Agatha’s Rabat; Mr. Rosario Catania, living at Gzira.

 

II-VIII

 

About this period I know nothing personally. Through his mother I came to know that he began studying Laws at the University. But he was not sure about his vocation. On the 8th May, during the recitation of the “Supplica” he felt himself called to the priesthood. He went to his spiritual director, and decided to start his studies for the priesthood. He started his theological studies at the “Collegio Capranica” in Rome. Here he fell sick of tubercolosis, and went to Switzerland for cure. Then after he was cured by God’s help, he finished his studies at the Gregorian University. He was ordained priest in Rome. He celebrated his first Solemn High Mass at the Cathedral, Mdina, Malta.

 

From his mother I also came to know that as a child he was quiet, recollected and devoted, obedient, was on good terms with his five brothers and two sisters, now all dead. He liked studing.

 

When he grew older, he used to give alms.

 

At the University he liked to paint pictures. He entered for some time the “Militia”.

 

IX

 

1-15. Immediately after his ordination, as his mother told me, he started his priestly ministry at the parish of Qrendi, if I remember well for two years.

 

From the people of Qrendi I came to know that he was loved very much by them, and they were very sorry when the bishop sent him as director of “Fra Diego Institute”.

 

He went to Qrendi not because the bishop assigned him to Qrendi, but to convalesence from his illness. But when he was there he used to help the parish priest. All this was on his own initiative.

 

X

 

1-6. He used to preach. He was a member of the popular missions’ society “del Preziosissimo Sangue”. He used to write his sermons, and, as far as I know, the manuscripts are preserved in the Archivies of the Society. He preached mostly on the Holy Eucharist and our Lady. His sources were the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church. His preaching was, normally, catechetical and pastoral in nature; he used to insist on the recitation of the Holy Rosary.

 

Sometimes he used to write the integral text of his homilies.  At other times, he wrote only notes.

 

XI

 

1. Yes, the Servant of God founded a new Congregation, the Missionary Society of St. Paul. As far as I know he started thinking about it when he was a priest. I presume that he discussed his projects with the bishop since he never acted without letting the bishop know about what he was doing; the same as regards his spiritual director. As I heard from others, at the begining there were other priests who had the idea to found a society of priests for the missions. But in fact he was alone in founding this Society. Others thought that it was impossible to have such a Maltese Society of priests, given the smallness of the Island.

 

2.         The Society opened its first house at Mdina on the 30th June, 1910. The Servant of God chose that particular day to put his thoughts in action because:

 

i]          A few years before he had gone together with Bishop Angelo Portelli, O.P. to preach a mission to the Maltese Migrants living in Algeria.

 

ii]         A priest working with the Maltese migrants in Australia sent a letter to Mgr. Joseph De Piro asking him to tell the bishop to send Maltese priests to Australia.

 

He called the first house founded in 1910, “Piccola Casa di San Paolo per le Missioni Estere”. I do not.know whether he found any help from others. He called his Congregation Societa’ di San Paolo”. His idea was to help the foreign missions. At first it was thought that he founded the Society for Maltese migrants, but in fact he had in mind to found a missionary society to work among infidels.

 

3.         He intended from the very begining to found a religious congregation for the missions. But he was not clear about it, and most of the first members left when he told them of his intentions. He had in mind a religious congregation, bound by the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but dedicated to the active life.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 suspenso examine dicti testis, die 20 Martii resumendo de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testi, intelligibili et alta voce integram depositionem perlexi, ipsi facultate data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit, his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit.

 

Iuro me veritatem totam in me depositione deposui.

 

Fr: A. Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. J. Bajada Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloysius Pisani 0.C.D. Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 13 Martii 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Decima Sexta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesimo Martii (sive 20-3-1987) hora 9.30am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis Curiae Archiepiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Pater Augustinus Grech, MSSP, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech MSSP, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuiramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex cognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XI  [cont.]

 

4.         I do not know.

 

5.         There was a certain appeal among the Maltese youth towards the Congregation.

 

I came to know from the Servant of God himself that, even before he had founded the Society, he had cast his eyes on St. Joseph’s Institute for boys at Hamrun, as a centre from which he could find and foster vocations for his Congregation. He also spoke about his Congregation, and even wrote about it.

 

6.         No, he was not. He wanted to become a member, but the Archbishop, because he did not want to deprive the Diocese of the services of the Servant of God, showed that he was contrary to the Servant of God’s becoming a member. He was the Founder of the Congregation, and the Archbishop nominated him Superior.

 

7.         The charism which the Servant of God presented to the members of his Congregation was that of the missions. From what I came to know from others, this charism at first was not presented clearly to the first members of the Congregation, especially as regards the vows. As far as I am concerned, the Servant of God spoke clearly to me about the charism of his Congregation from the very begining, that is when I came to join the Congregation in 1924.

 

In my opinion this charism was understood and accepted by both the local authorities and those of Rome.

 

It was also understood and accepted by the Maltese youth, and this understanding and acceptance continued to increase with the passage of time.

 

He always kept calm and serene, and was obedient to the authorities. He was sorry when some left his Congregation, but he continued to help them, even materially.

 

8.         He tried to live and practise this charism. He left his family and lived with the members of his Congregation. He helped families financially. He was always promt in obeying his superiors. As regards chastity, he was bound to this virtue through his priestly ordination. As regards the missions: he went to preach missions among Maltese migrants in North Africa; and was about to go to Abbysinia, where he had already sent a member of the Society, but died a short time before.

 

He never said in my presence what motivated him for such an activity. But it is my opinion that it is evident from his writings and from what others said about him, that what motivated him was love of God and love for his neighbour.

 

I also heard him say, and he also wrote this phrase: “Let us give to others, what Saint Paul gave to us.”

 

9.         He wrote rules for his Congregation. These rules were approved by Mgr. Archbishop Mauro Caruana O.S.B. in 1921. In November 1986 the rules which had been renewed were approved by the Congregation “De Propaganda Fidei.”

 

10.       He followed the laws of the Church in these matters. He was prudent, and was firm in his decisions. He consulted himself with the Master of Novices before admitting someone to perpetual profession; but it was always he who took the final decision.

 

11.       Yes, he intended his Congregation to include both priests and brothers.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 suspense examine testis ob tarditatem horae, die 27 Martii resumendo, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testi, intelligibili et alta voce integram depositionem perlexi ipsi facultate data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit:— Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et

secretum servaturum.

 

Fr. A. Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. J. Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 20 Martii, 1987

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Decima Septima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima septima Martii (sive 27-3-1987) hora 9.45 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis Curiae Archiepiscopa1i, Valletta, comparuit Pater Augustinus Grech MSSP, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in secunda sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech MSSP, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotor Iustitiae et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaestum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XI  [cont]

 

12.       For about the first fifteen years it was Mgr. Jos. De Piro who took care of the members of the Congregation. Then, on suggestion of Fr. Furci S.J., Mgr. De Piro started seeking a religious who would take care of the formation of the members. At last Fr. Emmanuel Bugeja O.S.A. was chosen as Master of novices for three years, which were renewed for another three years. Then Mgr. De Piro chose a member of our Congregation, Fr. Francesco Saverio Camilleri, as Master of novices. After about a year he had to leave this office on account of his health. Then Mgr. De Piro nominated me as Master of novices. During this period the formation of novices was not in the hands of Mgr. De Piro.

 

He took care, in a general way, of formation, spiritual, intellectual and moral, of all the members, especially those who were called to the priesthood. He took care also that lay brothers learned some trade.

 

13.       He took care of the sick members in all their needs, both spiritual and material. He also taught us how to treat sick members, and prescribed directions for us in the Rule itself. He never exposed sick members to unnecessary risks.

 

14.       As far as I know he did his best to choose the best persons for any particular duty, especially in choosing the priests to be superiors of his houses.

 

15.       He applied punishments where necessary, but these punishments were never severe, and he was always prudent, just, and never moved by antipathy.

 

16.       He was a prudent administrator, not prodigal, and he insisted with the members of the Congregation that they use everything for the purpose to which it was destined. He contributed from his personal possessions for the upkeep and living of the members.

 

17.       I do not know whether the members of his family objected to his contributions to our Congregation, and therefore I can give no details.

 

18.       During his lifetime, the Congregation did not flourish as much as may be expected. During his lifetime four houses were founded. Mgr. De Piro used to say that his Congregation would flourish after his death. Of the four houses founded by Mgr. De Piro, two belonged to the Congregation, viz. “St. Agatha” at Rabat, Malta, and the Oratory “St. Mary” at Birkirkara.  The other two, “St. Joseph’s Institute” at St. Venera, belonged to the Archdiocese of Malta, and “St. Joseph’s Institute” at Ghajnsielem, Gozo, to the Diocese of Gozo.

 

He found difficulties as regards “St. Agatha’s”: the necessary documents to start building were lost. He found no difficulties as regards the other three houses.

 

19.       He was prudent in extending his Congregation, not interfering with others, and not being of detriment to the moral and material good of the Congregation.

 

20.       I do not know of any such recourse.

 

21.       I do not know.

 

22.       As regards the regimen of the Congregation, the Servant of God sought and applied the advice of the Ecclesiastical Superiors. He constantly sought their approval, neither following his own judgment nor excessively bound to his own opinions.

 

23.       He was always on good terms with the local ordinaries and always obedient to his bishop.

 

24.       As far as I know there were no disagreements with the bishop. Some members of the clergy did not understand him or the purpose of his Congregation, because some thought that there was no need of such a Congregation for Malta.

 

25.       He never objected to anything in particular in the regimen of the Congregation. I do not know that his way of governing created adversaries among the clergy. Nor do I know that there were any accusations against him, or that there was any motive for such accusations.

 

26.       As far as I know he was always on good terms with the civil authorities. His Superior (the Archbishop) had a great opinion of the Servant of God. His subjects had great veneration for him. And the people in general respected him.

 

27.       It never passed my mind to doubt the ability and prudence of the Servant of God as founder and superior of the Congregation.

 

 

XII

 

1.         I do not know exactly when the Servant of God was chosen as Monsignor and member of the Cathedral Chapter, but through Fr. Joseph Spiteri MSSP (one of the earliest members of our Society, though not the first) I came to know that it was the bishop Mgr. Peter Paul Pace who, apart from his other merits, on the insistence of the mother of the Servant of God (who acted against the expressed wish of her son) created Fr. Joseph De Piro Monsignor coadjutor of the Dean of the Cathedral Chapter. I do not know the date when he took the official possession of his new office.

 

2.         As far as I know, yes. The other monsignors esteemed him. He was regular in his attendance, was responsible in his duties. Those who lived near the Cathedral formed a very good opinion of the Servant of God.

 

3.         He had no coadjutor. He was the Dean, and as such the President of the Metropolitan Chapter.

 

4.         I do not know when he was nominated a regular monsignor, but when the Dean died, he became the new Dean of the Chapter. His relationship with the Archbishop, fellow monsignors and other persons at the Cathedral was very good. I do not know that there were any particular problems.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 suspenso examine testis ob tarditatem horae, die 3 Aprilis resumendo, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis postquam testi intelligibili et alta voce integram depositionem perlexi, ipsi facultate data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit:

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum.

 

 

Fr. Augustine Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

Fr. Aloysius Pisani, OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 27 Martii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Decima Octava

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero tertia Aprilis (sive 3-4-1987) hora 10.00 a.m, coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascipto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis Curiae Archiepiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Pater Augustinus Grech, MSSP, cui de- latum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP testis iuravi:

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, Promotore Iustitiae et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XIII

1-3      I do not know anything about the Servant of God as Secretary to the Archbishop.

 

XIV

1-4      I do not know anything personally about the Servant of God as Rector of the Major Seminary at Mdina, but from the late Mgr. Anton Buhagiar and the late Fr. Michael Cefai I came to know that his relationship with the seminarians was very good.

 

XV

 

1          I do not know when the Servant of God was chosen a Director of “Fra Diego Institute” for girls, nor why was he chosen or how he reacted.

 

2          This office implied the administration of the Institute, and the running of the Institute. He was assisted by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

 

The Servant of God dedicated himself totally to the care of these girls, not only during their stay, at the Institute, but also when they came to leave so that they could find a suitable position in life. Many times he helped them financially to get married. He was happy also to help them in any difficulty which they encountered after they left the Institute. Some of these girls, who were under his spiritual direction, became sisters.

 

3.         I came to know from the sisters at the Institute that his relationships with them were good. He helped them to spread the Congregation. He was paternal and understanding, and was not too rigid with the sisters. I do not know whether he involved them in the administration of the Institute.

 

4/5.      Iam provisum.

 

6.         I do not know what motivated him to do such work. He sought the help of others; even his mother used to help him.

 

Ex officio: In what did the help proferred by the mother of  the Servant of God consist?

 

The mother of the Servant of God was the President of a society of voluntary workers who helped the “Fra Diego Institute”; and also helped financially.

 

XVI

 

1.         About the year 1922 the Archbishop entrusted St. Joseph’s Institute” to the Servant of God. I do not know why he was given this office. As far as I know, he did not seek this office. He was expected to do the normal work of a director of an institute.

 

2.         I do not know personally what was the actual state of St. Joseph’s Institute when the Servant of God took over. He kept the staff he found there, that is the the “De La Salle Brothers”; but they left for their own reasons. Then he brought to the Institute the members of his Congregation. He did this because he needed someone to help him.

 

3.         The Servant of God had contacts with St. Joseph’s Institute even before he became Director; he was a friend of the previous Director, Fr. George Bugeja. I do not know how this influenced his being chosen as a Director. He behaved the same as with the girls of  “Fra Diego Institute” with this, however, that he saw to it that the boys of “St. Joseph’s Institute” learned a trade. He also slept at the Institute.  He did not change his initial attitude.

 

4.         He was as a father to the boys.  He went on well with the staff. He was content with the work others did before him, and he adapted the running of the Institute to the needs of the times.

 

5.         The main aim of the Institute was the education of boys who were orphans or coming from broken homes. By “education” I mean the formation of their character, preparation for their future life in society. I include also spiritual help. Some of the boys have chosen the priestly vocation. As soon as he became Director he appointed Fr. John Vella, SSP to take care of the spiritual needs of the children of the Institute.

 

6.         He remained director of St. Joseph’s Institute till his death.

 

XVII - XVIII

 

Personally I do not know anything about the Servant’s of God relationship with Marija Guzeppina Curmi or her Congregation except that they were in great difficulties, and Mgr. De Piro helped them; and he also helped them to obtain canonical approval; and that he was Director of “Jesus of Nazareth” Institute. I know also that he entrusted a home for children which he opened at St. Venera, not far from St. Joseph’s Institute, to the young women who were with Marija Guzeppina Curmi. He had in mind to build a large institute. I do not remember who were the first persons. He also had in mind that these children, when they grew up, would go to St. Joseph’s Institute.

 

I do not know what relationship there was between the members of the Congregation founded by the Servant of God and Marija Guzeppina Curmi and her friends.

 

XIX

 

1-2.     I do not know much about this. All I know is that they continued with the work they had before. In my opinion their charism was the missions. Being director of Jesus of Nazareth” Institute, the Servant of God helped in the building of this house. I do not know whether he contributed financially.

 

3.         It was to be a congregation for the missions. I do not know what was the Archbishop’s opinion as regards this Congregation, nor what was that of the Servant of God.

 

4-5.     I only know that the Servant of God helped the Congregation to obtain ecclesiastical approval. I do not know whether he helped in the formation of their constitutions; but I know that their constitutions was approved. Their habit was to be red, in honour of Jesus of Nazareth, with a girdle, a headress and they were to wear a cross. As far as I know, their habit was not acceptable to all competent authorities.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 suspenso examine testis ob tarditatem horae, die 10 Aprilis resumendo, de mandate Delegati Episcopalis postquam testi intelligibili et alta voce integram depositionem perlexi, ipsi facultate data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit:

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum.

 

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani 0.C.D.,Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 3 Aprilis 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Decima Nona

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero decima Aprilis (sive 10-4-1987) hora 9.45 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis Curiae Archiepiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Pater Augustinus Grech, MSSP, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quad ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Fr. Augustine Grech, MSSP,  testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XIX [cont.]

 

6.         All I can say is that Mgr. De Piro helped a lot the Missionary Congregation of Jesus of Nazareth, but I can’t give details.

 

XX

 

1-2.     I know that he was Director of the Institute of St. Francis De Paoli at B’Kara, but I can’t give any details.

 

XXI

 

1.         I think that it was bishop Camilleri of Gozo who thought about founding an institute for boys where to gather orphan boys of Gozo. The bishop who realized this project was Mgr. Michael Gonzi, then bishop of Gozo. The members of the Congregation founded by the Servant of God helped him in this. I do not know whether the Servant of God made any statute for this Institute. The Government gave the permission and building for the Institute.

 

2.         I know he was Director of this Institute and was supposed to do all that an institute’s director has to do. I do not know when he was proposed as director of this Institute, but I know that he accepted. I suppose that he informed his bishop, the Archbishop of Malta. I do not know to what condition he related his acceptance, nor am I in a position to answer the other questions. I wish to add that, besides being the Director, he was also the founder of this Institute.

 

3.         All I can say is that the Gozo Institute of St. Joseph, at Gozo, was to be a branch of St. Joseph’s Institute of Hamrun, Malta. Now these Institutes are two separate entities.

 

4.         All I can say is that the Governor and the Bishop of Gozo were present for the opening ceremony, and the Servant of God delivered a speech for the occasion. The purpose of the Institute was the care of the orphans, and the Patron Saint of the Institute was to be St. Joseph.

 

5.         I am not in a position to answer these questions.

 

6.         The members of the Congregation did commit themselves to the care of the orphans. The first members were Fr. Michael Callus SSP as local superior and director of the Institute, helped by another lay brother, whose name I cannot remember, who are now both dead.  I do not know that the Congregation benefited anything from this activity. The role of the Servant of God was that of Founder-Director of this Institute; and I do not think that this in any way interfered with the duties he already had.

 

7.         He founded a philarmonic society in the Institute so that the children could learn music and recreate themselves. But as regards the other questions, I am not in a position to answer them.

 

8.         The Servant of God saw to it that the children learned some trade. I can mention at least three: shoemaking, carpentry and tailoring. For this he employed men to teach trades to the boys, and he was successful in this.

 

9.         I do not know how many children were there up to 1927, but I believe they were around twenty. There was no space problem.

 

10.       Gozo was considered to be an ideal place for the summer holidays of the members of the Congregation, and the Congregation had hired a house for this reason near the Institute.

 

11.       The Servant of God remained director till he appointed Fr. Michael Callus as Director.

 

XXII

 

1.         The Oratory was opened by the Salesian Fathers at Birkirkara, parish of St. Helen, for the teaching and recreation of children, in 1910. It was founded by Notary Michael Casolani. At first the Salesian Fathers were in charge of the Oratory and chapel, and from hearsay I know that they remained there for two years. I do not know when they left. After them Canon Michael Sammut took care of this Oratory. Then there came the Freres, who remained there for about six years, and they left because of lack of personnel, and Canon Michael Sammut, aided by some other Canons of the Collegiate of Birkirkara, continued to take care of the Oratory.

 

2.         It is true that the Oratory was helping spiritually and civilly many boys, giving them a proper catechetical instruction and drawing them to the Sacraments. I do not know that poor children were helped materially; nor do I know the financial situation of the Oratory.

 

3.         The Founder, Notary M. Casolani, and Canon Michael Sammut, wanted some religious Order to take over so that the work they had begun would not come to an end with their death. Therefore they asked Mgr. De Piro to take charge of the place. I do not know what kind of conditions were bound to the donation of the Oratory to the Society.

 

4.         The Servant of God considered the offer a favourable one. He asked permission from the diocesan authorities before he accepted, and the Bishop accepted. I suppose that the Servant of God gave assurance that the ends of the Oratory would remain the same, so much so that in fact the Oratory continued to operate on the same lines even after the death of its Founder.

 

5.         I do not know when the donation was made. The Servant of God was always on good relations with the Founder. The Servant of God in the name of his Congregation made a contract. As for the rest: affirmative ad omnia.

 

6.         Lay people helped children in sports and drama. As for the rest I do not know anything.

 

7.         The Servant of God sent a member daily to open the Oratory. After the Oratory was passed over to the Congregation, the Servant of God took care to set up a group of aspirants who resided with a priest member of the Congregation. The priest was Fr. Michael Callus.  There was also a brother, Calcedonio Zammit, both dead, and I, who then was still a student, who were also sent there to help. The group was called: “Educandato Santa Maria.”

 

8.         I think that Notary Casolani died about the year 1930. Affirmative ad omnia.

 

9.         Iam provisum.

 

 

Et sic hora 12.00 suspenso examine testis ob tarditatem horae, die 8 Maii resumendo, de mandato Delegati Episcopali postquam testi intelligibili et alta voce integram depositionem perlexi, ipsi facultate data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit, his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit.

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, 0.C.D, Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis De1egati, hoc pub1icum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Its est. Die I0 Aprilis, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Vigesima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero secunda Maii (sive 2-5-1987) hora 9.45am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis Curiae Archiespiscopali, Vallettae, comparuit Dominus Joseph Vella, cui delatun fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Joseph Vella,  testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius, exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mr. Joseph Vella, son of Lorenzo and Giovanna Ciantar, both dead, born on the 29th August, 1914 at Stella Maris Parish, Sliema. pensioner, practicing Catholic.

 

I am not related to the Servant of God, nor a member of the Society he founded.  I am giving my evidence after being asked by the Vice Postulator. No one told me what to say during my evidence. I came to know the Servant of God when, in the year 1925, I entered St. Joseph’s Institute, where Mgr. De Piro was Director. I remained in the Institute for about three years, until I was about 14 years of age. During this period I served the Mass of the Servant of God, and was on two occassions with him when he gave alms to the poor.

 

Interrogationes ex officio

 

1.         What idea have you formed of the Servant of God during this period?

 

I consider Mgr. De Piro as a saintly person. He was very recollected both before and after Mass, and used to say prayers from a book. He was a charitable person. On the two occassions I was with him when he gave alms, I noticed that there were about twenty five or thirty persons, and he gave from a shilling to about two shillings sixpence to each person. I remember that once I had a reason to enter his room, and, since I knew where he kept the money, I took two shillings from his drawer. On the next Saturday, when I was about to go to confession, I saw that the confessor was Mgr. be Piro himself. I went to confess to him and told him what I had done. He told me: You know you have done wrong. You know how much alms do I give. If you needed anything and you came to ask me, I would have given you what you needed, but you ought not to take away money without my permission.”

 

2.         Did the Servant of God give financial help to St. Joseph’s Institute?

 

In my opinion he gave financial help to the Institute, but I cannot say how much.

 

3.         Did the Servant of God take care of the spiritual welfare of the children at the Institute? And the same as regards education and culture, sports and health?

 

The Servant of God took care that we heard Mass everyday, and we frequented confession. We had catechetical instruction, and Mgr. De Piro himself delivered sermons to us on certain occassions.

 

He took care of our education. It was there that I learned to read and write fluently. Sometimes he visited us during our lesson sessions. All were obliged to attend these lessons.

 

There were also several trades, viz, printing, machinist, bookbinding, shoemaking, tailoring and carpentry.

 

He took care of our culture. It was there that I learned how to play a musical instrument.

 

He took care also of our recreation. Sometimes he even took us for outings in the afternoon. For this he found people who helped us, for example Mr. Alfons Maria Galea, who sometimes accepted us in his villa at Birzebbugia. On certain occassions he organised sports for us at the Institute. This was done on Christmas and during Carnival. On St. Joseph’s feastday he held an open day at the Institute, and people could come and see the Institute.

 

He also took care of our health. Once when I was sick in bed, he visited me at night, encouraged me, asked me how I felt and if I had eaten, and took interest in me.

 

4.         How did the Servant of God correct the children, and treat them when they made mistakes?

 

He always corrected us with charity and prudence. For instance, once I was chosen to go and collect money during a football match between Sliema and Floriana. Usually we went at about half past two p.m. On that day, Br. Joseph Caruana, at 11.00 am, gave me a letter and told me to take it to Mgr. De Piro at Mdina and give it to him personally. I did not like the idea, especially since that day I was to watch a football match. However I went. I did not find him at home, and after waiting for him for about half an hour, I went to the house of his religious and waited up to 2.00 pm. Then I left to go to the football ground. We collected the money and returned to the Institute. Here Bro. Joseph Caruana found out that I had not given the letter to Mgr. De Piro. He gave me twenty five blows with a cane as a punishment and sent the letter with another person. I do not know whether Mgr. De Piro was informed about the whole incident, but I know that Mgr. De Piro did not mention the matter to me.

 

I wish to mention also how he treated me when I wanted to leave the Institute. Since I used to serve as a porter, once, when I was fed up at the Institute, I took advantage of my position and ran away. When I arrived home, my mother sent a message to the Servant of God. Mgr. De Piro told her that, if I did not want to remain at the Institute, he would not keep me against my will, but suggested that I go back so that he could give me a clean conduct certificate. I went back. He corrected me gently and showed me how much I had acted wrongly. I remained at the Institute for three days, and he sent me back home with a clean conduct certificate. Besides when, later, I found myself out of work, a certain Bro. Ruzar, told me to go to the Institute and ask for work.’ Mgr. De Piro accepted me and gave me work on a book they were printing.

 

5.         What do you personally think about the life and holiness of the Servant of God?

 

First of all I wish to note that during my stay at the Institute I acquired many good habits which I have kept during my life. My wife and I always try to carry out our religious obligations. I always remember Mgr. De Piro and pray to him to pray for us to God the Father to give us, our family and our neighbour his protection. I agree that Mgr. De Piro would be given the honour of the altars.

 

6.         Have you anything to add, change or omit?

 

I would like to note that when I said, “I was fed up at the Institute”, I meant that, since I was growing up, I wanted to have more liberty. I exclude that I was fed up because  I was treated badly or because of some trait in the Servant of God.

 

Et sic expleto examine testis, ipsi testi integram depositionem perlexi, qui eam confirmavit his verbis:

 

Iuro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

Joseph Vella, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 2 Maii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Vigesima Prima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo Octogesimo Septimo die vero octava Maii (sive 8-5-1987) hora 9.30 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in convento Sanctae Theresiae a Jesu Infantae, Birkirkarense, Promotor Iustitiae, autem, legitione impedito, absente, comparuit Dominus Augustinus Grech, MSSP, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XXII  [cont.]

 

10.       At first it was only at the Oratory that boys were prepared for the First Holy Communion. Later Mgr. De Piro intervened so that the Provost of Birkirkara allowed the Society of Christian Doctrine (known as MUSEUM) founded by Fr. George Preca, also to prepare boys for the First Holy Communion, with the condition that those boys made their First Holy Communion at the Oratory, and took part in the processions of Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart under the bannar of the Oratory. Elder boys always had the opportunity to frequent either of the centres for Christian doctrine.

 

11.       The Servant of God saw to it that all necessary was provided for the proper christian education of the children. I know that there were several benefactors, but as regards the administration of funds, I am not in a position to answer.

 

12.       This was not the only occassion when he showed interest in catechizing.  In fact when the Congregation was still at Mdina he sent members of his Congregation to teach catechism in an outlaying district at the church of St. Lucia, Mtarfa. He called the brothers of our Congregation “Catechists” so that they would remember their duty of teaching catechism.

 

XXIII

 

1.         The situation in Malta was turbulant, and there were the 7th June uprising. But at that time I was still very young. From hearsay I came to know that Mgr. De Piro together with others, helped to quieten the situation. He then became a member of the General Assembly and helped in the drafting of the Constitution. The chief personality in the General Assembly was Dr. Filippo Sciberras who had the help of several other citizens, among whom was Mgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

2.         Mgr. De Piro was a member of the General Assembly.  Taking into consideration the character of the Servant of God, I think that he was told to do this by the Bishop. The people were not contrary to the fact that he was a member of the General Assembly.

 

3/6.      All I know is that not all the members of the General Assembly agreed with the proposals of Dr. Sciberras and that England did not accede to all the proposals on which the members of  the General Assembly had agreed among themselves. I know that Mgr. De Piro insisted on the rights of the Church. I know also that Mgr. De Piro loved his motherland very much and therefore I think that all he did for his country, he did it quite willingly and fullheartedly.

 

7.         He never compromised the good of the Church, and he never favoured any particular party. He always worked for and tried to be a means of unity among his fellow countrymen.

 

8-27.   I am not in a position to answer these questions since at that time I was still about nine years old.

 

XXIV

 

1/5.      All I know is that the Servant of God helped to qieten the people, and the people in general were grateful and praised him for his interventions. There was an anticlerical feeling at that time, and the aim of this anticlericalism was the Bishop of Malta. I think that the Servant of God showed particularly the virtues of charity towards his neighbour and as a peace maker among the people.

 

I wish to remark that the Servant of God never spoke in my presence about these events or about political matters.

 

XXV

 

1/4.      I know that Lord Gerald Strickland criticized the presence of priests in the Legislative Assembly. The relations between Church and State worsened, and Lord Strickland wanted to make a Concordat with the Church. The Vatican sent an Apostolic Delegate in the person of Mgr. Pasquale Robinson. Mgr. Robinson consulted himself very much with Mgr. De Piro, who also invited him to St. Joseph’s Institute. The Vatican published a “white book”, in answer to the British Government’s “blue book”, and Church-State relations continued to worsen. The Church in Malta condemned Lord Strickland’s party and his papers, and declared it as a mortal sin to vote for his party or to present oneself as a candidate for Lord Strickland’s party. The British Government suspended the Constitution. At this time Lord Strickland went to Rome, but the Pope did not accept him since he was considered as a “persona nongrata”.

 

Lord Strickland then sought the help of Mgr. De Piro. I know this personally. The events, as I know them, happened as follows: Lord Strickland went to “Fra Diego Institute”, on Holy Saturday, 1931, and asked to meet Mgr. De Piro. From one of the sisters I came to know that the meeting lasted for two hours. Mgr. De Piro intervened between Lord Strickland and the bishops of Malta and Gozo. A draft apology to be made by Lord Strickland, was presented by the bishops, but was not accepted by Lord Strickland. The Servant of God, so that this opportunity of reconsiliation would not be lost, prepared another apology which he showed to Lord Strickland and to the bishops, and was approved by both sides. Lord Strickland made this public apology, and peace returned between the Church authorities and Lord Strickland.

 

I wish to add that, some time later, when Mgr. De Piro was leading a pilgrimage to Rome, during a public audience, Pope Pius XI descended from the throne, embraced Mgr. De Piro, and said to him, “Vero Figlio di Malta.”

 

Et sic ob tarditatem horae suspenso examine testis, die 15 Maii resumendo ipsi testi integram depositionem intelligibili et alta voce perlexi, facilitate ipsi data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit, his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit:

 

Iuro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 8 Maii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Vigesima Secunda

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero decimaquinta Maii (15-5-1987) hora 9.45 a.m, coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis Curiae Archiepiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Rev. Dominns Augustinus Grech, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

XXVI

 

1/5.      I know that the Servant of God was chosen by the Archbishop to represent the Church in the Senate, and everybody was happy by this choice. I know of only one important motion on which the Servant of God made an important and good intervention.  This was concerning girls and women on the place of work. This was done during a motion on public morality. I do not remember the words used by the Servant of God; but I know that his position was approved by acclamation by both sides of the House. Considering his personality, and also from what people and newspapers said at the time, I know that he was very prudent in his words. He remained Senator till his death. However I wish to add that I never heard the Servant of God himself speak about these things.

 

I wish to add, but perhaps it was on another occasion that the Servant of God insisted that the Constitution would include a clause making the Roman Catholic Religion the religion of Malta.

 

XXVII

 

1.         About his spiritual work as the Bishop’s special Delegate at the Parish of Gudia all I know is from the late Father Joseph Spiteri MSSP who was his assistant on this occasion. He was conferred this office by the Bishop. I do not know exactly why, but perhaps the Bishop did so because of Mgr. De Piro’s position and personality. He accepted because he was obedient. The parishioners accepted him wholeheartedly, and in a short time he concluded his mission. I wish to note that by the word “position” I mean that for his piety, meekness and goodness of heart, the Servant of God had a good reputation among the people.

 

2.         All I can say is that the people corresponded with the Servant of God.

 

3.         The work the Servant of God was supposed to do was parish work and the reconciliation of the people with the parish priest. He was the Bishop’s delegate; and was well received, loved and respected by the people.

 

4.         He ended his service at Gudia when he reconciled the parish with the parish priest, who then continued his work at Gudia.

 

I repeat that I know all this through what I remember from what the late Father Joseph Spiteri MSSP told me.

 

XVIII

 

1.         The Servant of God lived a truly supernatural faith, which he showed in his deeds and actions. His faith was shown in his confidence in providence.   He also insisted on us, members of his Institute, to have confidence in God and not to lose heart.

 

2a.       He showed his faith in the divine Majesty in the way he spoke about God and the way he insisted on God’s omnipresence. He used to tell us to keep ourselves continually in God’s presence.

 

2b.       He was careful to avoid every deliberate offence of God. He suggested to us to avoid every occasion of offending God, not through servile fear, but through filial fear towards a Father who loves us so much.

 

2c.       He publicly professed his faith. I refer to his public defense of faith and religion in the Senate I mentioned in section XXVI.

 

2d.       He made his daily meditation. He used the book “Meditazioni per Religiosi” written by a Jesuit father. From a note written in his meditation book by the late Fr. Joseph Spiteri MSSP, we know that his last meditation, on the very day of his death, was “Il Religioso infedele dinanzi al Tribunale di Dio.” Whenever he was in our House, he made his meditation with us.  Our meditation used to last for half an hour. He was a man of prayer, and externally it could be noticed that he was continually in the presence of God. He was faithful to the Divine Office. At midday he made the particular examen, and before going to rest in the evening, the general examen of conscience. He was rarely seen, even when walking in the public streets, without either his breviary or the rosary in his hands.

 

2e.       He celebrated Mass with great devotion and great fidelity to the rubrics. He prepared himself well for Mass, and made a long thanksgiving after Mass. On Mission day and the Feast of Christ the King, in the Institutes, in which he was Director, he organized a Holy Hour for the members of these Institutes. I saw him very often on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament. He used to genuflect on both knees, even though he was a heavy person. And his genuflection showed his faith in the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. He insisted that the priests of his Congregation celebrated Mass neither too hurriedly nor too slowly. He exhorted the children in the Institutes of which he was Director to be devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and to receive Holy Communion daily, duly preparing themselves before and making a thanksgiving afterwards. There exist many sermons in which he explained to the people this Mystery of the faith. He left us a rule to preach about the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Heart.

 

Et sic ob tarditatem horae, suspenso examine testis, resumendo die 22 Maii, ipsi testi integram depositionem intelligibili et alta voce perlexi, facultate ipsi data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit, his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit.

 

Iuro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 15 Maii, 1987

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Vigesima Tertia

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero decimosexta Maii (sive 16-5-1987) hora 9.30 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente, meque Notario presente, comparuit Dominus Nazzarenus Attard, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in in Sessione Secunda adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Nazzareno Attard, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice, et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Iudex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:-.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mr. Nazzareno Attard, son of the late Carmel and Emmanuela née Barbara, born at Qrendi on the 22nd May, 1917, pensioner, practising Catholic.

 

Interrogatio ex officio

 

1.         What do you know about the Servant of God?

 

The impression the Servant of God left on me is that he was a very good man, loved by all, and who always gave us a good example. It was clear how much he was loved, as can be seen from the fact that we all wept him when he died.

 

I wish to note that I knew Mgr. De Piro only as an inmate at St. Joseph’s Institute, from 1928 to 1933.

 

Besides what I have said, I wish to present the following document (Doc. 12) in which I wrote all that I know about the Servant of God, and which I wish to be included with my testimony.

 

 

Document No. 12

Statement submitted by Nazzareno Attard regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

After my father’s death in March, 1928, my mother thought of having me accepted as an inmate at St. Joseph’s Institute where I would be properly brought up on the right lines. The mother of the Director of this Institute, who was Mgr. De Piro, had a house in Qrendi where she went for a stay every now and again. My mother availed herself of these visits to ask this lady, Signora Ursula, to put in a word for me with her son to have me admitted to St. Joseph’s. At last, in July of the same year, I was accepted.

 

As soon as I arrived I was presented at once to the Monsignor who was a tall and well-built man. I had seen him many times at Qrendi, but even so, child as I was, I felt more or less overetruck to find myself in his presence, but later I came to change this feeling. I was presented to him in his office and he asked me what trade I wished to learn. I said that I thought of becoming a tailor and I also told him that I wished to join the band of the Institute. Mgr. De Piro then called Fra Santi and asked him to show me round so that I might familiarize myself with the Institute.

 

The Director was not often present at the Institute, except at certain times of the day. We would meet him every morning.  He liked to say Mass at 5.50 a.m, before the boys came in, at the side altar on the right side of the chapel of St. Joseph. Only on rare occasions would he say Mass for us boys, but on the feast of St Joseph he would be among us. Here I would say that even at that hour Mgr. De Piro showed from his bearing that he was a tired man. I have noticed on occasion that Fra Santi Muscat would approach the Monsignor at Mass, give him a gentile nudge and point out that he had poured water instead of wine at the offertory, and it was in fact Fta Santi who used to tell us boys, that this oversight on the part of the Monsignor was due to his being a tired man.

 

When his Mass was over, and until the children’s Mass began, the Director would sit hearing our confessions and many of us used to go to confession to him.  He always heard our confessions quietly, calmly and with gentilness and understanding, and he invariably set the same penance, three Hail Marys.

 

During the morning the boys seldom saw the Monsignor at the Institute, but it was his custom to have lunch there, after which, before going up to his room, he would make a leasurely walk along the corridors of the workshops where masters and boys would be resuming their work. We never saw much of him during the evening.

 

We boys received our schooling at the Institute where a total of four classes catered for our needs. The first two classes were for boys who had not yet started learning a trade while the other two classes were for the boys who had. In the first two classes the boys attended school both in the morning and in the afternoon. When they came to the third class the boys had to choose the trade they wanted to learn and they applied themselves to this in the morning in the workshops, while in the afternoon or evening they received their schooling. When they came to the fourth stage the boys worked morning and afternoon in the workshops, and attended evening class from five to six o’clock. We were taught arithmetic, English, Italian and Maltese. Our teachers did not belong to the staff of the Institute but attended there only to give us lessons.

 

Mgr. De Piro gave much importance to our education and did all he could to instil in the boys a love of learning. Among other things he used to organize a prize giving ceremony when prizes were also awarded for progress registered by boys in their class. He gave much care to the proper organization of these occasions.

 

The boys would gather in the main refectory which would be suitably set up and decorated and the Director would invite some prominent person to come and distribute the prizes. On one occasion, for instance, prizes were presented by Sir Ugo Mifsud.

 

He interested himself no less in the boys’ training in the trade of their choice and I have already stated that it was his custom to make a daily tour of inspection along the corridors of the workshops and this enabled him to follow their activities constantly with a watchful eye.

 

The Director also gave due importance to recreation, games and the proper use of free time and he saw to it that this was given practical recognition. In fact we often had theatricals at the Institute where we also had a hall for indoor games.

 

Once I find myself on this subject of recreation I would like to give details of our annual programme in this regard. We boys were always looking forward in anticipation to the next holiday on the calendar. The first feast of the year was obviously New Year’s Day when, after the recitation of the prayer for the subscribers in the “Buona Morte” Mgr. De Piro would lead us to the hall on the upper floor where he would first lecture us for ten minutes or so on the significance of the feast we were celebrating and after that give out gifts to us. After New Year’s Day we would begin to look forward to Carnival and with very good reason because in Carnival we received, every one of us, a bag of sweets almonds and sugar almonds. The next event after Carnival was Easter when every boy would have a figolla (typical Maltese cake with almond paste filling given to children at Easter). When Easter is past, summer, the season for seabathing soon comes along.  While during the winter months we were taken to the Stadium to watch football matches, during the summer months we were often taken to the beach for a swim at Ta’ Xbiex or Sa Maison. But the season was inaugurated by an event which we knew as the outing offered by Sur Fons Maria Galea. This consisted in all of us boys being packed int some thirty or so ‘karrozzin’ and driven to Birzebbugia. We took our band instruments with us which we played along the route. As soon as we arrived at Birzebbugia we would deposit our instruments and other possesions at the house of is-Sur Fons and make haste to the beach where we woult spend the next four hours or so swimming and enjoying ourselves on the beach. We would then go back to the house where we ate our lunch in the shade of a big tree and the outing was brought to an end with a distribution of toys to all of us.

 

The next holiday on the list was the feast of St. Joseph which was celebrated at the Institute and this was one of the really great feasts for us, not only because the refectory was decorated and made to look at its best by Brother Venanz Galea, or because we had good and tasty meals, but for various other reasons. In the morning we attended at sung High Mass at which Mgr. De Piro generally presided. In the afternoon we had Solemn Vespers and a procession with the Saint’s statue escorted by the band of the Institute. After the Eucharistic Blessing all would make their way to the courtyard to enjoy themselves at a grand fair which was an annual event. On this occasion every boy received one shilling but we boys belonging to the Band had an extra shilling. Along with the money we were also given six fireworks to let off at the appropriate moment and the feast would come to an end with a display of Catherine wheels and other fireworks.  When summer was over we would begin counting the days till St. Martin’s Day when every boy would be presented with a bag of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, dates, figs and St. Martin’s loaves. After St. Martin only Christmas was left to bring the year’s feasts and holidays to a close. On Christmas Eve we were allowed to play until ll.00 pm. When we would don our uniform and proceed to the chapel for midnight Mass. As soon as Mass was over we would all hasten to the refectory when we were treated to hot cocoa, honey rings, sponge cakes and date-cakes. On this occasion old boys of the Institute would be present to share with us the joys of Christmas.

 

I felt I had to mention these feasts because in spite of the fact that those years (1928-1934) were a lean period for Malta when there was a shortage of many things, including foodstuffs, clothing and other items, the holidays and festivities I mentioned were always faithfully observed. This was precisely the period when the Director of the Institute was Mgr. G. De Piro. The Monsignor gave every consideration and every encouragement to the Band of the Institute. Every boy was free to join the Band or not, but he saw to it that those who opted to join had certain incentives. For one thing we who belonged to the Band received more pocket money than the other boys and we also had more money to spend on the Patron Saint’s feast day. Moreover belonging to the Band also gave us the opportunity to visit many villages and towns.

 

Food and clothing were somewhat on the short side and this told on us. In the evening we usually had only tea and a piece of bread. On Thursdays and Sundays we had some meat in gravy, and some potatoes. This meat would be goat’e meat, as likely as not, which was collected free of charge from the abattoir. On these two days we also had a sweet or dessert, but on the other days of the week food was less plentiful. I remember how Brother Girolomo loved going into the boy’s refectory with a big basket full of bread and how he would tell us that we might take two pieces but woe to the boy who threw away any piece. It therefore became usual for us to take two pieces and when we could not manage to eat all of it, to smuggle out the piece left over which we would hide on a window sill or in some odd corner. It sometimes happened that during playtime we would feel hungry and we would then help each other to climb up to a windowsill to look for odd pieces of bread.  Even though any such pieces of bread may have been lying there for some time and possibly covered with dust we collected them just the same.  We rinced the bread under the tap and ate it soaked with water. This happened often during the evening because we had nothing at all to eat between lunch and dinner. It was more or less the same in the morning, the only difference being that the youngest boys received a piece of bread. Sometimes these pieces of bread we salvaged from their hiding places we would somehow toast by placing them on a part or other of certain machines which parts became redhot while the machine was running. I must admit however that in spite of all this, things were much better at the Institute than they were at home.

 

The boys’ clothing was poor and of a coarse material, both underwear and outerwear being made of Malta weave. On this subject of clothing I would add something else. I remember that when I first came to St. Joseph’s, those boys who did not have any footwear at all when they were admitted to the Institute, had a pair of sandals issued to them. After Mass these boys had to take off their sandals and put them away in their compartment in the dormitory. Those boys who brought their own sandals with them from their home were allowed to keep them on. I must say however that this was the case at the time when I first came to St. Joseph’s, and things began changing for the better after two years or so.

 

Once a year we were allowed to go home for the feastday of the patron saint of our parish and I have reason to remember two particular occasions concerning the feastday of Qrendi, my parish. The first occurred in the year 1929 or 1930, I do not remember which, and my brother had promised to come and collect me on a donkey cart my people had. My brother was late and Salvu, known to us as ‘the Deaf’, who looked after the donkey at St. Joseph, offered to drive me to Qrendi. I accepted his offer and on our way we came accross my brother, but Salvu decided to come along with us too. When we arrived at Qrendi it was arranged with Salvu that he was to come and collect me at my home in the evening so that we could go back together to the Institute. This time it was Salvu who did not turn up at the appointed time and I think that as my people lived some way outside the village he must have missed his way. I became very worried because Mgr. De Piro was always very strict on our reporting back at the Institute on time, but there was nothing I could do. Salvu eventually arrived but it was then very late and we decided to pass the night at my family home. This is what we did and we returned to the Institute the following morning. When we got there Mgr. De Piro was waiting for us.  He was very worried and gave us both a thorough scolding making it abundantly clear that we had not acted correctly.

 

The other case, which also concerned the festa at Qrendi could be said to be the opposite or reverse of this in a way. I am not certain which year it was, but I do recall that Father Joseph Spiteri and other priests were to officiate at Qrendi that year. Mgr. De Piro called me and said: “You know where my house is at Qrendi. Well, go there where you will find Father Joseph. Tell him that Mgr. De Piro said that you were to go to this house in the evening and to return with him by karrozzin to the Institute in the morning.” True, I had to be indoors by 8.00 pm just the same, but at least I did not have to leave Qrendi too early on the feastday to be at St. Joseph’s on time.

 

When Mgr. De Piro died, we boys of St. Joseph’s Instiute took part in the funeral procession. We were very sorry indeed at his loss and we shed tears for him. Although he was always very grave and seldom joked yet he was a very kind hearted man. He never inspired us with fear.  We would watch out for his coming, but this was only because he was a disciplinarian.

 

Today when I am almost seventy years old, I can well realise how hard Mgr. De Piro worked for peace and for unity among men. So much so that daring the crises which came to a head between Lord Strickland and Bishop Dom Maurus Caruana, around 1930/1932, Mgr. De Piro gave his assistance to help straighten things out. I remember that there were four doors in the courtyard of the Institute; one faced the entrance hall, one on the opposite side and the other two on each side of the courtyard. These doors were seldom closed but the door facing the hall would be closed occasionally and we boys wondered why. After some days we came to know that when Lord Strickland called, this door was closed to keep the boys from staring. Later still we learned that Lord Strickland used to call on Mgr. De Piro because he was acting as mediator between Lord Strickland and the Bishop. Today I realize that at that time there could hardly be found a mediator except for Mgr. De Piro.

 

Nazzareno Attard.

Fr. Joseph Bajajda, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis;

Sac. Carmelo Farrugia, Notarius.

 

Et sic hora 10.30 a.m. absoluto examine testis, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, alta et intelligibili voce lingua vulgari integram depositionem interpretavi, ipsi testi facultate data addendi, minuendi et corrigendi, si necessario reputaverit, ipse testis testimonium et documentum his verbis iuramento confirmavit:

 

Juro me veritatem tum in mea depositione tum in meo documento deposui et secretum servaturum.

 

Nazzareno Attard, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, 0.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 16 Maii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Vigesima Quarta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima secunda Maii (sive 22-5-1987) hora 10.00 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali Sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente, meque Notario praesente, comparuit Dominus Augustinus Grech MSSP, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XXVIII  [cont].

 

2f.        His preaching was such as to convince those who heard him because of his great faith.

 

2g.       He always insisted on the obedience to the Magisterium of the Church. His obedience and respect to the Church was even publicly acknowledged by the Pope when after the Servant’s of. God interventions to bring peace between Church and State in Malta, the Pope himself came down from the throne, embraced him and called him, “Figlio degno di Malta.”

 

2h/j.     The Servant of God was a man of sound and persuasive faith, who always took pains to spread the faith even among non christians, so much so that, in spite of all difficulties, he founded our Missionary Society. He frequently repeated the phrase; “Let us give to others what St. Paul gave to us.” (i.e. the Christian faith). He was well known as a confessor, and people from all conditions and states of life sought him as a confessor.

 

2k/i.     He insisted very much on us, members of his Society that our worship be sincere and devout. On feast days and holy days he insisted that the precepts of the Church be observed, and that these days be sanctified even by some supererogatory acts of piety, not only by us, members of his Society, but also by the children of his Institutes. Besides, he insisted that the children of his Institutes hear Mass everyday.

 

I wish to note that all that I have said regarding the faith of the Servant of God (cf 2a-l) was something he practised during the whole period of his life in which I know him. He did this even though many times he had to face many difficulties.

 

3.         He was faithful to his daily meditation; examen of conscience, both particular and general; at least three times daily he visited the Blessed Sacrament together with the Community, and, besides, sometimes I even saw him alone. He was faithful to his recitation of the Breviary and the daily celebration of the Mass. He made the common daily acts of piety together with the children of St. Joseph’s Institute, especially when the children gathered for the prayers “Per Una Buona Morte.”, which he started at the Institute, and which were recited daily in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed “ad hostium tabernaculi.” He recited the Holy Rosary daily with all the members of St. Joseph’s Institute, and during October in front of the Blessed Sacrament, solemnly exposed. Besides he was always seen with either his Breviary or his Rosary in his hands. He was particularly devoted to the Blessed Virgin because it was on her feast day, on the 8th May that, when already a student at the University studying laws, he felt the first urgings towards the priesthood. This happened during the recitation of the “Supplica” in honour of the Blessed Virgin in front of the Blessed Sacrament solemnly exposed in the chapel of the University. Both he and his mother frequently spoke about this event.

 

It may be interesting to add that he suddenly fell ill after he had conducted a procession in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows at Hamrun and was about to give the public benediction with the Holy Sacrament to the faithful gathered in the Church, and died a little later at the hospital.

 

4.         The Servant of God had many difficulties in his life. For example he wished very much that the members of his Society would have a decent house. For many years he toiled to buy the land needed and do all that was necessary legally for the acquisition of the said land. When all the papers were lost, he simply began all the work all over again.

 

The idea of the Servant of God to found a Society for the Missions was not appreciated by the clergy in general in Malta, nor by the officials at the Curia, though the bishop personally was in favour of the idea. But Mgr. De Piro carried on with his work and used to say that as long as it was not clear that this idea was not the will of God, he would carry on with his work.

 

Besides, at the begining there were three other priests who were helping him, but these had to leave him to carry on with their individual work and apostolate. However, even though alone, he carried on with his work.

 

During his lifetime the Society did not increase very much,  but he used to say that the Society would increase and spread after his death.

 

He did all this, in spite of all difficulties he encountered, because he was convinced that it was the will of God that he found a Missionary Society.

 

I wish to note that he died suddenly, and so I cannot say whether and how he exercised the virtue of faith when death was approaching. But I refer to what I said above in number 3.

 

Et sic, ob tarditatem horae, hora 12.00, suspensum est examen testis, resumendum die 29 Maii. Integram depositionem intelligibili et alta voce ipsi testi perlexi, facultate ei data addendi, minuendi, vel corrigendi, ubi necessario reputaverit; et ipse his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit:

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum ease.

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis at supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meant Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 22 Maii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Vigesima Quinta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima nona Maii (29-5-1987) hora 9.45 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Curiae Archiepiscopali, Vallettae, Promotor Iustitiae rite citato rationabiliter absente, comparuit Rev. Dominus Augustinus Grech, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XXVIII  [cont].

 

5.         As far as I know there were no particular moments when he seemed to slack in the exercise of his faith.

 

6.         There were many events which tried his faith, but he overcame them through his heroic faith.

 

XXIX

 

1.         The Servant of God always had a great confidence in God, and never relied on his own natural resources.

 

2 a-h.  His hope and confidence in God can be seen from the fact that he always asked others to pray for him so that God’s will be done in him.  He never expected any recompense from other people, but always hoped that he would receive compensation for his good deeds from God.

 

In his instructions, and also in his writings, he always said that no one must rely on oneself, but one must rely on God’s mercy, so that one would receive the help of God’s grace.

 

His great confidence in God can be seen from the fact that he always rested on God’s providence in the care of the children in the Institutes of which he was Director, and which cared for hundreds of children. These never lacked the daily necessities of life, and this at a time when Malta was passing through grave economical difficulties. Of course, he always did his best to find benefactors and other helpers.

 

3.         Prayer was the means he used to grow in this virtue. Besides, he was very devoted to St. Cajetan of Tieni, the saint of Providence.

 

4.         I repeat that he was suddenly taken ill and died.

 

5.         I think that the fact that he took on himself the responsibility for so many children, and at such hard times, was in itself a heroic act of the virtue of hope.

 

6.         I do not know of any instances, which reflect any imperfection or defect in the Servant of God as far as this virtue is concerned.

 

XXX

 

1.         His charity towards God was evident in his words and writings; He used to insist on St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, that if we had all good qualities, but lacked love for God, then we were as a tinkling cymbal. He insisted in his instructions that we ought to avoid evil through love for God rather than through fear of punishment.

 

2 a-d.  He was continually united to God through meditation and prayer, through the exercise of the presence of God. Although he suffered internally, he always kept external calm and serenity. And he encouraged others to keep calm and serene in all contradictions and difficulties, and to rest persuaded that all that happened to us was, as St. Paul tells us, fruit of God’s love towards us. He used to repeat St. Paul’s words that God castigates those whom he loves.

 

2 e-g.  The aim of his actions was the glory of God. His zeal for the Kingdom of God’s diffusion was great. Although a very sensitive person, he showed, even externally, his happiness when speaking of God, even in his sufferings and troubles.

 

2h.       I think that he desired to die and live in God.

 

2i.        I do not know of any such phenomena.

 

2j.        He showed great external devotion in the celebration of sacred functions, observing all details of the rubrics.  And he wanted all the members of his Society to do the same. He celebrated daily Mass and frequented confession.

 

2 k-n.   His words and deeds showed that he was always united to the will of God. And the Servant of God insisted that we avoid sin through love of God. Nor do I know of his ever committing deliberate venial sins. But I do not know whether he suffered for the reparation of the sins of others. In his Institutes he gathered even children from broken families or who were in spiritual danger, so that he would save them from a bad life. Besides, he also gathered young women who were in danger of falling into a sinful life, to save them from prostitution.

 

2 o.      The Servant of God founded a missionary Society exactly to spread, even among infidels, the kingdom of God.

 

2p.       I do not know of any other form of charity to God practised by the Servant of God.

 

3.         I do not know personally of any words or facts which showed a higher than common degree of love for God, but from Fr. Joseph Spiteri, MSSP, now dead, who lived with him at St. Joseph’s Institute, I came to know that sometimes he got up at night to visit the Blessed Sacrament.

 

4.         I never noticed any imperfections or defects in the Servant of God as regards his charity towards God.

 

XXXI

 

1.         Yes, with his whole heart.

 

2a.       He showed his love for others as a director of Institutes for poor and abondoned children. He helped, even from his own money, families who were in need, and helped girls who wanted to get married but had no dowry, to marry. He founded an association of ladies to help poor churches in their liturgical needs. He cared also for Maltese migrants. And he also cared for those who had not yet received the faith.

 

2b.       He loved his neighbour because he saw God in others

 

2c.       Iam provisum.

 

3.         The natural attitude and disposition of the Servant of God towards others was affable, gentle, humble, compassionate and tolerant.

 

4.         When I came to know the Servant of God, he had already been living such a life for a long time.

 

5.         He was patient with all these, compassionate with their defects, but correcting them when necessary.  However without any animosity.

 

6.         He treated them all as his brothers and sisters and helped them all in their necessities. He had great respect towards the dead, and wanted the members of his Society always to remember their dead.  And their dead benefactors. He made the heroic act for the souls in purgatory, offering for them all his good works and all that was to be offered for the repose of his soul after his death. And he insisted with us, however without obliging us, to do the same.

 

7.         He did his best to help those in difficult or uncommon situations with his prudent advice. I know this from personal experience and the way he helped me.

 

8.         I do not know of any occassion in which the Servant of God, by word or deed, or in his writing, ever did anything that showed lack of love towards his neighbour, or could be interpreted as such. Nay, he would not even allow any offence of one’s neighbour to pass without its being corrected. He used to quote St. Paul’s saying: “Charitas Christi urget nos.” I know this even from personal experience when I was still a student in the Congregation.

 

XXXII

 

1.         As far as I know his priesthood was dedicated to acts of mercy towards his neighbour in the confessional, acts of charity, etc.

 

2.         He heard confessions with love, patience and tollerance towards the sinners, and helped them out of their sinful ways. Many were converted by his words, especially during popular missions held by the ‘Grande Missione del Preziosissimo Sangue”, of which he was a member.  He heard confessions regularly every Saturday at St. Josephts Institute, where many sought him to confess.

 

The Servant of God prayed for these people. He had a prudent word for them, and these people trusted him because they found in him a sincere person who sought only their own good. He encouraged us, members of his Congregation, and the children of his Institutes, to pray for sinners. I must think that even he himself sacrificed himself for their conversion.

 

3.         He accepted and heard ignorant people with patience. He insisted with children that they learn, because ignorance was of a detriment to them.

 

4.         He suffered with the suffering; and he did his best to alleviate their sufferings. He even had in mind to build an institute for elderly and lonely people.  He could not realize his project because he died.

 

5.         As far as I know he had no enemies.  But he had many adversaries. He was patient with them, and I never heard him speaking against them. Once, we students, overheard some fellow priests speaking against our Society. The Servant of God simply told us to go to our House and not think about what we overheard. Besides, he never spoke against the owner of the House at Mdina, when the latter ordered us out of the said House, nor against the officials of the Curia when they lost the papers in connection with the acquisition of the land for the building of St. Agatha’s Motherhouse.

 

He insisted with us to forgive others.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 ob tarditatem horae examine testis suspenso, resumendo die 12 Junii. Ipsi testi integram depositionem intelligibili et alta voce perlexi, facultate ipsi data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit, his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit.

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

lta est. Die 29 Maii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Vigesima Sexta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero quinta lunii (5-6-1987) hora 9.30 am coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Dominus Dr. Felix Apap Bologna, cui delatum fuit iura- mentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Dr. Felix Apap Bologna testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Dr. Felix Apap Bologna, son of the late Paolo and Maria Teresa née De Piro, born at Attard, Malta, on the 18th August, 1903, medical doctor by profession, practising Catholic, now residing at 20/A Bay Junction, St. Julian’s, Malta. I am a nephew of the Servant of God.

 

The witness presented the following Document (Doc. 13) in which is contained all that the witness remembers about the Servant of God, and confirmed it under oath.

 

 

Document No. 13

Statement submitted by Dr. Felix Apap Bologna regarding the Servant of God Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I am the son of Mgr. De Piro’s sister, Maria Teresa, who was married to the Marquis Apap Bologna.

 

I remember the Servant of God Mgr. De Piro as if he were my own father. I remember him very well but at the same time I cannot say that I know much about him because he was not a man to allow any familiarity, not even with his own nephews and nieces. He was a man of few words: when we were young because we were young; when we were grown up he was kept even more busy.

 

He was certainly a very calm and self -controlled man. Even when family troubles arose he always kept calm and tranquil. And it was the same with politics, which he would always discuss calmly and without being carried away. My father was fond of repeating about him: “How cool and self-controlled Guzeppi is!” His mother, my grandmother, often repeated to my mother the story of the incident when a floor gave way under him at St. Joseph’s Institute, Gozo.  She would point out to her that although he must have hurt himself he did not make much of it but told her (his mother) about the incident calmly and without becoming excited.

 

He often went to visit his mother but he would generally do so when we, his nephews and nieces, would not be present and we therefore did not meet him much. More often than not he would call on her early. Towards the end of his life when his mother, my grandmother, had lost her strength, he also used to say Mass at her house.

 

His self-control and serenity may be illustrated by one particular case. One day my parents with all of us went to pay a visit to my grandmother at her home. When we asked about Mgr. De Piro we were told that he was at the house of the Society he had founded and we went there to see him. During the conversation mention was made of the daughters of their brother Gino, who were at college in Florence, during the first world war (1917). Mgr. De Piro spoke of the Austrian invasion of Italy, and as his own nieces were in Italy, one would have expected him to show anxiety and worry, but he maintained his usual calmness and serenity.

 

He even managed to retain his coolness and self-control over the incident of the riots on the 7th June, 1919.

 

There was a time when he often referred to “the end of the world”. This was not at the end of his life but at the time of these riots of the 7th June 1919. IIt was a source of wonder to us that although he was involved in these incidents of the 7th June, in his conversation with members of his family he never referred to the whole incident, but only to “the end of the world.”

 

In his conversations he never spoke a word against anybody.  And sometimes neither in favour of!

 

He often seemed absent minded, always thinking about the moment’s preoccupations or what was on his mind. He was a man of few words not because he was proud or overbearing but rather because he was reticent by nature.

 

He was much devoted to the family. When my brother died in 1913, my mother was broken-hearted and Mgr. De Piro used to visit her very often to console her as well as he could.

 

He and his brothers did not all have the same political convictions but they never quarrelled on this point.  Their mother did not like to hear them discussing political matters.

 

I have nothing more to add. What I have stated above is all true.

 

F. Apap Bologna

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Iudicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in Forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

 

Ita est, Die 5 Iunii,1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Vigesima Septima

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram eisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus, hora 10.15 a.m apparuit Domina Beatrice Cremona quae iuramento praestito, sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego Beatrice Cremona testis iuravi et ita ad quaesita respondit:

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mrs. Beatrice Cremona née Stilon, widow of the late Felice Cremona, born at Valletta, Malta, on the 11th February, 1905, practising catholic, now residing at 296 St. Paul’s Street, Valletta. I am a niece of the Servant of God.

 

The witness presented the enclosed document (Doc. I4 ) in which is contained all that the witness remembers about the Servant of God, and confirmed it under oath.

 

 

Document No. 14

Statement submitted by Mrs. Beatrice Cremona regarding the Servant of God Msrg. Joseph De Piro

 

My uncle was not at all particular about the figure he cut, for instance he would often go about in a cassock whose colour was fading with age. However when he appeared at official functions as the representative of the Archbishop or in his capacity of Dean of the Cathedral, he would always be meticulously dressed. I recall one occasion of a social function at the Governor’s Palace in Valletta, to which my family, including myseIf, still a young girl, had been invited.  When we were going up the Palace staircase on our way to the ballroom, we met Mgr. De Piro coming down from dinner which as was the custom, was given just before the ball. When I saw my uncle so well turned out I said to him, “Uncle, how smart you are!” and he promptly replied: “Today I represent the Church and her dignity must be maintained.”

 

His brother, Father Santinu, was always in a hurry, but he, Mgr. De Piro was very calm and collected. On the occasion of my brother’s wedding, at which Father Santinu officiated, I heard Mgr. De Piro remark: “I am sure they can hardly realize they have been married.  He went through the whole ceremony so quickly!” He was particularly concerned about all church functions being carried out properly and with all due dignity.

 

My husband, who was then my fiance, had just completed his studies when we were still engaged and preparing for marriage and we thought we would delay our wedding until we had put by some money before starting a family. When I told my uncle of our plan he came out with “Oh! I have so many children! They all thrive! The Lord always provides.”

 

Another time I happened to remark to him that it was some time since I had seen him. He said that the reason was that he was then having lunch at the Institute and that he did so because his presence there meant that the cook would be sure to put some extra vegitables in the soup.

 

During the riots of the 7th June, 1919, he ascended the steps of the Royal Opera House and addressed the rioters gathered there, advising them to disperse and to go away because what they were doing would bring to nothing all that their leaders were trying to achieve. I know this because I was at my grandmother Stilon’s house in Strait Street, while these riots were going on and I also saw people walking past, carrying articles they had taken from Francia Palace.

 

I also recall bow people commented adversely about the setting up of his Society and the opposition he faced, in particular to his idea of sending his priests among Maltese emigrants in foreign countries. The reason for such opposition was that the members of his Society, as indeed was the case with the majority of Maltese youth at the time, did not have much of an education when they joined his Society. It could not therefore be an easy matter for them to go to developed countries and to be prepared to cope with the advanced thinking there. Those who were of this opinion included members of his own family and one must bear in mind that at that time there was no compulsory education in Malta. The times were far from easy when he founded his Society.  On the contrary he had to face and overcome many difficulties before he could make any progress. One need only bring to mind how uncomfortable travel was at that time, the poor lighting and other drawbacks which existed then.

 

My grandmother, Mgr. De Piro’s mother, played an important part in all of his projects and he would often call on her and discuss with her seeking her advice, whatever he might have in mind. She was a woman with much practical sense and not at all given to scruples.  She was in fact a woman in touch with society and who knew well the ways of the world and of life.

 

After his accident in Gozo, when he was hurt, I came across him at his mother’s house. He was not in the least discouraged.  On the contrary he was very serene. He had only hurt his leg and when I asked him what had happened he said that when he felt himself falling he saw a doorway into which he thrust his head for cover.  Even at such a moment of crisis his calmness did not desert him.

 

He gave a cart and a donkey to the Institute of Gozo because be thought that when they went around seeking alms with a cart and donkey the farmers might otter them some of their produce.

 

He was extremely calm and serene and he always had a smile on his face. The only time he was not smiling was when his mother, who was about ninety, seemed to be approaching her end. He stayed with her in her home, ceaselessly walking up and down the long corridor they had in  their home in Mdina.  He was worried because they were expecting her to pass away shortly.

 

Bishop Galea used to say that Mgr. De Piro had more than once told him that he was aware that his (Mgr. De Piro’s) death would come upon him suddenly, as in fact proved to be the case. This was because others of his family had died like that.  He used to say that sometimes he felt something which made him think of death.

 

When he first told his mother of his vocation to the priesthood he had her worried because she imagined that her Guzeppi had met some disappointment in his life which he was only just beginning and that he wished to run away from this disappointment.

 

I have nothing more to add. What I have stated above is all true.

 

Beatrice Cremona;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

Fr. Aloisius Pisani OCD., Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumenttum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 5 Iunii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Vigesima Octava

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram eisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus, hora 11.15 a.m. apparuit Domina  Elena Refalo, quae iuramento praestito, sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Elena Refalo testis iuravi et ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mrs. Elena Refalo née Stilon De Piro, widow of the late Vincenzo, born at Sliema, Malta on the 4th July, 1903 and baptized at Porto Salvo Parish Church, Valletta, practising catholic. I am a niece of the Servant of God.

 

The witness presented the following document (Doc., 15) in which is contained all that the witness remembers about the Servant of God, and confirmed it under oath.

 

 

Document No. 15

Statement submitted by Mrs. Elena Refalo regarding the Servant of God Msrg. Joseph De Piro

 

On the feast of St Ursola (my grandmother’s name was Ursola), my uncle, Dun Santin (as he was known at St Paul’s Bay) invited all the girls of the Institute of Fra Diego (Mgr. De Piro was the director of this Institute ), to spend the day at his Villino at St. Paul’s Bay. As the garden led on to the sea, first they went to swim, and after lunch, at teatime, they were given “pastizzi” and “qassatat”, and home made lemonade, made with fresh lemons. Then my sister (Bice Cremona) and I were given a big basket, full to the brim, with sweets and we were to give each girl a handfull. Sure enough we did our best to catch as much as possible. We really enjoyed it.

 

Who can forget the joy my maternal grandmother used to give us when she used to invite us all to tea, on Christmas Day, and from a big tree she used to give us presents. Sometimes His Grace Bishop Caruana used to join us.

 

After the ceremony of St. Paul’s at Notabile she used to invite us all to tea.  Even the governor used to be invited. Also Cardinal Ferrata was invited to lunch at her house. We children had lunch in a different room, but at tea we were told to join and my grandmother told us to kneel down for his blessing. When he saw all of us there he said “ma qui ci vuole proprio un cardinale per benedire tutti questi bambini,” because we were very numerous.

 

When the “Sacramentini”,Suore di Maria Riparatrice were leaving, the Church was closing. That meant the end of the Holy devotion.  Also the house was going to be lost. My grandmother appointed my brother Avvocato Alessandro Stilon to see what could be done to save the situation. Luckily he succeeded. My grandmother brought the Franciscan Nuns to take their place. (Mgr De Piro was Director of Fra Diego). When my sister and I were young we used to go and sew sacred garments with my grandmother. My sister kept it on (Beatrice Cremona).

 

Some memories of Mgr De Piro and his mother. Some of the graces that I remember of Mgr. De Piro. One of my babies was born healthy and quite strong. After a month he started to become thinner and thinner and could not thrive on any kind of food. We tried all kinds of medicine that were available.  All for nothing!  We used to weigh him every week, but there was no way of seeing any progress.

 

One day after five or six months Zio Giuseppe (Mgr. De Piro) appeared with a lovely shawl. Seeing this tiny baby so thin, he wrapped him in this very same shawl and cuddelled him gently and tenderly and started praying. He told us that he too was very tiny when he was a baby. I told him that I would be satisfied if he were just half his size, because he was of a very big stature. He went on praying. We looked on, silently. When he left, my husband said “How happy I felt when our baby was in his hands”. He was right.  On that same week, when we weighed him, to our infinite joy, he had increased five or six ounces. From that day he went on growing into the finest, bonniest, healty baby. We attributed this grace to our dear Zio Giuseppe’s prayers.

 

Germany: When my daughter was in Germany, with her husband and her two daughters she fell ill (her husband was still a captain). She was sent to a Military Hospital. As soon as I knew this I decided to go near her. Although passport and papers were not organised, with the efficient help of my son (my husband was ill), in two days I was in Mullhum. As I arrived in late evening it was decided that I would go to the Military Hospital the next morning.  I was so terribly worried that I was feeling a sensation under my eyes (never felt before), as though I had two knobs pressing heavily against my bones. Before going to bed suddenly I thought of Zio Giuseppe “Why am I worrying so much. Is there not Zio Giuseppe,” I said to myself. Suddenly the pressure I had under my eyes melted and I was full of courage. I felt sure that he was going to help us.

 

The day after, when I went to my daughter, I was bewildered because she told me, “I was very depressed, but nonno and Zio Giuseppe helped me a lot.” I told her “ I understand nonno because you remember him, but Zio Giuseppe?” She answered “ You mention him so often?!”

 

The 50th anniversary of Mgr. De Piro: the strange finding of a lost broach. At St John’s Cathedral and at Notabile there were cermonies to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Monsignor De Piro (my uncle). We all went to the celebrations. My niece Marion said that at Notabile she prayed particularly heartily with great fervour.

 

My cousins the Noble Alexander and Mrs. Apap Bologna invited me to a reception at St. Paul’s Bay. I was not going because I did not know anybody who could give me a lift from Valletta.

 

By chance I met Mr. Eddie Turner who asked me if I was invited and offered to take me himself.

 

At the party I made it a point to see all my relatives whom I had not seen for ages. I still wanted to talk to Marion. Just then she came to say ‘goodbye’ because she was leaving.

 

A friend of hers came near us and asked her whether she had found ‘the broach’. I did not know that she had lost a broach and it had to be one that I liked very much and it was very valuable.

 

On Saturdays I always go to Sliema and spend the weekend with my two children and their families. Mrs. Lucy Harding invites me to have lunch at the Casino (the Casino Maltese at Valletta). So I decided not to go on Saturday to Sliema but to go on Sunday after lunch instead.  I was going to the 12. 00 p.m. Mass at St. John’s. I received a call from my daughter telling me that they were going to Mass in the afternoon and as I was going to them I would join them to Mass as well. I always go to St. Patrick or to St. Gregory, but as they were going to Stella Maris I went with them. I had not been to ‘Stella Maris ever since I was a child.  After mass the ParishPriest announced that the Parish Priest of Gzira handed a broach to him because he had been declaring it for two months and nobody claimed it. He hoped that by so doing they might discover its owner. This was the broach that Marion had lost! She thanked me for having telephoned and she said “Zio Giuseppe found it because at Notabile I prayed so heartily.”

 

But the story does not end here. After some time Marion gets to know that a lady had bought a broach for Lm30.00 from a man, and when her husband saw it he realized that it is worth much more.  So he suspected that it might have been stolen. It was sent to the Parish Priest of Gzira to try and trace its owner.

 

I think that only a saintly man can combine a series of coincidences so perfectly. If just one of them had failed the story would have been disintegrated.

 

When my Nonna (Mgr. De Piro’s mother) was in her last days, she asked for someone to say some prayers for her. Zio Giuseppe went near her and recited the short and great prayer: “My Lord, My God, I love you”. She calmed down.

 

Whenever I say this prayer I always remember him and very often I say it for his intentions.

 

When he was secretary to the Bishop he used to be invited to dinner at the governor’s palace. It sometimes happened that when we were going in for the ball, we used to meet him going out. My sister and I thought he was very smart and imposing. We were proud of him. He went near him just as we go to him at our nonna’s (all smiles and gaity).  He very kindly made a sign that there we must be composed. The first time I saw him at nonna’s I told him, “How smart you were! You say that only women like to adorn themselves”. He answered “But I do not dress for myself, but to honour the Church.”

 

One day he came in at nonna’s and he asked her what to preach. He was going to preach to women.  Readily nonna answered “They know nothing about the Holy Ghost”. He went in his room, probably to prepare the sermon.

 

One day as I was at nonna’s he appeared with an oil portrait and he said, “At last we got the house.” This house was for a school whom nonna patronised at Qrendi. It was to instruct young girls because she always worried because, “they know so little.”

 

In another occasion he told nonna that he had in mind to open an institute for babies. Promptly nonna said, “In this case you must have nuns not priests.”

 

He always went to nonna when he had problems. She too had great faith in the Divine Providence and she was always ready to collaborate.

 

“Fiat Volontas Tua,” was her symbol. How often she used to say it! She lost many children in her lifetime.

 

I do not remember anything else besides what I said above, and I declare that all I said is true.

 

Elena Refalo

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

Fr. Carmel Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 5 Iunii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Vigesima Nona

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero decima secunda Iunii (sive 12-6-1987) hora 9.30 a.m. coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotore Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente, meque Notario praesente, comparuit Dominus Augustinus Grech, testis a Postulatione inductus.

 

Ego  Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis iuravi.

 

Deinde, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita ei facta:

 

Section XXXII  [cont].

 

6.-8.    He treated all well. And iam provisum.

 

XXXIII

 

1-4.     His prudence could be seen from the fact that whenever he was about to take on some office or work, he always sought the opinion and advice of his spiritual director and superiors. This could be seen especially in the choice of his vocation.

 

He showed his prudence also in the difficulties that existed during his time between Church and state. He was the go-between of the Church vis-a-vis the State. I know that at that time he prayed very much, and also asked us and other Congregations to pray.

 

He was prudent with everybody, and insisted with us to be always prudent especially when talking to persons of the opposite sex, and he left us in our rule not to get ourselves mixed up with testamentary and marriage proposals.

 

5.         I know that he had a discipline near his bed, but I do not know whether he used it or not. I know that he observed the penitential precepts of the Church, but I do not know if he did other penances. I can say, however, that, even though he was from a good and noble family and of gracile health, he used to eat the same food presented to us members of the Society and the poor children of the Institute of St. Joseph.

 

6.         I do not know of any negligence or ommission of the Servant of God in connection with this virtue, nor that he caused injury to others, or showed any inconsistency, lack of sensitivity, indecision, superficiality or personal interest. He was exact in everything.

 

XXXIV

 

1-2.     He practised the virtue of justice in everything. He practised it in a supernatural way. He did not look at the position of the person but gave everyone his due.

 

3-4.     He observed the divine commandments and precepts of the Church and fulfilled his duties faithfully. He was full of ardour and zeal for the honour and glory of God, and it can be said that he died through his zeal for God’s service.

 

5.         Negative ad omnia.

 

6 -9.    He cared for the rights of others and was loyal and honest in his relations with others. And he strove that justice be vigorously observed by others in every situation, whenever he could through his authority or persuation. He was totally dedicated to the spiritual good of his neighbour. He exercized justice vis-a-vis his relations, superiors, friends, dependents and fellow workers.

 

10 -13.            He was faithful to his word. I do not know that he left any debts; and I can say this through personal experience because I took over the administration immediately after his death. Not only were there no debts left, but money was owed to the Society. He kept his administration books most scrupulously, and it was this extreme exactness that avoided a lot of trouble to the Society and saved St. Agatha’s buildings for the Society. He was very thankful to his benefactors, urging us to be grateful to them and pray for them.  And he had Masses and prayers celebrated for their needs and repose. Besides, in the feasts and other occassions of his Society he used to invite our benefactors.

 

XXXV

 

1-5.     The virtue of fortitude was in the Servant of God in a high degree. I begin by saying that I got to know through Fr. Joseph Spiteri, MSSP, that when he was a student in Rome he fell sick through tubercolosis, and had to go to Switzerland for cure, where in fact he was cured. Still he got on with his studies. Later on, however, when I got to know him personally, he never showed signs of grave illnesses or lamented with us about his past illnesses.  And he always carried out his various duties, treating everybody well. I know also through the late Bro. Consolato Bugeja, his family, and others, that during his convalescence, after returning from Rome, he used to help a lot pastorally.

 

He always overcame the difficulties and negative experiences he had to face, for example when all the papers relating to St. Agatha’s were lostAs regards his Society he used to say that he would carry on as long as it was not manifest that God wanted him to stop his work.

 

He lived through these experiences serenely, patiently and consistently. He carried on with the work of the foundation of his Society even when nobody believed in its eventual success. Many boys went just to have an education and then leave.  Even Mgr. Do Piro’s mother told her son that these boys were taking advantage of his generosity. At this time the Bishop of Malta, Mgr. Peter Pace, seeing all this, suggested to the Servant of God to unite the Society he wanted to found to another similar Society in Italy. However the Servant of God was not discouraged by all this, and told the Bishop that he was sure that this Society was the will of God, and, with due submission, he would carry on.

 

6.         I do not know of any such instances.

 

XXXVI

 

1-3.     I cannot speak about the Servant of God’s youth. When I got to know him he suffered everything patiently, and had good control of himself. He did not do any extraordinary things.  He dressed regularly, never using worn out cloths, but neither refined ones. He was normal in his eating and drinking habits.

 

4.         Iam provisum.

 

5 - 6.   He slept normally. He had no superfluous habits.

 

7.         He traveled only out of necessity, and he never sought luxurious or refined accommodation.

 

8.         Iam provisum

 

9.         He always strove to do well.

 

10.       He was gentle and humble towards all, and it was through these virtues that he attracted others and could do a lot of good to others.

 

11.       I do not know of any such defects.

 

 

 

 

XXXVII

 

1-2.     Although he was the son of noble and rich parents, he chose to live the poverty he prescribed in his rule. His mother used to say about him: “Here comes my poor one.”  He was not attached to any material goods; he was not refined in his dressing, residence etc.  He gave alms generously.

 

3.         He was an example to others to such an extent that some were even amazed that he led such a life of poverty when he could live an easy life.

 

4.         He was detached from his relatives to the extent of living at St. Joseph’s Institute, but he always showed them due respect. He was careful to give his relatives their due, even materially.

 

5.         I do not know of any such occasion.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 ob tarditatem horae examine testis suspenso resumendo die 19 Iunii, ipsi testi integram depositionem intelligibili et alta voce perlexi facultate ipsi data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessario reputaverit, his verbis depositionem suam confirmavit.

 

Iuro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, 0.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 12 Iunii, 1987.

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Trigesima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo, die vero decima nona lunii (sive 19-6-1987), hora 9.30 a.m. coram Rev.mo Delegato Judice infrascripto pro Tnbunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente, meque Notario praesente comparuit Dominus Augustinus Grech, MSSP, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

 Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XXXVIII

 

1-5.     The whole behaviour of the Servant of God showed his control over his senses and his passions. I do not know if he made any penances intentionally to safeguard his chastity, though, as I stated above, he made penances. He was consistently modest in his conduct, talk and humour, and this even in public. His contacts with the other sex were always out of necessity and within reasonable limits. No one spoke against the Servant of God in regards to this virtue.

 

He insisted with us, members of his Society, on the beauty, necessity, and delicacy of this virtue, and he insisted on us to avoid particular friendships. In our rule he wrote about this virtue.

 

 

 

 

XXXIX

 

1-4.     The Servant of God was the martyr of obedience to his superiors. He was consistently, obedient both as a priest and in carrying out his duties and obligations, showing respect to his ecclesiastical superiors and due respect to civil authorities. I am not in a position to say what was his respect and submission to his parents.

 

A point in which his obedience was seen was his appointment as Monsignor of the Cathedral Chapter. I came to know from Fr. Joseph Spiteri, MSSP, that the Servant of God did not want to become Monsignor, and showed his wish to the Bishop. But he left it to the Bishop to decide.

 

Besides, his usual behaviour was always inspired by his obedience to his superiors and spiritual directors. He accepted the advice and suggestions of his inferiors.

 

5.         He always tried to instil this spirit of obedience in others.

 

6.         I do not know of any occasion in which he did not live up to what is required vis-a-vis this virtue.

 

XL

 

1-2.     Although Mgr. De Piro was the son of noble parents, and during his times nobility was held in great awe and respect, he never vaunted his nobility nor spoke about it. His clothes, even though always appropriate, were never luxurious. Even though he was an intelligent person, he did not disdain the company of poor children.

 

He used to serve us, students of the Society, at table. He sometimes personally took care of the sick members of the Society and the children of the institutes.

 

He did not want to be burried in his tomb as a Monsignor at the Cathedral.

 

3.         I am not in a position to answer the questions relating to his confessions.

 

4.         He was ready to renounce his own will and opinion in favour of those of others whenever it was the right thing to do so, and to accept the good suggestions and advice of others.

 

5.         I do not know that he sought any occupations, but he was always ready to accept any occupation the bishop gave him, even if it had been refused by others.

 

6 -7.    He behaved modestly. He always behaved in a serene way, even in difficult circumstances, and this to his death. The only time I saw him perturbed was in the following incident:  when we were still students, there was as a novice and student master an old friar from another community (at that time the Society was in its first stages) who was not able to understand us, students. We students got fed up, and told our master that we wanted to speak to the bishop. The novice master told this to the Servant of God, who was very perturbed and asked us what had happened. We explained the situation to him, and he calmed us down.

 

8.         He always tried to instil this virtue in us through his exhortation, example and through the rule he gave us. He also gave light public penances.

 

9.         I am not in a position to answer this question.

 

10.       Not as far as I know.

 

 

 

XLI

 

1.         I know what “Christian” and “heroic” virtue means and in what it consists.

 

2.         Omittitur.

 

3.         He always exercised himself practically in all virtues in a perfect way during the period I know him intimately, that is for eleven years. This continuous constancy and consistency in the perfect practice of virtue in my view means that he was virtuous in a herioc degree.

 

4.         Iam provisum et affirmative ad omnia.

 

5.         I say this of all the christian virtues, but I single out as more shining than the others his love of God and neighbour, his obedience and his humility.

 

XLII

 

1.         In my presence the Servant of God did not externally show any signs of supernatural gifts or charisms. The only thing which he possessed, and might have been a supernatural charism, was his ability to know the interior state of those with whom he came in contact.

 

2 - 4.   Iam provisum.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 ob tarditatem horae suspenditur examen testis, resumendum die 26 Iunii. Ipsi testi integram depositionem perlexi alta et intelligibili voce, ipsi facultate data addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi ubi necessaria reputaverit. Deinde suam depositionem his verbis confirmavit:

 

Iuro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, O.C.D., Delegatus Episcopalis.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 19 Iunii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Trigesima Prima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima Iunii (sive 20-6-1987) hora 9.30 a.m. coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiespiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Domina Francoise Marie Leopardi, cui delatum fuit iuramnentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego, Francoise Marie Leopardi, testis iuravi.

 

Quo inramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicta teste ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad exarnen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

I am Mrs. Francoise Marie Leopardi née De Piro D’Amico, widow of the late Eduardo Romeo Leopardi, born in London, England on the 18th December, 1909, practising Catholic, now residing at “SABAR”, St. Joseph’s Street, St. Paul’s Bay, Malta. I am a niece of the Servant of God.

 

The witness presented the attached document (Doc. 16)  in which is contained all that she remembers about the Servant of God, and confirmed it under oath.

 

 

Document No. 16

Statement submitted by Mrs. Francoise Marie Leopardi regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

It has always been a regret to me that Uncle Joseph died when I was just begining to appreciate his value. My sister and I came to Malta in 1920 as children. It was then we met our relations for the first time. The following year my father died.  I was just 10 years old, and somehow my uncles had a special place in our life. My mother found comfort in her brothers-in-law and a sense of security knowing they would help sister and myself in case of necessity. Such a necessity never arose except in small everyday events.

 

Among my Uncles, the two priests were especially dear: Uncle Santo and Uncle Joseph.  Uncle Santo every summer asked my mother to allow us to spend 15 days at his home in St. Paul’s Bay for swimming and a change of air. We enjoyed these occasions, and Uncle Santo would always arrange for two other of our cousins to spend the 15 days with us at his home. His intention was probably for us to grow in affection with our relations, and it was so.  Even today we are all close in affection to each other.

 

Uncle Joseph had no home of his own, but in every house of Grandmama he had his room and her homes were his. We knew which room was his, but I cannot recollect his living with Grandmama while we were with her for holidays. We would spend another 15 days with her at her house in Birzebbugia, again sharing her hospitality with our cousins. During that time, Uncle Joseph would visit his mother once or twice to spend the day, but I cannot remember him staying for the night. In those days there were no buses and he came and left by Carozzin; Cikku the Carozzin man would spend the day and return to Mdina around sunset with Uncle.

 

My sister and I were fond of Uncle Joseph for his gentle manners and interest in all we were doing and our progress at school. In my memory he never raised his voice, never entered an argument, never spoke unkindly about anyone or any situation. There were some fine occasions when something my cousins or ourselves said which amused him and then he would laugh heartily. Otherwise he was mostly silent, often lost in thought with a faraway look in his eyes. Possibly he was making plans for his Foundation which then was in its beginnings. We never disturbed him in his thoughts and only answered him when he spoke to us.

 

He had a characteristic way of never sitting down for long, he would walk up and down a corridor or from side to side of the room, with his hands behind his back —unless he was reading his Breviary.

 

I never saw him hurry or be in a hurry. He was always in good time and very punctual. In those times there was no telephone Service.  So he could not advise Grandmama of him not being able to come to her when expected, if some important occasion kept him. But, to the best of my knowledge, he did not disappoint outsiders through failing to turn up when expected.

 

Most of his time was taken up by the various Orphanages of which he was Director, and the Society of young people training to be priests, his Mission of St. Paul. Then they lived in a house at Mdina, today Xara Palace Hotel. At that time it was an old and uncomfortable place, nothing like it is today.

 

I remember Uncle Joseph at his best, for the Cathedral festivities or functions. He was the Dean. For the functions of the 24th and 25th January, and on the 28th and 29th of June, he would go to Grandntama’s house to dress. On these occasions he wore his purple (?) Cassock of wool or silk, under the starched and pleated white (short alb’?) with wide lace, another silk garment with a tucked up train and a fur lined cape. His socks were purple and he wore silver buckles on his shoes. Round his neck was a long gold chain with a gold cross hanging from it. Everything was prepared for him by Grandmama’s maids, under her supervision. On a few occasions, I sat waiting to see him dressed up, and as came into the sitting room to say goodbye to Grandmama he really looked grand. At this time she was an invalid and confined to a wheelchair. He would kiss her forehead and she would kiss his hand before he left for the Cathedral. He would put his hand on my head in a blessing, and smiled as I said: “Uncle, you really look lovely!”. I still remember the rustle of silk as he walked away. After the function of Translation of the Relic and Solemn Vespers on the Eve of St. Paul’s Conversion and Mnarja, The Governor and his wife, A.D.C., the Bishop, and those of our family who were at the Cathedral, would come back with Uncle for tea with his mother in the reception rooms downstairs. On the following morning, the 25th January and 29th June, the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet would come to Grandmama’s house for Coffee or Chocolate after attending High Mass at the Cathedral.

 

There were other occasions when Uncle, as Dean, entertained V.I.Ps at his Mother’s house. I remember the Prince of Wales when he came to open the new Parliament in 1921, representing his father, George V. In those days it was the custom to pay a visit to the Bishop and Cathedral Chapter, and this was followed by hospitality of the Dean, Uncle Joseph. He was perfect host, always at his ease and always sincere, and treated everyone in the same kind manner whoever they were.

 

It may seem that I mention my Uncle only on ‘special’ occasions. The reason is that it was only on such occasions that he would be with us.  His various activities prevented his being with his family and they took up all his time.

 

His mother was precious to him, and for the last six (?) or seven years of her life she was confined to a wheelchair. She was taken ill in 1928 (?) or 1930 (?) and was not expected to live. She was unconscious for several days, and her family, including Uncle Joseph, daily visited her. Her personal doctor (Dr. Scerri) and the doctors of the family, Dr. Alfredo Stilon, his sons Vittore and Dr. Ernest Stilon did all the possible to prolong her life. The time came when they had a consultation together with Uncle Joseph and the Archpriest, Mgr. Cortis. The doctors were of the opinion that Grandmama was being kept alive through the injections she was being given. Uncle Joseph, who was strict on the rules of the Church, told them to stop the injections and leave her to God’s will. He did this with a broken heart but his conscience would not allow his mother to live, by artificial means. In fact, Grandmama recovered and lived to survive him.

 

Even about fasting he was strict.  I remember my elder cousins asking him how much they could eat for breakfast. I cannot remember how much bread he said was allowed, but I do remember it was a small amount.

 

As I have already said, I regret I was too young to fully appreciate him, and I never had the chance to have a quiet talk with him.

 

My last memory was his funeral. The mourners, besides his family were many, from every walk of life. The Governor, the Bishop and Clergy, representatives of groups, priests and acquantences of all ranks followed his coffin up the Adolorata hill to the family chapel where he was burried.  I had never seen such a very long procession of mourners before, and all were sad.

 

Now, in age, I realize how he had burned himself out in service to others, never resting as he should have done for his health’s sake, in order not to disappoint anyone when he was not feeling well and was tired out.

 

I state that all written above is what I remember and the corrections have been made by me.

 

Francoise Marie Leopardi

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani, 0.C.D., Delegatus Episcapalis

Fr. Mario Scerri, Actuarius

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego actuarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumenturn confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 20 Iunii, 1987

 

Fr. Marius Scerri, Actuarius


 

Sessio Trigesima Secunda

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus, hora 10.30 am apparuit Sr. Pauline Formosa quae iuramentum praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

 Ego Sr. Pauline Formosa S.S.D., testis iuravi.

 

Personalia. I am Sister Pauline Formosa, born at Rabat, Malta, on the 11th March, 1910, a religious Sister, catholic, now residing at St. Dorothy’s Convent, St. Roque Street, Mdina, Malta

 

The witness presented the enclosed document (Doc. 17) in which is contained all that the witness remembers about the Servant of God, and confirmed it under oath.

 

 

Document No. 17

Statement submitted by Sr. Pauline Formosa S.S.D., regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

I knew Mgr. De Piro personally both because I was born in Rabat where I lived for a time on the Saqqajja, and also because I was an intimate friend of his nieces. In fact we attended the same school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy.

 

I remember Mgr. De Piro to be a tall, wellbuilt man, neat in person and dress. He was also of a grave disposition but was at the same time a meek and humble person.  His was a personality which commanded respect from all.  He was a man of few words wherever he happened to be. I do not mean however that he was unapproachable or that he was in any way haughty or proud.  On the contrary he never gave himself any airs. So much so that whenever I met him at the house of his brother, Dun Santinu, at St. Paul’s Bay, he always joined in the conversation and would also tell a joke or two. I used to go to his brother’s house along with his nieces and when he came across us Mgr. De Piro would talk to us and even joke with us. I remember him telling us on one occasion how he managed to make a whole group of girls laugh at Fra Diego Institute, whilst they were gathered to have their photograph taken. And then when he laughed he did so really heartily.

 

I also remember Mgr. De Piro at the Cathedral when he would be participating in some function. I remember very clearly how dignified and distinguished he appeared during these ceremonies and how he distinguished himself among all the rest by the manner in which he officiated.

 

I often heard people say what a charitable person he was and in this connection I remember one occasion when a Brother from the ‘Rozarjanti’ (a charitable organization) came knocking at every door asking for alms. I recollect clearly my elders at home saying that this Brother was Mgr. De Piro. I did not see his face because these Brothers had their faces covered when they went begging for alms.

 

It was also said that his life demonstrated his charity especially in the prompt obedience he showed when the Archbishop put him in charge of one or other of the charitable institutions which existed then. Mgr. De Piro always accepted at once and without any discussion and in all these Institutes which he directed he always showed a great love for the inmates.

 

I remember the first home in which the first members of Mgr. De Piro’s Society were housed. It was in St. Roque Street, Mdina, and I recall people saying, on seeing a particular member of this Society, “Look, this one is the first missionary of De Piro’s Society.” I also remember hearing how sorry he was when one of his first members left the Society when he was almost due to be ordained.

 

When he died I was away from Malta because between 1930 and 1933 I was in Rome for my novitiate. But two nieces of Mgr. De Piro, Marie and Iole, were also with me in this novitiate. It was they who told me of his death. I remember them telling me that he had been taken ill during benediction at the feast of our Lady of Sorrows in Hamrun. When they took him to the Central Hospital, Floriana, they put him in the very first ward which offered itself.  This happened to be a children’s ward, and there he breathed his last.

 

I know nothing about his funeral but I know that it was given wide pub1icity in the press and this shows the love and reverence in which he was held by all the people.

 

I declare that all I have written above is the truth and that I do not remember anything more.

 

Sr. Pauline Formosa SSD

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Marius Scerri, actuarius.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego actuarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 20 Iunii, 1987.

 

Fr. Marius Scerri,  Actuarius.


 

Sessio Trigesima Tertia

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus, hora 11.00 a.m. apparuit Pater Seraphinus Fenech, O.F.M. Conv., qui iuramento praestito  sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego P. Seraphinus M. Fenech, O.F.M. Conv., et ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

            I am Rev. Fr. Seraphinus Fenech O.F.M. Conv., born at Rabat, Malta, on the 3rd November, 1908. I am a religious priest now residing at St. Francis Friary, St. Francis Streets Rabat, Malta.

 

The witness presented a document (Doc.18) in which is contained all that the witness remembers about the Servant of God, and confirmed it under oath.

 

 

Document No. 18

Statement submitted by P. Seraphinus M. Fenech OFM Conv., regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro..

 

I knew Mgr. De Piro personally. I was born in Rabat in the year 1908, and lived there for a long time. Then I served as an altarboy at the Cathedral Mdina, between 1919 and 1924. Besides, although I must say that this did not bring me much in contact with Mgr. De Piro, I also attended cathechism classes at the Xara Palace which at the time was the home of the members of the Society founded by Mgr. De Piro.

 

Though I was only a young boy 1 was impressed by Mgr. De Piro’s dignified and courteous bearing and he always gave evidence of his innate good breeding. In the street, in the Cathedral or indeed anywhere else he was never to be seen engaged in idle chatter. He was very grave and recollected but at the same time he was very approachable and he always returned people’s greetings warmly and sincerely. At the Cathedral it was never his way to keep correcting us altarboys) or worse, to be angry with us. Other Monsignors were like that but he, never.

 

He did not often say mass at the Cathedral.  As a rule he would only say the Conventual Mass there and even this, he sometimes arranged with some priest or other to say in his place. When I saw him say Mass I always noticed that he did so with very great devotion. So much so that we altar boys were never eager to serve him at mass because he took a little longer than the others. I also thought that he was perhaps a little scrupuluos during mass. I noticed that after communion and before purification he would always lick his lips with his tongue. I never saw anyone else act like that.

 

Whenever his mother saw him approaching she liked to comment: “Look, here comes my beggar son”.  She used to say this because everything he had he used to give to the poor and to the children in his care. In this connection I would record the following which I had from Ganni Calleja, who was employed as a tailor in St. Joseph’ Institute in Mgr. De Piro’s time. Ganni told me that when Mgr De Piro went to him to have a new cassock made, while he, Ganni, would be taking his measurements he saw that the Monsignor’s trousers, although clean and neat, were very much patched. Ganni would therefore suggest to Mgr. De Piro that he had himself measured for a new pair of trousers also. Mgr. De Piro would promptly reply by asking how much a new pair of trousers cost and on Ganni telling him the price he would remark that he did not really need a new pair of trousers as those he wore were covered by his cassock and he would be the only one to derive any benefit from a new pair of trousers. He would rather spend the money so saved on food for the boys. It seems to me that this attitude of his shows how just and precise he was; he would have a new cassock made because this was his outer garment and his priestly apparel, but his trousers were covered by his cassock and therefore he considered that he could do without a new pair.

 

Another instance of his charity I can relate from my own experience. One day while I was serving at his mass at the altar of the Annunciation in the Cathedral, I was take ill.  I left the church immediately and went home where I had to stay for some time because of my illness. Mgr. De Piro showed so much interest in me, even though I was only a little boy, that he often sent to enquire about me.

 

Even his humility was something exceptional. When he was due to have a meal at one or another of the Institutes which he directed and he would arrive late, his meal was kept aside for him. When the food was set before him, the first thing he asked was whether the children had the same food for their meal, because he never wanted to be served different food from that served to the children. Whatever they had he would have exactly the same. This I had from Ganni Calleja, whom I mentioned earlier on.

 

I do not recall anything about his death, but I remember clearly the transfer of his remains from the Addolorata Cemetery to St. Agatha’s. I remember that his remains had been brought privately to the Little chapel of St. Agatha in Mdina, and it was from this place that the solemn corteo started.  It was a very long one and took quite some time. It was attended by representatives of religious orders, members of secular societies, a number of children, presumbly from various institutes, and I think members of his own family. I have an impression that the corteo was under the direction of the Archdeacon of the Cathedral, Mgr. Apap Bologna. 1 myself also took part in the corteo.

 

I remember that I once met Father Joseph Spiteri of the Society of Mgr. De Piro and Fr. Spiteri told me what he did to ensure that Mgr. De Piro’s remains would be preserved. He said that when they put the corpse in the coffin he put some salt near the feet so that the zinc lining of the coffin would corrode and Mgr. De Piro’s body would remain dry. In fact I could see, when his remains were transfered from the Addolorata Cemetery, that his clothes were in the same condition they wore when he was buried. (‘tale quale’).

 

I the undersigned declare that all I have written is the truth and that I have nothing further to add.

 

P. Seraphinus M. Fenech, OFM Conv, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Marius Scerri, actuarius.

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego actuarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 20 Iunii, 1987.

 

Fr. Marius Scerri, Actuarius.


 

Sessio Trigesima Quarta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima sexta Junii (sive 26-6-1987) hora 9.45 a.m. coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Aula Tribunalis Curiae Archiepiscopali, Valletta, comparuit Dominus Baronius Michael Vella Haber, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Micheal Vella Haber testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

I am Baron Kelinu Vella Haber, son of the late Lucius and Anna née Buttigieg, born at Qala, Gozo, on the lst October, 1913, pensioner, practising Catholic, now residing at 66 Stuart Street, Gzira, Malta.

 

The witness presented the following document (Doc. 19), and stated that all he had to say about the Servant of God, Mgr. Joseph De Piro, is contained in the said document. He took the oath of the truth as regards what is written in the document, and also to keep the secret.

 

Document No. 19

Statement submitted by Baron Michael Vella Haber regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

 

I came to know about the Missionary Society of St. Paul through my father who taught the trade of shoemaking to the boys of St. Joseph’s Institute, at Ghajnsielem, Gozo. At that time the Superior of that Institute was Fr. Michael Callus S.S.P. I am not sure, but I rather think that he and my father had some discussions about me which led to my being admitted to this Society, which was founded by Mgr. G. De Piro. I was accepted as a member of the Society in 1929, and I stayed on until 1936.

 

During this time, and naturally during his lifetime, I came to foster a great love and respect for Mgr. De Piro, whom I remember as a very serious and upright man with no nonsense about him, but at the same time very gentle and kind.

 

When I was still a student at St. Aloysius College Birkirkara and also at the Oratory, and even more so when I was at St. Agatha’s in Rabat, whenever Mgr. De Piro came to visit our homes, he liked talking to us and to reminisce with us on occasion. In this way he showed us we were important to him, and that although we were only students we counted and were not considered to be a mere quantity.

 

Among other things he told us, I remember two in particular. One was about the time when Mgr. lie Piro was on a visit at St. Joseph’s Institute in Ghajnsielem, Gozo and all of a sudden the floor of the room in which he was standing gave way under him and with great good fortune he escaped injury, even though he fell among blocks and fragments of stone.

 

Another story he told us concerned the Society he founded. He used to say that he had a dream in which he found himself on a ship which could not move at all because its propeller was fouled. He used to say that finally St. Agatha came to free the propeller after which the ship began moving making good progress towards its destination. Mgr. De Piro often told us that that ship represented the Missionary Society of St. Paul which he founded. And here I must state that it is a fact that during its first years this Society could hardly make any headway. By this I mean that the Society depended on the situation at that time.  Besides, vocations were scarce and there were still very few priests in the Society and there was nobody with any earning power save for the Founder himself. Besides, there was much poverty in Malta in the years between the wars. They were very lean times for Malta and Gozo and there was no progress at all, or at best, very little of it. But today it is common knowledge how the Society has progressed and flourished. This also shows that Mgr. De Piro had a great devotion for St. Agatha.

 

Another thing I picked up from him was the use of invocations. He stressed the power and efficacy of the following invocation, said for three consecutive times while making the sign of the cross on the forehead, on the mouth and on the heart. “Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Judaeorurn, miserere nobis.”

 

Another invocation he recommended much to us and which apparently he practised himself was also in Latin and consisted of the words: “Ecce Crucem Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, fugite partes adversae, vicit leo de Tribu Judeae, radix David. Hallelujah!” said while crossing oneself.

 

I must say that I am still much attached to these invocations and the second one I often say whenever I find myself in any trouble.  I must also say that I have found this invocation very efficacious. I do not know if others have found it so but I have recommended its use.

 

I remember that when we were still at Birkirkara he would visit us occasionally and when we would be going down for our meals we would recite the De Profundis! While walking downstairs there were times when I noticed that Mgr. De Piro appeared to me to falter and about to fall. Father Michael used to say that it was due to his health; that was why he appeared to falter! Although I was only sixteen or seventeen then, I would try and walk immediately in front of him so that, without letting anybody know my intention, I might serve to hold him up and prevent him from falling should he miss his footing. The Padre, as we used to call him, was a big man but he was not very robust physically at that time.

 

Here I must state that he showed a particular affection for me from the first time he knew me.  I do not know why. He even saved my life.

 

In the year 1928, I was a student at the Seminary of Gozo. It was winter and some five or six of us students had rented a room in Triq Palma, at Rabat to avoid walking to Nadur and back every day. The idea somehow entered our head that this room was haunted. In the winter of that year only another student, Cordina, and I, were staying there.  We were in bed one evening and it was raining outside when all of a sudden Cordina started shouting that he was feeling somebody pulling his leg and he leapt out of bed running towards the stairs leading to the Street door calling to me: “Come on, come on!” I did not see anything unusual but just the same I too leapt out of bed and rushed after my friend out of the house.  The moment I found myself out in the rain I felt a chill all over. That very evening we hired a karrozzin to take us to Nadur! The following morning I could not get out of bed; I felt stiff all over and when the doctor came to see me he said I had a bad attack of bronchites. For the next two months I stayed at home all the time getting worse, until one day I told my mother that my breath was rasping. The doctor was sent for and he said I had to go to hospital at once.  My father hired a car to take me to hospital at Victoria, telling the driver to go slowly so as not to cause me any discomfort. That evening I was given a bath at the hospital and the following morning I was so much worse that I was given Extreme Unction. People from Nadur came to see me and I was slipping into a state in which I began to imagine visions and I was telling the other patients what I was seeing. On that day, unexpectedly, Mgr. De Piro came in to see me.... he spoke to me... but I do not recall replying at all; I know that he knelt down near my bed and prayed. Then he blessed me and left. A little while after Sister Anna came in to see me.  I never knew her surname; she was a tall and pretty young woman. She said to me: “Now you will certainly not die because Mgr. De Piro came here to pray for you and that man is a saint!” And in fact I got better, and lived, and Sister Anna used to give me an extra pigeon cooked in its broth to help me recover my strength more quickly. In carnival of that year, 1929, I was completely cured and I was sent back home in a karozzin. In the following October I began my student days at St. Aloysius College and the Oratory in B’Kara.

 

When the building of the house of St. Agatha was completed, Mgr. De Piro gave a bumper dinner to all the workers to celebrate the occasion (what is known as the ‘Garew’). This meal was given in the corridor on the groundtloor which was completed in his time. All the members of the Society, including Mgr. De Piro himself, went round waiting on the guests.

 

From my own personal knowledge of Mgr. De Piro, I can testify that he was a man with deep patriotic sentiments. I know that he was much involved in the politico-religious dispute which arose at the time between the Church and Lord Strickland. It was said that he had volunteered his services in the matter because of his desire to see peace and harmony established in Malta.

 

I remember that when he died, so suddenly and unexpectedly, we were making a retreat at St. Calcidonius in Floriana. When we heard the sad news of his death we all felt that we had been orphaned. I had already lost my own father when I was a student at Birkirkara and now I felt myself an orphan twice over. We all kept repeating: “We are now fatherless!” But fortunately it was not that way at all because there is everything to show that the Father of our Society never forsook his children, not even those who left the Society after his death!

 

For my part I never ceased to look upon him as a father. So much so that in my poem Miserere’ I address him as Father and beseech him to come and claim me as his son when my time came to pass from this world to the next.

 

I penned another poem when I saw the commemorative postage stamp issued in his honour and which I called “Quddiem il-Bolla.” (Thoughts on a Postage Stamp). Yet another poem I wrote was about his spiritual son Father George Xerri who was killed in Australia. This Father George had been a close friend of mine and I knew him to be a really first class person. Besides, in these two poems I refer to Mgr. De Piro in other poems, too.

 

I have never forsaken the Society and I never had any displeasures because of it. I was in the Society during a very bad period; it was a time of all round shortages and also a time of inexperience. The Society always remained dear to me, perhaps even more so than when I belonged to it! I also mention Mgr. De Piro in my green booklet about the Order of Malta, or rather, about the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. It was indeed a very happy occasion for me when, on the 13th October, 1985, I had the good fortune to conduct the Solemn ceremony of the investiture of Knights at the Sanctuary of St. Agatha and to receive Holy Communion again at this Sanctuary after a lapse of not less than fifty years! I had recorded all this in the Souvenir Programme as well as in the S.O.S.J. Observer.

 

I recall another thing about the ‘Padre’ which I should like to recount. I said earlier on that I felt that he showed a special consideration for me from the first time he knew me. Sometimes during his visits to Gozo he would take me with him so that I could see my people. It was never his wish to seperate us from our families but, on the contrary, he gave every due importance to family ties. We used to travel, from Grand Harbour to Gozo, in a diminutive steamboat, the S/S Golly. On one occasion it was so rough that I had to hold tight to the railings to avoid being swept overboard! The ‘Padre’ told me to cast my glance at the horizon and that if the sea looked like a sawedge there, then it was rough. If it did not look like a sawedge then it was not rough! I say this to show that it was the Padre’s’ way not only to go down to the level of his spiritual children, but also to talk to them as if they were mature and adult persons. In this manner he gave them their due importance and drew them to himself and I know we all loved him and cherished him. I not only cherish him and respect him, but I have also taught my family to do so too. Let me say in conclusion that it is my heartfelt wish that he remain a Father to me and to all his children and that we may have the good fortune to see him duly honoured on our altars, as he so well deserves.

 

Sometimes the Founder of the Society would take all the members, including the juniors, to his mother’s house. This was something they appreciated very much because when somebody receives you in somebody’s mother’s house it means that you are being treated as one of the family. Especially so when none of the members of the Society had any claim to wealth or greatness while the De Piro family belonged to the nobility.

 

Sometimes he would also take them to the house at Qrendi.

 

I have kept all this in my mind and in my heart because it is not possible ever to forget things like this.  They leave an impression not only on the mind but also on the heart…

 

I wish to add the following which may possibly be of relevance. My father Lucius Joannes Cyprianus (it seems my family had a penchant for high sounding names!) was the son of Peter Paul Vella and Karmena Haber from Nadur, Gozo. My father had travelled much in many countries looking for work and he therefore knew at first hand of the beauty, the amenities and the atmosphere of many places. At the time of my departure from Nadur to go to the Oratory of Birkirkara I well remember my father’s words to me: “Go Kelinu.  Maybe one day you too will travel as well.” On that day I probably did not fully appreciate his wish. As long as I was a member of the Society I obviously could not travel. But it is worthy of mention that when I left the Society I travelled on many occasions and I visited more countries than I ever thought I would!  I have even been so far away as Puerto Rico. Many countries I visited as a guest and others I visited privately, and many times I have travelled with my family. I visited Germany as the guest of the German Government. My father would have been surprised to see how extensively I travelled. And it is my conviction that all this could not have come to pass had I not first of all received such a good education and so much learning from the Society and its Founder; the potential may have been there but its realization would hardly have been possible. I must repeat that they were very hard times indeed in Malta between the wars and it was more likely for projects to remain a dream than for them to be realized.  This too must be said. I would also add in all modesty however as I hate to blow my own trumpet! I have become known in various countries because of my activities as a Knight of the Order of St. John and I have been mentioned in several periodicals and magazines of the Order around the world. I have received honours, diplomas and medals from various princes but all these count for nothing with me. I know they are there and that is all. But I am firmly convinced that all this success is all the effect of my seven years with the Society. This is all I wtshed to add.

 

I hereby declare that all that is written in these pages is entirely my own contribution, and that I have said nothing but the truth and that I have nothing further to add.

 

K. Vella Haber, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est Die 26 Iunii 1987

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Trigesima Quinta

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus, hora 10.30 a.m., comparuit Dominus Sacerdos Josephus Caruana testis a postulatione inductus, qui iuramentum praestit iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam de veritate dicenda et de secreto servando.

 

Ego Fr. Joseph Caruana testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

I am Father Joseph Caruana, son of the late Generoso and Angela née Degabriele, born at Marsaxlokk, Malta, on the 16th March, 1914, now residing at 6, St. Pius V Street, Marsaxlokk, Malta.

 

The witness presented the attached document (Doc. 20), and stated that all he had to say about the Servant of God, Mgr. Joseph De Piro, is contained in the said document. He took the oath as regards the truthfulness of what is contained in this document and also to keep the secret.

 

 

Document No. 20

Statement submitted by Fr. Joseph Caruana regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

I remember that my first contact with Mgr. G. De Piro and the Society he founded was due to the fact that his sister was married to the Baron Zimmerman. This Baron owned a countryhouse, complete with chapel, known as Ta’ Zambu, in Marsaxlokk, on the way to Birzebbugia, in the Kavallerizza. This countryhouse and chapel the Baron had given in loan to Mgr. De Piro, who used to come here along with the members of his Foundation for the summer holidays. This led to Fra Manwel Gafa coming in touch with them first, after which I came to know about them too.

 

The first time I just went to have a look round and there I met Mgr. De Piro who, the moment he saw me, asked me what fish my father caught. I answered promptly: “Octopus!” He soon made us feel completely at home. There was nothing about him to put people off.  On the contrary I soon noticed that he was a priest towards whom one felt attracted. He kept on asking me questions about my family and when I said that my mother’s maiden name was Degabriele he asked me if she was related to the Mother Prioress at Zejtun. I told him that they were cousins.

 

At first I began attending one day every month at the Oratory of Birkirkara so that I might get accustomed gradually. Then after about a year I was admitted as a full time boarder, as an aspirant in the College of this same Oratory where Father Michael Callus was in charge. There were quite a few of us because we filled all the rooms. We used to go to St. Aloysius College, Birkirkara, for lessons and classes.

 

Our daily programme was planned to give special consideration to lessons and study, but the spiritual aspect was not neglected. In the morning we attended Mass together and after lunch we assembled for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel.  In the evening we had some spiritual reading and, at the end of the day, we made an examination of conscience after which we received Sacramental Benediction. We were also allowed time for recreation, after lunch, when we would spend some time in the sports ground, and in the evening when we would play games. Both board and lodging were very good and I never had cause to complain about anything.

 

Every now and again Mgr. De Piro would look in on us. I also recall that once a year we would organize an entertainment for him, when we would also read poems to him. Karmenu Vassallo and Borda had a special talent for this. Mgr. De Piro always showed that he enjoyed himself very much on these occasions and he appreciated our efforts.

 

One day I went out for a walk with Borda. When we had gone past the St. Joseph’s Institute we met the Padre and he joined us in our walk. At one moment he stopped suddenly and today I think that this was because he wanted some rest. On our way we met Borda’s father who took us into his house where he showed us a Christmas crib he had. While we were standing in front of this crib, the Monsignor turned round and said to us: “Now that Jesus is still so small, we can take from His hands all the graces we desire.”

 

In September, 1933, I was making a retreat at St. Calcedonius in Floriana along with all the other members of the Society. When we were there the news reached us that the Padre had been taken ill, after he had conducted the procession of our Lady of Sorrows and while he was imparting Sacramental Benediction in St. Cajetan’s Church, Hamrun. We also heard that he had been taken to the Central Hospital which was just across the street from St. Calcedonius and we then went up on a terrace and tried to look out in the hope of getting a glimpse of what was going on.

 

I do not remember anything at all about his funeral, not even if we had in fact taken part. I only remember that Father Joseph Spiteri made a death mast of his face.

 

I also remember that it was said that Mgr. De Piro gave his help to the Archbishop in the dispute which arose between the Church and Lord Strickland.  This we heard from Father Joseph Spiteri.

 

It was also rumoured that Mgr. De Piro would fall asleep in the bus while travelling from one place to another.

 

All the above is entirely my own contribution.  It is the truth and I have nothing further to add.

 

Fr. Joseph Caruana, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus at singulis ut supra gestis ego Natarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Its est. Die 26 Junii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Trigesima Sexta

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus hora 11.15 a.m. comparuit Dominus Biagius Galea, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delaturn fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Biagio Galea testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mr. Biagius Galea, son of the late Paul and Pauline née Vella, born on the 29th March, 1916 at Rabat, Malta, pensioner, practising catholic, now residing at “Madonnina”, Zinja Str., Sta. Lucia.

 

The witness presented the following document (Doc.21), and stated that all he had to say about the Servant of God, Mgr. Joseph De Piro, is contained in the said document. He took the oath of having said the truth as to what is found in the document, and also to keep the secret.

 

 

Document No. 21

Statement submitted by Biagio Galea

regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

In 1975 I published a book entitled ‘The Mdina of My Childhood’. Although I am satisfied with it, I felt I had left out an important chapter. I wrote this chapter later to be published in another edition; it deals with feasts and processions. One of these reminds me of Mons. Guzeppi De Piro. In fact, in the section dealing with the feast of St. Agatha, I give a lot of information on this Monsignor. I am going to make several references to this matter while adding some clarifications and other informations.

 

Saint Agatha has been the subject of devotion for a long time in Rabat. It is curious, however, that my parents often talked about many feasts and processions whilst they rarely included the feast of St. Agatha. They even talked about the procession which was made to the small, remote chapel at ‘Tal-Virtu’’ whilst the procession to the chapel of Saint Agatha was almost ignored.  They referred to it simply because the procession passed by our house. It was a different story when Mons. De Piro took over the chapel. He celebrated the feast with great solemnity. Besides, this small church was much more frequented than was before. Electric power was installed in the crypt beneath the church. I know all this from my own experience.

 

Mons. De Piro’s aim was not just to have this chapel; closeby he wanted to build the Central House of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. From Fr. Alexander Bonnici’s OFM Conv book I learnt that the chapel was granted to De Piro with the consent of the ParishPriest of St. Paul, according to Bishop Mauro Caruana’s decree of the 24th April 1923. (See Mgr. Guzeppi De Piro 1877-1933: Fundatur tas-Socjeta’ Missjunarja ta’ San Pawl. Malta, Socjeta’ Missjunarja ta’ San Pawl. 1982. Vol. 1. P. 276.)

 

The feast of St. Agatha meant special recollections for me. Among these is that of Mgr. De Piro himself. I have already said that he had given the feast new life: Mgr. De Piro also reminds me of his mother Ursula, or Kika as she was popularly called. Her residence was by the Cathedral, today the convent of the Sisters of St. Dorothy. I remember her as an old lady, sitting in a wheel- chair, her hands very unsteady. She was a noble lady in soul and body.

 

She could not go out and often she received Holy Communion at home.  She was visited by some priest from the Cathedral, who was accompanied by an altar boy. I myself often carried the ‘asperges, as was common use in those days.

 

According to the maid of Mrs. Kika, who used to come to the Cathedral to talk to Fr. Alwig, Mgr. De Piro at that time used to sleep at St. Joseph’s Institute, for he was its Director. During his mother’s illness he often came to Mdina to say Mass in the small chapel which was on the top corridor of her house, so that his mother could hear Mass and receive Holy Communion. At times he also slept at home, especially when his mother was very ill or when there was some feast at the Cathedral. He wanted to be with his mother when all his brothers and sisters had left home.

 

This often occurred on a Saturday. I should like to add that Mgr. De Piro said Mass with great devotion, which was not common. I do not remember that he said Mass at the Cathedral.  He was rarely seen in the choir. At first this might seem that he shirked his duty. However, this was not correct; rather he felt that the Institutes had priority and therefore he was to be found there.

 

This choice or preference showed another aspect of Mgr. De Piro. At the Cathedral there were two anniversaries almost every day. Only those who were present, monsignors, priests and altar boys, received payment. At that time I was an altar boy and I rarely attended as I had to go to school. At times in one month I received eight shillings. A monsignor received much more if he attended daily. De Piro renounced such income because he prefered to work in the Institutes of Charity. All the monsignors were used to go for a walk in the gardens outside Mdina or on the bastions, etc., but Mons. De Piro was not one of them. At first one might have the impression that Mgr. De Piro was unassociable, but when someone needed the help of Mgr. De Piro one soon learnt that it was far from being so. He would not stop in the street to talk to people but he always had a smile for passers by whom he greeted. He was a serious person and never wasted time in gossipping.

 

I again refer to the Mass at his mother’s house. De Piro took a long time to say Mass and great was his devotion, but we altar boys always wanted to serve him. He was a very good man and he was something special for children. Besides, when we went we always received two pieces of cake and two pence.

 

Mons. De Piro’s great love for children reminds me of the following occasion. Once he held a reception at the Mdina Seminary. I believe it was on the occasion of the silver jubilee of his ordination. Not only monsignors, priests and important people were invited; there were also many children from the Institutes and we the altar boys of the Cathedral. For this reception in addition to the sweets there were also sweet almonds, which, in those days, were common on several occasions. After a short time Mgr. De Piro invited all the children into a room where there were barrels full of sweet almonds and told us to take as many as we liked.  The pockets of our short trousers were rather small.  So some altar boys brought our surplice from the sacristy which soon contained this manna. I have already said that on 24 April 1923 Mgr. De Piro took over the church of St. Agatha to build the Central House of his Society around it.  On 3 October 1932 Archbishop Mauro Caruana laid the foundation stone. I was lucky to asist as an altar boy. I remember several people attended for this occasion. News had spread about the laying of the foundation stone. Long before the Society moved to St. Agatha’s people said that Mgr.De Piro was going to found a new Society. They were still at Mdina and people already knew that De Piro was founding a Society of priests for the missions. Not only the older people knew about this; also, we the altar boys, referred to the members as priests of De Piro.

 

Although a lot of time has passed I still tell my children about Mgr. De Piro. I tell them that I remember him not because on one occasion he gave us so many sweet almonds, but because I often served this saintly priest when he said Mass, who was the Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul, who one day will be canonized.

 

I would like to add that Mgr De Piro was always very humble and never did he raise his voice.

 

The above statement is wholly mine and I declare it is true. I have nothing else to declare.

 

Biagio Galea, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD., Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi et rneum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 26 Junii, 1987.  

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Trigesima Septima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero vigesima septima Junii (sive 27-6-1987) coram Rev.mo Delegato Judice infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente, meque Notario presente comparuit Dominus Augustinus Grech, MSSP, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognavisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XLIII

 

1          As far as I know the Servant of God, he appeared to be in normal health.

 

2.         On the 17th September 1933, in the morning he celebrated Solemn High Mass in St. Cajetan’s Parish Church,  Hamrun on the occasion of the feast of our Lady of Sorrows. Then he went to Fra Diego’s Institute and carried out his normal duties. At about half past four in the evening he conducted the liturgical service and procession, and then made a short sermon to the Congregation. As he was about to give Sacramental benediction, he fainted, and soon after died; I do not know exactly whether in the church itself or shortly later in hospital. I wish to note that I know these details through Fr. Joseph Spiteri, MSSP since at that time I was doing my anual spiritual retreat.

 

3.-10.  I repeat that I was not present at the moment of his death. All I got to know is contained in No.2 above.

 

11.       He left a will. As regards his burial, he left that he be burried where the Superior of his Society wanted, but he preferred to be burried with the members of his Society. Besides, he disposed that whatever was found in the Institutes of which he was director, was to be left to the respective Institutes. Besides, he left also spiritual exhortations. This is all I remember.

 

XLIV

 

1-5.     The corpse was presented in our chapel of St. Joseph Hamrun where Solemn High Mass de Requiem was celebrated. The children of all the Institutes were present. Mgr. Paul Galea, Vicar General and the locumtenens at the moment, celebrated the Esequiae and High Mass. Many people gathered for the funeral, besides the members of his family and of our Society.

 

He was burried in the chapel of his family from his mother’s side, at the Addolorata Cemetery. From the chapel of St. Joseph to the cemetery, the funeral was a private family affair, but at the Cemetery it was a national and ecclesiastical public funeral, with high dignitaries including the then Governor General, and many priests and religious taking part. A huge crowd of people were present. During the day between the death and the funeral there was a continuous flow of people spontaniously visiting the corpse.

 

6 -7.    The corpse was burried at the Addolorata Cemetery as stated in No.5 above. About the year 1949 the corpse was moved to the Crypt especially prepared for him at our MotherHouse, at St. Agatha’s, Rabat, Malta. There is an epigraph, but I do not remember its contents.

 

8.         The only particular thing I noticed during the funeral was the large number of common people sorrowful and crying because they had lost in his death a great benefactor, calling him “Father of the poor”, “Benefactor of the orphans”, “A true priest of God”.

 

9.         I consider these actions and comments of the common people, during the funeral, as a sign of the people’s public cult and veneration towards the Servant of God. As far as I know nothing of this sort is still taking place, but I must say that I have never been stationed at St. Agatha’s since 1936.

 

10.       Whenever I happen to be at St. Agatha’s, and this is relatively often, I visit the tomb of our Founder out of veneration for him. So do other members of our Society.

 

11.       People who go to St. Agatha’s tell me that they visit the tomb of the Servant of God, but I cannot give details because of the reason I gave above (No.9). All the members of our Congregation are doing their best through writing and speaking to revive these visits to the tomb of the Servant of God.

 

XLV

 

1.         The Servant of God enjoyed a reputation of holiness during his lifetime, especially after his ordination to his priesthood; and this reputation was based on his pastoral work with poor children and their relatives, especially in the field of financial help and domestic difficulties.

 

2.         This reputation was publicly recognised at the time of his death by the common people.

 

3.         In my opinion this reputation of holiness did not remain at the same level as in the first years after his death. It somehow diminished, but still it did not come to an end.

 

4.         This reputation of holiness is still going on among all classes of Society.

 

5.         It is not restricted to those envirorments related to the Servant of God; it is spread among all different persons.

 

6.         This reputation may have spread also as a result of his spiritual writings.

 

7.         It was started and diffused by members of the Congregation of St. Paul, perhaps friends, but I do not know whether by relatives of the Servant of God aleo. -

 

8.         Not anything I know of.

 

XLVI

 

1.         Now the Servant of God is burned in the Crypt at St. Agatha’s, Rabat, where there are other members of the Society burried. His tomb is in the middle. It is a sarcophagus.

 

2 -3.    People who visit the chapel, visit also the tomb. But I cannot give details. (cf. XLIV, No.9)

 

4.         Affirmative.

 

5 -6.    No, because it is prohibited by ecclesiastical law.

 

XLVII

 

1-2.     I do not know of any such facts.

 

Et sic hora 12.00, suspenso examine testis ob tarditatem horae, die 4 Julii resumendo, de mandato Delegati Episcopalis, postquam testi et intelligibili et alta voce integram hodiernam depositionem perlexi.

 

Testis depositionem suam his verbis confirmavit:

 

Juro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposui et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

Fr. A. Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 27 Junii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Trigesima Octava

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo die vero tertia Julii (sive 3-7-1987) hora 9.30 a.m. coram Rev.mo Delegato Judice infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente meque Notario presente comparuit Domina Anna Sant Cassia De Piro Gourgion, testis a Postulatione inducta, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Anna Sant Cassia testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisqne remanentibus Judice et dicta teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dictae testis.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mrs. Anna Sant Cassia De Piro Gourgion, daughter of the late Giovanni Pio and Emma née Gauci Sant, born at Rabat, Malta, on the 11th June, 1915, housewife, practising catholic, now residing at 450, St. Paul Street, St. Paul’s Bay.

 

This witness presented the following Document (Doc.22) and stated all she had to say about the Servant of God, Mgr Joseph De Piro, is contained in the said document. She took the oath of having said the truth as to what is found in this document, and also to keep the secret.

 

 

Document No. 22

Statement submitted by Mrs. Anna Sant Cassia De Piro regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

I, Anna Sant Cassia, daughter of Gio. Pio De Piro Gourgion, youngest brother of Mgr. Giuseppe De Piro D’Amico, am putting down what I remember about my uncle Mgr. De Piro at the request of Father Sciberras of the Missionary Society of St. Paul.

 

I remember him as a big man, always with a smile.

 

He must have had a strong sense of humour as I well recall his good laugh which shook his whole body.

 

He visited his mother, Ursula dei Marchesi De Piro, regularly, and he would walk up and down a long corridor deep in thought and every now and then passing a remark to his mother who would then give her opinion or advice.

 

They exchanged no small talk but held a somewhat companionable silence broken every now and then with something worth mentioning and talking about.

 

He usually went about carelessly clothed but when in his vestments of a Dean he was strikenly well turned out. His mother saw to this and one of her maids (Nuzzi) was in charge of laundering his white vestments and keeping his Dean’s clothes in order.

 

In spite of his many commitments I never saw him walking fast. His step was measured giving the impression that he was absorbed in his thoughts.

 

Once ( it must have been in 1931-1932 ) looking out of a balcony from St. Joseph’s High School, in Zachery Str., Valletta, where I was a pupil, I saw him walking in a fine drizzle at his usual pace with an unfurled umbrella held over his shoulder; he must have been in deep thought.

 

Although very much taken up by his many activities he also found time to take part in family functions such as weddings.

 

Mrs. Elena Refalo née Stilon De Piro tells me that he gave the sermon at her wedding.  Also he gave the sermon at the wedding of Dr. Vittore Stilon De Piro.

 

My mother received a shawl from him at the birth of each child as my sister, Piera De Piro Gourgion, tells me.

 

In his time it was customary for the Governor or his representative to attend some Church functions at the Cathedral, Notabile.

 

On these occasions his mother would have a tea party in her home near the Cathedral in order to enable her son, Mgr. De Piro, to entertain the Governor and other personalities after the function.

 

I remember thinking at the time how dignified he looked and how well he upheld the good image of the Church and the Maltese among the high ranking officials.

 

On my uncle’s death, my father thought it best to have his remains buried at the Addolorata Cemetery instead of at the Cathedral as, should the Fathers of the Society of St. Paul at a later date want to transport his remain to St. Agatha, the formalities would be easier.

 

My father also showed concern that dying so suddenly his brother might have left some of his many administration books not up to date.  Later he was pleased to say that all the books had been left in perfect order.

 

I take this opportunity to point out that my father was not in Switzerland for his health as recorded in the book “Mgr. Guzeppi De Piro”, by Father Alex. Bonnici 0.F.M. Conv., Vol. I., page 109. He was sent by his mother to college in St. Gall (Saint Gallen), to further his education.

 

Also in Vol. II of the same book, page 490, one reads that Dr. Alfredo Stilon was present at my uncle’s death bed. It was Dr. Vittore Stilon De Piro, Dr. Alfredo’s son, who was with him at the end, as Mrs. Bice Cremona née Stilon De Piro can testify.

 

I am only pointing out these very minor details for the sake of accuracy.

 

I declare that what I have written above is the truth and that I have nothing more to declare.

 

Anna Sant Cassia, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Super quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 3 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Trigesima Nona

 

 

 

Eodem Die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro TribunaIi sedentibus, hora 10.00 a.m., comparuit Domina Antonia Tonna Portelli, testis a Postulatione inducta, et illa statim praestitit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, de veritate dicenda, et de secreto servando.

 

Ego Antonia Tonna Portelli, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicta teste, statim diventum est ad examen dictae testis.

 

Personalia

 

I am Mrs. Antonia Tonna Portelli, daughter of the late George Portelli and Emanuela née Tonna, born at Rabat, Malta, on the 7th October, 1907, housewife, practising Catholic, now residing at 76, College Street, Rabat, Malta.

 

The witness presented the enclosed Document (Doc. 23) and stated that all she had to say about the Servant of God, Mgr. Joseph De Piro, is contained in the said document. She took an oath of having said the truth as to what is found in this document, and also to keep the secret.

 

 

Document No. 23

Statement submitted by Antonia Tonna Portelli regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

I knew Mgr. De Piro through my aunt Rosa Portelli, who was a servant in his mother’s home. Another aunt of mine used to do the laundry for the student members of the Society he founded, at least during the period when they occupied the first two houses of the Society, in Imdina. Moreover my father was, for about four years, steward or housekeeper at Fr. Santinu’s (Mgr. De Piro’s brother) house in St. Paul’s Bay, and all the Family, including of course myself, stayed with him.

 

The De Piro family belonged, and still does, to the Maltese nobility, but they were not in the least haughty and did not give themselves any superior airs. So much so that we children (my brothers and sisters and I) were allowed to play with their children.

 

I remember that Mgr De Piro used to visit his mother and as I often was with my aunt Rosa in the De Piro house it sometimes happened that I was there during his visits.  I have also seen him on occasion at the Bishop’s Palace in Mdina where a cousin of mine was a servant. Mgr De Piro often called on the Bishop at his Palace in Mdina.

 

When he came to visit his mother she would often remark: “Joseph is always wanting something.”

 

He was always cheerful and smiling and was never moody or bad tempered.

 

He was not at all proud or haughty and would always stop and pat us children, on the head, whenever he came across us.  When he delayed to visit his mother she used to say that he was away in Gozo.

 

He died after he was taken ill while imparting benediction following the procession during the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows at Hamrun.

 

I declare that all 1 have stated is what I know personally and is the truth and that I have nothing further to add.

 

Antonia Tonna, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 3 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quadragesima

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus hora 10.30 a.m., comparuit Dominus Peter Paul Cutajar, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscnipsit ut infra:

 

Ego Peter Paul Cutajar testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

            I am Mr. Peter Paul Cutajar, son of the late Carmelo and Paula née Tanti, born at Rabat, Malta, on the 8th May, 1916, pensioner, practising Catholic, now residing at 8 Labini Street, Rahat, Malta.

 

The witness presented the following document (Doc. 24) and stated that all he had to say about the Servant of God, Mgr. Joseph De Piro, is contained in the said document. He took the oath of having said the truth as to what is found in this document, and also to keep the secret.

 

 

Document No. 24

Statement submitted by Peter Paul Cutajar regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I served as an altar boy at the Mdina Cathedral between 1927 and 1931. At that time altar boys were accepted after an application in Italian and an examination. I was examined by Mgr. Cortis. I also attended the Cathedral School. It was in connection with this that I got to know Mgr. De Piro.

 

De Piro was a tall, stout, handsome and appalable. He loved everyone.

 

De Piro did not often come to the Cathedral. He used to come when it was his turn for the service and sometimes he did not come. On such occasions he always asked some one else to replace him. This was because he was very busy. However, when he attended he did not waste his time gossipping.

 

When he said Mass at the Cathedral we altar boys did our best not to serve him. The reason was that he said Mass with great devotion and his mass lasted longer than usual.

 

I do not remember that the Monsignor ever spoke to us about vocations or his Society. Sometimes I went to the house of the Society at Xara Palace, but that was all.

 

Also, sometimes I went with Mons. Agius to give Holy Communion to De Piro’s mother. On some occasions he also said Mass for her. She always welcomed us. At times we saw him there. On one occasion when she saw him coming, she said: “ My poor man is coming.” He learnt from

people that she used to say this because he asked her for money for charity; he was a very charitable person.

 

I declare that the above is a true statement and I have nothing else to add.

 

Peter Paul Cutajar, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 3 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Canmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quadragesima Prima

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus, hora 10.40 a.m. comparuit Dominus Joseph Tonna, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum de veritate dicenda et de secreto servando, qoud ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Joseph Tonna testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Dolegato et dicto teste, statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

I am Mr. Joseph Tonna, son of the late Francis and Giovanna née Micallef, born at Rabat, Malta, on the 29th March, 1905, pensioneer, practising Catholic, now residing at 11, St. Anthony Street, Rabat, Malta.

 

The witness presented the following document (Doc. 25) and stated that all that is contained in the said document, he either knows it personally or from reliable eyewitnessesHe stated also that all he knows is contained in the said document, and that he has nothing else to say about the Servant of God. He took the oath of having said the truth as to what is found in the said document, and also to keep the secret.

 

 

Document No. 25

Statement submitted by Joseph Tonna regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I knew Mgr. De Piro because I am from Mdina and I lived there until I was married, and besides, my father worked for the De Piro family. Moreover our house was situated near a gate in the Mdina Bastions through which Mgr. De Piro’s sister made her way into Mdina when she arrived by train at the station on that part of the City, and when she came up to our house she liked to stop and exchange a few words with my mother. But above all I knew Mgr. De Piro because I attended catechism classes in St. Roque Street at the first house of the Society founded by him. It was there that I came most in contact with the Monsignor and the members of his Society.

 

I attended catechism classes here precisely because I lived in Mdina. There we were prepared for our first Holy Communion and our Confirmation and there was also another class for those who wished to continue after that . There were therefore classes for the youngest ones, those preparing for their first Holy Communion and those more advanced. I may say here, that these classes were not exclusively for us Mdina children, but children from Rabat were also accepted because at Rabat children were only prepared for their first Holy Communion and their Confirmation. Besides, lessons were given there in improvised classes formed by grouping together a few benches in the church and one could hardly say that they were very well organized. On the other hand in the house of the Society in Mdina things were very much better run and organized.  So much so that every Wednesday the advanced class held a special service known as “Massime Eterne”. Brother Joseph Caruana, who was responsible for the teaching of catechism would read the ‘Massime” while they sat around a table on which stood a crucifix and a skull.

 

Then again every Sunday we would meet for Mass, generally at the Cathedral, and we also had every facility to go to Confession. As a rule we went to confession to the Archpriest of Mdina, Mgr. Cortis, but sometimes we would confess to Mgr, De Piro himself. He was very gentle and good when hearing confessions.

 

And not only this; we also enjoyed many other activities and recreations. Brother Joseph liked taking us children to a place known as “Id-Deredin”, near Mdina, where he used to organize football matches for us. When he began wearing the cassock he would lift it up a bit so that he could play with the children. For Christmas we used to receive such presents as cribs, figurines, wax figures of the Baby Jesus and other similar articles. During Carnival a special programme was prepared for us for all the three days.

 

Besides Brother Joseph, at Catechism classes, there were also several young aspirants. These would change quite often and it seemed as if they came and went often. But thcse whc were studying for the priesthood did not often take these classes; they gave lessons occasionally but they did not hold regular classes.

 

Apart from those who were responsible for the teaching of catechism, Mgr. De Piro himself took a great interest in these classes and he would make an occasional appearance to put questions to the children there. But he never spoke to us about the Society he was founding and neither did the brothers do so. But then Mgr. De Piro was not very often at Home and he did not therefore have much opportunity to speak to us.

 

I received my first holy Communion along with two other children at the Society’s Chapel from Dun Gorg Preca, the founder of the MUSEUM Society, during midnight Mass on Christmas Day.

 

Mgr. De Piro was a very charitable person and he liked doing his good deeds in secret. He was a saintly man; everybody thought so about him.

 

While his brother Dun Santin, frequented the L’Isle Adam Band Club and enjoyed meeting people, Mgr. De Piro was a different type; he gave the impression that he was an unsocial person. He might be seen about during a feast, like that of St. Joseph, but that was all; he shunned social

occasions.

 

About the Home of the Society I remember very little because when we children attended for our catechism lesson we did not have the run of the House. But I know there was a little door through which we children went in. This was in addition to the main door which was used by the members of the Society. Then there was a little hall which also served as a classroom and after this there was a staircase leading to the upper storey. At the back there were two other classrooms, a courtyard with a glass roof and another room which served as the refectory to the community.  Upstairs there was a chapel which we children were hardly ever allowed to use, but it was here that I received my first Holy Communion. The children never went into the rooms where the members of the Society slept, or at least I was not one who was allowed to enter these rooms.

 

In summer Mgr. De Piro used to go to Qrendi and he used to take Wenzu Grixti with him. When this latter would come to Mdina and Madame Ursula (Mgr. De Piro’s mother ) asked him for news about her son Giuseppe, Wenzu never let her know any details about the Monsignor. Because as usual he would be sleeping on blankets on the floor as he used to give away to the poor his clothes; and even his mattress. This I came to know from Wenzu.

 

I declare that what I have stated above is the truth and that I have nothing further to add.

 

Joseph Tonna, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidern me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 3 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quadragesima Secunda

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo, die vero quarta Julii, (sive 4-7-1987) hora 9.30 a.m. coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente meque Notario praesente comparuit Dominus Augustinus Grech, MSSP, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Agostino. Grech, MSSP testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

XLVIV

 

When regards to what I have stated in a previous session about the Oratory at Birkirkara, in answer to Part of q. 8 (Section XXII, No. 8), may I include the following: the scope of the “Educandato Santa Maria” was to educate boys of about fourteen years who showed a willingness to join our Congregation. This education was both spiritual and intellectual. Besides, these boys helped also in the teaching of the catechism to younger children.

 

The name of this group,”Educandato Santa Maria”, has this link with the spirituality of the Congregation: It showed the devotion the Congregation has for Our Lady, the Mother of God, who, under her title of “The Assumption’, is our Principal Patron.

 

Et sic perlectio totius depositionis suspenditur hora 12.05 p.m. ad sessionem XXXII, resumenda die 11 Julii, 1987.

 

Testis depositionem suam his verbis confirmavit.

 

Iuro me veritatem totam in mea depositione deposuisse et me secretum servaturum esse.

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 4 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quadragesima Tertia

 

 

 

In Dei Nomine. Amen.

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo, die vero decima Julii (sive 10-7-1987) hora 9.45 a.m. coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato rationabiliter absente, meque Notario praesente comparuit Dominus Mgr. Laurentius Spiteri, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego, Laurentius Can. Spiteri,  testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

I am Mgr. Lorenzo Spiteri, son of the late Carmelo and Margherita née Frendo, born at Qormi on the 19th November, 1909, priest, now residing at 166 Buskett Road, Rabat, Malta.

 

The witness presented the attached Document (Doc.26) and states that all he knows about the Servant of God is contained in the said document. He took the oath of having said all the truth in the said document, and to keep the secret.

 

Document No. 26

Statement submitted by Msgr Lorenzo Spiteri regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

I was never on very intimate terms with Mgr. De Piro. I came to know him when I entered the Minor Seminary in 1922, when he was already Dean of the Cathedral Chapter.

 

He was a very serious and recollected man, always thoughtful and reflective. He was not given to jesting or to idle chatter, but was nevertheless a really good person. He never put on show the nobility and the wealth of the family to which he belonged.

 

I also know him as the Director of  St. Joseph’s Institute. I have also seen him on occasion in a karozzin going, probably, either to Valletta or to Qrendi, when he would always be reading and praying his Breviary.

 

In 1928, a Missionary movement was started in the Major Seminary. As Mgr. De Piro was a man of great humility and I was one of the first to join this movement, I went to tell him about this same movement and I remember that he gave me every encouragement.

 

I remember that he died on the feast of our Lady of Sorrows, in Hamrun.

 

Mgr. De Piro was known during his life as the Father of the Institutes in Malta and in fact the orphans in these institutes always found a refuge in the goodness of his heart. People also used to say that whenever his mother saw him approaching she would exclaim: “Look, here comes my penniless son.” Both during his life and after his death he was universally held to be a man of great charity.

 

What I have stated is the whole truth I know about Mgr. De Piro, and I declare that I have nothing further to add.

 

Mons. L.Spiteri, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc pnblicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 10 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Quadragesima Quarta

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus, hora 10.00 a.m. comparuit Dominus Raphael Azzopardi, 0.S.A., testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Raphael Azzopardi, O.S.A. testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

I am Fr. Raphael Azzopardi, O.S.A., son of the late Paul and Carmela née Xuereb, born at Xewkija Gozo, on the 24th November, 1911, professed religious of the Order of St. Augustine, Province of Malta.

 

The witness presented the attached document (Doc. 27) and stated that all he knows about the Servant of God is contained in the said document. He confirmed the truth of all this by taking the oath of the truth said, and to keep the secret.

 

 

Document No. 27

 

Statement submitted by Fr. Raphael Azzopardi OSA regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro

 

I passed my student days at out Convent in Rabat which was quite close to the homes which the Society founded by Mgr. De Piro had in Mdina and Rabat. Moreover in those days we religious students, attended many times every year at cermonies or processions with the Cathedral Chapter. All this helped me to come across Mgr. De Piro and to get to know him personally.

 

He was a tall man, wellbuilt and neatly turned out. He was always and everywhere very recollected and was never a man to stay talking idly for long. This does not mean however that Mgr. De P iro was proud or overbearing. On the contrary I can say in all honesty that he was possessed of a great humility.  He was also very approachable and people could, and did, speak to him quite freely.

 

Every time that we students came across him and exchanged a few words with him we realized, and we were all of one mind, that Mgr. De Piro was a saintly priest, a man of God. This was not an impression formed by us students only, but other priests used to speak about his saintly qualities too.

 

He did not attend at the Catherdral only to take part in ceremonies but he also went to hear confessions and he could be seen sitting in the confessional reading his Breviary and waiting patiently for any penitents. We students came to know this from a man who admired him for the long hours he passed in the confessional and who most certainly told us this to point out to us the zeal of this priest and to let us know of his admiration for Mgr. De Piro.

 

I also knew Mgr. De Piro through the students of his own Society. These used to come to us for lectures on literature, philosphy and theology, and every time they mentioned the Monsignor they did so with great respect, referring to him as the “Padre.” Such a title was totally new to us as we were accustomed to refer to our superiors by their title of Provincial, Prior or Master. By their use of this title we could understand the great respect they had for him and in fact every time they spoke about him they did so with respect. They were like devoted children when they speak about their father.

 

I also remember that Mgr. De Piro was in charge of St. Joseph’s Institute, a duty to which he was extremety dedicated; at that time he was much talked about for the ster ling work he did there.

 

Among other duties which Mgr. De Piro had, was that of a member of the Maltese Senate. This could easily have served as an occasion for him to favour one or other of the political Parties of the time, but Mgr. De Piro never allowed himself to be influenced by political bias and nobody ever had any grounds to criticize him on such a score. Precisely because of this impartiality it was possible for him to be the means of reconciling Lord Strickland with the Maltese Church. It was through his wisdom and the influence he wielded even over people of importance (after all he belonged to a noble family) that he convinced Lord Strickland to settle his quarrel with the Maltese Church. It was common knowledge that he had been the mediator in this cas; this was told to me by Mgr. Buhagiar who was ParishPriest of Rabat at the time.

 

I was present on the occasion of the blessing and laying of the first stone of the Convent of St. Agatha’s. Mgr. De Piro was very happy on that day. He was surrounded by a great number of priests, important people, benefactors and many students and religious (at that time we Augustin- ians and the Dominican Friars were very numerous). I recall a little incident that day which showed what admirable sentiments the Monsignor nurtured in his heart. While Archbishop Maurus Caruana was blessing the first stone it was held suspended by a crane. As soon as the Archbishop finished his blessing, and while the stone was being slowly lowered into place, it gave a sudden jerk and almost hit the Archbishop who unnaturally was startled and quickly drew back his feet. When Mgr. De Piro saw this he broke into a broad smile.  It was such a spontaneous smile that many were affected by it and they too began laughing good humouredly. All this showed the happiness he felt on that occasion. I recall that on that day a great number of people began talking with admiration about this work which this priest of God was carrying out.

 

I also know that when Mgr. De Piro was busy with the founding of his Society his idea was to found a missionary Society. So much so that I clearly remember that the students of his Society wore a wooden cross which they had pinned under a band arround their waist. The same thing was done by those priests who used to preach missions to the faithful during Lent. It was not Mgr. De Piro’s intention that the members of his Society did this work, but he wanted them to note the missionary zeal of those diocesan missionaries.

 

“The devil wanted to obstruct me but I came out victorious,” he said to us Augustinian students on one occasion when we went to see the convent of St. Agatha’s which was in an advanced stage of construction.  He told us that he had decided when he was to sleep for the first time in a house he owned near the Convent. On that day he was due to attend at a meeting of the Senate, as he was a Senator, and as it was after 11 p.m. when the meeting ended, and as he had no transport, he was disappointed because he could not realise his wish. The PrimeMinister, who was Sir Ugo Mitsud, noticed that he was upset and asked him what the matter was. When he came to know the reason he promptly offered to take Mgr. De Piro himself to Rabat. “And so, in this way,” he said to us, “the devil wanted to obstruct me, but I came out victorious!”

 

I declare that what I have stated here is true and that I have nothing more to add.

 

Fr. Rafel Azzopardi OSA, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

 

 

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 10 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quadragesima Quinta

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus, hora 10.25 am. comparuit Dominus Alphonsus Maria Camilleri, O.F.M., testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego P. Alphonsus M. Camilleri O.F.M., testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia

 

I am Fr. Alphonsus Maria Camilleri O.F.M., son of the late Louis and Orsola née Saliba, born at Ghasri, Gozo, on the 15th April, 1910, professed religious of the Franciscan Minors, Province of Malta.

 

The witness presented a letter he had sent to the Vice Postulator and a Document (Docs. 28 and 29) and stated that all he knows about the Servant of God is contained in the said documents. He took the oath of the truth said, and of keeping the secrets.

 

 

Document No. 28

Letter written by Fr. Alphonsus Maria Camilleri OFM regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

 

I knew Mgr. De Piro in the same way as everybody knew him in my time. Who in Malta in those days did not know who and what Mgr. De Piro was? And all knew only good of him. Nobody ever heard any ill of him at all. His courtly bearing, his handsome feature, the goodness reflected in his eyes, the gentleness with which he always dealt with one and all in kindness and humility are all indicative of a really noble heart, a man you could not help loving and who could not have any enemies.

 

I can say with certainty that I felt very much drawn towards him; a sort of instinctive sympathy this, because I never came into any direct contact with him.  And neither could I have because at that time I was still a student in our convent in Rabat, with no contacts beyond the convent walls. My meetings with him were limited to certain religious functions, to such occasions as when he was our guest to lunch particularly on the feast of our Father, St. Francis and of St. Joseph, and to other occasional meetings.  He and I were too far apart.  He was a great man, loved and respected by all in Malta, while I was a mere student enclosed in a convent. But all the same I was greatly attracted by him in a way I cannot explain. On the 15th, August, l933 I was ordained priest and a few weeks later Mgr. De Piro passed away. I was present throughout his funeral and I followed him to the cemetery right up to his tomb. I recall walking behind the British Governor of Malta because I wanted to see him at close quarters. That day I felt I had to take active part in a mourning which had come upon all Malta.

 

Another little thing I wish to add. Once when I was still a novice (1925), while we were at lunch in the refectory, I heard one of the senior friars say something about Mgr. De Piro. The conversation among the friars (we novices were not allowed to talk, we might only listen), was about the Apostolic Auditor. The Constitution of our Order at the time required that the Apostolic Auditor be somebody extraneous to, but chosen by the Community in order to supervise the administration of the Convent’s financial affairs. It was a rule which had to do with the vow of poverty. During this particular conversation I remember one of the friars saying (and I still recall who this friar was too), “We have only had one Apostolic Auditor who carried out his duties meticulously as required by the Constitution and that man was Mgr. De Piro.” Naturally enough when he was auditor of our Rabat Convent he had not yet been nominated a Monsignor. I think it must have been at the beginning of his priestly carreer. This simple fact will also serve to show what a helpful person he was, how kind hearted and always ready to do a favour. The friar in question went on to say that Mgr De Piro organized their administration completely and he also showed the friars how to keep proper books.

 

Amazing how a mere conversation item has remained fixed in my mind for over sixty years! If you would know who this friar was I can say that he was Father Gialandri Azzopardi from Zebbug, the same who used to go on the platform with Lord Strickland during meetings (1921-22) to exhort people to vote for him so that he might introduce compulsory education. He had just come back from California where he had been chaplain to the Maltese Community there and he knew at first hand the difficult situation of Maltese migrants who could not even write their own name and so he had come hack fired with the idea of introducing compulsory education.  What stories he used to relate! 

 

P. Alfons M. Camilleri OFM.

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae;

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD.,  Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia .Notarius

 

 

Document No. 29

Second Statement submitted by Fr. Alphonsus Maria Camilleri OFM regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

As I have stated in my letter of the 23rd October, 1986, which I wrote to Fr. Tony Sciberras MSSP, Mgr. De Piro was an extremely popular man, who was known all over Malta. He was a man who held nobody as his enemy. His help to people was so extensive and he was so good and upright that it was simply impossible for anybody to be his foe. He was every man’s friend in the true sense of the word and he enjoyed the respect of all, wealthy and poor alike.

 

Mgr. De Piro was a tall man, well built and with handsome features but above all he was conspicuous for his noble manners and bearing. He was never to be seen chatting idly in the street or wasting his time in any way whatsoever. This does not mean however that his manners put people off or that he was proud or haughty. On the contrary he was a priest of a deep humility.  He was indeed a very good and saintly man. He was so well mannered in all his actions that all these qualities could be seen to be ingrained in him. He never seemed to care about the nobility of his family but he had real nobility of character, enough and to spare.

 

As students we often used to go to the Cathedral and we took part in processions along with the Chapter. Mgr. De Piro would be present because he never neglected his duties and if his bearing when walking in the streets was always serious, it was even more so on these occasions. During Mass or some other function he outshone all others by his solemn manners. No one of the others ever captured my attention and it is only him, Mgr. De Piro that I remember.

 

He used to call regularly at our Rabat Convent and he was a great benefactor to us. As I said in my letter to Father Sciberras MSSP, Mgr. De Piro was our Apostolic Auditor. After he had given up this duty he remained attached to us even because of his connection with the Brotherhood of St. Joseph. In the letter I mentioned I said that most probably he was Apostolic Auditor before he was made a Monsignor because when he became a member of the Cathedral Chapter his duties increased consideratly and it was no longer possible for him to continue as our auditor.  I would remark that during that conversation in the refectory to which I refer in my letter, Father Gialandri compared Mgr. De Piro with other Apostolic Auditors.  We had even Mgr. De Piro’s brother, Dun Santin.  We never had anybody like Mgr. De Piro. He kept our books with great accuracy and he also coached the friars so that they could perform the work themselves. Remark was also made during the conversation in question of Mgr. De Piro’s beautiful handwriting.

 

I declare that all I have written above is the truth and that I have nothing further to add.

 

Fr. Alphonsus M. Camilleri OFM, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi, et meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 10 Julii, 1987

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quadragesima Sexta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo, die vero decima prima Julii. (sive 11-7-1987) hora 9.45 a.m. coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali Valletta, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente,meque Notario praesente, comparuit Dominus Augustinus Grech, MSSP, testis a Postulatione inductus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Agostino Grech, MSSP testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:-

 

XLX

 

Continautur lectio totius depositionis. Resumetur dicto lectio a Sessione XXXII. Testis declaret se nihil habere addendi, immutandi vel delendi, praeterquam addenda facta in praevia sessione. Finita lectione totius depositionis, testis iuramento eam ratam habet iuravitque se veritatem dixisse et secretum servaturum esse.

 

Fr. Agostino Grech, M,S.S.P., testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 11 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quadragesima Septima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo septimo, die vero decimaseptima Julii (sive 17-7-1987) hora 9.45 a.m., coram Rev.mo Judice Delegato infrascripto pro Tribunali sedente in Curia Archiepiscopali, Promotor Iustitiae, rite citato, rationabiliter absente, meque Notario presente, comparuit Dominus Salvator Schembri, testis a Postulatione inductus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Salvu Schembri testis inravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice et dicto teste, ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatorium, quem cum Judex recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim diventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia

 

I am Mr. Saviour Schembri, son of the late  Paul and late Angela née Cassar born at Birkirkara on the 18th February, 1920, pensioner, practising Catholic, now residing at 229, St. Julian’s Road, Birkirkara.

 

The witness presented the attached document (Doc. 30) and stated that all he knows about the Servant of God is contained in the said document. He took the oath of having said the truth and of keeping the secret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document No. 30

Statement submitted by Saviour Schembri regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

I got in contact with Mgr. De Piro through the Oratory we have in B’Kara. The older catechists, who are now dead, used to say that a certain Canon Mikiel Sammut for a long time wished to build an oratory for the teaching of catechism. In fact once he tried to build one where today there is the Roxy Cinema. Another time he tried to build one opposite the Police Station, in Brared Street. Still another time he wished to build one in the lower part of St. Julian’s Street. None of these plans materialized. Notary Mikiel Casolani was ready to supply the money for this project. Fr. Mikiel never gave up until at last be remembered a place the parish church had at the end off St. Julian’s Street. Sammut realized that this area was at the far end of the village, but still it was in B’Kara. He decided to build the oratory there. In fact the oratory was built there.

 

The Salesians were the first to teach catechism, but they did not live at the Oratory; they would come every evening on foot from Sliema and then return to their home. These remained for two years. The Freres followed them and remained for four years. The Canons of Birkirkara took over and those directly in charge were the Sammut brothers, Fr. Joseph and Fr. Michael. After a short time Mgr De Piro took over. The older catechists told me how this donation was made.

 

Notary Casolani was a great friend of Fr. Michael Sammut. Together they worked to see it built. Fr. Sammut was also a great friend of Mr. Fons Maria Galea. The latter knew Mgr De Piro very well because they worked together especially in the Institutes of charity. Most probably it was Mr. Fons who suggested to Fr. Michael that the Oratory should be given to De Piro and Sammut presented this suggestion to Casolani. Fr. Michael thought of this not because he was tired of doing this work, but owing to the fact that he was feeling weaker and weaker in health. It was also said that the Bishop deputised the same Fr. Michael to prepare the contents of the contract and to appear and sign as one of the parties. Fr. Joseph Spiteri, a member of De Piro’s Society used to say that whilst De Piro had a lot of trouble in acquiring St. Agatha, the Oratory did not present any difficulties. Fr. Benin Azzopardi confirms this.

 

At first when the Oratory was directed by the Society of St. Paul, a certain Fr. Beninju Azzopardi attended every evening. He did not live there but used to come every evening from St. Joseph’s Institute. He saw that everything was all right. He held the Eucharistic service after catechism and on Sundays he said Mass. Sometimes he stayed to hear confessions.

 

Mgr. De Piro always showed great interest in the Oratory. Every now and then he came to see how things were going. On every feast day he used to attend and he conducted the service wearing his mitre. He was greatly interested in catechism. There is still a photograph of him surrounded by the children of the Oratory. He loved this place so much that later he saw to it that two of the members of the Society celebrated their first Mass in the chapel of the Oratory. We also knew that in 1932 he had in mind to buy the house next to the Oratory to execute the project as we see it today. However, he had not yet achieved any of his aims.

 

In 1928 Fr. Michael Callus and Bro. Kalcidon Zammit replaced Fr. Benin. They lived here because the place was growing since De Piro was enlarging the house which was in the grounds of the Oratory. Since the time there was a resident community, activities increased. There was a daily Mass. Also there was a good stage company. The Oratory was so well organized that children and youths from other places attended. Meanwhile De Piro still visited the place as before.

 

After a short while there was also an increase in the aspirants of the Oratory. These were youths who were still attending a secondary school and wished to become priest members of De Piro’s Society. They lived in what was called “l-Edukandat”, but its right name was “Edukandat Santa Maria.” I remember that among others there were Kelinu Vella Haber, Karmenu Vassallo, Pawlu Xuereb, a certain Gauci from Naxxar, a certain Peter from Senglea, a certain Zammit who was related to Notary Casolani, and others. I remember that they attended school at St. Aloysius. Although catechism was still taught by the catechists, in some evenings these aspirants themselves gave lessons in catechism. I am under the impression that De Piro came more often when there were the aspirants.

 

I remember that Mons. De Piro died at Hamrun on the feast of our Lady of Sorrows which, in the year 1933, fell on 17 th September. I did not go for the funeral and therefore I cannot say much about it. I remember very well, however, when his remains were taken from the Addolorata Cemetery to the House of St. Agatha. For this I was present. He was taken privately from the Addolorata to the small chapel of St. Agatha, in. Mdina. There they opened the new coffin which had the bottom of.the old one. I remember that the bones were intact.  He was black because the coffin had been lined with zinc. I also remember that most probably the skin of his hands was still there with all the nails. Later we took him in a cortage to the Central House of his Society. Many people took part in this cortage. He was burried in a grave which was in a room adjacent to the principal church of the House.

 

I would like to state that Fr. Guzepp Spiteri and I often talked about Mgr. De Piro. I remember him saying he was loaded with work and responsabilities of the diocese. Fr. Joseph said that because of this he used to be very tired. He also said that when he attended the Senate he used to sleep again and again. When he returned home he would doze while saying the Breviary.

 

Fr. Joseph said that once Mgr. De Piro was walking from Blata l-Bajda and Lord Strickland was driving that way. This was when he and the Church of Malta were at loggerheads. When he saw Mgr. De Piro, Strickland pulled up and offered him a lift. De Piro tactfully said that he was near his destination and did not take the lift. He did not wish people to say that Strickland was making use of priests. On that same day Strickland told De Piro that the Bishop had called for prayers. He said, “See what the Bishop did to me! He has called for prayers!” De Piro simply answered, “You should also call for prayers.”

 

As a conclusion I should like to state that on seeing him one could not but notice his saintliness. He was always very serious and did not indulge in small talk. He was also a very good man. He always reciprocated greetings. He was a real saint.

 

Addenda.

 

1.         Fr. Joseph Spiteri told me that once the students went for the Lenten sermons at the Cathedral and they did not like one of the preachers. When they arrived home they told the Monsignor about this. He quickly answered, “It is still the same Word of God.”

 

Fr. Anton Camilleri, another member of the Society, says that once the Founder returned home still wearing his red robe. When he entered they were in the kitchen. Without bothering about his robe he showed them how to peel potatoes.

 

Once he preached to us the Lenten Spiritual Exercises. I remember that he said that when a child sinned he would be tied with a string on the mouth of hell.

 

2.         In 1930 the Provost of B’Kara, Rev. Karm. Bonnici, and Mgr. G. De Piro gave a lecture with slides in the Oratory, for men. The subject was the Holy Mass. Mgr. De Piro said a few words as conclusion. I remember that among other things he said: “For the Eucharistic Congress of 1913 there were 54 Bishops. These were surprised that in Malta Masses started at 4.00 a.m. We must, therefore, be very careful not to lose this pearl in the crown of Malta’s head.

 

3.         In Fr. Michael Callus’s SSP room, in the Oratory, there was a picture of our Lady of Good Council. Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP says that this belonged to Mgr. De Piro and he had great faith in our Lady of Good Council.

 

I declare that the above statement is true.

 

Salvu Schembri, testis;

Fr. Joseph Bajada, Promotor Iustitiae

P. Aloisius Pisani OCD. Delegatus Episcopalis;

Fr. Carmelo Farrugia, notarius;

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Judicis Delegati, hoc pnblicum instrumentum confeci in forma, et in fidem me subscripsi et meum notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Ita est. Die 17 Julii, 1987.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Quadragesima Octava

 

 

 

Eodem die eodemque loco coram iisdem ufficialibus pro Tribunali sedentibus in Curia Archiepiscopali, hora 10.30 a.m comparuit Domina Maria Antonia Spiteri, testis a Postulatione inducta, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Maria Antonia Spiteri testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato et dicta teste, statim diventum est ad examen dictae testis.

 

Personalia

 

I am Mrs. Maria Antonia Spiteni, daughter of the late Carmelo Xuereb and late Josephine née Vella and widow of the late Carmelo Spiteri, born at B’kara on the 16th February, 1909, practising Catholic, and now residing at 219, St. Julian’s Road, B’Kara.

 

The witness presented the following document (Doc. 31) and stated that all she knows about the Servant of Gad is contained in the said document. She took the oath of having said the truth and to keep the secret.

 

Document No. 31

Statement submitted by Maria Antonia Spiteri regarding the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

I remember that the Oratory was run by different groups before the Society of St. Paul took over. First were the Salesians. The Freres followed. After this two canons of the Collegiate Church of Birkirkara took charge; they were Fr. Mikiel and Fr. Guzepp Sammut.  All the other canons helped in one way or another, but the Sammut brothere were given great help by another Canon, Fr. Lawrenz Sammut. Finally Mgr. De Piro took over.

 

At first Mgr. De Piro did not come often to the Oratory. I remember only Fr. Mikiel Callus and Bro. Kalcidon came to the Oratory. Sometimes De Piro visited them. Probably he would come in the evening unexpectedly. I remember that on such occasions Bro. Kalcidon would come to my mother and ask for some vegetable because we were farmers. He would tell her that the old man had come.

 

Mgr. De Piro was a tall and stout man. When he walked in the Street be was very serious and would not stop to talk to people he met. At the same time I would not say that he was proud, and he always greeted those who greeted him.

 

At times, though not often, he