Tribunal sessions for witnesses

Malta 1990-1992

 

Sessio Sexagesima Secunda

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo, die vero vigesima tertia Julii (sive 23-7-1990) hora 9.40 a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Joseph De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, B’Kara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Maria Camilleri 0.F.M., testis inductus et citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Alphonsus M. Camilleri O.F.M. testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui, et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Answer to question No. 10 continues.

 

From Fr. Hugh Attard O.F.M. and Fr. Dominic Coppola 0.F.M., who when young were aspirants in the Society of St. Paul, I came to know that life in the Society was hard: they had to do household chores, and they lacked personnel. I never heard them lament against the Founder, but they had only words of admiration for him. They praised his good heartedness and the fact that he under­stood them.

 

For the rest, I cannot give any details.

 

11.       “De Piro was tall, stout and he had a handsome face”.  By this, do you mean that he gave the impression that he was a very healthy man? Do you know if he was ever seriously ill? In case, when? Did you regard him as one who was careful about his health or one that did not bother?

 

Mgr. De Piro gave the impression that he was a healthy person.  He gave me the impression that he was not un­duly concerned about his health. For the rest, I do not know.

 

12.       “… he treated people with the greatest gentle­ness and humility.” You seem to emphasize very much the humility of the S.G.  Why? Perhaps you did not ex­pect a nobleman and monsignor to be humble? Comparing him with others of the same level at that time, did you notice any difference in the exercise of this vir­tue? Can you give more details about this humility of his?

 

Since the S.G., was a Monsignor and of noble descent, one would have expected him to be somewhat proud and aloof, but he was not like that at all.  Ev­en the way he treated children showed that he was humble and ready to lower himself to the level of oth­ers. I feel that what St. Paul said about himself, that he conditioned himself to the condition of all those he met, (omnia omnibus factus sum) could well be applied to the S.G.

 

13.       You say that because the S.G., was an Apostolic Syndic (Administrator) of the Convent you regarded him as a great benefactor. Was it only for this reason that you regarded him as such, or were there other reasons? In case, what were they?  Perhaps he offered you money?  Per­haps some other help which was possible for him because of his offices in the Diocese? Do you know if the S.G., as a syndic, received some remuneration for his work?

 

I was a novice at that time, but my impression is that the S.G., not only carried out his duties well, but even helped the community materially. How­ever I could not give details.  Like all administrators of our communities, Mgr. De Piro did not receive any remuneration.

 

14.       “… and when we invited him for dinner, especial­ly on the feast of St. Francis and that of St. Joseph.”  Do you mean by this the S.G., liked to come for these occasions? If yes, always? Do you know if he went to other places on similar occasions? In case, which were they? Do you remember if on these occasions he gave the impression that he ate and drank a lot? Did he appear to enjoy him­self on these occasions or perhaps he appeared to be on tenterhooks to leave as early as possible? What clothes did he wear for these occasions?

 

The S.G., showed that he appreciated these occasions. He was moderate in food and drink. He used to come in a simple cassock without any distinctive ornament . Other details I cannot give.

 

15.       You say that you used to invite him particularly on the feasts of St. Francis and St. Joseph. Do you know if the S.G., had some particular devotion to these two saints? In case, how did he show it?  Perhaps by saying some special prayers?  Perhaps he often preached about them? Perhaps by exhorting others to have recourse to them in their needs? Do you know if he had some other devotions to some other saints, for example, to Our Lady, St. Paul, St. Agatha? How did he show them? Do you know if the S.G., was a devotee of the Eucharist? You say that the S.G., had connections with the Confraternity of St. Joseph. Do you know exactly what this contact was, and why? Do you know if this connection involved the S.G., in some rivalries between parties connected with feasts? In case, how did he behave?

 

We used to invite the S.G., for the feasts of St. Francis and St. Joseph because these were the feasts we celebrated with solemnity. The S.G., was absolutely above all factions and rivalries.

Other details I cannot give.

 

16.       In your information you state that Fr. Gjalandrin Azzopardi used to compare the S.G., with his brother Fr. Santin in connection with the way in which the latter performed his duties as Syndic (administrat­or). Do you mean that Fr. Santin was also Apostolic Syndic of the Convent for some time? Can you give more details about Fr. Santin (if you have not already given them in answer to question no. 3)?  Where did he reside?  What were his activities?  How was he known among the people? Besides the difference between Fr. Santin and the S.G., regarding the way in which they performed their duty as Syndics, are you able to indicate some other differences between them? What do you think made them so different, especially the choice that the S.G., for a simpler life and for work in the institutes, etc?

 

Fr. Santin De Piro was administrator of our community after the S.G. They had different charact­ers. But more than this, I cannot say.

 

17.       In your letter you mention the death of the S.G. Do you know the exact date of his death? Where and how did he die? Was it on some particular occasion? When he died, do you know if he was placed for viewing in some public place? In case, where, and for how long? Do you know if many people went to see him? You say that you were present for the funeral “from the begin­ning to the end”. Can you give details about the fu­neral? Who celebrated Mass, and where was it held? How was the corpse taken to the church? Was there any funeral oration? In case, by whom and what was said? Who took part in the funeral besides the English governor whom you expressly mention? Were there many people who attended the funeral? In general, what was the reaction of the people to the death of the S.G? On the occasion of the S.G’s death, do you remember if there appeared articles in newspapers, etc? You mention the mourning that the whole of Malta had.

Can you give more details? Whose was the grave in which he was buried?

Do you know when he was transferred to St. Agatha’s? Were you present for the transf­er? Can you describe this transfer? Why was it done?

 

The S.G., died in September, 1933. He was taken ill during a church function of Our Lady of Sor­rows at the parish Church of St. Caietan, Hamrun. The news of his death caused a commotion throughout Malta. I remember that the Governor General was present for the funeral, but I do not remember what other digni­taries, ecclesiastical or civil, were present. I fol­lowed the funeral from the beginning to its end at the Addolorata Cemetery where he was buried. I remember large crowds all along the way.  At the news of his death one sensed that at that mo­ment Malta felt that it had lost a great man, and all were sorry for his loss. One could also see and feel the great respect and esteem people had for the S.G.

Other details I cannot give, because I now cannot re­member.

 

I was not present when the remains were transferred to the Motherhouse, St. Agatha, Rabat. I must think that his remains were taken to St. Agatha’s to be in the Motherhouse of the Society he founded.

 

18.       Since that time have you been to visit the tomb of the S.G? Are you able to describe it? If you go, do you go alone or with others? Will there be other visitors at the grave? What will they be doing?

 

I visited the tomb of the S.G., only once, quite a long time ago, while I was on a visit to St. Agatha’s with some friends of mine. I have no idea of the tomb and its surroundings.

 

19.       Do you think that devotion to the S.G., has kept increasing since his death or decreasing? If it is in­creasing, why? If it is decreasing, why?

 

For some time the veneration towards the S.G., was on the decrease, but now it is increasing again. I think that this is due to the fact that now there is more information available about the S.G., and his works.

 

20.       What is your judgment of the S.G? Do you think he deserves the honour of the altars? In case, why? According to you, which is the virtue that predominates in him? Other virtues?

 

I have a great esteem for the S.G; I feel that he led a saintly life, and in my opinion Malta one day may have a saint in Mgr. De Piro.

 

The virtue that excelled most in the S.G., was his humility.

 

21.       Do you pray through the intercession of the S.G? Do you know other people who pray? Do you know of some favours received through the intercession of the S.G? If yes, can you give details?

 

I never thought of praying through the intercession of the S.G, nor do I know if others pray or have obtained graces through his intercession.

 

22.       Do you know if in the past there was any attempt to start the case of  beatification of the S.G? If yes, when, and by whom? If yes, why was it interrupted? If not, why do you think that no one has ever thought of this?

 

I do not know anything about this question.

 

23.       Do you know if anyone ever pronounced himself against the saintliness of the S.G? In case, who, and why? Do you know if there is someone today against the case of beatification and canonization? If yes, who, and why?

 

I never heard anybody speaking against the sanctity of the S.G., nor do I know that there is any­body who is against this case for beatification.

 

24.       Have you anything to add, delete or change in what you have said in your evidence?

 

I do not have anything to add, delete or correct in what I deposited above.

 

Et sic hora 11.00 a.m., absoluto praedicti testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis Ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlexi integram depositionem, data illi facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

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

 

 

P. Alphonsus M. Camilleri, 0.F.M., testis

 

Dimisso autein teste, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mihi mandavit expediri citationes contra testem Elenam Refalo ut examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotorem ut assistat die 27 Augusti 1990.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem, ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promoter Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 23 Julii, 1990.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Sexagesima Tertia

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo die vero vigesima septima Augusti (sive 27-8-1990), hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Dna Helena Refalo testis inducta et citata cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscrpsit ut infra:

 

Ego Elena Refalo testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis.

 

Personalia: I am Mrs. Elena Refalo, wife of the late Vincenzo Refalo and daughter of Alfredo Stillon and Maria née De Piro, both dead. I was born on 4 July, 1903, and baptized in the parish of Porto Salvo, Valletta. I am a practicing Catholic.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in this case of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mons. Giuseppe De Piro. What made you come to give evidence? Did anyone tell you what evidence to give? What exactly was your contact with the S.G?

 

I was asked to give my testimony in this cause of Beatification. But no one told me what or how to an­swer. I am the niece of the S.G., he being the brother of my mother. I used to see him often at my grandmother Ursola.

 

2.         I understand that as the S.G’s niece, born in 1903, you remember well the S.G., and you certainly heard sometimes certain details about his life from other relatives. Do you remember when, and where he was born? What primary and secondary education did he get? Was he ever ill? Was he considered to be an intelligent child? Did he have any particular pas­times? Did he complete his studies? Did he enter the University? If he stopped, why? Did he do any mili­tary service?   How did he feel the call for the priest­hood? When did he begin his studies for the priesthood? Why? Did he ever get ill during his studies for the priesthood? When was he ordained? Where? Did he continue his studies after his ordination or did he immediately start his pastoral work? In case of the latter, what was it?

 

My grandmother used to tell me that Uncle liked draw­ing.  He was also a good scholar. My grandmother used to tell me that hers was a very united family. The S.G., loved literature, and grandma used to des­cribe him as a “ poet’. She also said that he had deep feelings and was sensitive to nature. He was handsome. She said that he loved society and was popular among his friends. He joined the militia. He began his stud­ies at the University, but I do not remember what cour­se he took.

 

My grandmother also told me that one day Uncle told her he had something to say to her. She thought he was go­ing to speak about being engaged to some girl-he was so popular-but he told her he wanted to become a priest. Grandma from the way she spoke to me showed that she was very happy with his decision. Grandma never told me about any illness Uncle Joseph suffered in his youth.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

3.         In the document you presented you mention your grandmother Ursola and your uncle Fr. Santin.  Were these the mother and brother of the S.G? If yes, these were not the only members of the De Piro Family. Who were the other members, and what was their work in Society? Were there some who died before the S.G? Who? What was the reaction of the family to these deaths? Do you remember, in particular, the reaction of the S.G?

 

Uncle’s was a large family, about nine brothers and sisters: two were doctors who died young; two ad­ministrators of property; two were priests; one, Uncle Guido, died very young; there were two girls, my mother and Auntie Teresina; grandfather died when he was re­latively young; only two of grandma’s large family sur­vived grandma; Uncles Carmelo, Guido, and another Guido, Fr. Santin (probably), my mother Maria and Auntie Teresa all died before Uncle Giuseppe. My father used to say that Un­cle Giuseppe assisted my mother in her last illness. Other details I cannot give.

 

4.         At the beginning of the document you make reference to the play that you had seen at the Catholic Instit­ute, Floriana, about the S.G. Can you give more details about this play? When was it put on? By whom? Who wrote it? Was it connected with some particular occasion? Did it appear that the idea behind it was to present the S.G., from a particular angle? In case, what was it?

 

5.         In the document you criticise the play mentioned above, among other things, for the fact that the S.G., is presented putting the picture of St. Joseph with face towards the wall until St. Joseph got him the favour he prayed for. Your comment about this is: “Please forget the fact that Mgr. De Piro would turn St. Joseph with his face towards the wall... All my cousins think it is not like him.” First of all, do you confirm all this? What made you and your cousins think this? Do you know if the S.G., had some particular devotion to St. Joseph? In case, how did it begin and how did he show it? Per­haps with some special prayers?  Or some particular im­age of him?  Or preaching about him? Do you know if the S.G., had some connection with some Archconfraternity of St. Joseph? In case, which one? What exactly was this connection?

 

This ‘play’ was at the Catholic Institute.  Our family was invited. I do not remember exactly when it was pre­sented, but it must be more than ten years ago.  Whoever wrote the play must have taken a lot of material from the late Mr. Leopardi and grandma’s butler, Wenzu. The play was well presented and gives a good idea of the S.G., though I cannot agree with all details, e.g., the statue of St. Joseph was placed facing the wall.  My cousins and I were all of the opinion that Uncle Joseph surely would never have put a statue of St. Joseph facing the wall until he obtained a grace. He was a serious person; he had no narrow-mindedness. I do not know of any special devotion of Uncle to Saint Joseph.

 

There were other details regarding dress, setting up, etc., that could have been presented more precisely.

 

6.         You criticise the same ‘play’ because of the fact that in it the S.G., appeared strolling along Republic Street, (Strada Reale), Valletta. Apparently someone said somewhere that he heard this detail from you. About this fact your comment is: “I could never imagine Zio Giuseppe parading at Strada Reale, not even when he was a young man. Kindly cancel it! Surely I could not have said it.” Do you confirm all this? If yes, why did you think it was strange that the S.G., was strolling in Strada Reale? Perhaps because you know that he spent his time in other ways? Perhaps because you know that he did not consider Strada Reale to be his place? In case, why? How do you know this?  “... not even when he was a young man.” In fact, do you remember the S.G., when he was young? If yes, what do you remember? If not, what did you hear about this (if nothing has been said about this in No. 2 above)?

 

What is in this question, is not contained in the play. I never said such things.  Nor do I believe that Uncle Joseph did such things in his youth.

 

7.         “It is true that he was a happy personality.”  What exactly do you mean by this? Perhaps that he was always smiling, joking and looking for friends? That he never appeared to be sad? Perhaps that he was not serious? That he always wanted to make others happy? In case, do you say this about his youth or also when he was an adult?

 

Uncle Joseph was always happy, smiling and joking, but his jokes were always innocent and never hurt anybody in the least. He always tried to make us happy, he in­terested himself in our welfare.

 

8.         “... and the girls liked him ...” What exactly do you mean? Perhaps he used to be in the company of girls? In case, alone? On what occasions? Did you ever hear that he was considering marriage? That he was the friend of some girl in a particular way? In case, who was she? Is she still alive? If yes, why did he change his mind?

“… but in private houses not in the street.” What exactly do you mean by this? Was friendliness with girls, at that time, regarded as something normal among young people, or as something dangerous and against morality?

 

When I said “the girls liked him,” I mean that he knew how to keep company with anybody, but I do not mean that he ever loved any girl or had any girl­friend. This was in the society in which he lived, and refers only to the time before he decided to become a priest. Besides, this is my own reflection on what I heard Grandma say (Cf. No.2).

 

Interrogation ex officio:

 

(1)       Did you notice any change in the S.G’s character, ideas, etc. between the time when he was a young priest and during the later years of his life?

 

I notice three periods in Uncle’s life. At first he was always happy, joking, etc., as I said above in answer to question no. 7.  Then Uncle became more pensive and admonishing. He ask­ed us often whether we said our Rosary or not, and when I told him that sometimes I did not recite it, he said “the Antichrist would swallow you.” He did not remain the same happy and joking person; not however that he became a sullen person. He remained quiet, gentle and kind when giving advice.  I heard him during this period discussing with my fa­ther about the end of the world, and maintaining that there were signs showing that the end was near. I also noticed during this period that he prayed more. I noticed also that sometimes, while we were together in some family gathering, he would suddenly be wrapped up in some thought. Once, I remember, this happened also when we met him outside; we were on the railway and he was speaking to us from the street.  During this period, also, he began to eat less. Before he was a person who liked food, but then he began to eat less. When I asked grandma why he was doing so, she did not give me an answer.  This period began, roughly, about 1923, when I was about twenty years of age.  Then a few months before his death, I began to notice a deterioration in Uncle’s health. However, he continued with his assiduous work to the end.

 

Et sic hora 12.10 p.m. suspensum est examen dictae test­is ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 15 Octobris, 1990, hora 9.30 a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quem Justitiae Promotor ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eadem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si neccssario reputaverit. Ipsa eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

Elena Refalo, testis

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Snpra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 27 Augusti, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Sexagesima Quarta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo die vero decimaseptima Septembris (sive 17-9-1990), hora 9.30 am coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in presenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario comparuit Dna Anna Sant Cassia, testis inducta et citata, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Anna Sant Cassia testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judici Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoium cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui, et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia: I am Mrs. Anna Sant Cassia, wife of the late Henry Emmanuel and daughter of the late Giovanni Pio De Piro Gourgion and the late Emma Gauci Sant, born on the 11 June 1915, at Rabat, in the parish of the Cathedral, and residing at 450, St. Paul Street, St. Paul’s Bay. I am a practicing Catholic. I am the niece of the Servant of God from my father’s side.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in this case of Bea­tification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mons. Giuseppe De Piro. Did anyone suggest that you should come to give evidence? Perhaps he also told you what evidence to give?

 

I am giving my testimony because I have been asked to by the members of the Missionary Society of St. Paul, and I felt in duty bound to accede to their wishes. No one however told me what to say.

 

2.         You are the S.G’s niece (his youngest brother’s daughter). Can you provide details about his family?  Who were his parents and where did they live? What was his fath­er’s occupation? How many children were they?  What career did they choose? Did they reside in Malta?  In case, where? If not, where did they go, and why? What were the relations between the brothers and sisters? Between them and their mother? Between them and the S.G (in particular between him and your father)?

 

The central and important person in the family was Grandma, the S.G’s mother. Among his brothers there were Uncle Santo who, from his youth wanted to become a priest, and in fact did so. There was my father and Uncle Gino. And of course the S.G., Uncle Joseph. I do not know the other members of the family. Uncle Santo, when serving as a priest in Rome, fell ill, and went to Switzerland for his health. My father was sent by Grandma to the college at Saint Gallen, Switzerland, for his study. While there, Uncle Joseph was the administrator of his property.

 

The family was well brought up.  For them it was only what was right that was to be done. Grandma saw to it that we remained a very united family. She had several residences, but the principal residence was that at Mdina. Besides, she had houses at Birzebbuga, Qrendi and Valletta.

 

My father was an administrator; his work was to administ­er the hospital ‘Ta’ Sawra’. Besides he had various other administrations. Uncle Santo was a chaplain at St. Peter’s, in Rome, until he got ill. Then he used to live at St. Paul’s Bay. Uncle Igino was in the army; later he lived on his in­come.

 

The family was familiar to the Pope, I believe, Pius X. I remember all these members when they lived in Malta. All these members were on good terms and loved each other, and relations between the brothers among themselves and with their mother were excellent. Uncle Giuseppe, although lov­ed and respected by all, was not often present with them on account of his various works and offices.

 

3.         “I remember him as a big man ...”  “Big”: what exactly do you mean? Perhaps that he was tall and stout? Did he give the impression that he was a strong man? Was he in fact? Do you remember when he was ill? If yes, do you remember if sometimes he was seriously ill? Was it an il­lness that necessitated his staying in bed? What was his comportment when he was ill? Was he calm and resigned?  Was he demanding with those around him? Did he show gratefulness to those who offered him their service? How do you know this?

 

By “big”, I mean of a large stature. Although he gave the impression of being a healthy person, in fact he had been sick of tuberculosis, although he was healed. Later in life he had kidney complications. I know this personally because a few months before his death he came to our house and while he was having lunch, he sprinkled salt on his egg. Mother reminded him that that was not good for him; but he replied: “I have to go to various places, and I have to eat whatever is offered.  How can I keep my diet?” By “places” he meant the Institutes of which he was Director. Besides it was said in the family circle that he had kidney trouble. I also heard that once Un­cle Giuseppe was hurt. I never saw Uncle sick in bed, and so I cannot answer the rest of the question.

 

4.         “... always with a smile. He must have had a strong sense of humor as I would recall his days’ good laugh which shook his whole body.” Were his smiles and sense of humor meant for everyone, or only for children, or only for grown ups? How do you know this? Do you mean, on the other hand, that the S.G., did not distinguish between different moments? Do you mean that he had this sense of humor even when he had a lot of difficult work, as you state later on? Do you mean by this that the S.G., was not moody, but always the same? Later on you say that when the S.G., visited his mother he would walk up and down the corridor, ab­sorbed in his thoughts. Do you think that this shows him a different person from the one you are describing now? What do you have to say about the S.G’s modesty in his words and comportment? What do you say about his charity in moments of laughter? Do you remember that he ever hurt anyone, in any way, when making a joke? Do you remember if he ever spoke against someone? In case, against whom? About what?

 

What I said is what I noticed in the family circle. How he behaved with outsiders, I cannot say. But in the family circle he was always so with all, making allowance for our different ages. He knew how to joke even about himself. But he knew when it was time for joking and when it was time for seriousness. I cannot say whether or not he joked and was with a smile when he was burdened with work or trouble.  When I say “always” I mean whenever he was dealing with others. When, however, he was at his work, or thinking about his du­ties, his attitude was as everybody else’s. I was still too young at the time to notice whether the S.G., suffered from moods or not, but I never heard any­body lamenting about him because of his moods.  I do not remember the jokes of the S.G, nor do I remember his words, and so I cannot answer the rest of the question.

 

5.         “He visited his mother.., regularly.” First of all, can you describe the house of the S.G’s mother and the life in it (servants, activities, social occasions, etc)?  Did the S.G., have his own room in this house? If yes, did you have access to it? Are you able to describe it? Let me ask you some questions about the S.G’s visits to his mother.  Do you mean that he did not live with his mother? In case, where did he reside? Did he always reside there? What was the reason why he did not stay with his mother? How do you know that the S.G., used to visit his mother? Perhaps you were there when he visited her? What was the reason why the S.G., visited his mother?  Was it out of sheer re­spect?  Or perhaps because he needed something?  Or simply out of mere duty? Meanwhile, what condition was his moth­er in: healthy, ill, dependent on others? When at his mother’s house, did the S.G., give the impression that he was in a hurry to leave or that he was thinking of his other activities? Could his walking up and down the corridor indicate “this lack of patience”? Did you no­tice that there was the intimacy between the S.G., and his mother that is expected between a mother and her son? In case, in what way did they express this to each other? Perhaps in the way they saluted each other when they met?  Or were going to leave each other?  Or per­haps in the way they spoke to each other? What exactly do you mean when you say that the S.G., visited his moth­er regularly? How often? How long did the visits last? Did he ever spend whole days at his mother’s? In case, do you remember on what occasions: perhaps on feast days (Christmas, Easter) or at times of illness? Do you re­member, in fact, some particular occasion when the S.G’s mother was ill in bed? In case, do you remember some par­ticular circumstances connected with this period and with the S.G?

 

The house of Grandma I am referring to is Grandma’s residence at Mdina. It had a large entrance hall, with large rooms.  it was very beautiful, with beautiful views. It had also a large basement, a large courtyard, a garden, and included a part of the bastions. It had a long corrid­or. A cousin of mine who was an orphan, lived with her. There were four maids and a female gardener.

 

Uncle had his own room, and his apparel of monsignor was there. In this room there was a large antique wardrobe, a bed, and there must have been other furniture, which now I cannot remember.

 

There was a chapel in the house used by all members of the family.  Although he had his own room and all necessities in his mother’s house, Uncle Giuseppe did not live there. It was said in the family that he lived at St. Joseph’s Institute. I do not know that he ever slept at his moth­er’s. He visited his mother at least once a week, but one must remember that, as Dean of the Cathedral, he had various occasions to visit her. Besides, whenever there were important persons at the Cathedral for certain fun­ctions, they were invited to Grandma’s house for a treat. Uncle visited his mother out of respect, though I do not exclude that sometimes he asked her for money.  When I passed some time at Grandma, I could notice all this myself.

 

Uncle never gave the impression that he was in a hurry, although he had a lot of work to do, and he did it. Even when he visited his mother, I noticed that they exchanged family news.  Then Uncle would walk along the long corrid­or absorbed in his thoughts. Sometimes he would make a question or ask the opinion of his mother about some point. Grandma would take her time to think things over.  Then she would answer him. Meanwhile Uncle would still be walking along the corridor, thinking.

 

His relations with his mother were those normal between a son and his mother. When his mother was gravely ill, Uncle visited her daily. I remember, even then he walked up and down the corridor.

 

Whenever he visited his mother, he stayed for an hour, more or less. I do not remember that he ate there. I do not remember that on Christmas, Easter and other occasions, he stayed longer.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 pm., suspensum est examen dictae testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 1 Octobris, 1990, hora 9.30 a.m. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eadem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipsa eam confirmavit iuramento et seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

 

Anna Sant Cassia, testis

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, rnandavit mihi ut de praemissis instru­mentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Actum die 17 Septembris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Sexagesima Quinta

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo die vero 1 Octobris (sive 1-10-1990), hora 9.45 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario comparuit Dna Anna Sant Cassia testis inducta et citata, 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, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis.

 

6.         As regards the mother, how did she welcome the S.G., when he went to visit her? Did she appear to be pleased or displeased with his visit (the fact, as you remark, that their topic of conversation seemed to be on serious things only and that there were long periods of silence between them)?  Among other things you say that the S.G’s mother used to give him her opinion or some advice. Did you ever know, and, in case, do you still remember, what this advice was about? Do you know if the S.G., followed his mother’s advice? At the time of his visit, did he show that at least he accepted what his mother advised, or did he perhaps contradict her? In general, did the S.G., like discussions and arguments, or did he give the impression that he liked to avoid them? How do you know this? Besides her advice, do you know if the S.G’s mother helped him in other ways, for example, by giving him money, clothes, food, the use of servants? If she gave him such help, especially money, do you know if this was asked by the S.G? If yes, did his mother show that she accepted this situation? Did she ever say something or use some phrase to show that her son, the S.G., always needed help? If on the other hand, the S.G., needed this help, what do you think was the reason, when considering that as a member of a noble family, he had some patri­mony of his own? Perhaps he was a spendthrift and lost all the wealth he had?  Or perhaps his commitments de­manded substantial amounts of money? If his mother gave him this kind of help, do you know if ever this created trouble in the family?

 

The mother of the S.G., expected her son and was happy when he came. Though there was a certain re­straint in their behaviour towards each other, and though they talked (at least in my presence) only on serious matters, this does not mean that they were cool towards each other. I cannot remember any parti­cular subject they talked about. I noticed that Uncle willingly heard his mother’s opinion, and thought about it without in any way contradicting her.  But I cannot say whether he in fact did what his mother told him or not.

 

I do not know that Uncle ever entered into an argument with any one.

 

There was always the impression in the family that Grandma gave some money to the S.G. I know also that she ordered some work at Fra Diego institute.  She herself helped at Fra Diego Institute.

 

I cannot answer the other related question. Uncle had at least two benefices, which rendered a good income. One of them was Navarra, the other I forgot. But Uncle had also a lot of good works to care for, and whatever he obtained, he spent in these good works; his own income was not enough. That is why he needed his mother’s financial help. As far as I know this finan­cial help Grandma gave Uncle never gave rise to problems or laments in the family.

 

7.         “He usually went about carelessly clothed, but, when in his vestments of a Dean, he was strikingly well turned out”. “Carelessly clothed.” What exactly do you mean? Was he untidy or was he slovenly and careless in his clothes? Were you the only one to notice this, or did you perhaps hear others talk about this: broth­ers and sisters, cousins, others? Why do you think he dressed in this way?  Perhaps because his character was such that he did not bother about such things?  Or per­haps because of his commitments?  Or perhaps out of a sense of detachment and humility? How do you know this? The Servant of God was a monsignor. Was this only an honorary title or was he a regular canon of the Cathe­dral? Do you remember if he wore some particular dis­tinctive mark to show that he was a monsignor? Did other monsignors at the time wear some distinctive mark? In case, why do you think the S.G., did not wear such distinctive mark? Do you know how he became a monsignor? Do you know what were his duties as a monsignor? Do you know if he performed these duties well and if it was easy for him to perform them? Did you ever happen to be present at some of these celebrations at the Cathed­ral? If yes, what do you have to say about the way he participated in them? Could you deduce from them that he was a man of faith, devotion and collectedness?

 

“… but when in his vestments of a Dean …” To which vestments are you exactly referring? Perhaps those used during the solemn services at the Cathedral, or perhaps also those he wore on social occasions? In case, do you remember which were these services and re­ceptions? Why do you think was there this difference in his vestments? Did you ever comment on this fact with him? In case, what would be his reaction?

 

“His mother saw to this, and one of her maids was in charge …”  Why do you think it had to be his mother, through her servant, to take care of these things?

 

By “carelessly dressed” I mean that he did not spend money for his own everyday clothes. He used his cloth­es as long as they could serve him. But by this I do not mean that he was a careless person. In fact it was said in the family that before he became a priest he was always well dressed. Besides I always knew him as a clean and neat person. The reason for which he did not dress well is, I believe, because he spent his money in other good works.

 

Uncle was at first coadjutor of Mgr. Vassallo.  Then he himself became monsignor. Mgr. Vassallo was a friend of our family, and I think that Grandma, perhaps through Mgr. Vassallo, did her part so that Uncle would become a monsignor.

 

Except during religious functions and special occasions, Uncle never wore any distinctive. I do not know what were Uncle’s duties as a monsignor, and I do not remem­ber any details about his devotion, etc., during the re­ligious functions at the Cathedral, even though I attend­ed them sometimes.

 

I mean his vestments as a Dean. He wore those clothes whenever his position as Dean required him to do so, whether at the Cathedral (e.g. on the feast of the Con­version of St. Paul, the feast of St. Peter and Paul) or social occasions.

 

Uncle did this simply because his position required him to do so. This can be seen from the answer a cousin of mine told me that he gave her after she had complimented him on his clothes during a social gathering.  He told her that, “ la dignita’ della cariga” required him to do so. Uncle was not after these honours or worldly things. Even if it so happened that it was Grandma who passed a word so that Uncle would be appointed monsignor, I feel sure that she did this without Uncle knowing anything. His heart and mind were bent on other things.

 

Grandma lived near the Cathedral and it was natural that she would take care of his vestments herself.

 

8.         What do you know about the founding of the Mis­sionary Society of St. Paul of which the S.G., is re­garded as the founder? Where, how and when did it begin? Who were its first members, or, at least, what was their background? Were they many or a few? Did they all stay in the Society, or were there several who left? Do you remember what qualities the S.G., looked for in those he accepted in the Society? For what exact scope did he found the Society?  How did he come to this idea? Do you know if this scope was being attained? In what way? Did you ever visit some of the first houses of the Society? Are you able to describe it/them? Was there any dif­ference between these houses and his mother’s house? If there was a difference, do you think it was the S.G’s choice, or was it something imposed upon him by the cir­cumstances (that for example, he could not find a bet­ter house, etc.)? Did he appear to be enough dedicated to this Society? In case, in what way? Do you know of some particular difficulties that he encountered at the beginning of the Society? Did he ever show despondency among you because of the Society, or perhaps upset and angry with some of the members? How do you know this? Did you ever hear some of the members of the Society, especially the first ones, talk about the S.G? In case, do you remember what they used to say?

 

I do not know anything about the beginning and founda­tion of the Society. I knew that at one time he had a house at Strada Celsi, and at another one he had at Palazzo Xara, both at Mdina. They were small. I re­member that when the foundation stone of St. Agatha’s was laid, I and my family were present. I remember there was a crowd present.  There was the bishop.  But other details I do not remember. My father might have helped him, e.g. the stonemason, Mr. Sapiano, which built St. Agatha’s, was my father’s stonemason. I do not know any details about the first members of Society. It was said in our family circle that Uncle’s idea was to prepare priests who would help Maltese emigrants. I know that he sent a member of his Society to Abbysinia.

 

I do not know why Uncle chose small houses at Mdina be­fore building St. Agatha’s. I used to hear my father say that Uncle had difficulties in building St. Agatha’s, but I do not know what these difficulties were, I cannot say whether in some particular occasion Uncle was despond­ent or lost heart, but I always knew him as a calm person, always confident in God.

 

Until Uncle’s death, I never had any contact with any member of the Society of St. Paul.

 

9.         “In spite of his many commitments, I never saw him walking fast.” Can you, first of all, say what where his many commitments? Perhaps his work among the children of the institutes? In case, do you know exactly what this work consisted in? If you refer to his position as Direct­or, do you know of which Institutes? What exactly did this work involve? Was it only administrative work (keeping of books and records), or did he have to provide food and cloth­es, etc., as well? Do you know how these Institutes came in his charge? Do you know if he ever involved the members of his family in this work? In case, whom exactly, and in what way? How did the members of the family look on this commit­ment of the S.G? Did they seem glad?  Did they encourage and help him?  Or the opposite? Did you ever visit any of the Institutes at that time? Can you give some idea of everyday life in them? Do you know of any improvement in the life of the children of the Institutes when these were administered by the S.G? Did you ever hear anyone/people who was/were in the Institute at that time, talk about life in there, and the contribution of the S.G., in particular? Do you know if the S.G., worried about the children’s future when they left the Institu­tes? In case, in what way and how do you know this? Besides the Institutes, what other commitments had the S.G? Do you know if, for some time, he was the Bishop’s secretary, rector of the Seminary? Did he do some parti­cular work in some parish/parishes? If he had these com­mitments, were they all undertaken in the same period of time? Did you ever hear the S.G., complain of too much work? Was any member of the family used to tell him, for example, to take care of his health and not to undertake all the work? If yes, do you know what his reaction used to be?

 

Uncle’s commitments were :

 

a)         Institutes: St. Joseph’s; Fra Diego; another, per­haps at Zabbar; St. Joseph’s at Gozo; among others;

 

b)         he had the Oratory at Birkirkara;

 

c)         he helped in the foundation of some congregation of Sisters;

 

d)         he was founding the Society of St. Paul;

 

e)         he was a member of the Senate;

 

f)          he had all the normal duties of a monsignor and Dean of the Cathedral Chapter.

 

He held all these responsibilities and commitments con­currently.

 

a)         In the Institutes Uncle was Director. As such he had to obtain money and necessities for the children in these Institutes (and there children were many!).  He had to keep administration books.  And he had to take care of their daily running.

 

I do not know how and why he became Director of these Institutes. Grandma surely helped at Fra Diego Institute herself.  Besides she ordered a lot of work from there as a way to help them. I do not know whether this was on her own initiative, or because Uncle asked her to help. I cannot speak about other members of the family. I do not know the reaction of the other members of the family to Uncle’s work at the Institutes. Some members of Fra Diego’s Institute were employed, when they grew up, with brothers and sisters of the S.G. One of them was employed with us, and I used to visit the Institute with her. The place was well kept and clean. Our maid, Rosi Grech, used to say that they always had enough good food.  They had also a lot of work (lace and embroidery) . She complain­ed that she did not have schooling. If this Rosi Grech were still living, she would now be a centenarian.  So she was at the Institute as a girl before Uncle became Director. She was employed with us about the year 1908. Uncle used to try to gather these children occasionally after they left the Institute. However I cannot give details.

 

Et sic hora 12.10 p.m., suspensum est examen dictae test­is ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 8 Octob­ris, hora 9.30 a.m. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam eidem testis quam Justitiae Promotor ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde Ego Notarius eadem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit:

 

Anna Sant Cassia, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscipsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 1 Octobris, 1990.

 

Ita est,

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Sexagesima Sexta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo die vero 8 Octobris (sive 8-10-1990), hora 9.45 a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei, Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, presentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Dna Anna Sant Cassia testis inducta et citata cui delatum fuit iuramento 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, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui, et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis.

 

Answer to question number 9 continues.

 

b/c)      I do not know anything about Uncle’s works and duties at the Oratory of Birkirkara. Nor do I know anything about his work in aiding in the foundation of some congregation of Sisters, except that it was said in family circles that Uncle had a lot of work in this regard.

 

d / f)     lam provisum.

 

e)         cfr. below No, l5. I do not know about the other duties mentioned in the question. I never heard the S.G., or any member of the family lamenting against the great amount of work he had to cope with.

 

10.       “… I never saw him walking fast.” Did you often meet him out of doors? “His step was measured... ” What do you want to indicate by this detail? Perhaps that he was calm, that he did not give the impression that he was in a hurry, that he was controlled also in his gait? Do you think this was his natural character or was it the result of self-control? Or perhaps he had to walk slowly because of health reasons? When you compare him with the other members of the family, was he different from them in this regard.  “... absorbed in his thoughts.” You twice refer to this quality. What impression did you get when you saw him thus absorbed?  Perhaps that something was worrying him or that he was afraid and confused? Don’t you think that this detail contrasts with what you said before, namely that he was always smiling and “with a strong sense of humor”? Did you ever see the S.G., stopping in the street to talk to passers by? If not, perhaps because you never saw him, or because this was the general im­pression of him?

 

I noticed his measured step everywhere I met him, but I met him most at Grandma’s or in Mdina. I wish to show by this detail that Uncle was calm, but I cannot say more than this. My father and the other Uncles I knew did not walk in the same way as Uncle Joseph did. I was impressed by the fact that Uncle was absorbed in his thoughts. This never gave me the impression that he was troubled or afraid of something, but only that he did not keep distractions, and thought only about his business. This, of course, did not mean that when in society or in the family circle he did not relate well with others.

 

I never saw him stop and talk with others, but I must think that because of his many duties people must have often stopped him, and he himself stopped them to talk to them.

 

11.       “Although very much taken up by his many activi­ties, he also found time to take part in family func­tions such as weddings”. “Family functions.”  Were there many of these?  And frequently? Besides the weddings you yourself mention, what were the other celebrations? In what way were they celebrated in the family?

 

“He always found time… ” Do you mean by this that the S.G., was able to cope with his commitments? Did you ev­er hear others comment on this aspect of his life? Do you think that on these occasions he used to come wil­lingly, or that he was forced to come because of his family. When he was among you, did he appear to be hap­py and enjoying himself or was he also “… absorbed in his thoughts” in these circumstances as well? You men­tioned above “… the laughter, which shook all his body”. Do you still remember some particular occasion when you saw the S.G., laughing in this way? In these cir­cumstances did he appear to be friendly with every­one or did you notice that he was avoiding some per­sons? In case, why? Perhaps because he had some troub­le? In general, do you know if there ever was trouble in your family and the S.G., became the mediator? In case, can you give details? Among you relatives, was the S.G., regarded as a peacemaker? Can you give details?

 

These family functions were weddings and, at least in my family, baptisms. These were not frequent. Weddings were celebrated in church, and afterwards there was a reception. A small family gathering followed baptisms. I do not know whether Uncle went to the re­ception or not.

 

It seems that Uncle did find time for everything, though I never heard any comments from others about this. I was too young then to notice certain details, but he related well with the others, as I said above (No.10). As for his laughter, he laughed with my elder male cousins, but details I cannot give.

 

As for the rest I cannot answer.

 

12.       “Mrs. Elena Refalo, née Stilon De Piro, tells me that he gave the sermon of their wedding. Also he gave the sermon at the wedding of Dr. Vittore Stilon De Piro.” First of all, was the S.G., well known for his sermons? Do you know the places where he used to go in order to preach? Do you know in what language he preached?   Did he write his sermons?  In case, and if these still exist, where are they now? Who are Mrs. Elena Refalo and Dr. Vittore Stilon whom you mention? In the circumstances you mention, did the S.G., only preach the homily, or did he celebrate the Mass and wedding as well? Do you know if these liturgical celebrations created some conflict with his brother Fr. Santin, who also was a priest? In fact, did the S.G., conduct all these celebrations? If yes, why? If not, did you distinguish between the celebration conducted by the S.G., and that con­ducted by his brother? What did the members of the family have to say about the two brother priests?

 

I do not know whether the S.G., was sought after to deliver sermons. All I know is that on these family occasions he delivered the sermon for the oc­casion. These were his nephews. On these occasions most probably he preached in Italian. If he preached on other occasions, I do not know what language he used. I do not know whether he wrote his sermons or not. The fact that Uncle Santo received the consent and Un­cle Giuseppe delivered the sermon only, shows that they agreed and helped each other.

 

All I can say is that there was a great difference of character between Uncle Santo and Uncle Giuseppe. For the rest they went on well together.  Uncle Santo, on his part, used to invite orphans from some Institute directed by Uncle Giuseppe at his house in St. Paul’s Bay for the feast of St. Ursola.

 

For the rest, I cannot answer.

 

13.       “My mother received a shawl from him at the birth of each child as my sister Piera De Piro Gourgion tells me.” How was the S.G., known among you?  As a generous person or as an egocentric? What was his fame with the peop­le regarding this? Can you give some examples to prove this? How did the S.G., comport himself with you, his niec­es? Did you have the opportunity to talk with him? In case, what about? If he did not talk with you, do you mean that he seemed to ignore you? Was he interested in your future? Did he ever, for example, speak to you about your state, vocation, etc.? Did you ever feel that the S.G., favoured any of the nieces, perhaps in the way he talked with some of them, with presents, through some particular interest, etc.? You mention your sister, Piera. Can you give more details about her and say if she gave other information about the S.G?

 

I never thought about Uncle’s generosity or otherwise; I simply considered him a good man. People in general thought the same.

At that time it was good manners for younger children not to interfere in the company of older ones. So I did not have the chance to speak with Uncle. But Uncle did not ignore us, his nephews and nieces.  He talked on­ly with the elder ones, according to custom.  He made no preferences. As can be seen from the incident I related, he had time to talk even about personal problems, but I never heard anyone say that he interfered in the way of life one wanted to choose. I do not know any other relevant details about the S.G., from my sister, Piera.

 

14.       “In his time it was customary for the Governor or his representative to attend some church functions at the Cathedral in Notabile.” Do you remember which fun­ctions there were? “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.” Was the Governor entertained by the De Piro family be­cause they had their home near the Cathedral, or because the S.G., was the Dean of the Cathedral? Were you present on this occasion? If yes, can you say how the S.G., com­ported himself in these celebrations? Did he appear to be able to adapt himself to the circumstances? Or did he per­haps always appear like a fish out of water?

 

I remember the feasts of the Conversion of St. Paul and that of St. Peter and St. Paul. I do not know if there were others. Grandma used to invite them because of Uncle Giuseppe, who was Dean of the Cathedral. Uncle knew how to get on with high ranking people, and in this he was helped by his family background; but at the same time he was capable of adapting himself to orphans and common people.

 

15.       Do you know if, besides entertaining the Govern­or in his mother’s house, the S.G., was involved in the political life of the Country (information about the S.G., as member of the Maltese Senate, the Nation­al Assembly, the episode of 7 June, 1919). If yes, do you know if he got wholeheartedly involved, and if he gave some particular contribution? Did the S.G., ever get associated with some political party? In fact, what were his political tendencies? Did he show them publicly, or did he keep them to himself? Did you ever hear him discussing some political topic in the family? Do you know if he had a share in the peace between Lord Strickland and the Church? Do you know if he ever com­promised the position of the Church because of his political ideas?

 

I knew that Uncle was a member of the Senate, but I do not know what duties this entailed, nor any other de­tails. As for the events of the 7 Giugno, I cannot say anything, because at that time I was a boarder at St. Dorothy’s. I do not know whether Uncle was affiliated to some political party, nor his political leanings, if he had any. I cannot speak about this because I never heard Uncle Joseph speaking about political matters, nor did I hear any member of the family, or anybody else, speaking about Uncle’s involvement in politics. I do not know anything about Uncle’s part in the differences between Lord Strickland and the Church in Malta.  Now, that I know how members of the Senate were chosen, I must think that Uncle was a member either be­cause he represented the Cathedral Chapter or because he was chosen by the Bishop. I may note also that an­other Uncle of nine, Baron Gino De Piro Inguanez D’Amico, the S.G’s brother, was also a member of the Senate, and we knew that his political leanings were towards Lord Strickland’s party.  But we never knew that Uncle Joseph leaned, politically, this side or the other.

 

16.       “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 remains to St. Agatha’s, the formalities would be easier.”

 

Can you give details about when, where and how he died?  Do you think that the cause was some illness that he suf­fered from his life time? In case, what was it? Were there other family members who died of the same illness? In case who was he/ were they? In a letter you sent to Father Tony Sciberras, Postulator of this Cause, and which you present­ed to this Tribunal, you say that on his death bed he was assisted by Dr. Vittore Stilon De Piro whom we have al­ready mentioned. Do you know how the latter was to be found there? Why was it that it was he who assisted him? Perhaps because he was his doctor? Perhaps because it was the explicit wish of the S.G? Perhaps because he was the first to arrive?

 

“… my father thought it best...” Why your father and not some other brother, or perhaps all the brothers togeth­er? Did not the S.G’s mother have a say in this decision? If not, why?  “… to have his remains buried…” Could he, in fact, be buried at the Cathedral as a monsignor or because the De Piro Family had a grave there? Where exactly was he buried at the Addolorata Cemetery?  Perhaps in some grave belonging to the family? You say that your father decided this so that the Fathers of the Society might find it easier, to transport him to St. Agatha’s, if the opportunity arose. How could your father at that time, think about this? Perhaps because the S.G., had left some written instructions regarding this? In case, how do you know this?

 

At the time of Uncle’s death, we were at Mdina when the news of his death reached us. I was sent by my mother to tell my father. Although Uncle had a tomb ready at the Cathedral, my father wanted him to be buried at the family grave at the Addolorata Cemetery, so that it would be easier for the members of the Society to have his remains. It was my father and Uncle Igino who decided this.

 

Uncle died from kidney trouble (cfr. No. 3 above.). No one of the members of the family arrived before Uncle’s death, at least as far as I know.

 

17.       Can you describe the S.G’s funeral? Where and how was it organised? Who conducted it? Who took part in it? What reaction did the S.G’s death make among the people in general? In fact, later on the remains of the S.G., were transported. Do you know when and how this occurred? Do you know why he was taken to St. Agatha’s? Do you know if there were any particular difficulties in con­nection with the transport?  Do you know if the S.G., was buried for some time some­where else besides at the Addolorata and St. Agatha’s?

 

Do you ever visit his present grave? Can you describe it? Do you see any flowers, candles, ex voto? Do you see oth­er people there? What would they be doing?

 

In order for someone to remain with Grandma I did not go to the funeral.  For this reason I cannot give any details. Nor do I know the reactions of the people, but all felt the void he left behind him. Nor was I present for the transport of the remains from the Addolorata Cemetery to St. Agatha’s, where he was buried since he was the Founder of that Society. The S.G., was never buried in any other place. Sometimes when there is some function at St. Agatha’s, I visit Uncle’s grave. It is rectangular, in a crypt.  There is an inscription (I do not remember its contents), and a bust of the S.G. I did not notice flowers, ex voto, etc. There would be other people also, besides members of the family. There is a sense of devotion.

 

18. “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”. Was this concern of your father motivated only by the fact that the S.C., died suddenly, or perhaps also because the S.C., was not usually ordered? What is your impres­sion, in a general way, about this aspect of the S.G’s life?

 

My Father’s fear was only because of Uncle’s sudden death; but Uncle was one who kept things in order, and whose motto was: ‘Serva ordinem, et ordo servabit te’.

 

19.       In the information you provided, you commented on some inaccuracies you found in the Biography of the S.G., written by Fr. Alessandro Bonnici, OFM Conv. Do you feel that this Biography gives a good and faithful portrait of the S.C? Did you find some other inaccuracies that directly affect the S.G?

 

I do not remember that I found inaccuracies about the life of the S.G., himself.

 

20.       What do you say about the devotion to the S.G? Do you think it is increasing or decreasing at this time? If it is decreasing, why? If it is increasing, why? At the time of the S.G’s death and in the first years following his death, did people say that the S.C., was a saintly person? If yes, can you give some details about particular persons?

 

I cannot say whether the devotion to the S.G., is increasing or not. At the time of his death I only remember that he was considered to be a good and pious man.

 

21.       Do you pray with the S.G’s intercession? Do you know who prays through his intercession? Do you know of favours received through his intercession? If yes, can you give details?

 

Recently I asked for a grace through the intercession of the S.G, and I know other people who do so. But I cannot give details.

 

22.       Do you know if there is someone who is against this Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the S.G? In case, who, and why?

 

I do not know of anybody who is against this Cause of Beatification.

 

23.       Do you want to add, remove or change anything of what you said in this evidence?

 

Negative.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 pm., absoluto praedictae testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis Ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlexi integram depositionem, data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi, si necessario reputaverit. Ipsa eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

Juro me veritatem tota in mea depositione dixisse et confirmo omnia quae superius deposui:

 

Anna Sant Cassia, testis

 

Dimissa autem teste, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mandavit mihi expediri citationes contra Helenam Refalo ut examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotorem ut assistat die 15 Octobris, hora 9.30 a.m. hoc in loco.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

 

Actum die 8 Octobris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Sexagesima Septima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo, die vero decimaquinta Octobris (sive 15-10-1990), hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi. De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Dna Elena Refalo testis inducta et citata.

 

Ego  Elena Refalo, testis iuravi

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judici Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui, et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

9.         You say that on the feast of St. Ursola, the feast of the S.G’s mother, Fr. Santin used to take the children of Fra Diego’s Institute (of which the S.G., was director) to his house in St. Paul’s Bay. It seems that this house was not small. Can you describe it? Did all the De Piro brothers and sisters have a similar house? Or was it only Fr. Santin who had one?  In fact, what was Fr. Santin’s work in the Diocese? Did Fr. Santin’s character resemble that of the S.G? According to your opinion and that of the other nieces, at that time, who of the two did you like most? Why?

 

The house of Uncle Santo at St. Paul’s Bay had a large garden that reached to the seashore. Though not very large, it was large enough to have two servants, and al­so space enough for us to stay there as guests. It had all necessary amenities. All brothers and sisters of the

 

S.G., had such houses, but not Uncle Giuseppe who never thought about such things. Uncle Santo had another house at Mdina.

 

Uncle Santo served as a priest in Rome. When Mons. Caruana became bishop of Malta, he brought him with him to help him. Later he retired to St. Paul’s Bay. He celebrated Mass in his private chapel in his home, to which attended the villagers who lived nearby. He used to go to Mellieha to hear confessions, and (ac­cording to what his servant told me) he used to stay long hours and returned home late at night.

 

This same servant (Giuseppa Borg) used to tell me that Uncle Santo used to give alms and help a lot. Besides, I know personally that once, when I was at Uncle Santo’s, I saw a table covered with fish which Uncle Santo had caught (he used to go out fishing as a hobby), prepared to be sent to various institutes, among them I remember Fra Diego’s. Besides, every year he used to invite the girls of this Institute to his house for a holiday at his own expense, and he gave them some sweets before leaving. (He used to leave it to us, his nieces, to dis­tribute these sweets). He invited them on the feast day of St. Ursola, in honour of his mother who was named Ursola and who loved Fra Diego’s Institute very much. The characters of Uncle Giuseppe and Uncle Santo were quite different. As young people, we considered Uncle Giuseppe too much of a saint, quite not of this world, too much good. On the other hand Uncle Santo was more near to us, his nieces, while being a good man and priest at the same time. He was bright, interested himself in the family, and was generous.

 

I remember also that when both Uncle Giuseppe and Uncle Santo inherited some fine antique venetian glass, they distributed their share among us, their nephews and nieces.

 

10.       You say that the S.G., was director of Fra Diego’s Institute. Where was this Institute, and whom did it re­ceive? If it admitted orphan children, do you know how many there were? Do you know exactly what was the S.G’s work as director? Was he responsible only for the adminis­tration, or did he have to provide for the children as well? In case, how did he do this? Perhaps from his own money? Perhaps he went to beg? Do you know if there were other people to help him? Do you know if he wanted to organise also the teaching of the children? In case, what kind of teaching was this? What else do you know about the life of children in the Institute? Did you, relatives of the S.G., meet these children? On what occasions? Did the S.G., try to involve the members of his family in the work of the Institute? If yes, for what reason, perhaps to give financial help, perhaps to bring them in contact with the world of the poor? Do you know how he became director of that Institute and until when he remained its director? Do you know if, besides this Institute, he directed some oth­er institute/institutes? In case, which?

 

Fra Diego’s Institute was at Hamrun. It was intended for girl-orphans, though there might have been some illegiti­mate children. There were many children (surely more than fifty). I remember there were only teenagers, up to about eighteen years. These girls were taught sewing, embroidery, lace-making, weaving, besides receiving some schooling. I remember that Grandma used to order cloth from there; and the lace for our first Communion dresses (which dresses Grandma gave us as a present).  The lace was also the work of these girls. Grandma used to buy things from this Institute as a way of helping these girls.

 

As Director of Fra Diego’s, I presume that Uncle was res­ponsible for everything in the Institute. This included finances: keeping administration books, and providing for the daily needs of the children. At times I used to visit this Institute with Grandma; I noticed at that time that the Sisters used to refer frequently to him. These Sisters were Franciscan Sisters, and they took care of the Institute. I always had the idea that Uncle found these Sisters there when he became Director. I know al­so that a woman used to come, when required, to set up the loom.

 

Although Grandma, myself and my sister used to go to the Institute, I do not know if other cousins also went regularly or not.  Probably this was on the initiative of Grandma.

In the little contact I had with the children, they nev­er spoke about Uncle.

 

Besides, every year at Christmastide, Uncle used to or­ganize a small feast for the children, to which we, his nieces and nephews (not only my sister, but also our other cousins) were invited. I remember that there was a great Christmas tree with toys for all the children of the Institute. Tea and biscuits were served, and we were treated the same as the children. Both Uncle and the children were seen to be very happy on this occasion. Besides our family, the S.G., invited also other benefactors for this occasion. Uncle used to hold a raffle among those invited.

 

For the rest I cannot answer about Fra Diego’s Institute. I know also at that time that Uncle was Director of St. Joseph’s Institute. I know this because Grandma took me and my sister to a religious ceremony after the renovation of the chapel at the Institute, but I do not know any details, except that I admired the chapel very much, and I noticed Uncle’s artistic nature.

 

In connection with this Institute, I know also that once there was no mattress for a boy who was about to be ad­mitted. Uncle gave him one of his two mattresses. Wenzu (a servant of Grandma, who however, was nearly always in the service of Uncle) told Grandma about this, and she sent Uncle another mattress. Uncle rebuked Wenzu and told him not to repeat outside what happened at the Institute. I know this from a servant of Grandma, Cetta by name.

 

This same servant told me that at first Uncle used to eat not with the children of St. Joseph’s. But someone told him that the soup was more water.  So he decided to start eating with the children from the same casserole. I also heard Uncle speaking to Grandma about his idea of opening an institute for babies. I heard Grandma tell him: “See to it that you have Sisters and not brothers to care for these babies.”

 

I once also heard Uncle telling Grandma that at last he had succeeded to find a house at Qrendi where the girls of Qrendi could be educated. Later (after both Uncle and Grandma died) I went to give some money to this house and found that it was run by Sisters.

I know that Uncle used to sleep at these Institutes, though this did not exclude that sometimes he slept also at Grandma’s.

 

I do not know how and why he became Director. He remained Director till his death.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 pm., suapensum est examen dictae testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 22 Octobris hora 9.30 a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuer.unt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde ego Notarius eadem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipsa eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

Elena Refalo, testis

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiecopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis.

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae.

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gentis Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 15 Octobris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Sexagesima Octava

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo, die vero vigesima secunda Octobris (sive 22-10-1990), hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Dna. Elena Refalo, testis inducta et citata, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Elena Refalo testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judici Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognivisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis:

 

Answer to question no. 10 continues.

 

I know of cases when the S.G., took care of the future of the girls of the Institutes. I know of two girls from Fra Diego’s, one Richet by surname, and the other Thomas by surname, who wanted to become Sisters. Grandma employed them as maids (presumably on Uncle’s suggestion), even though she did not need their services, until they prepared the necessities to enter religion.

I know also that a certain man became a widower and wanted to remarry. He cast his eyes on a very pretty young girl from an Institute. All were adverse to this, especially because this man had grown up sons. This person sought advice from the S.G., who told him to carry on, and that by doing so he would be mak­ing a great act of charity (“tkun qed ittella ruh mill-purgatorju”). All were astounded by this advice. However the marriage was a great success, and this girl proved to be of great help to all the family. I know this from my personal contact with this family. Besides, the only offspring from this marriage became a priest.

 

11.       You say that at Christmas, you would go to your Grandmother and she would give you presents. Would the S.G., be present? Did he ever give you presents? Would the S.G., be present in other circumstances of the fami­ly? In case, in which ones? How did he comport himself on these occasions? Perhaps he was intent on leaving? Perhaps absent minded? Perhaps silent and quiet? Per­haps joking and laughing? On familiar occasions like christenings and weddings who administered these sacraments, the S.G., or Fr. Santin? Why?

 

Uncle did not give us presents, nor our other uncles and aunts, nor did we give presents. But Uncle Giuseppe used to be present for this party. I remember only a few other family occasions.  And now I cannot remember whether Uncle Giuseppe was present or not. Nor can I remember Uncle’s reactions during these parties.

 

I remember that Uncle Giuseppe was present for my wed­ding, and for that of my brother Ernesto. I remember that I wanted to invite Uncle Santo to assist my mar­riage, but Grandma suggested that I invite both of them for the marriage ceremony. I remember that Uncle Santo assisted the marriage, while Uncle Giuseppe ce­lebrated Mass and delivered a sermon. I still remember that the sermon was very encouraging, and also my hus­band was pleased. The sermon was in Italian, as was usual in those days.

 

I remember also that I received my first Holy Commun­ion from Uncle Giuseppe, and I also remember that he delivered a pleasant talk on that occasion.

 

I do not remember anything about Uncle during the re­ceptions after the weddings I mentioned.

 

12.       You say that sometimes at Christmas, after the service at the Cathedral, the same Bishop Caruana and the Governor were invited for tea at Grandmother’s. You say that your grandmother made the invitation. In fact did they come because of your grandmother or be­cause the S.G., had some particular office at the Ca­thedral? In case, what was this?

 

Can you tell me what contacts were there between the S.G., and Bishop Caruana? Do you have the impression that there were good relations? Always? How do you know this? Do you have the impression that Bishop Caruana held the S.G., in high esteem? How do you prove this? Why? Did you ever hear the S.G., or had the im­pression that the S.G., complained about the Bishop? Perhaps that he made him work very hard?

 

You mention the Governor. Do you remember who was he at that time? Do you know if particular relations existed between the S.G., and the Governor? In case, what were they? Do you mean by this that the S.G., was involved in the civil life of the state? What type of involve­ment was it? Do you know if he was connected with the incidents of 7 June, 1919? The trouble between Lord Strickland and the Church? Some other involvement?

 

The Governor General did not attend the Christmas party. Bishop Caruana sometimes came for this party.  Besides Christmas, the Bishop came several other times to visit Grandma. I must conclude that the Bishop was in­vited as a family friend.

 

Uncle Giuseppe was for some time, after Dom Mauro Caruana became bishop, a secretary to the Bishop. Uncle’s relations with the Bishop were always good, even after Uncle relinquished his post. At that time I was curious to know why Uncle left, but it was only recently that I heard, during a speech delivered by Mr. Leopardi who was married to a cousin of mine, that Uncle left his post to dedicate himself to his other works. Anyway, he was de­dicated to his many other duties.

 

I never heard Uncle Giuseppe lamenting against the Bi­shop or because of his many duties.

 

I cannot now remember who the Governor General was. I do not know whether the Governor was a family friend or not. He came to Grandma’s house in his official capacity on certain important feasts. However I know that Grandma and the Governor’s wife were friends.

 

Uncle was involved in the civil life of the Country. I have an idea that he was a member of the Senate. It was common knowledge at the time of the events of the 7th June, 1919, that Uncle, faced the crowds during the riots and tried to calm them. I know also that he had contacts with Lord Strickland during the latter’s quarrel with the Church, but I cannot give details.

 

13.       You mention Cardinal Ferrata who was invited for dinner by Grandma. Who was this Cardinal? What was the occasion when he visited Malta? Did this Cardinal have some particular contact with the S.G? In case, what was it? Do you know if the S.G., had contact with some other Cardinals? In case, with whom, and about what? Do you know if the S.G., had some contacts with other pro­minent people in Rome? How do you know this?

 

Cardinal Ferrata was present for the Eucharistic Congress of 1913. I do not know why he was invited to Grandma’s. Nor can I answer the rest of the question.

 

14.       You state that when the “Sagramentini Sisters” were going to leave and close the church and thus the de­votion to the Eucharist which they had introduced, was go­ing to cease, the  mother of the S.G., succeeded in replacing them with the Franciscan Sisters. Can you say what this devotion consisted in? Did you mean by this that the S.G., had some active share in helping the Franciscan Sisters to take over this church? Do you know if the S.G., had some particular devotion to the Eucharist? In case, how did he express it? Perhaps he introduced some adoration somewhere? Perhaps he preached about it? Perhaps he him­self spent a lot of time before Jesus in the Sacrament? In case, how do you know this?

 

I do not know why the “Sagramentini” were about to leave.  These Sisters were of the Congregation “Maria Riparatrice”.  I know that the owner of the house intended to take over the place, since he had handed it over to the Sisters for devotional purposes. Grandma did her best and succeeded to have the ‘Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus of Malta’ to take over and continue the perpetual adora­tion. But, I do not know if Uncle had anything to do with this. Nor can I answer the rest of the question.

 

15.       In your document you mention a favour that you feel you received through the S.G’s prayers when he was still alive. I am referring to the time when your baby was getting worse and worse for six months until the S.G., came to visit you and he took it in his hands and began to pray. Your comment regarding this is: “On that same week, when we weighed him, he had increased five or six ounces. From that day he went on growing into the finest ... baby.” Do you mean by this that the child was not having a particular treatment at that time? When, on this occasion, the S.G., came to see you, did he come because you asked him or out of his own ac­cord? The baby had been ill for six months already.  Why do you think the S.G., came to see you after six months and not before? “Seeing this tiny baby so thin, he wrap­ped him in this very same shawl and cuddled him gently and tenderly and started praying.” Was it he who noticed the smallness of the baby, or was it you who drew his at­tention to this? How did the S.G., appear during the pray­ers you mention? Collected, devout, demonstrating his faith? Or perhaps distracted and thinking of something else? You say that when his mother was ill, and almost at the end of her life, the S.G., again prayed. Do you have the impression that the S.G., was a man of prayer? You mention a particular prayer that he used with his moth­er. Perhaps it was in this way that he liked to pray? Were there other prayers that he liked to recite? Do you feel that these prayers were an expression of his belief in God! Did you often ask him, while still alive, to pray for you? In case, on what occasion? Does this mean that you had trust in his prayers? If yes, why? It appears that also after his death you sought his prayers. You men­tion, among other things, when you were going to Ger­many and the case of the bracelet. Were there other occasions when you sought his intercession? Do you know if in his lifetime he ever prayed on some sick people and they were healed? Do you remember who they were? Do you know if there was some case of healing with his intercession after his death? In case, can you give details?

 

In the context of your child’s healing you refer to the comment of your husband: “How happy I felt when our ba­by was in his hands.” What do you think made your hus­band make this comment? Do you have the impression that the S.G., inspired peace and joy wherever he was?

 

I remember that I had a baby who, after growing up re­gularly for some months, started to lose weight, and reverted to the state of a newborn child, and this in spite of the fact that we took all possible medical care. Uncle Joseph came to visit us and brought a shawl as a present. He took the child in his arms, wrapped him in this shawl and prayed on him. When we weighted the baby the next week, the child had already gained five ounces; and continued getting better and better, and is still alive. My husband and I attributed this to Uncle’s inter­vention and prayers. I remember that Uncle had not yet visited us after the birth of the baby, but I had spoken about my child’s condition to Grandma.

 

Et sic hora 12.05 p.m., suspensum est examen dictae testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 29 Octobris, hora 9.30 a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam eadem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde ego Notarius eadem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipsa eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

Elena Refalo, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

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

 

Actum die 22 Octobris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Sexagesima Nona

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo, die vero vigesima nona Octobris (sive 29-10-1990) hora 9.40 a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiecopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Dna Elena Refalo, testis inducta et citata, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta Formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit

et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Elena Refalo testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, claueis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dic­ta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Answer to question no. 16 continues.

 

When Uncle was praying over the baby, he was very recol­lected and looked at the baby. It was he who noticed that the baby was very thin, and he tried to console us saying that even he himself was thin when a baby. The doctor, who was my brother, never commented whether the child would live or not. Uncle prayed silently. The first reactions of my husband and mine were opposite: I thought that Un­cle was saying some prayers for the dying; my husband was happy and full of confidence when he saw Uncle pray­ing. After Uncle left, my husband told me this, and I too was filled with happiness and confidence.

 

We always considered Uncle as someone spiritually super­ior to us even in prayer. But I do not remember Uncle saying any other ejaculation besides the one I mentioned. I believe that what he said in that ejaculation was what he believed.

 

I never asked Uncle to pray for me when he was alive, nor do I know that other members of the family did.

 

After Uncle’s death, I know that members of the family pray through the intercession of the S.G. For myself, I remember that, even long before this case for Beatification began, while saying a “Requiem aeternam” for other deceased members of the family, I spontaneously used to say a “Gloria Patri” when I came to Uncle Giuseppe. I do not know of any other cure through the prayers of the S.G., during his life, or through his intercession after his death.

 

I think that my husband made that comment through his belief in Uncle Joseph, but he never told me why. And I cannot say whether Uncle inspired joy and peace wherever he was.

 

I remember another incident after Uncle’s death. My daughter was in Germany with her husband, an army Cap­tain. She had many worries, and was getting weaker. I went to see her in Germany when I heard about her con­dition. I myself was under a high tension. Suddenly a thought came to my mind: “Why should I worry? There is Uncle Giuseppe.”  And immediately the tension left me and I was calm. Then I went to see my daughter who told me: “Grandpa” (my father, who was already dead)  “… and Uncle Giuseppe helped me.” I told her: “I understand that you pray to Grandpa. But you do not know Uncle Giuseppe.” (In fact Uncle died when my daughter was about three years). She told me: “You speak so often of him!” I had not realized until then that I spoke so often of Uncle. This was about 1965.

 

16.       When you mention the case of your child, you say that the S.G., took the child in his hands and told you that he too, in his childhood, was very frail. Does this indicate that the S.G., tried to encourage you on this occasion? How did he act in similar occasions? You say that your wish was that your child would be even half the stature of the S.G., because “… he was of a big stature.” Can you give more details about his stature? Does the fact that he was of a big stature mean that he appeared to be very strong?  Was he in fact very strong? If at times he was ill, did his illness hinder his work or did he go on with his work just the same? In other words, did he when he was ill, feel lethargic, or did he have courage? Did he show much trust in God? When he was by the side of other sick people how did he act? How do, you know this?  Did the S.G. show respect to the sick? If yes, can you mention some concrete cases to prove this? Perhaps he used to visit them? Perhaps even in hospital? Do you know if he was called to assist the dying? Did he go? Why did they want him? Do you know if this was a sacrifice for him?

 

Uncle told us that even he was thin when a baby in or­der to encourage us. But I do not know whether he en­couraged others in similar situations.

 

My Uncle was of a large stature, well built.  He gave the impression that he was a healthy and strong per­son. At that time I did not know that he had ever been ill. Nor did I ever see him sick. I know that once he had an accident in Gozo, when a ceiling caved in under him. I used to hear Grandma say that he used to tell her, “Now I am really feeling the pain.”

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

I know from my father that he assisted my mother on her deathbed, but more than this I cannot say. I was a three year old child.

 

17.       You mention a service held in St. John’s Co Cathedral held on the 50th anniversary of Mons. De Piro. What exactly was this anniversary? Perhaps of his death? If yes, do you remember in which year was it held and can you describe the celebrations in detail? Who organised them? Were any speeches made about the S.G? Do you re­member by whom? Do you remember how the S.G., was port­rayed on this occasion? Perhaps already as a saint? Do you remember who attended this celebration? Do you re­member the reaction of the people on this celebration, and what comments they made regarding the figure of the S.G?

 

I cannot remember what fiftieth anniversary it was, but I know that St. John’s Co Cathedral was packed. I know that there were some reserved seats (though I, a member of the family, had not been invited). I rememb­er there was a Mass, but now I cannot remember details. I know that those present were impressed by the large attendance, and commented on how much the S.G., were loved. I myself prayed heartily.

 

I know also that celebrations were held at the Cathed­ral, Mdina. Obviously I was not present there.

 

18.       You mention some circumstances when the S.G., was “secretary to the Bishop”. Do you remember when he held this office and how he was chosen? What exactly did this office entail? Besides the work of secretary, did he hold other offices in this same period? If yes, which were they?

 

You say that at that time he would be invited for ban­quets at the Governor’s Palace. Do you know how he felt when he took part in these occasions? Do you think he liked these occasions? How do you know this? You say that you would meet him while entering for the ball and he was leaving after the banquet. Do you mean that he did not stay for the ball? Perhaps, because, as a member of the clergy, he was not allowed to stay? Or perhaps because he did not feel comfortable in such an environment? What was his opinion of such an entertain­ment? Was he in favour of them? Against them? What was his attitude to recreational activities in general? How do you know this? Did he have his recreation? You say that when you were going in for the ball “… he very kindly made a sign that there we must be composed”. What exactly do you meant?

 

Cf. Q. 12. At the same time that Uncle was Secretary, he was also director of various institutes. I do not know what other works he had undertaken at that time, if any.

 

I do not know what spirit prompted Uncle to go to these occasions. I feel however, that it was not to his liking to go to such occasions, unless from there he could obtain some help for the institutes. I feel this because Uncle was more intent on charitable works, and because he used to go even to the market place to collect food for the children in the institutes, even as early as six o’clock in the morning. He used to take with him Wenzu, Grandma’s servant, who was always with him.

 

I do not know if there was any ruling against priests attending balls, but I do not remember other priests present. Uncle Giuseppe never spoke to us against going to these balls. He was in favour of recreational activi­ties, as I noticed during the holiday the girls from Fra Diego’s took at Uncle Santo’s house, from the Christmas tree, from the fact that he had swings placed at Fra Diego’s. I know that once he conducted a pilgrimage, but I do not know to where.  Nor do I know whether he took any holidays.

He made this sign with his looks, because my sister and I approached him in a festive and familiar way.

 

Et sic hora 12.10 p.m. suspensum est examen dictae testis ob tarditatem hora animo illud resumendi die 5 Novembris hora 9.30 a.m. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam eadem testis, quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde ego Notarius eadem teste perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipsa eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

Elena Refalo, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Pr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in f idem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 29 Octobris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Septuagesima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo, die vero quinta Novembris (sive 5-11-1990), hora 9.30 am., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Domina Elena Refalo testis inducta et citata cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Elena Refalo testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibue Judici Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum attestationum testium, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis:

 

19.       When he went to meet the Governor, you say that the S.G., “… was very smart and imposing”. When you and your sister made remarks on this, he told you that he dressed like that not for himself but for the honour of the Church. Do you think that the S.G., really un­derstood these words? How do you prove this? In fact did you use to see him highly dressed only on special occasions or also on normal days of the week? How did he dress on ordinary days? Did he wear some distincti­ve mark as a monsignor? Perhaps he used to wear care­less, untidy and patched up clothes? Did he use to keep himself clean? Why did he use to comport himself in this way? What was the reaction of his family to the way he kept himself?

 

I never doubted the sincerity of Uncle Giuseppe when he said that he dressed like that in honour of the Church. He dressed in such a way on solemn occasions only. On ordinary days, while being tidy and proper­ly dressed, I do not remember that he wore any dis­tinctive as a monsignor, nor was he particular in his dress. I can say that, from the manner he dressed on ordinary days, I would never have known that he was a monsignor. He did not make use of any perfumes.

 

20.       “Once he was going to preach and he came to grand­ma to ask her about what he was going to preach. She told him to preach about the Holy Spirit and probably he went to prepare the sermon...” Where did grandma live? Do you mean that he did not live there? Did he come there regularly? You say that “… he went to his own room.” Do you mean that in his mother’s house he had his own room? Did all the brothers and sisters have their own room, or only the S.G? In case, why was he the only one? Did you ever enter this room? Are you able to describe it? You say that he was go­ing to preach. Did the S.G., often preach? Where? To whom? Did you ever hear any of his sermons? In what language did he preach? Did he use to write his sermons? If yes, do you know what has become of them and in whose possession they are now?  Was it normal for him to ask Grandma what he was go­ing to preach about? Why do you think he asked Grand­ma? Perhaps because he was not able to find subjects for his sermons?

 

From what you say it appears that there was a certain collaboration between his mother and the S.G., and vi­ce versa in the projects they planned together (you mention the sagramentini, the acquisition of a hou­se in Qrendi, an institute for babies). Do you con­firm this? In fact do you have the impression that Grandma’s character influenced the S.G., very much? If yes, can you describe in what respect? Do you have the impression that Grandma got on with the S.G., better than with the other members of the De Piro family? If yes, can you explain why? Did it ever appear that the S.G., was preferred by his mother? In what? Was there ever any trouble between the brothers and sisters about this? How do you know this?

 

Did the S.G., show his love for his mother? Do you think this was easy for him? Do you think this was a genuine love, or perhaps because his mother gave him financial help?

 

You say that when the S.G’s mother was nearing her end she wanted someone to say prayers for her. The S.G., went near her and prayed. First of all, did this occur when the S.G’s mother was really nearing her end or when she was very poorly, but later got better (because in fact, it is known that the S.G., died before her)? Does the fact that the S.G., went near her mean that at that time he was very often near his mother? Does it mean that at that time he seemed to put his work aside so that he might stay near his mother? Do you remember if he was doing this spontaneously or with preoccupa­tion that he was abandoning his work? Do you know if he administered the anointing of the sick on her? If yes, do you know how he administered it? Do you remember if he had thought to provide medical care for her? In case, what was it? Or perhaps he was against it? If he was against, why? How do you know this?

 

It would be more exact to say that he was going to make a sermon to young girls. I remember that this incident happened in Grandma’s house at Valletta. Uncle immediate­ly went to his room to prepare the sermon. Both Uncle Giuseppe and Uncle Santo had a room in this house, but I never entered in these rooms. They also had their own separate rooms at Mdina. Uncle Giuseppe rarely slept at Grandma’s; usually he slept at St. Joseph’s Institute or Fra Diego’s Institute. Uncle Joseph’s room at Mdina had antique furniture, according to the style of the house. Other uncles and aunts did not have a room at Grandma’s houses.

 

I know of another occasion when Uncle preached at Sliema. But other details related to the question I cannot give.

 

I know only of this occasion that Uncle Giuseppe asked Grandma what to preach. To me it seemed quite natural that Uncle would ask Grandma’s opinion about this since Grandma was familiar with girls and knew their needs. There was collaboration between Uncle Giuseppe and Grand­ma. Grandma influenced all her children, and they all had a sound religious formation. Both Grandma and Uncle Giuseppe were intent on doing well and helping others. Perhaps when Grandma saw how Uncle Giuseppe kept nothing for himself, she helped him more. But Grandma loved all her children; she even loved my father who was not her son, but her daughter’s husband.

 

All the family, though not expansive in their show of affection, loved each other; and this love and affec­tion were sincere from all sides, even from Uncle Giuseppe’s.

 

I repeat that this was not Grandma’s last illness, but she was gravely ill. She made a sign that she wanted Uncle Giuseppe to be near her and pray on her. Uncle said this ejaculation: “Dio mio, mio Signore, vi amo.” I remember that he said it once. I cannot say whether on this occasion Uncle passed more time in Grandma’s home than usual. I do not know whether Grandma receiv­ed the anointing of the sick or not. I know that my father and another doctor took care of her during this illness, but other details I cannot give.

 

21.       “One day as I was at nanna’s, he appeared with an oil portrait”. What exactly did the portrait represent? Did the fact that he brought it show that he understood painting? Do you know if he himself painted? Do you know if the S.G., appreciated art and culture? How do you pro­ve this? What was the relation between the picture you mention and the house which you mention in the same context? “At last we got the house.” What exactly was this house you mention? To whom had it belonged before it was acquired by the S.G., or his mother? By what you say do you mean that the S.G., had some share in the acquisition of this house? In case, what was it? Why do you think he gave this share?

You say that the house was to be dedicated to the girls in Qrendi, “… because they know so little.” What did they have very limited knowledge of?  Doctrine, sewing, schooling? Was the house opened? Do you know if the S.G., had taken some similar initiative? In case, where? Per­haps in the Institutes he had in his care?

 

This was a portrait of Grandma. It was not large. It was intended for the house for girls she opened at Qrendi. Recently I came to know that Uncle used to paint. Pro­bably he designed also the chapel at St. Joseph’s In­stitute. Once I also noticed Uncle Joseph giving tips, to two cousins who came over from Florence, on how to sing. He also liked to hear music.

 

The house at Qrendi was an initiative of Grandma who wanted the girls at Qrendi to be more educated, especially in matters religious. Grandma used to say: “These girls know nothing.” From the way Grandma and Uncle spoke, I got the impression that it was not an easy matter for them to obtain the house in question. Although it was an initiati­ve of Grandma, it was Uncle Joseph who had to do all the work since Grandma did not go out of her house.

 

I know that this house was opened. I even visited it once, though I entered only in the entrance hall. I do not know that Grandma had opened, or tried to open, similar houses.

 

Other details about this house I cannot give. I do not know that Uncle opened any other houses like the one at Qrendi. When I visited Fra Diego’s Institute I always got the idea that the girls there, were prepared for life. I also noticed that the servants employed with us and who formerly had been at Fra Diego’s knew some Ital­ian, knew embroidery and knew how to keep the house. They were also educated in their manners and had a good religious formation.

 

22.       “In another occasion he told nanna that he had in mind to open an institute for babies. Promptly nanna said: “In this case you must have nuns not priests”. Do you know if, in fact, this Institute was opened? In case, where and how? Who was in charge of it?

 

lam provisum. cf. Session no. 67, answer to question no. 10.

 

23.       In your document you do not mention anything about the S.G., as founder of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul. Do you know something about the beginnings of this Society? Do you know what was its exact scope? Do you know if he had many members? Did they stay with him? What was the family’s opinion of this Society? How was it received by the Maltese Hierarchy? By the people in general? Did you ever visit some of the first houses?

 

I know from my sister Bice Cremona that Uncle’s idea was to send missionaries to help Maltese emigrants. I heard also from Bice that he always had this idea in mind sin­ce when he had decided to become a priest.

 

I also know from the late Dr. George Zammit LL.D., that he gave a field to Uncle to enlarge St. Agatha’s.  When Un­cle wanted to pay for this field, Dr. Zammit did not want any money, and he only asked for the celebration of a Mass, and Uncle said: “We will celebrate more than one!” I know all this from the said Dr. Zammit. I also once heard Bice say that she thought Uncle’s idea was something difficult to attain, especially because of lack of transport.

More details I cannot give.

 

24.       You do not say anything about the S.G.’s death. Do you remember when he died, where and how? How was the news of his death received by you, by the people in ge­neral? Do you remember the funeral, where it took place, who conducted it, in what way was it held? Do you know if, after the death of the S.G., any problems arose in the family about bequests, etc? If yes, do you think it happened because of some negligence on the part of the S.G? If not, does it mean that he left everything in order? Do you know where he was buried? Do you know when and how the transport of his remains to where he is now occurred? Have you ever visited his tomb? Are you able to describe it? Would there be other people at his grave?

 

I was not present when Uncle died. What I know I heard from my family. Uncle got sick suddenly during a religious function. He was taken to hospital. My brother, Dr. Vittore Stilon, assisted him. My sister Bice was present also. All the members of the family were sad at his loss; even the servants. I do not remember the funeral.  Probably I was not feeling well at the time. Otherwise I would have attended. Other details I cannot give.

 

I remember that Uncle Giuseppe left his property for the Institute for babies he wanted to erect. In my family there was no grumbling about his will, nor did I ever hear any members of the families of my cousins grumbling about this.

 

I sometimes visit Uncle’s tomb at St. Agatha’s. He is laid in a sarcophagus, and there is a bust of Uncle. In some places the S.G., is known.  Others have not heard of him.

I am not in a position to answer the rest of the quest­ion.

 

25.       Do you know of someone who is against this Case of Beatification? If yes, who and why?

 

I do not know of anybody who is against this Case of Beatification.

 

26.       Do you want to add, cancel,  or change anything in your evidence?

 

Negative.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 pm., absoluto praedictae testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis Ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlexi integram depositionem, data illae facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

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

 

Elena Refalo, testis.

 

Dimissa autem teste, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mihi mandavit expediri citationes contra testem Catharinam Giordmaina ut examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotorem ut assistat die 12 Novembris, 1990.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem, ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fide me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 5 Novembris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Septuagesima Prima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo die vero decima secunda Novembris (sive 12-11-1990), hora 9.45 a.m, coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Domina Catharina Giordmaina, testis inducta et citata cui delatum fuit iuramentum in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Catherine Giordmaina testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dic­ta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis:

 

Personalia:   I am Mrs. Catherine Giordmaina, born on 3 August, 1906, at Mdina, daughter of Riccardo Vella and Maria Zahra, both dead, and widow of the la­te Anthony. I now reside at 2, St. Publius Square, Mdina. I am a practicing Catholic.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in this case of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant Of God (S.G.) Mons. Guzeppi De Piro, Founder of the Mission­ary Society of St. Paul. What made you come to give evidence? Was there anyone who told you what evidence to give? What contact did you have with the S.G? When did this contact begin and how long did it last?

 

I came to give witness after being contacted by a member of the Society of St. Paul, whose name I do not know, on suggestion of a certain Emmanuel Farrugia from Mdina. I have not been told what to say, and what­ever I witness I know from personal experience.

 

I am not related to the S.G. I used to no­tice the S.G., at Mdina as a child, and I know him only at Mdina. I knew him till his death.

 

2.         From the written information you have already given it appears that you knew the S.G’s family well.  Do you confirm this? In case, can you give some information about this family? Was it a poor or wealthy family? If wealthy, does it mean that they had a lot of money, lands, houses, property? Did you ever visit this family’s house in Mdina? If yes, can you describe it? What do you know about his mother, father, brothers and sisters? What was their work? What did people think of them?

 

I knew the family of the S.G., though not so intimately. They were a very pious and rich family. From the members of the family I remember “Is-Sur Piju, the father of a certain “Miss Fussy” who was the god­mother of one of my children, together with Alexander Apap Bologna, a nephew of the S.G., from his mother’s side, Teresa by name (if I remember well). Piju had another daughter who was a Dorothean Sister. I know also that there were some members of the family who died before middle age. I do not know what occupa­tions they had.

 

I got to know very well the S.G’s mother, Kika, since she was an elderly lady. I only saw her at church. She enjoyed a good reputation as a pious per­son. I do not know anything about his father.

 

I just remember the S.G’s uncle, Baron Giuseppino De Piro. It was said that he was a benefact­or of the church of the Friars Minor; he had brought over from Rome several things to be used in the Good Friday Procession.

 

All in all the S.G’s family was an exem­plary one.  It was not only not haughty but also humble.  And it was a pious family.

 

I cannot give details about the wealth of the family of the S.G. I know that the house of the mother of the S.G., was large. I knew that his brothers and sisters had a house at Mdina and an­other at Valletta. Fr. Santin De Piro had a house at St. Paul’s Bay. I never entered any of these houses. I know also that the S.G’s mother had maids and at least one male servant, Wenzu by name, who later was employed at the Cathedral. I had no special contact with these servants.

 

During the war, Lina, married to her Cousin Alexander Apap Bologna, both nephews of the S.G., lived for some time with me at Mdina. But I obtained no in­formation from them about the S.G.

 

3.         “I remember that, at first, he (the S.G.) lived with his mother.” “At first …” Do you remember exactly until when? What was the reason then why he left? During his stay with his mother do you know if he had some pastor­al work? In case, what was it and where? Did you ever see him at the Cathedral? If yes, what services did he perform? Perhaps saying Mass, hearing confessions, preach­ing, praying in the choir? Did you ever happen to see him praying alone? Can you say something about each of the activities we have just mentioned and his comportment during such activities? You refer to the S.G., as Monsignor. Do you know if this was just a title or a regular office? If the latter, do you know of some duties con­nected with this office, and how he performed them? Do you know when and how he was appointed a monsignor? If you remember when he was installed, do you know if there was some special celebration?

 

I remember the S.G., living with his mother.  He lived with her until he began founding his Society. All I know about Monsignor De Piro when he lived at his mother’s is that he was a monsignor, but I have no idea of what this entailed. I remember that I al­ways addressed him Dun Guzepp and never as Monsignor. He never made any reaction that showed that he was annoyed or displeased with me for calling him so. I note also that I always knew him as a Monsignor, and never knew him when he was still just a priest. I saw him at the Cathedral during functions only. I never heard his Mass, nor did I ever see him hearing Confessions or preaching or praying alone. I never noticed in him anything different from the other monsignori.

 

I do not know of any other pastoral duties during this time. It was common knowledge that when he left his mother’s house, he did this to live either with the So­ciety he was founding or at St. Joseph’s Institute, of which he had become a director. I myself sometimes saw the S.G., at the house of the Society at Xara Palace, and other times I heard the members saying that Mons. De Piro was upstairs.

 

4.         “I remember him passing along the streets of  Mdina...” Did you see him often? Would he be going to some place or just strolling? If the latter, perhaps to pass the time or because it was necessary for his health?  “... tall, stout and handsome”. Do you mean by this that the S.G., appeared to be a healthy man? Do you know if, in fact, he had fallen ill before? In case, what was the illness? Do you know if someone else in the fami­ly suffered from the same illness?

 

“He was a smart priest...” Do you mean that he was neat? Also in his clothes? Perhaps he also appeared to pay too much attention to his clothes, hair, shoes? Do you re­member if he was always smart or on some special oc­casions only? On weekdays did he wear some particular mark to show that he was a monsignori  “... and you felt awkward in his presence because he was serious.” What exactly do you mean by “serious”? Perhaps moody and irritable? Upset? Worried? Annoyed? Or perhaps earnest?

“You felt awkward in his presence.” Perhaps in such a way that you would not approach him? That people were afraid of him?

 

I saw the S.G., just passing through the streets, not stopping, nor having a walk. Nor did I see other monsignori stopping around or having a walk at Mdina. I re­member myself when young, and then myself sending my children to ask the blessing of priests when they were passing through the streets, but where Monsignor De Piro was concerned I used to tell my children: “Go and kiss Father Joseph’s hands because he is a saint” (Morru busu jdejn Dun Guzepp ghax qaddis).  I know that Monsignor De Piro was esteemed as a good and pious priest also by others, though I never heard anybody else referring to him as a saint. I myself and others based our opinion about the S.G’s holiness on his humility and charity towards the orphans and the fact that he spent his money for the founding of his Society.

 

The S.G., was a well-built man, and I also knew him always as a healthy person. I do not know whether he was ever sick or ill.

He was always well dressed as befits a priest without exaggerations. The only smell I noticed was that of incense or balsam. He used to dress as a simple priest when not during functions.

 

By the word “serious”, I mean that he was not a person who would allow any familiarity. For the rest he was always with a smile on his face, gentle with all, inspiring confidence. For myself I would say that, if I knew that he was to pass my way, I would have waited for him to ask his blessing.

 

I never noticed him troubled, moody or sad.

 

5.         “You would not see him in the street talking. This does not mean that he was standoffish. He greeted peop­le if they greeted him and that’s all.”  Can’t the fact that he did not use to chatter mean that he was odd or that he was unable to communicate with others or that he was timid?  Did he, in other places, stop to talk to people? If yes, where? In case, does this mean that he chose the persons to talk to?

 

“He greeted those that greeted him, and that’s all.” Was he never the first to greet? Don’t you think that this attitude kept people away from him? Did you ever hear comments about this? Is it possible that he assumed this attitude precisely to keep people away from him? When you describe the S.G., in this way do you mean to say that he was very different from the other monsignors of his time?

 

The fact that the S.G., behaved so, in no way meant that he was of a strange character.  I never heard that he stopped talking elsewhere.  In no way do I think that the S.G., did not greet others through pride; nay, I think it was the fruit of his humble, meek and quiet character that he did not take the initiative in greeting.  I noticed that, in this matter of seriousness of charact­er, humility and general behaviour towards others, Monsignor De Piro was very different from other monsignori.

 

6.         “He had begun his Society here in Mdina.” What was the real name of his Society? Do you know why it was given this name? Do you know how and when it began? Do you know how the S.G., came out with this idea to found this So­ciety? Do you know if there were many members at the start, and from which environment they came? When you say “Society”, what exactly do you mean? Perhaps something like a religious order? Do you mean by this that the members made some vows and lived together in a community? Was this Society made up only of priests or only brothers, or the two together? Did you ever enter the house in which the Society was founded? If yes, can you describe it? You say that this house was part of Mgr. Mifsud’s house. Can you say who this Monsignor was, and what contact he had with the S.G? Do you know if he had given or rented this house to the S.G? Is it possible that it was the S.G., who asked it of Mgr. Mifsud? Why was this house chosen? How long did they stay in this house? Why did they leave it? What was the people’s opinion of this Society? Where they in favour of it or against? According to what you say, the aim of this Society was the missions, and to take care of the children in the Institutes. Do you mean that this Society was founded with a double aim? Do you mean that the members of the Society, in fact, started to work in the Institutes from the beginning? Was it also from the beginning that they went to the missions? Do you remember anyone who went to the missions? Do you think it was easy for the S.G., to begin this Society? If not, what type of difficult­ies did he encounter? Do you know if he had any help in these difficulties? In case, from whom? How did he react to these difficulties? How do you know all this? At the time he had the house of the Society in Mdina, where did he live? At his mother’s house or at the house of the Society? How do you know this? You also mention a certain Bro. Guzepp Caruana who taught catechism. Who was this Bro Guzepp? Was the teaching of catechism another aim of the Society or a person­al initiative of this brother?

 

I knew that Mgr. De Piro was founding a Society, but it was much later, when the Society moved to St. Agatha’s, that I came to know that it was called, “Society of St. Paul”. I do not know why it was cal­led so. I remember that the Society was for some time at a the house of a certain Monsignor Mifsud, and at anoth­er time at Xara Palace, but I do not remember where first. I do not know how and why Mgr. De Piro started this Society. I knew that there were several members, but I do not know from what social background they came. ( In my opinion, if Mgr. De Piro had to choose be­tween rich and poor to become members of his Society, he would have preferred the poor. He himself, though rich and of noble descent, in no way showed his origin.)

 

Et sic hora 12.10 p.m. suspensum est examen dictae test­is ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 19 Novembris, hora 9.30 a.m. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam eadem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eadem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si neceseario reputaverit. Ipsa eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

Catherine Giordmaina, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiecopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi at de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Pr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

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

 

Actum die 12 Novembris, 1990

 

Its est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Septugesima Secunda

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo, die vero vigesima sexta Novembris (sive 26-11-1990) hora 9.25 a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri, ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario comparuit Catharina Giordmaina, testis inducta et citata, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Catherine Giordmaina testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato ac dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopali recognovisset, clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis, quae ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Answer to question no. 6 continues.

 

All I knew at the time was that Monsignor De Piro gathered youths to prepare them for the priesthood.

 

All I know about Mgr. Mifsud, whom I just remember, is that he was a member of the Cathedral Chapter, and lived near the residence of the mother of Mgr De Piro. All I know is that members of Mgr. De Piro’s Society lived for some time in this house. For the rest I do not know.

 

I do not remember the reactions of people at Mdina (if any) to the presence of youths being prepared at Mgr. Mifsud’s house and Xara Palace.

 

All I know is that in fact members of the Society, at least later when at St. Agatha’s, went to the missions, and that Mgr. De Piro took care of orphans. It was com­mon knowledge that Mgr. De Piro had left his mother’s house, except for some visits he made to his mother, to live with the members of his Society.

 

I knew Fra Guzepp because it was he whom we met when we, mothers, took our children for religious lessons. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

7.         “ I know that later on he went to live further down and did not remain in Mdina; he had begun to take care of the Institutes.”  “Later on …” Do you mean after he had founded the Society? In case, do you remember how long after? You mean you want to give the impression that he left Mdina because of the Institut­es. Do you confirm this, or was there perhaps another rea­son why he had to leave Mdina? In case, what was it?  Per­haps some trouble in the family, or with the Monsignors or with the members of the Society? In case, how do you know this?

Do you also want to say that when he left Mdina he went to live in the Institutes? If yes, in which one? Why this one? Do you know if the conditions that he lived in this Institute were better than those in Mdina? How do you know this? If they were better, was this perhaps the reason why he left Mdina? If they were not better, what do you think made him live in these conditions? Perhaps his sense of duty, or the spirit of poverty and denial? How do you know this?

 

I think that Mgr. De Piro began founding his Society and taking care of orphans at the same time. From hearsay I know that he left the houses of his Society to go and live at St. Joseph’s Institute at Hamrun (Sta. Venera). I think he went to St. Joseph’s Institute because he could do more good there. Surely he could not have been better off at an orphanage than at his mother’s house, which was large, comfortable and with servants.

 

8.         “He began to take care of the Institutes”. What in­stitutes did he begin to take care of? Were these entrust­ed to him at the same time or one after the other? For how long was he in charge of them?  Who was it that entrust­ed them to him? Why were they entrusted to him? Perhaps because he showed himself to be the right person? In case, in what circumstances did he show this? Perhaps because he was the type who never refused the work entrusted to him from those above? Perhaps because he had money? Do you know if he promptly accepted this work or perhaps he tried to avoid it? Do you know what was the condition of the institutes at that time? Do you know how many child­ren there were in these Institutes? What kind of children were there? What do you mean when you say that the S.G., “… began to take care of… ” the Institutes? What was his work supposed to be there? Perhaps he had to see from where to get the money for them? In case, do you know what he did to collect money? Perhaps from his own or from the family? Do you know if he ever had trouble about this? Do you know what was the family’s attitude about the Institutes? Per­haps he begged for money? Do you know how he performed these duties? Did you ever visit any of the Institutes at the time when the S.G., was director? If yes, when and with what aim? What impression did you form about life in these Institutes?  If you never visited the Institutes, did you ever speak with someone who was in any of these Institutes at that time? If yes, in what way did they speak to you? Was something particular said about the share of the S.G?  “… the fact that he began to take care of some Institut­es was wellknown here.”  “Here” means Mdina? If yes, why? Perhaps because he him­self said this? Or perhaps his relatives? If yes, with what aim was this said? Besides in Mdina, was this fact known in other places? How do you know this? What was the people’s comment about this activity of the S.G?

 

Besides St. Joseph’s Institute at Hamrun, he founded another one in Gozo, of which I came to know just inci­dentally when I heard that he fell down while there. I heard people saying that it was Mgr. De Piro who found­ed St. Joseph’s Institute at Hamrun, and it was his ini­tiative and he was not forced in anyway by anyone. The idea we at Mdina had of Mgr. De Piro as director is that he had to see to it that the children of the Instit­ute had their necessities. I know of a member of his So­ciety, Fr. Joseph Spiteri, who helped him at Malta and Gozo to run the Institutes. I think that Mgr. De Piro kept the Institute at Hamrun from his own money.

I emphasize that since Hamrun is far from Mdina all I can say about Mgr. De Piro’s work at the Institute is only from hearsay.

 

9.         “ In fact I even heard them mention St. Joseph’s In­stitute of Hamrun and they said that he also went to Gozo to start an institute there.”  What did you hear them say about the Institute of Hamrun? And that of  Gozo? Do you mean that he had begun this In­stitute? Was this accomplished on his own initiative, or was he perhaps encouraged by someone. In fact did he succeed in starting it? Besides, as you say, the floor that caved in with him, do you know of other difficulties he had to face in Gozo? Do you know if there were al­ready other institutes in Gozo with the same aim? “He used to go to Gozo”. Do you mean that he regularly crossed to Gozo? Was it easy for him at that time? If not, what were the difficulties? (perhaps transport, other duties)?  “In connection with this it was said that at one moment a floor had caved in with him”. Do you know if he was hurt? If yes, was he hurt for a long time?

 

“Everyone said that he dedicated all his life to the Institutes.”  Do you mean that he attached importance to them and not to the Society he had founded? (In fact you say later on that he used to come to Mdina only per­iodically to stay with the members of the Society). If there was a change in importance, what do you think was the reason?

 

“...he spent all his money for them; he had given his wealth to them.” First of all, can you give details ab­out the ‘wealth that the S.G., possessed? Do you mean that he gave all he had to the Institutes, or perhaps you are including with this the Society he founded and also some other acts of charity he performed?  In fact, was the S.G., well known as a charitable person? Was he the kind of person to whom people betook themselv­es for help? In case, what kind of charity did they ask?  Money? Help during illness? Employment? Help related to family problems? How did he receive them? How do you know this? Did he help anyone who came to him, or was he very careful to see that those who came were really in need? Did he, of his own accord, go to help people, or only those who came to him?

 

All I know is that Mgr. De Piro founded an institute in Gozo, as I said above in No. 8. Besides, Fr. Joseph Spiteri’s mother, who was my godmother, told me that her son had been sent from St. Joseph’s Institute, Hamrun, to the Institute in Gozo. For the rest I know nothing.

 

When I said that Mgr. De Piro had dedicated his whole life for the Institutes, this ín no way means that he neglect­ed his Society; nay the members of his Society helped him in the running of these Institutes.

 

I do not know how great was the wealth of Mgr. De Piro. All I can say about the S.G’s charity is that he spent his money on the Society and the Institutes.

 

10.       Do you know if, besides his work in the Institutes and the Society he had founded, he had other responsibilit­ies at that time? If yes, what were they? Perhaps some work connected with the governing of the Country? Do you know if he was involved in some particular episod­es of our Country like the 7 June, 1919? In case, do you know what his share was?

 

I never heard that Mgr. De Piro took any part in local po­litics, as certain other monsignors who were known at Mdina for their political activity. 1 feel that Mgr. De Piro’s interests were not in political matters, but in charity to­wards orphans and his Society.

I do not know of any other commitment of Mgr. De Piro.

 

11.       “ I think he went to visit his mother, but he stayed longer with the members of the Society.”  Do you mean that, at this time, he seemed to have abandon­ed his mother? If he did not visit her often what do you think was the reason? Do you know if at this time his mother was healthy or sick?

 

I do not mean that Mgr. De Piro lost his interest in his mother. For the rest, aim provisum.

 

12.       “ I remember it was said that he collapsed after a procession he had conducted in Hamrun. I do not remember which one it was.”  Do you at least remember when this happened? Did he re­cover after this, or was it the occasion of his death? Was there any one who said what was the cause of this collapse? Perhaps because of some illness he had before?  Perhaps because he was tired? In fact, do you know if the S.G., was the type of person who took care of his health by eating and resting as necessary, and looking after his health? How do you know this? When the S.G., died what was the atmosphere in Mdina? Did people talk about him? If yes, what did they say? Do you know what atmosphere there was in other parts of Malta?

 

Do you remember where the funeral was held? Did you at­tend it? If yes, can you describe what happened in the funeral, who attended, who conducted it? Where did the burial take place? Do you know if in those days the news­papers referred to his death? In case, what was written?

 

13.       Do you know anything about the transport of the re­mains of the S.G., from the original place of burial to where he is found today? When and how was the transport held? Did you attend? What was the atmosphere on that day? What was said about the S.C., on that occasion? Did you ever visit his grave? If yes, are you able to des­cribe it? Would there be candles, flowers, ex voto, etc? Would there be other people? What would they be doing?

 

I now remember that Mgr. De Piro fell sick during the pro­cession of our Lady of Sorrows. For the rest, I do not know or remember anything.

 

14.       Do you know if there exists a devotion to the S.G? If yes, only in Mdina or in other parts of Malta as well? In case, where? What form does this devotion take? Has this devotion begun in our times or since the death of the S.G? Do you think this devotion is connected with the idea of the S.G., as a saint? Did you ever hear any one refer to the S.C., with this title during his lifetime and after his death? In case, do you remember whom?

 

Which do you think were the virtues that shone in the S.G? Do you think that devotion to the S.C., is increas­ing or decreasing? If it is increasing, why? If it is decreasing, why?

 

15.       Do you pray through the intercession of the S.C?  Do you feel that your prayers are answered? Do you know other people who pray through the intercession of the S.G? Do you know if favours have been granted through the in­tercession of the S.G? In case, can you give details?

 

All I can say is that lately I have began saying an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory to the Father daily in honour of the S.G. I still admire him and feel he should he canonized because of his nobility of character, seriousness of manner, and above all, his humility and his charity towards the orphans. The good he started in founding his Society is still going on.

 

I pray the S.G., to intercede for me to save my soul. I pray also that this Cause of Beatification would come to a good end. I hold him in veneration together with Sister Adeodata Pisani, 0.S.B., Tito Bradsma O.C. and Ignatio Falzon.

 

16.       Do you know if someone is against this Case of Bea­tification and Canonization? In case, who, and why?

 

Negative.

 

17.       Do you want to add, cancel, change something you said in your evidence?

 

Negative.

 

Et sic hora 10.55 a.m. absolute praedictae testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlexi integram depositionem, data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi, si necessario reputaverit. Ipsa eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

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

 

Catherine Giordmaina.

 

Dimissa autem teste, Delegatus Archiepiecopalis mandavit mihi citationes expediri contra testem Fr. Dominic Coppola O.F.M. ut die 3 Decembris, hora 9.30 a.m. examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotorem ut dicta die et hora assistat.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cam Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 26 Novembris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Septuagesima Tertia

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo, die vero decima Decembris (sive 10-12-1990), hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Jooephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Rev. Dnus. Fr. Dominic Coppola O.F.M., testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese sabscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Dominic Coppola testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia: I am Rev. Fr. Dominic Coppola O.F.M., pro­fessed religious of the Friars Minor of the Province of Malta, born on 7 June, 1913, son of Joseph Coppola and Emile nêe Amato, both dead, born at Valletta, parish of our Lady of Porto Salvo.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in this Case of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mgr. Guzeppi De Piro, founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. Did anyone persuade you to come to give evidence? Perhaps he also told you what evidence to give? Did you have any particular relation with the S.G., for example, were you related to him?

 

I was asked to testify by Fr. Anthony Sciberras MSSP, but I was in no way told what to testify. I testify from my own personal experience. I knew the S.G., from about 1922 or 1928 onwards. For some time I was an aspirant in the Society the S.G., was found­ing. I am in no way related to the S.G.

 

2.         At the beginning of your information which you gave in writing you mention your wish to join the Dominican Fathers, who saw that you were still young. Then you say that, at the same time, “ I had heard about a certain Mgr. De Piro who was gathering young people so that, aft­er proper instruction, he might send them to the missions.” Exactly from whom did you hear this? If in Valletta, do you mean that the S.G., was well known there? Much or little? By whom, most? What impression did the people of Valletta had of the S.G., at that time?

 

“... after proper instruction…” What kind of teaching was this? Wasn’t any reference made to the priesthood or to the religious life?

 

After I was refused entry in the Dominican Order on account of my age, I heard in Valletta about Mgr. De Piro and the Society he was founding. I do not rememb­er who told me. In my opinion Mgr. De Piro was, at that time, a wellknown person. Surely he was already known in Valletta, but I cannot speak about the im­pression he made on people at that time.

 

When I say “… ighallimhom… ” (teach them) I mean prepare them for the priesthood. This was the idea people had of Mgr. De Piro’s Society.

 

3.         “My uncle was a teacher...and he suggested that we should go and talk to him. In fact, we went to Saint Joseph’s Institute in Hamrun.”  Why did you go to this place? Was there perhaps some connection between the S.G., and this Institute? In case, what was it? If it was because he was the director, do you know if the S.G., had other institutes in his care?  In case, which were they? 

 

“As soon as Mgr. De Piro saw us he gave us a warm welcome.” Did the S.G. know your uncle personally? Can you give a few more details as to how the S.G., received you? Do you know if this was his usual way of receiving people? If yes, how do you know this? “When I saw this, I was encouraged...” Perhaps you did not expect him to receive you in this way? In case, why did you not expect this?

 

“With great calm he said to me...” Do you mean by this that he did not show too much enthusiasm for the fact that you wished to join him?  On this occasion he told you that you had to be ready to go to work in a foreign mission. You did not under­stand this. Do you mean that the S.G., was difficult to understand when he talked to people?  If yes, does it mean that he did this on purpose, perhaps to appear more clever than others? If the opposite, i.e., he was able to speak a simple language, do you think this was easy for him?  Or did he make an effort to find simple words?  In fact, what was the point of “… foreign missions…”?  Perhaps he wanted the members of the Society to work abroad?  Or perhaps to work with some foreign missionary association?

 

We went to St. Joseph’s Institute because De Piro was direct­or of that Institute. He directed also other institutes, including one for girls.

 

Mgr De Piro showed he was pleased to meet us, although he always kept his seriousness of manner. He did not know my Uncle, but he greeted us warmly and in a friendly manner. We talked for quite some time and he made a numb­er of questions to me. He began by asking me whether I was ready to work in the “… missioni estere …” He explained to me what that meant, e.g. that I must be ready to go to Africa, etc., to teach and convert people.

 

I know people who praised the S.G., for the way he greeted and treated them. I never heard anybody comp­laining against the S.G.

 

I myself did not expect Mgr. De Piro to treat me so well. But his way of accepting me showed that he acted calmly, and though he accepted me promptly, he in no way hurried me. He showed no undue enthusiasm. Mgr. De Piro was not used to use high sounding words.

 

When he used the phrase “… missioni estere …” he did not do so to impress me.  Nay he took the pains to explain things to me. He used to speak in a simple manner that could be understood by all; even by us children when he made con­ferences to us.

 

By the way he explained the word “… estere …” he showed clearly that he had in mind all foreign missions, but not that he had in mind to form part of some foreign missionary association. After the talk I had with Mgr. De Piro, I came to know that he had in mind, and was in fact found­ing, a congregation to go to the missions. Mgr. De Piro’s aim always was to send members of his congregation to the missions.

 

4.         “When the Monsignor saw I was so keen, he invited me to start meeting him to talk.”

 

For these meetings with the S.G., did you go alone or with some other youths? Did you always meet at Saint Joseph’s? How often did you meet? How many times did you meet him? What was the duration of each session? What was this meeting like? Did he ever give you some work to do whilst you were with him? Did he ever give you some literature about the missions? Did he ever give you some present?

 

For some time I went alone to visit Mgr. De Piro. At this time I was already attending St. Aloysius College. It was Mgr. De Piro who had arranged for me to enter that college after my first talk with him. I was still living with my parents, though I was considered a member of the Society. These visits were not frequent and lasted for about a quart­er of an hour or twenty minutes. He did not give me any pre­sents, or ask me to help him in anyway. He gave me some literature to read, but I do not remember the contents. During these visits Mgr. De Piro talked to me about various matters.

 

5.         “He used to tell me that to join the Society I needed not only the desire but also conviction to join.” Do you mean that the S.G., wanted fresh members to have a real vocation? That the S.G., did not hurry to admit a new memb­er even though, as you yourself state, at that time, “Only a few members had joined and so he might have been keen to admit more members”? In fact, when you look backwards, do you think that he was taking enough precautions to admit only those who were truly called?

 

Mgr. De Piro used to speak to me about my vocation, and I confirm what I said in my declaration as quoted in question 5.  Mgr. De Piro used to see to it that whoever entered the Society had the seed of a vocation. I can speak about my group. We all had a vocation, but because of adverse circumstances, some of us had to leave. I will speak more fully later on about what happened (cf. no. 25 below). Although we were few, and Mgr. De Piro might have been tempt­ed to let all and sundry enter his congregation, he took all necessary precautions to be morally certain of our vo­cation.  And he accepted only those who showed these signs.

 

6.         “He encouraged me a lot and showed great interest in me, but he never used pressure on me.”  In your evidence you insist that he did not hurry you to join, nor did he use pressure on you. Perhaps you have in mind someone whom the S.G., hurried or used pressure on? Perhaps at times you heard someone blame the S.G., with hurry in accepting new members? In case, whom? “He used to encourage me...” Can you explain further?

 

While I confirm that Mgr. De Piro never used pressure on me, I state that I cannot say whether or not he used pres­sure on others.  We never spoke amongst us members about our vocation and how we entered the Society.

 

He encouraged me by the way he treated me; though still very young, he treated me as if I were a grown up. He showed us how things stood, and left us to decide by ourselves.

 

7.         “After a short time… he invited me to start attend­ing school at St. Aloysius’. I agreed and while I remain­ed at home I went to the Jesuits for a whole year, parti­cularly for literature.” What was this St. Aloysius Col­lege? Did the S.G., send only you to St. Aloysius or perhaps all those who wished to join? What relations did the S.G., have with this College?

 

“I agreed and whilst I remained at home...” Does this mean that until this time you did not live in the house of the Society? Does it also mean that you did not meet the S.G? Nor some other members of the Society? “… particularly for Literature.” What literature? Did the S.G., in some way follow your studies?

 

St. Aloysius College was a secondary school run by the Jesuits, and was one of the best schools on the Island. I was alone, from the Society of St. Paul, attending St. Aloysius College. There were others after me, but I do not know whether others attended before me. I repeat that I paid regular visits to Mgr. De Piro. I must think that he saw the reports and that they were good, since Mgr. De Piro automatically sent me to Notabile where I then attended the Augustinian Friars’ school. At St. Aloysius College we studied languages, mathematics and other subjects common to secondary schools. Although still living at home, I considered myself a memb­er of the Society, and I paid visits to Mgr. De Piro ex­pressly to show my interest in the Society, as a member of the said Society.

 

8.         “In fact, in 1928 I entered the House of De Piro’s Society in Mdina....”  Were you the only one or were others who entered? After the studies at St. Aloysius College, did everyone go to the house in Mdina?  Or were there perhaps some who did not go further? In case, was it their decision or the S.G‘s?  Was the house you mention the first house of the Society, or was there perhaps another one before it? In case, where? You say that the house was small and uncomfortable. Can you describe it? How did it compare with the houses of the com­mon people at that time? Why, do you think, did the Society have this house and not some one better? Could it be that it was the S.G’s explicit choice? In this house, did you have a room each? Did the S.G., have his own room? If yes, do you remember how it was?

 

I entered alone, though there I found other youths who were already novices. It was usual that when one went to Notabile one took the habit and began the novitiate. (In my case things were different, as I will explain later on.)

 

I do not know whether other students from St. Aloysius College did not continue the course at Notabile. Nor do I know whether the Society had any other house before.

 

The house I entered was what is now known as Xara Palace. There was a large corridor, and a staircase leading to a first floor. There were two halls upstairs: one was used as a chapel and the other was partitioned, one part was given to our master of novices, Fr. Manwel Bugeja OSA , and the other part was divided in smaller cubicles for the members. There was also a small room used by Mgr. De Piro. Downstairs there was a small kitchen, a refectory and a box room.

 

When my father and mother used to visit me once a month they expressed their feelings to me asking me how I did not get weary of living in such a place.

 

Et sic hora 12.10 p.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 17 Decembris, hora 9.30 a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

Fr. Dominic Coppola, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depotitionibus, mandavit mihi et de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

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

 

Actum die 10 Decembris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Septuagesima Quarta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo, die vero decima septima Decembris (sive 17-12-1990), hora 9.40 am., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Rev. Dnus Dominic Coppola O.F.M., testis inductus et citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quad ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr.  Dominic Coppola testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis:

 

Answer to question no. 8 continues.

 

I would like to correct what I said last time about the first house of the Society, in the sense that late­ly I heard from others that Xara Palace was the first house of the Society.

 

The house was not small, but it lacked commodities. it was small in relation to the number of members of the Society who lived there.  It was similar to other common houses at the time, ex­cept for the views it enjoyed.  I think that the house belonged to the family of the S.G.

 

I do not remember exactly what was in the room of the S.G, but I remember that his way of life was strictly that of a religious.

 

9.         “.... he had given me a list of what I had to take with me...”  Do you remember roughly what he expected you to bring with you?  Did he insist that you should bring all the items in the list? Did he make your admittance dependent on the fact that you had to bring these things? Did you ever hear that the S.G., refused any one who would not provide the items in the list?  Besides this list, did you pay some money before you en­tered? In case, to whom did you give it? To the S.G?

 

The things I was expected to take with me were a bed and mattress, a wardrobe, a desk, a priedieu and a chair. I do not know of any case when the S.G., refused somebody because he could not take furniture with him. We did not give the Society any money before entering.

 

10.       Besides the poverty of the house, you also mention the low quality of the food. In fact who had to defray the expenses for the food and maintenance of the members of the Society? How do you know this? In general., do you remember that you always lived in this misery, or perhaps gradually the situation began to change and better time followed?

 

The food was poor in the sense that there was no choice in food, but the amount of food was similar to that eat­en in common families. I cannot say with certainty whence the S.G., obtained money; we commonly thought that the S.G., provided the money needed from his own substance. I remember that we used to buy whole­sale from the agents the things we needed.

 

11.       “ An Augustinian Friar, Father Manwel Bugeja, acted as superior of the house and helped in the formation.”  How do you explain the fact that your superior was an Augustinian? If perhaps the S.G., did not have people from among you who were prepared to do this work, why, do you think, didn’t he choose, for example, a Jesuit since he already had contact with them?  Was this Father chosen by the S.G., himself or was he chosen by someone else? In case, by whom? In fact, how do you feel Fr. Manwel was as a superior? Can you give details about the program of your formation at that time?

 

Mgr. De Piro had no member of the Society who was mature enough to be superior.  Therefore he had to choose somebody to take care of the house. I found Fr. Bugeja there when I entered the house. At that time we frequent­ed the school of the Augustinians. I cannot say whether it was Mgr. De Piro himself who chose Fr. ManweI Bugeja 0SA, or whether the Augustinian provincial sent this per­son on his own initiative.

 

This Fr. Bugeja was an Augustinian of the old school.  He was strict. His mentality was that of an old man, and could not easily understand and adapt himself to us young people. The spiritual formation he gave us was good.  He saw to it that we observed well our duties and did well our common acts of piety. On the whole we got on well, but there were incidents, which irritated us youngsters. He was suspicious.  He pretended from us more than we were capable or, at least, ready to give.  He was not capable of under­standing us.  His character was not good company to us. All this caused friction between us and Fr. Bugeja, our super­ior.

 

Mgr. De Piro knew about the situation, and that we were not happy with our superior, but he always tried to calm us by telling us to be patient. Mgr. De Piro’s reaction, and the way he spoke to us, was such as to induce us to accept our Superior. We used to wake up at 6.00 a.m. At 6.30 a.m. we used to make our meditation: one would read a section from a spiritual book (among others, the Imitation of Christ) and then we would reflect on it. Then we used to have Mass, breakfast, did some studying, time permitting, and at 8.00 a.m. we started lessons at the Augustinian Fathers till about 11.30 a.m. At 12.30 p.m. we used to have lunch, recreation and, study. At 7.45 p.m. we used to say the Rosary, at 8.00 p.m. supper and then Examination of Conscience. Besides, we used to visit the Blessed Sacrament after each meal and before going to bed.  We also used to do the necessary household chores. At 9.30 p.m. we used to go to bed.

 

12.       “In the House there were six members, a certain Pisani, Fr Anton Camilleri, Fr Alwig Gatt, Fr Wistin Grech, and a certain Censu Cauchi.”  Were these priests? Had they been in the Society for a long time? You say that for Literature you went with the “others”.  Who were these “others”? Were the studies of Literature for which you went to the Convent of the Augustinians in Rabat something different from the “Litera­ture” that you went to study at St. Aloysius College? Why, in fact, did you now go to the Augustinian Friars? Did you go to this priory only for literature or perhaps for some other studies?

 

From the members I mentioned as being any companions no one at that time was yet ordained priest. But there were ordain­ed priests at that time, though not at Mdina.

 

I attended school at the Augustinians with other students (though as far as I remember no one of my companions attended with me; they were novices).  There we studied human­ities. But I cannot say why we attended the Augustinian school, except that it was the nearest school.

 

For the rest, I cannot answer.

 

13.       It appears that when you joined the Society, it was a period of a lot of work for the S.G., so much so that he had several institutes in his care. Besides the In­stitutes, do you know if he had some other works at that time?  “In spite of all this De Piro never abandoned us. As a matter of fact, once a week, or at most after a fort­night, he used to come to Mdina regularly.”  Can you say that for the S.G., his work for the Society was above all his other activities? Do you feel that once a week or every fortnight was enough for you to have him among you? What did your fellow members think about this? Did you ever hear anyone complain about this? Did he come to Mdina for the sole purpose of visiting you, or perhaps be­cause he had other duties to perform? In case, what were they? Perhaps his family?  The cathedral? As members of the Society did you have any contact with the Mdina Cathedral or with the De Piro family? Since we are mentioning the family, do you know what relations existed between the S. G., and his mother and between him and his brothers and sisters?

 

I knew that besides the Institutes, Mgr. De Piro had oth­er duties, though I do not know their nature. Still he visited us weekly or at least fortnightly. He was available to those who wanted to talk to him. He gave great importance to the Society.  I think that his weekly visits were enough, since there was Fr Bugeja who took care of the daily running of the house. We never complained about the fact that he visited us weekly, nor in the sense that we needed to see him more often, nor that we were annoyed at his coming to us. Besides visiting us, Mgr. De Piro also had his duties as Canon of the Cathedral Chapter. When he was at Mdina he used to sleep in our house.

 

We had no contacts with the Cathedral, nor with any members of his family, except for some rare visit, which we spontaneously paid to his mother, who was old. I knew the other members of his family only by sight, and as far as I could notice or hear, they got on well together.

 

14.       “At the same time, Fr. Bugeja was responsible for our formation.”  What did this formation consist in? Did this also include missionary formation? Do you think that Fr. Bugeja fully understood the aim and work for which the S.C., founded the Society? Was there a live contact between the S.G., and Fr. Bugeja? How did the S.G., deal with Fr. Bugeja? Did you ever hear Fr. Bugeja complain about the S.G?

 

Cf. no.11, above, for the daily program.  Mgr. De Piro, in his conferences spoke to us about the missions. I did not attend the conferences Fr. Bugeja made to the novices as master of novices, and so I cannot speak about him. I think that Fr. Bugeja did not have a clear idea of Mgr. De Piro’s missionary ideals for his Society.  There was continual contact between the S.G., and Fr. Bugeja. Mgr. De Piro always spoke privately to Fr. Bugeja when he visited us (obviously I do not know what was said).  They were on good terms, and Mgr. De Piro always respected the position of Fr. Bugeja OSA as superior and master of novices.

 

Mgr. De Piro always tried to keep a balance between us and Fr. Bugeja OSA, but I do not know whether Mgr. De Piro tried to substitute Fr. Bugeja.  Nor do I know why he left.

 

15.       “ I remember he used to come in the evening. Eve­ry time he started by giving us a talk. In these talks the S.G., would speak about the spirit­ual life, detachment from the world, the love between us, humility, so that we might be better prepared for the missions, etc.”  Did the S.G., only talk about these things or could you even see them lived by him? Do you feel, for example, that the S.G., was detached from the world? In case, how? Do you feel that he was filled with love for his neighbours? That he was humble? Did he ever show his wish to go for the missions?

 

The impression the S.G., gave us was that he practiced what he taught us. His only thoughts were focused on us, members of his Society, the Institutes he directed and his other duties.

 

He wore the common clothes of a priest; he did not wear any sign to show that he was a monsignor. He never tried to project himself, but kept himself and his works hidden, and I attribute this to his humility and not simply to his character. His love could be seen from the way he directed his Institutes. He was approach­able. He never tried to impose himself on others, not even on us young people, members of his Society. Even the fact that he was always known as  “Padre” and he never tried to be called “Monsignor”, shows his humility.

 

As far as the missions, I think that he had enough work and duties in Malta to keep him here, but I never heard any comment, from him or from others, about his wanting to go to the missions or not.

 

Et sic hora 12.05 p.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 23 Decembris, hora 9.30 a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant die et hora. Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

Fr. Dominic Coppola, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

Supra quibue omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsit ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 17 Decembris, 1990

 

Ita est

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Septuagesima Quinta

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonagesimo, die vero vigesima prima Decembris (sive 21-42-1990), hora 9.00 am., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, compatuit Rev. Dnus Dominic Coppola OFM testis inductus et citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Dominic Coppola testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis:

 

16.       “The missions were foremost in his thoughts”. Did the S.G., mention the missions only in his talks, or also at other times? What did he mean by missions? Perhaps work among the poor? Spreading the good news? Conversions to the Catholic Faith?  Did he seem to be well informed about this subject? How do you think he provided himself with such information? Did he talk about the missions in general, or had he some particular mission in mind? In case, which one? In the meetings he used to say to you to prepare yourselves for the missions as well as you could. What did he mean by this? What did he expect?  Why did he bring you Fr. Ang. Mizzi OFM Cap., who was a missionary in Abyssinia and not, say, some other missionary?

Didn’t he in his talks speak about the life in a community, the vows, prayers, the Mass, confessions, de­votion to Our Lady? If he did, do you still remember something of what he used to tell you?

 

The idea of Mgr. De Piro was pastoral work among those who were not Christians. He was a cultured person al­though he did not show it. He spoke to us about Brother Guzepp who went to Abyssinia. He sowed the idea of the Mission, to which he was dedicated. He prepared us for the sacrifice of the Mission.  Fr Mizzi, who worked in Abyssinia, used to come to talk to us about the Mission. This Fr. Mizzi. was De Piro’s personal friend. 

 

De Piro was reserv­ed because in order to avoid self praise he was afraid to talk. He would talk to us also about the vows, poverty, etc. He used to explain charity, obedience, religious life, prayers, etc.  One day he would talk about prayer, the day after about obedience, etc. We used to consider him “a little ascetic”.

 

17.       “When he was with us he used to attend to all common acts: spiritual reading; examination of conscience, which he himself conducted; morning meditation; and also the Mass.” As regards spiritual reading did he also sug­gest the readings? In case, what books did he suggest? As regards the examination of conscience did he follow some formula, or did he do it spontaneously? Was he very rigorous in it?  Regarding the Morning Meditation: how was it done? Did he show much fervour for these acts? Did he try to instill such fervour in you? How? Were there occasions when he did not do these acts with you? When? Do you know for what reason?

 

He used to do the spiritual reading together with us: the Imitation of Christ, Preparation For Death, etc. He ad­mired St. Alphonse Maria de Liguori. We used to read his life in the refectory. We used to do the exami­nation of conscience in silence. He was not too strict, nor was he squeamish; he was a very good man. When we were reading and meditating, he felt it his duty to come to encourage us. At times he would not be present becau­se of his work.

 

18.       “… and also the Mass.”  How did he say the Mass? Did he finish it in a short time? Did he take long? Did he make preparation and thanksgiving?  Did he insist on confession? Were you free to go to con­fession? Perhaps you had some chosen confessor? In case, do you think he was the right person for you?

 

He used to say Mass in such a way that there seemed to be a saint at the altar. He used to prepare himself be­fore saying Mass and used to make his thanksgiving aft­er it. He exhorted us to go to confession. Fr. Albert 0.C., was our special confessor. He was the right one for us.

 

19.       “Also for meals...and he ate the same food as we did.”  You have already said that food was plain. Does it mean that he stayed with you although he could have had his meals with his mother? If he stayed with you, why do you think he did this?

 

He ate the same food as we did: minestrone, etc. He adapted himself to all situations. He used to visit his mother, but he had his meals with us. This shows his detach­ment from his family and attachment to the Society. Mgr. De Piro did not encourage familiarities.

 

20.       “During his stay, the Monsignor treated us with great gentleness. He always had a smile.” Can you give details about this gentleness?  Did the S.G., talk to you individually? If yes, was it on his own initiative, or did you ask him? Did you feel at ease with him?

 

“ We did not have long jocular conversations.”  Do you mean that, in fact, the S.G., liked joking? Does it mean that you used to talk about other subjects for longish periods? If yes, what were these subjects? Did you ever talk about politics?  Exactly about what?

 

“ He had his character a little reserved.” Why do you think that he was reserved?  Perhaps because of his se­veral activities which he had to think about? How did you judge this reserve of his? You mention his smile on his mouth.  Do you think this was natural for him, or did he make an effort to appear thus? Do you think this smile reflected the peace in his heart? Did you ever see him sad, sorrowful, upset? If yes, did you ev­er get to know the reason?

 

lam provisum nos. 15 et 19. He was affable but always kept his level. He never talked about politics. He was reserved. I do not remember that he ever raised his voice. He was a quiet person, but not out of worry; it was his nature! His smile was natural. He was tranquil and had peace in his heart. I never saw him moody.

 

21.       “When I was ready to start my novitiate I talked to Fr. Bugeja who thought that I was still young.” In gener­al how long did your pre-novitiate last? How old were you when you became novices?  Was Fr. Bugeja the one to decide if you were to start the novitiate or not? Wasn’t the S.G., involved in this?

 

“ I remember when I was going to tell Monsignor that I was going to leave them to become a Franciscan.” Was this the only occasion that you spoke to the S.G., on this thing? If yes, why? Was it perhaps because the S.G., as we have already said, left everything to Fr. Bugeja? Or perhaps because he did not give you the chance to talk to him? Perhaps because you were afraid to tell him?  “At first De Piro tried to explain that time soon passes and therefore I could start the novitiate with him soon.” Do you mean that the S.G., also felt that you were still young? Or perhaps he said this so that he might not con­tradict Fr. Bugeja? If even he considered you to be still young, does it mean that although the Society needed vo­cations, he was still strict about the requisites? Do you know of some instances when the S.G., refused admittance to someone or wanted him to wait?

 

There were no fixed rules but one could not start one’s novitiate before one was 15 years old. The master of no­vices was the one to decide when one was admitted to the novitiate; Mons. De Piro did not interfere. When I told him that I was going to join the Franciscans he did not use any pressure but he left me free to decide. I belie­ve he relied too much on Fr. Manwel although Fr. Manwel did not do a lot of good to the Society because he thought that as a superior he was responsible and independent. I was not allowed to start my novitiate because I was not of the required age but when I was 15 and insisted that I should start my novitiate Fr. Manwel insisted that I was still young. I do not know of others who were not allow­ed to the novitiate.

 

22.       “However, when he saw that I had made up my mind, he remained calm and composed. He told me that I could serve God everywhere.”  Do you mean that, although he was to lose a member, he did not lose his peace in his heart? You mean that he did not make any reference to what the Society had already done for you (perhaps expenses, etc.)? Do you know if he had kept calm and composed in similar cases?  Did the fact that he told you that you could serve God everywhere mean that this was his only aim in life? Did he mention to you the serving of God on other occasions?

 

When he saw that I had decided to leave, he remained calm and said, “You can serve God everywhere.” He did not make any reference to what the Society did for me as regards money and education. He accepted it calmly. He did not insist that I was going to lose my vocation, but he was happy that I was going to another place (i.e. with the Franciscans). The two of them left me free to decide about my vocation. For him it was the same whether I went with the Franciscans or stayed with him, provided it was in the service of God. He did not want to increa­se the number of the members of the Society, but his aim was to give glory to God.

 

23.       “ I cannot say much about his death for at that time I was a student and we could not easily leave the friary.”  It is true that when he died, you had left him four years before. However, do you remember if during your stay with him he was ill or appeared weak? Did he seem to take care of his health? Or was he perhaps careless? In case, in what sense? Did he ever talk to you about death? If yes, how did he talk about it?

 

“I remember, though, that I had heard that he did not have the solemn funeral he deserved.”

 

From whom did you learn this? In case, do you know why the funeral of the S.G., was held in this way?

 

I never noticed that he was ill. I used to hear that he was always delicate.  He never bothered about his health, but he was always smart; he was not a valetudinarian. He did not impress on us the idea of death.

 

I do not think that there was much fuss about his funeral as was the case in Mgr. D’Andrea’s funeral. I think that from Hamrun he was taken to St. Agatha’s where he was buried. I do not know details about this.

 

24.       “I confess that I recommend him to everyone.” What exactly do you mean by this?

 

“His same achievement...is itself evidence of his saint­liness.”  Can you explain better?

 

Do you believe that the S.G., is a saint?

 

“Financially it depended on him completely and he never got discouraged.”

 

In what sense did the Society depend on him completely? How do you know this? Perhaps he himself spoke to you about this? Could the fact that he never got discouraged, be attributed to the noble family he came from? In fact, where did he get the money from? Do you know if it ever created problems for him with the members of his family?  If the Society completely depended on him financially, how could it survive after his sudden death?  Did he perhaps make a will leaving everything to the Society?

 

I was not involved further after his death. I went to see his grave. I admired him and had devotion to him. I pray for him. At home I have his portrait. I regard him as my benefactor. On his grave I noticed flowers, cand­les etc. When I say he was a saint, I mean that he was a good man, because a saint is made by the Pope. If I know that he is in heaven I would ask him to pray for me.

I know that the Society lacked funds. He was very weal­thy; I do not know if the wealth belonged to him or to his family. He used this wealth to help the Society. He never lost hope for he trusted in Providence, and the first providence was his family. I do not know if he left any will in favour of the Society.

 

25.       “ The disappointment at the leaving of diverse members, even priests, did not in the least stop him from looking forward.”  Do you know what were the reasons for their leaving?  Was the S.G., to blame for this? In case, in what? What makes you believe that these difficulties did not stop him from looking forward?

 

These things did not stop him. He was always calm and this was due either to his character or to his saintli­ness. He never got discouraged: when members joined he was glad, when they left he was not discouraged. If they left, it was not because of him. There were instances when some members died.

 

26.       “ In spite of all this he lacked the comprehension of many. Many were those who could not approve of his Society.”  Can you give more details about these “many” who did not understand the S.G., and the “several” who did not approve? Who were they? In what did they disagree?

 

I cannot remember that inside there were some against him. Outside there could have been some persons, but I cannot give any details.

 

27.       Which do you think was the S.G’s greatest virtue? How do you prove this? Can you mention some other vir­tues?

 

Iam provisum no. 15.

 

28.       Do you pray through the intercession of the S.G? Do you know other people who pray through his interces­sion? Do you know of some favours received through his intercession? If yes, can you give details?

 

Have you ever visited his gravel?  In case, on your own, or with others? Would there be other people? What would they be doing? Can you describe the grave? Do you notice any flowers, candles, ex voto, etc.?

 

Iam provisum ex parte no. 24. I hear that there are some people who pray to Mgr. De Piro, but I have no details. I know some persons, among whom Mother De Piro of St Dorothy, Mdina, who pray through his intercession.

 

29.       Do you want to add, cancel or change anything in what you have said in this your evidence?

 

No.

 

Et sic, hora 11.00 a.m., absoluto praedicti testis ex­amine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlegi integram depositionem, data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrgendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

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

 

Fr. Dominic Coppola 0.F.M., testis.

 

Dimisso autem testi, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mandavit mihi citationes expediri contra testem Dnus. Joseph Brincat, ut die 21 Januarii, hora 9.30 a.m., examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotorem ut dicta die et hora assistat.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

 

Actum die 22 Decembris, 1990

 

Ita est.

 

Can. Gustavus M. Barbara, Notarius


 

Sessio Septuagesima Sexta

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonagesimo prima, die vero vigesima prima Jannarii (sive 21-1-1991), hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali, in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei, Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario comparuit Dnus Joseph Brincat testis inductus et citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Joseph Brincat testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis:

 

Personalia:      My name is Guzeppi Brincat, son of the late Alberto and the late Maria née Borg. I was born in Qrendi on 15 April, 1903, and I reside at 31 Triq il-Kbira, Qrendi. I am retired. I was married to Michelina Caesar.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in this Case of Beatification and Canonization. What made you come to give evidence? Did any one tell you what evidence to give? When did you get to know the Servant of God (S.G.) Mgr. Guzeppi De Piro? Did you have any particular contact with him? How long did this contact last?

 

When I was about six years of age, Mgr. De Piro used to come to Qrendi and give us holy pictures. My evidence consists of what I know. I am not related to him.

 

2.         You begin your information by referring to the hou­se that the S.G’s mother had in Qrendi. Do you mean that the S.G’s mother lived in Qrendi, or perhaps that she came there from some other place? In case, from where? Did the fact that she had more than one house indicate that she was well off? Do you know if she had more houses and other wealth? Did you ever enter the house in Qrendi? Can you describe it? Apart from the fact that the S.G’s mother was rich, how else was she known by the people of Qrendi? Perhaps as a good, charit­able and pious woman? How do you know this? Besides the S.G’s mother, did you know any other member of the De Piro family? Whom did you know? Perhaps his father? Some of his brothers? In case, what do you know about them? What was their occupation? What reputation did they have among the people of Qrendi?

 

Mgr. Do Piro’s mother had several houses, at Lija, B’Bugia and Qrendi. She resided at Mdina. For a long time she came to Qrendi. Her maid was from Qrendi. We lived close to this Qrendi house. It was a large house. It appeared that they were well off people. The Baroness was a good woman; it was said that she bought a house and gave it to the Franciscan sisters.  In fact, the chapel is dedicated to St. Ursula, the name of the Baroness. I remember that he had a brother, but I never saw him. It was said that he had other brothers and sisters. I do not know his father. As regards the rest, I have no answers to give.

 

3.         “He often came to our village.” You add: “Quite of­ten he would spend some time at his summer residence.” Do you remember when he did this (perhaps you remember the years)? How often did he use to come? How long did he stay? Did he do this all the time that you remember him, or did he, perhaps, gradually go to Qrendi less often? In case, when did he altogether stop coming to Qrendi? Do you know if, before the time you are referring to, he came to Qrendi for a period of permanent stay? In case, do you remember why he came there? Perhaps for some per­sonal reason, for example, because of health? Or was he perhaps sent there by the Bishop? In case, why? Later on you say that towards September he used, to come there together with the students of the Society. Do you mean that on the other occasions he used to come alone? Besides the time he spent in church and helping someone in need, what else did be do whilst in Qrendi? Do you know how he used to spend his holidays when he used to have them in Qrendi?  Perhaps he invited some people to his house? When you say that he often came for his holi­days why do you think he came there and did not go to some other place? In fact, do you know if he went some­where else for his holidays?

 

Whenever he came to our village he came for rest. I re­member he often came to Qrendi. He used to come on par­ish occasions and he often came with his mother. They stayed for about a fortnight or more. For some time he did not come to Qrendi, but I do not know the reason. I heard people say that he was busy working in the instit­utes. I read that at some time he lived in Qrendi for about three years. I believe he remained there be­cause of his mother who was ill. Then, in September, he would come with the students. I do not remember that he ever received prominent people in Qrendi. As regards the rest I have no answers to give.

 

4.         “On such days he used to say Mass daily at the par­ish church.” Why do you emphasize this fact? Perhaps because he could say Mass somewhere else, but in fact preferred the parish church? In case, where else could he say Mass? Perhaps in some other church or chapel in the same village? Perhaps he could say Mass in his own mo­ther’s house? In case, why? Perhaps he had some chapel there? If yes, was this something every priest could have in his house, or was this a privileged case? If the latter, why? Perhaps because the S.G., was also a Monsignor? Perhaps because he was of noble birth? Per­haps because he had the possibility to get everything the way he wanted? Perhaps because of health reasons? Did the fact that he said Mass at the Parish Church mean that when he was in Qrendi he was at the disposal of the parish priest? Do you remember at what time he said Mass? Did he or the parish priest fix the time for the S.G’s Mass? Did you ever hear his Mass?  When you compare it with that of other priests of that time was there anything in his Mass that impressed you? Do you know if he received stipends for his Masses? Besides the Mass, did he perform some other pastoral work in Qrendi, for example, assisting the sick and giving them Holy Communion, hearing confessions?  In case, give details regarding the way he heard confessions, etc. Did he preach? In case, say on what occasions, in what language.  Did the people understand him?  Did he have some favourite subject? Do you remember if, at that time, there was some Adoration in the Church? If yes, did the S.G., attend for it? Did be appear recollected?

 

I know that when he was in Qrendi he used to say Mass daily in the Parish Church, because I always followed the priests. I believe be used to say Mass in the Parish Church as a service to the parish.  In fact there was a confessional box called Mgr. De Piro’s. At Qrendi there are chapels where people commission priests to say Mass for them, but I do not remember that De Piro used to say Mass there. When he became a monsignor, es­pecially when his mother died, he no longer came to Qrendi.  He used to come to Qrendi at about 7.00 a.m. At Qrendi we did not have Masses at fixed times. I do not know if he chose this time or perhaps the parish priest did. I saw him say Mass on week days, but I do not remember if he said Mass on Sundays.  I remember that he used to say Mass at the altar of All Souls. At Mass he was calm and concentrated. The Mass lasted for a long time. He said Mass with the greatest attention. I do not remember that he ever said Mass in a hurry. I do not remember that he received a stipend. Besides saying Mass, I am certain that he heard confes­sions especially on Saturdays. The confessional box was not used by other priests, not because he told them not to, but because he was often in it. He used to hear the confessions of both men and women and people preferred to go to him for confessions. I do not remember that he gave Communion to the sick. I remember that on some feast of the Eucharist he preached a short sermon in Maltese as a conclusion, but I do not remember that he preached sermons or triduums. On these Feasts of the Eucharist he always conducted the procession and impart­ed Benediction. The other priests accepted this because they had respect for the De Piro family.

 

5.         “His connections with this church were such that the parish priest gave him a locker on a permanent basis.” At that time, who had a locker in the parish church on a permanent basis? Was the S.G., given a lock­er because he often came to the village? Or perhaps he began to be regarded as if he belonged to it? Perhaps this means the S.G., was held with esteem and respect by the parish priest? If yes, do you think there was some par­ticular reason why he enjoyed this respect? What was it? Who was the parish priest at that time? Do you know if he showed him his respect in some other way? In case, how? At that time were there other priests in Qrendi? Do you know what relations existed between them and the S.G? Did you notice that they respected the S.G? In what way? Did you notice that the S.G., showed respect to the priests and parish priest of Qrendi? In what way?

 

He had his own locker in the parish church because he was regarded as belonging to the parish, and naturally, because he was often in the parish, unlike other priests who came for a short time and left. They respected him because he was most charitable. The parish priest had to respect him as Mgr. De Piro was a serious person and se­cretary to the Bishop. Mgr. De Piro did not lord it over either the priests or the parishioners. He was friendly with them and very humble.

 

6.         “Mgr. De Piro was invited to the parish on some special occasion connected with the parish.” Who invited him, the parish priest or perhaps some other organization/society of the parish (confraternity, etc.)? If it was the parish priest, does it again show the res­pect the parish priest had for the S.G? If it was some society or group, do you remember which was it? In case, do you mean that the S.G., was respected also by the mem­bers of this society/group?

 

You mention as an example the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Lourdes. He was even the leading ce­lebrant. Did you happen to see him on other occasions? What was his comportment on such occasions? Perhaps he tried to attract the attention of everyone? Was he the type who led the ceremonies with calmness and devotion, or was he the type who was unmethodical and lacked con­centration?

 

“... he was invited for the pontifical Mass held on the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Lourdes.” Besides this Confraternity, we­re there other confraternities at that time? If yes, what relations existed between them? If perhaps they were not so good, and if perhaps on some occasions there was dis­agreement, how did the S.G., comport himself? Do you know if he was invited to conduct some similar celebration for the other confraternity? Do you know, in case, if he accepted the invitations?

 

“... on the occasion when the canopy over the statue of Our Lady caught fire.”  Do you mean that this canopy caught fire during the pon­tifical Mass? If yes, is it possible for you to describe what happened? Do you remember how the congregation re­acted? Can you tell me how the S.G., reacted whilst the canopy was burning? Perhaps he was afraid, got confused? Perhaps he tried to calm the congregation? Perhaps he went on with the Mass as if nothing had happened? Did he himself try to put out the fire?

 

7.         Could the fact that he came to celebrate the feast of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Lourdes indicate so­me particular devotion the S.G., had towards Our Lady? In fact do you know if he was a devotee of Our Lady? Perhaps also under some particular title? In what way did he show this devotion? Perhaps by talking about her, by preaching on her, by giving out holy pictures of her? Do you know if he had other devotions as, for example, to St. Joseph, St. Paul, the Angels? In what way did he show these devo­tions? Did he exhort you to pray for the souls of purga­tory and the dying? In what way? Did he talk about the devil, hell? If yes, to make people afraid?

 

All the people of Qrendi regarded him as a man of peace. When there was some trouble he did his best to work out a solution and bring peace. He was respected by everyone, so much so that when the parishioners were divided they accepted his advice.

 

In functions and on other occasions he was of humble comportment, always calm and with devotion. When the canopy of the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes caught fire he repeated, “Be calm, be calm” and thus he calmed the congregation. I always held him in such esteem that, when I was upset, I calmed down as soon as I saw him.  He did not belong to any party. I cannot say any­thing about his particular devotions, but it seems that he had a particular devotion to Our Lady. The last thing he did before his death was that he conducted the pro­cession of Our Lady of Sorrows.

 

Et sic hora 11.30 a.m., suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 28 Januarii, hora 9.30 a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, rninuendi vel corrigendi si necessario repataverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

J. Brincat., testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem as sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequi­tur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD,Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 21 Jaauarii, 1991

 

Ita est.

 

Can. Gustavo M. Barbara, Notarius


 

Sessio Septuagesima Septima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonagesimo primo die vero vigesima octava Januarii (sive 28-1-1991), hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promatore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Joseph Brincat testis inductus et citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Joseph Brincat testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis:

 

8.         “The Monsignor liked to go to Qrendi also with the students of his Society.”  Do you mean that the S.G., had some Society? If yes, do you mean that he was its founder? In case, what exactly was its name? When, where and how did he start it? What were the aims of its foundation? Do you know if at the start there were a lot or few members? From what envir­onments did they come? Did they all stay? Did all these members live together in a community? Perhaps they also made some vows?

 

Do you know why the S.G., would come to Qrendi with the students? Perhaps for some retreat or for the holidays? If for the latter, do you mean that the S.G., also saw the importance of rest for the members? Do you know, in case, how they spent their holidays? During their stay at Qrendi did they have contact with you villagers? Or did he sort of keep them away from the people? Did they appear to be happy? Did you ever hear any of them talk­ing about the S.G? What did they have to say? Did the S.G., work hard for the vocations? Did he in Qrendi?  In what way? Was there anyone from Qrendi who joined the Society? Does the fact that he used to bring the members to his mother’s house for a fortnight mean that his mother helped him in the foundation of the Society? If yes, do you know of some other ways in which she helped him? Do you know if he also received help from some other members of his family? Do you know if he had to face some problem at the begin­ning of the Society? In case, from whom did they come? How did the S.G., deal with them? Perhaps he got dis­couraged? He had more courage? He trusted in God’s help? How do you know all this?

 

About the year 1910 he used to come to Qrendi with six students and this Society was called of St. Paul. I do not know what the aim of the Society was. I remember that these students came in twos to the parish church; they used to wear the cassock and a sash. They perform­ed some services in the Church, like wearing the cope, etc., because there were not enough priests. These stu­dents came for the holidays between August and Septemb­er. I believe they did not go out except for the church service. I observed that they were always serious. I do not have any more details to give.

 

I remember Bro. Gwann Bugeja who had joined them, and whose family had contacts with the De Piro family. I remember that Mgr. De Piro’s mother would be away from the house most of the time that the students were there. I do not know if she helped him regarding these students. I know nothing about the rest.

 

9.         “When he was in Qrendi, people wanted to meet him.”  “… people…” Exactly who? People in general or perhaps a particular category?  Perhaps the poor?  Or the well off? Where did they go to look for him? Perhaps at his mother’s house, at the church, in the street? Was there any time when the villagers suspected him? In case, do you know why?

 

“... for some (family) domestic problem.” What kind of problems were they? Perhaps quarrels between parents, between parents and children, large families? In what way did he help? If he gave some money to help, where did he get the money from? Perhaps it was his own money? Perhaps he begged it from his mother? Perhaps he himself went to beg for the money? Did he check if the needs were genuine, or did he give money haphazardly? Did he help anyone to find employment?

 

We children would ask him to give us holy pictures. I saw people confessing to him. Also when there was trouble between parties he was consulted.  I know that they came to look for him in the church, but I do not know if they looked for him somewhere else. I never heard that the people were not pleased with him. I cannot answer the rest.

 

10.       “... some parochial trouble.”  To what parochial trouble are you referring? Only in Qrendi or in other places as well? Who would approach him regarding this trouble? Perhaps the parish priest, the clergy, some section of the parish? Why did they con­sult him? Perhaps because he was known as the person who knew the problem well? Perhaps because he was known as a secretive person? Or perhaps that he was able to weigh things and keep a middle way? Or perhaps that he was practical? Perhaps because he was well known in different circles of the Maltese society? In case, can you provide more details about these points?

 

Besides this work in favour of peace in church circles, do you know of other activities for peace that the S.G., performed in other circles, for example, in civil circles?

 

There was parish trouble not only in Qrendi. In Qrendi he acted as intermediary and settled the situation. I re­member that in Gudja there was trouble and the Bishop sent Mgr. De Piro to replace the parish priest for a short time and he settled the situation.  He could do this good work in Qrendi because he was respected by all the people and he was also respected by the Curia because he was a prudent person.

 

In civil matters Mgr. De Piro was always unbiased; he did not do as the others who wanted the children of the work­er to go and collect refuse instead of going to school.

 

11.       “ Mgr. De Piro was a most charitable person ... I hear the people of Qrendi praise him for his charity.” Does the fact that the Qrendi people mentioned this reality mean that he used to blow his own trumpet regarding his charitable acts, or that his charity was such that every­one spoke about it?

Besides Qrendi, do you know if the S.G., was involved in some works of welfare and charity? If yes, do you know what they were and how he was involved in them? Perhaps he contributed money, or perhaps he was involved in their administration? If the latter, do you know how he got to administer these institutions? Did he perform such work also when be used to come to Qrendi?

 

Mgr. De Piro was a charitable person, but I do not know what this charity consisted in because he never blew his own trumpet.  However at that time I was still a child. It was said that besides his activities in Qrendi he di­rected St. Joseph’s Institute at Hamrun and Fra Diego’s Institute. He was a director and was like the head if a family. He did his best to see that they lacked nothing. He contributed money and bought things from his own pock­et; I heard this from his niece who lived in Qrendi in the last years of her life.

 

12.       “Whilst walking in the street he would not stop to talk to people ... he did not encourage familiarity with anyone. In spite of this, the people did not think he was proud or conceited ... when people greeted him he did likewise. He was an affable person.”

 

How do you explain the fact that while he did not stop to talk to anyone, did not encourage familiarity, greeted only those who greeted him, at the same time he was not proud but affable? How did you deduce that he was affable? Perhaps all this means that he would not waste time in small talk? Perhaps you mean that he was reserved and it was not easy for him to converse with people for a long time? What do you mean when you say that he did not en­courage any familiarity?

 

The people did not think that he was proud.  What then was their idea of him, besides the fact that he was charitable?

 

He did this because he was unwilling to waste time. He was reserved and meticulous. People regarded him as a humble, charitable and serious person. Although he belonged to a noble family, he mixed with the poor and helped them.

 

13.       “ So much so that children sought him with the great­est simplicity.”  Did he welcome them? If yes, perhaps he showed a special love for them? Perhaps even more than he showed to the grown ups? Do you mean that, although he was noble, he did not mind mixing with the small ones?  “In fact, for example, when I was in church and saw him I used to go to him and ask him to give me holy pictures.” Did he give you holy pictures, or did he get angry at you and send you away? If he did give you holy pictures, did he always do it? Do you mean that he always carried holy pictures with him? And in case, did he carry them in order to give them to you, children? Do you remember what these pictures represented? When be gave you the holy pictures did he tell you something about them?

 

Mgr. De Piro was the friend of us children. He never denied us anything. The holy pictures he gave us were mostly the pictures of Our Saviour.

 

14.       Besides what you say about the S.G’s activities in Qrendi, do you know if he had tried to open a house for the teaching of children and youths? If yes, do you know if this house was opened? In case, when, where? What exactly was its aim? What else can you say about it?

 

I do not remember that he wanted to open a house for youths in Qrendi. I know that his mother had bought a house and gave it to the Sisters to be opened for Cate­chism, but I do not know if Mgr. De Piro had a part in this.

 

15.       Do you know when, where and how the S.G., died? Do you remember when and how the news of his death arrived in Qrendi? What was the reaction of the people at this news? Was there a special mourning? Was any mass celebrated? Did the people talk about him for a long time? Is he still talked about today?

 

Mgr. De Piro died during the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows in Hamrun. Everyone was moved when this news spread. He was imparting Eucharistic Benediction. Recently I read that he was told to go in, but he went on with the service and died. I think that Masses were celebrated in Qrendi, but I do not remember. After his death respect for him did not cease. Even today he is still remembered with respect in Qrendi. I had heard the news of his death the morning after, when I was at work with the Services and everyone felt sad at his death.

 

16.       Do you think that today there exists devotion to the S.G? In case, in what circles and what does this devotion consist in? Do you think that this devotion is connected with his reputation as a saint? If yes, did this reputation and devotion begin even from the time of his death, or is it a thing of our own times? Do you think this is increasing or decreasing? Did you ever hear anyone refer­ring to the S.G., as a saint, at his death, after his death, when he was still living? Do you regard the S.G., as a saint? If yes, for what reason?

 

I think that devotion to Mgr. De Piro still exists: his humility and charity. I often heard it said: “He was a saint;” and I heard these words in his lifetime as well as after his death. In my opinion Mgr. De Piro was a saint be­cause of his humility and of his care of the children in need.

 

17.       Do you invoke the S.G’s intercession in your pray­ers? Do you know anyone who does this? Do you know of some favours received with the intercession of the S.G? In case, can you give details?

 

At times I pray with the intercession of Mgr. De Piro. As I appreciated him in his lifetime so will I appreciate him after his death. I know that other people have some memento of his, like a portrait in their homes. I often read in newspapers that some people obtained favours by his intercession. I believe he is taking care of me.

 

18.       Did you ever visit the grave of the S.G? Can you describe it? Would there be other visitors? If yes, what would they be doing? Would there be flowers, candles, ex voto, etc.?

 

I never visited his grave. I don’t like to visit graves. If someone takes me there I am ready to go and see where he is buried.

 

19.       Do you know if anyone is against this Case of Beati­fication and Canonization? In case, who and why?

 

I do not know anyone who is against this Case of Beati­fication.

 

20.       Do you want to add, cancel or change anything in this your evidence?

 

I have nothing else to add.

 

Et sic hora 11.30 a.m., absoluto praedicti testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlegi integrarn depositionem, data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si neceseario reputaverit. Ipse eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

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

 

J. Brincat, testis.

 

Dimisso autem testi, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mandavit mihi. citationes expediri contra testem Dnus Anthonius Scerri, ut die 4 Februarii, hora 9.30 a.m., examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotorem ut dicta die et hora assistat.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsit ac rneum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 28 Januarii, 1991

 

Ita est.

 

Can. Gustavo M. Barbara, Notarius


 

Sessio Septuagesima Octava

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nanagesimo prima, die vero quarta Februarii (sive 4-2-1991), hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Joseph De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Chnistus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Dnus Antonius Scerri testis inductus at citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formula in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Antonius Scerri testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Natarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est examen dicti testis:

 

Personalia:      My name is Anthony Scerri, son of the late Pius and Rosa née Borg. I was born on 10 January 1902, in Rabat, Malta. I was married to the late Rosaria, and I live at 53 Main Street, Rabat. I am a retired fit­ter and am an active member of the Legion of Mary.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence ín the Case of Beati­fication and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mgr. Guzeppi De Piro, founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. Can you tell me what made you come to give evidence? Was there anyone who told you what evidence to give? When did you get to know the S.G? Did you have any par­ticular relation with him, for example, were you related to him?

 

I heard that there is going to be the Case of his Bea­tification, and, as I was brought up at the time when he was in Mdina, I felt that I ought to come and say all I know. I lived in Mdina and we were six children there, and I got to know him before he opened the house in Mdina. In 1909 I was about seven years of age and I had al­ready met him. I am not related to him and no one made me come here to give evidence or explained something to me.

 

2.         In the information you have already submitted you refer to the S.G’s mother. Did you know her personally? If not, perhaps you heard about her? In case, from whom and what was said about her? Do you know, at least, where she lived? Do you know if, besides this house, she had other houses? Did you ever enter any of these houses? Can you describe it? Do you mean by this that the S.G’s moth­er was well off? Perhaps even noble? Do you know what her reputation was among the people? Can you prove this? Do you know anything about the other members of the De Piro family: the father, the siblings? What was their occupation? What wealth did they possess? What was their repu­tation among the people?

 

I never had direct contact with him, that is, I never spoke to him. I never spoke to his mother, but I remember her as an old woman who went with her stick to the Cathe­dral. She was reputed to be a saintly woman. She came from a noble family. She had a large house and I believe she had some maids to help her. The S.G., had a brother named Pius who was a good man; he lived in the Cathedral Square. He had another brother who was a priest, Fr. Santin. The latter was lively, unlike Mgr. De Piro who was quiet. Fr. Santin used to catch fish and give them to Mgr. De Piro for the children of St. Joseph’s. He had an uncle, his father’s brother, who had a palace in Rome; he was a good man. I did not know Mgr. De Piro’s father. I do not know more details.

 

3.         In your information you refer to the S.G., as a monsignor. Can you tell me if this was just a tit­le, or if the S.G., was a regular Canon of the Cathedral Chapter? In the latter case, do you know if he held so­me particular office among the other monsignors of the Cathedral? Do you know what were the duties connected with this office? Do you know how he performed them? How do you know this? Do you know when and how he became a monsignor?

 

I remember that he was precentor of the Cathedral. I re­member that he said Mass, but I never assisted his Mass. He was more often in his Institutes and he went to the Cathedral for the services. I have no more details.

 

4.         From the very beginning of your information you re­fer to the Society of the S.G. Are you able to say exact­ly where the first house of the Society was, and why the S.G., had chosen this place?  Do you know what was the exact name of the Society, who gave it this name, and why? Do you know when it was founded and how the S.G., got the idea of founding it? Did he alone found the Society, or was he helped by others? In case, by whom? 

 

In your information you mention the students who were still studying, Bro Guzepp who taught Catechism and Fr. Guzepp Spiteri. Do you mean that the Society comprised both priests and brothers? If yes, do you mean that this was a Society of religious? Do you also mean then that these made the vows and lived in a community? Do you know if the S.G., has ever become a member of this Society himself, whether he has ever made the vows?

 

I think that he took, three rooms of his mother’s house to start his Society. At that time there were about three members. I guess from here they moved to St. Agatha’s or to St. Joseph’s. At that time it was called De Piro’s house. I believe that, at that time, it did not have a name yet. I do not know any more details.

 

I remember Bro. Guzepp and Bro. Manwel. I do not rememb­er that there were priests.  Later there were those who became brothers or priests.  Obviously they lived togeth­er in a community. I do not know if they made the vows. I do not know how to answer the rest.

 

5.         You say that you used to go to the house of the So­ciety to learn catechism. Perhaps this was the purpose for which the Society was founded? If not, what was it? In what way was this aim being achieved? If the teach­ing of Catechism was not the chief aim of the Society, how was it that Bro. Guzepp was teaching catechism? Perhaps this was his own personal initiative? Or perhaps because this was a secondary aim of the Society? Perhaps also because this served as training to help achieve the first aim of the Society? Or perhaps because at that time there was a great need of the teaching of catechism? In fact, what can you say about this point? You say that at the house of the Society, “… we continued the catechism which we had learnt before and kept advancing in it”. In what way was this done? In fact did you notice any difference between the method of teaching of the members of the Society and that practised before? Did the members of the Society appear to be prepared for this work? Do you know if they were supervised by the S.G? Do you re­member if Bro. Guzepp remained teaching catechism, or was he perhaps later given some other work? In case, what was this work? Was he the only one who did this work, or were there others with him? Do you know if the S.G, had given some particular help to Bro. Guzepp to do this work? Per­haps he had shared this work with him for some time? Do you know of any particular difficulties the S.G., had to face in the founding of the Society? In case from whom did these difficulties come? Perhaps from the ecclesiastical or civil authorities, , his priest colleagues, members of the family?

 

I believe that Mgr. De Piro had in mind not only to teach catechism but perhaps, like today, the members were to go to Australia.  However, when I was a child, I do not think that the Monsignor intended to send them to the missions. I never heard anyone talk about the missions. I think that Bro. Guzepp always taught catechism and later he went to Abyssinia and taught catechism there.  I believe he spent fifty years and died in Abyssinia.  I do not know why he went to Abyssinia, but apparently he remained there alone for the Society did not have a house there.  I think it was difficult for the S.G., to find priests and I know that those who joined the Society did not pay any money as in other societies.

 

6.         You say that, “it appears that De Piro wished to start the class so that from it he might take the voca­tions for his new Society”.  What makes you think this? In fact what was the state of the vocations in Malta at that time? Were there vo­cations for this new Society? When you say that the S.G., wanted to start the class for catechism because of vocations do you also mean that the S.G., believed that a firm vocation needed to be built on a firm Christian foundation? What can you say about this? If what you said above is true, how then do you explain the fact that the Society was never mentioned in the lessons and you didn’t even know that the Society was being founded? Perhaps other vocational activities were being held somewhere else? In case, can you give details about this? What part did the S.G., play in it? You mention a certain Leli Spiteri who later joined the Society and became Fr. Guzepp Spiteri. Do you know where he came from and how he got to know about the Society? Do you know other members of the Society whom

you remember before they joined?

 

Fr. Joseph Spiteri used to be with us for catechism and that is how he got the vocation for the priesthood. At first they were few in number, three in all. I know nothing about the rest.

 

7.         “ To facilitate access to the house where cate­chism was taught, Mgr. De Piro had opened a door next to the one used by the members of the Society. He did this so that the children attending catechism lessons might not disturb especially the students who would be studying.”  Do you know from where you obtained these details? Do you mean then that the S.G., was very careful about the studies of the members? Besides this tact, do you know some other fact, which shows this further? Do you know where the first members of the Society studied for the priesthood? What was the reason for this? Can you say something more about other aspects of the for­mation of the members of the Society, for example, the spiritual aspect, religious life, health, recreation? From where did you get these details?

 

I think that the students used to go to St. Aloysius to learn. I think that those who wore the cassock had some class at St. Joseph’s Institute, Hamrun. As re­gards the rest, I do not know details.

 

8.         You say that, “He was determined to go to Mdina daily to spend the night with the members of his Society.  However, he arrived late in the evening.”  How do you know this? Did he do this from the beginning of the Society until his death? Do you mean then that, besides the night, he would not be at all with the mem­bers of the Society? If this was so, do you know if he was satisfied with the situation? Do you know if the members were satisfied with this situation? If he was satisfied, do you know if he tried to find some remedy for this?  In fact, if the above is true, who would there be, during the day, to take care of the other members? Do you know how and why this individual was chosen?  “I had heard that De Piro desired his mother to give him his share with which to help his Society.” From whom did you hear this?

 

The train left Valletta at 7.00 p.m. and I used to see him return. He daily passed by the dove fountain and straight to the Cathedral. He would be returning from his Institutes, according to what people said. I be­lieve that, because of lack of room, he did not stay with the members of the Society, but he stayed with his mother. In the evening, when he returned home he spent some time with the members because he was always busy.

 

I have no answers as regards the rest.

 

9.         “This was so because the Monsignor was Director of Fra Diego’s Institute and was involved in other activi­ties in other places.”  What was this Institute you mention? Whom did it receive? Do you know if at that time, there were a large number of children there? Do you know how and why the S.G., was chosen to take care of this Institute? What exactly do you mean, when you say that the S.G., had this Institute in his care? Perhaps you mean that he was the Director? If yes, what exactly was his work as Director? Perhaps just to see that it ran smoothly and that everyone was doing his duty? Do you know if he was responsible to pro­vide for the living and maintenance of the children and of the place? Did he have to provide education for the children? Did he have to provide for the time when the children would leave the Institute? Do you know for how long the S. G., did this work?

 

Do you know, in general, what was the situation of the Institutes at that time?

 

Do you know if the S.G., besides Fra Diego’s Institute, was responsible for some other institute/institutes? In case, which? What details can you give about these? Did you ever hear anyone, who had been in some Institute directed by the S.G., talk about life in the Institute at that time? In case, what did he say? Did you ever hear what efforts the S.G., made to improve the Institut­es and the lot of the children?

 

“… and activities in other places.” Do you know what these activities were? Do you know if the S.G., had some particular work with the Bishop of the diocese? Can you give details? Do you know, in general, what were the relations of the S.G., with the Bishop and the clergy? Do you know if any of these activities were connected with the civil life of the country?

 

He had in his care Fra Diego’s Institute, which was an institute for orphans. I believe that he was not chosen but he volunteered to direct this Institute. Perhaps they could not find others and he was ready to direct it. He did this not to be paid, but out of love for God. I believe he was Director not because he wanted to be super­ior, but to see where from he could provide food and cloth­es and to find benefactors.

 

Besides Fra Diego’s Institute, there was St. Joseph’s at Hamrun, and somewhere else in Zejtun.

 

Et sic hora 11.55 am., suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 11 Februarii, hora 9.30 a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositonem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit.

 

 

Antonius Scerri, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt, OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 4 Februarii, 1991

 

Ita est.

 

Can. Gustavus M. Barbara, Notarius


 

Sessio Septuagesima nona

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonagesimo primo, die vero decima prima Februarii (sive 11-2-1991), hora 9.30 a.m. coram intrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Joeephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri, ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Dnus Antonius Scerri testis inductus et citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego  Antonius Scerri  testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis:

 

Answer to question no. 9 continues.

 

I do not know exactly what were his other activities, but I was certainly astonished that he could cope with all his work. I do not know what were his relations with the Bishop. I believe he was Senator in politics. He was Se­nator for the Church. I believe that these Senators were chosen by the Church. There were other senators: two for the workers, two for the rich people, etc.

 

10.       “It was not uncommon that De Piro wore torn shoes.” Did you actually see this, or did you hear it from others? What do you think was the reason? Were his shoes, besides being torn, also dirty?  Do you remember how he kept his clothes? Perhaps torn or even soiled? How did he keep his person? Did you ever notice if he carried some distincti­ve mark on his clothes to show that he was a monsignor? You say that “he was most humble.” Could this be the rea­son why he kept himself in this way? How can you prove the S.G’s humility in a better way?  Did you notice any difference from the other priests/monsignors in the way the S.G., present­ed himself? It is said that the S.G., had another brother who was a priest. If you knew this priest, can you say if you noticed any differen­ce between the S.G., and his brother, as regards how they presented themselves?

 

Do you know if the S.G., was known as a charitable person? In case, in what way? Give details, if you can, about those he helped and in what way? How do you know all of this?

 

His mother would complain because he did not care much about his dignity as monsignor and because his shoes were torn. At times I noticed that his shoes were torn. I believe that if he had money he reserved it for the Institutes because he was more concerned about the In­stitutes than about clothes or shoes. I do not know that he wore the ring or some other distinctive mark. He was very humble; you could see this from the way he walked, his eyes collected, always with a book in his hand.  Also, in processions the way he walked showed his humility and seriousness. I used to distinguish between him and other monsignors because he was humble and the others were showy. I also couldn’t but notice the dif­ference between him and his brother, Fr. Santin. He was humble whereas Fr. Santin liked to show off and never wore torn shoes.  On the contrary he always claimed his share to satisfy his affairs. Also the people used to say, because I could hear them, “See the difference be­tween the brothers”.

 

To direct the Institutes he must have been charitable and everyone said that be was charitable.

 

11.       “He was also very serious. You never chanced to see him talking with people in the street. He always walked slowly with a book in his hands, reading. This does not mean that he was conceited. On the contrary he always reciprocated the greetings of passers by.”  Can you elaborate on these two aspects of the S.G’s character? Don’t you think that with this attitude he made people keep away from him? Did you ever hear anyone commenting on this? What do you think made him very serious and “… not to stop to talk”? Thoughts, distractions, shyness? At the same time you say he was not proud. Did you notice any difference at that time between him and his equals as regards this? Besides greetings, could it be possible that he said a few words? In case, what would he say? Was his comportment the same with everyone? Or was he per­haps the type who distinguished between different kinds of people?

 

He was always collected and alone; he was a dedicated person. His thought was all the time on his institutes. We children did not approach him very much because we observed his seriousness, which made us keep back. In spite of all this I feel he was not proud and self-centered. When he greeted people he did not speak much.

 

12.       “ In Rabat, the members of the Society were receiv­ed with great joy.” I understand that in Rabat there were already monasteries of other religious orders. Do you know what was the attitude of these religious orders to this new Society?   What did priests and other monsignors have to say about this Society?  You emphasize the joy this Society brought.  What exactly was the reason for this joy?  Perhaps because the aim of the Society pleased them? Per­haps because this Society began gathering young people? Perhaps because, when compared with the members of other religious families of that time, the members of this So­ciety appeared to be different? Perhaps because the So­ciety had its origin in Rabat?

 

Did the first members of the Society receive help from their neighbours? In case, what did this help consist in (material objects, propaganda)?

 

The people were glad with the Society because the Chapel of St. Agatha had been abandoned and began to see improvement when they took over. At that time they used to say:

 

“It’s better now; we are going to have more priests and it will be easier for us to hear Mass and go to confession.” I used to go to the church of St. Agatha because I was certain to find a priest there.

 

The people used to help them a lot; they even gave them food, that is, provisions, like vegetables.

 

13.       “And when Fr. Gwann Vella left, everyone was shocked.”  Who was Fr. Gwann Vella? “He left”. Where and when did this happen? If by “he left” you mean that he left the Society, do you mean that he also left the priesthood, or that he became a diocesan priest? What was the rea­son why this priest left? Do you know if the S.G., was involved in this? Do you know if besides Fr. Gwann, there were others who left the Society at the time of the S.G? If yes, were they priests? Why did they lea­ve? How did he react when some member left? How do you know this?

 

Mgr. De Piro was sorry that Fr. Gwann Vella was the first to leave and that a priest of the Society had left, but he never complained at this. I think that he left to help his family. At that time to become priest one had to pay a sum of money and I think he could not afford it. Afterwards he became a diocesan priest. I remember that there was also some Brother who had left. He was named Ganni, from Rahal Gdid. I do not know why they left.

 

14.       “It was said that someone told him to make an instit­ute for illegitimate children. However, he never consented to this because he said that if he did this he would give room to more abuses, for girls would not worry about their babies.”  Do you know who told you this? In case, who had encouraged the S.G., to start this project? It appears from this that the S.G., did not want to provide an occasion of lack of responsibility for others. Do you know if the S.G., expressed the same attitude in other circumstances (as, for example, in the giving of charity, etc.)?

 

At that time it was said that someone had exhorted him to make an Institute for illegitimate children but he refus­ed for, he thought it would give occasion for abuses. I believe he was right, in saying this. I think it was a responsible decision. I cannot give other examples when the Monsignor showed this responsibility.

 

15.       You do not say anything about the S.G’s death. Do you know when, how and where he died? Was there any special mourning when he died? When, how and where was the funeral held? Where was he buried? Is he still bur­ied in the original place? If not, when, where and how was he transported? Have you ever visited his gravel? Can you describe it? Would there be other people at his grave? What would they be doing? Would there be any flowers, candles, ex voto?

 

I do not know what happened in his funeral. I do not remember that I went for his funeral. I think that he was buried at the Cathedral and later he was taken to St. Agatha’s. There were occasions when I visited his grave. He is buried there and on his grave there is his bust. I know there is a tombstone, but I do not know what the inscription contains. There would be some flowers and candles. I used to go to confess to Father Mikiel and I used to pray and recite a ‘Requiem aeternam.’

 

16.       Do you pray through the intercession of the S.G? Did you ever hear that favours were received through the intercession of the S.G? In case, can you give details about them? Do you think the S.G., has the repute of a saint? In case, where and in what environment? Did this repute exist in his lifetime, immediately after his death, in the years between his death and today?

 

When I say the ‘Requiem aeternam’ I think that he will remember me and pray for me. I do not know if anyone received favours with the intercession of Mgr. De Piro. I believe he is being forgotten, but now his Society is issuing reviews, leaflets, holy pictures on Mgr. De Piro. The Monsignor deserves to enjoy the reputation of a saint.  That is how I regarded him. In his lifetime many people used to say that he was a saint. People regarded him as a saint to such an extent that they began to spread rumors that, when he was returning with the last train a snake would appear to him in a deserted road, which was the road where there was the Dove Fountain. Always, after his death, it was said that he was a saint.

 

17.       Do you have something to add, cancel or change in what you have said in this your evidence?

 

Negative.

 

Et sic hora 11.30 am., abaoluto praedicti testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlegi integram depositionem, data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

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

 

Antonius Scerri, testis.

 

Diinisso autem testi, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, rnandavit mihi citationes expediri contra testem Sr. Paula Formosa S.S.D. ut die 18 Februarii, hora 9.30 am., examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotorern ut dicta die et hora assistat.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD,Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 11 Februarii, 1991

 

Ita est.

Can. Gustavus M. Barbara, Notarius


 

Sessio Octagesima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decima octava Februarii (sive 18-2-1991), hora 9.20 a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Sr. Paula Formosa SSD testes inducta et citata, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Sr. Paola Formosa SSD, testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis:

 

Personalia:   I am Sister Paula Formosa, member of the Congregation Sisters of St. Dorothy, Maltese Province, residing at our Convent at Mdina, daughter of Gustavo For­mosa and Clotilde née Zammit, born at Rabat on 11 March, 1910.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in the Case of Bea­tification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G.) Mons. Guzeppi De Piro, Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. Can you say what made you come to give evi­dence? Perhaps someone has told you what evidence to give? What was your contact with the S.G? When did it begin, and how long did it last?

 

I came to give evidence in this Cause for Beatification first because I have been asked by Fr. Anthony Sciberras, MSSP, and secondly because I am convinced of the sanctity of the S.G., Mgr. Joseph De Piro. I have not been told what to answer, and I will speak from personal ex­perience and what I have seen myself. I began to notice Mgr. De Piro when I was about twelve years and continued to see him till 1930, when I entered the novitiate in Rome. After this I had news about him from his nieces who were novices with me.

 

2.         You say that you were “a close friend of the S.G’s nieces.’ Can you say exactly who were these nieces? I guess that, since you were a close friend of these niec­es, you had at least some idea of the rest of the De Piro family. Can you give some details about this family? In particular, about the S.G’s parents? Did you ever visit their house? What impression did it give you of the fami­ly? Was this their only house, or did they have others; in case where? Did this mean that they were well off, perhaps noble as well? In this case, besides being well off, how else were they known by the people? Perhaps as selfish people, or as people who helped others? Did you ever hear how they treated their dependents? What do you know of the S.G’s siblings? How many, and who were they? Were they old­er or younger than the S.G? What was their position in Society? Did they have a share in the government of the Country, and, in case, what was it? Do you know if they therefore, belonged to some political party? In case, which? If yes, do you know if this fact ever created conflicts between the members of the family or with oth­er people? Do you know what the relations between the siblings were? Further down you mention Fr. Santin as one of the S.G’s brothers. Was he older or younger than the S.G? If he was older, do you know if the S.G., was influenced by his brother when he chose to become a priest? In fact, do you know how the S.G., came by the decision to become a priest? Do you know if he always felt this vocation, or if, at an earlier time, he had in mind some other career? In case, what was this? Did you ever hear some details from his nieces connected with the S.G’s childhood and youth?

 

These nieces of Mgr. De Piro were Sr. Marie De Piro, daughter of Dr. Guido De Piro, brother of the S.G., and Sr. Jole De Piro, daughter of Pio De Piro, another brother of the S.G. I knew other nieces of Mgr. De Piro, but I was on very intimate terms with these two. From them I came to know that the father of Mgr. De Piro had died a long time before. His mother (called by her granddaughters: Nonna Kika) was a very good woman, who helped the poor.  She had a very strong character. The house of Nonna Kika was near the Cathedral, very large (later our Congregation bought it to open a school).  There were various servants in the house. The family of Mgr De Piro was rich and of noble descent. Besides the house at Mdina, Nonna Kika had another house at Qrendi; the De Piro family had a grave in the Church at Qrendi.

 

The members of the family I know were not haughty, but, on the contrary, they were approachable by all. I noticed that the nieces 1 knew did not make any class distinction among their companions. All members of the family were good people, and humble. But I cannot give any details about the brothers and sisters of the S.G., ex­cept that they were married, and that, besides Mgr. De Piro, there was another priest, Fr. Santin, who was a great benefactor of the Church at St. Paul’s Bay, and did a lot of good among the people there. For the rest I cannot answer except that Fr. Santin was older than Mgr. De Piro.

 

3.         “The Monsignor was tall, stout and smart. Besides, he was always serious and modest.” You refer to the S.G., as Monsignor. Do you know if this was just a title, or that be was a regular Canon of the Cathedral? If the latter, do you know how and when he became a monsignor? Do you know some duties connected with this office? Do you know if among the monsignors he held some particular office and, in case, what was it? Do you know how he performed these duties? “… stout…” Do you mean that he was healthy and showed no signs of sickness? For example, did you ever hear his nieces say that he was ill or that sometime he fell ill? In case, can you give details about these illnesses? Do you know if he took care of his health? If yes, in what way? Perhaps he often went to see a doctor?  Or that he had a lot of rest? Or some particular attention regard­ing food? That he was careful not to be involved in trouble that could be avoided?  Or that he limited his work?

 

“… smart…” Perhaps you are referring to his clothes? In case, what do you mean by this? Do you mean that his clothes and the way he dressed himself attracted one’s attention? As a monsignor did he wear something particular and distinctive?

 

“… always serious.....and modest”: can you explain in detail these two qualities? How do you connect, for example, his seriousness with the fact that, as you say later on, he also used to joke with you? As regards the seriousness and modesty you mention, did you notice any difference between him and other priests? In case, in what sense? “He commanded respect and reserve.” Can you explain more clearly? Did you regard the S.G., as a sociable person, or was he perhaps the type who shunned com­pany? If he was so, don’t you think that, as a priest, he made it difficult for people to approach him for help?

 

“.... he was not at all proud.”  For what reason did you expect him to be proud? Perhaps because of his fami­ly? Or perhaps also because he was a monsignor? Do you mean that other persons of the same status seemed, at that time, to be proud of themselves?

 

 

I know that Mgr. De Piro was Dean of the Cathedral Chap­ter. I remember him always near the Bishop during the religious functions at the Cathedral. I know that the Dean was a dignitary in the Cathedral Chapter, but I do not know what his duties as Dean were.

 

Mgr. De Piro gave me the impression of being a well built person, but I cannot make any comments about his physical strength. I never heard any comments from his nieces ab­out this aspect of his life. About the care of his health, all I can say is that he lived and ate with the poor orphans in his care and with the poor members of his Society. Be­sides, I must believe that he was a very busy person who did not shirk work; nay, I always felt that he must have been particularly helped by providence to carry out all his various duties and tasks.

 

By “… pulit… ” I mean that he was tidy, not that he was sump­tuously dressed. But I cannot say more than this from the few times I met him.

 

By “serju” I mean that he was a man who minded his own business, recollected, serious in his manners, not that he was gloomy. The only time I heard him talk while I was with his nieces, I saw that he knew how to joke as well, without offending anybody. I always saw him wear­ing his cassock, even when I saw him at his brother’s house, Fr. Santin. His looks, manners, way of talking, etc., all showed that he was modest. Today, looking back I would say that, compared with other good priests of his time, his seriousness and modesty were more conspicuous.  People at that time spoke about the S.G., as a social person, ready to accept everybody, kindhearted.  I myself noticed his humility in his whole demeanour and in the way he looked at others.

 

I cannot give more details.

 

4.         You say that occasionally you met the S.G., at St. Paul’s Bay in the house of his brother Fr. Santin. Do you mean that his brother lived at St. Paul’s Bay? Can you still describe this house? Was it large or small? Was it well furnished? Were there any servants? Do you know if, besides this house, he had some other one? What was Fr. Santin’s pastoral work in the Diocese of Malta?  Did the S.G., own a house? If not, why not? If he did not have his own house, where did he reside? You say that you would meet the S.G., at St. Paul’s Bay. Do you know if he went there often? How long did he stay there? Would he be alone and what could he be doing there?

 

Fr. Santin lived at this house in St. Paul’s Bay. It gave one the idea that it was a house of wealthy people. It was not very large, but had large grounds around it which reach­ed to the sea. He had servants. He used to go fishing, but he distributed the fish he caught to his friends. I do not know that he had any other house. Fr. Santin was also a rector of a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Here he used to celebrate Mass and hear confessions. Be­sides, he enlarged this church because the number of peop­le at St. Paul’s Bay was increasing.  Mgr. De Piro, however, stayed with his mother, whenever he was not living in one of the orphanages he directed or with the members of his Society. I do not know why Mgr. De Piro did not have a house of his own.

 

I met Mgr. Do Piro at Fr. Santin’s house only once. He was alone with Fr. Santin. I cannot say how often he visited his brother’s place, nor whether he used to take orphans or members of his Society there.

 

5.         You say that at his brother’s house you would be with the nieces. You add that when the Monsignor met you he would talk to you and make jokes, “....when he laughed, be did so heartily”.  What was your age at that time? If you were still small children, do you mean that he was much attracted to child­ren? If you were already young girls, do you mean that the S.G., was not afraid to joke with girls? Did he show modesty even in his jokes? Do you mean that he himself used to tell jokes, or that he used to share the jokes cracked by others? If he himself told jokes, do you know if he annoyed or hurt people with his jokes? Did he accept to be the subject of a joke.

 

“I still remember when he told us how he had succeeded in making the children of Fra Diego’s laugh when they were in a group to be photographed.” Would he tell you how he made them laugh? If yes, do you still remember this? Do you re­member some other things “… about which he would talk to you” when he met you? What were they?

 

“To be photographed.” I am under the impression that at so­me time it was considered vain to take a photograph. Do you remember what was the occasion when this photograph was taken? Was it the S.G., who wanted it? Did you regard the S.G., as vain?

 

I repeat that I met Mgr. De Piro at his brother’s house only once. I was then about thirteen years old. The way he spoke and laughed showed his modesty.  His talk was simp­le.  The joke he said was quite an innocent one. The joke was something spontaneous while he was speaking to us about the children in one of his orphanages. The joke in no way harmed or offended anybody.  He made the children laugh by telling them to say cikkulata (chocolate), and he did this so that they would be seen smiling in the photo. I do not consider that it was a vanity to have a photo taken, and in this case the photo was taken to be kept as a remembrance. Besides, from the way he said that he made the children laugh, it seems to me that he was not with that group of children while the photo was taken. It would never enter my mind that Mgr. De Piro was in any way vain.

 

6.         “I remember De Piro at the Cathedral. He would be there for some service. I still have a clear picture of his dignity during such services. You could see how dif­ferent he was from the others in the way he performed the service.”  “He would be there for some service.” Was it every day? Did the S.G., always attend? At the time you are mention­ing did he live near the Cathedral? If not, do you mean that he had to travel from another part of the Island? In case, do you think this was easy for him? What means did he use? If there were not daily services, do you mean that they were some particular celebrations? In case, do you remember which they were?

 

“His dignity showed during the ceremonies.” Can you ex­plain clearly what you mean by this? Perhaps you are re­ferring to the vestments he wore? In case, in what way were they particular?

 

“You could see how different he was from the others in the way he performed the service.” Perhaps you mean that he performed the functions in such a way as to attract attention? Perhaps by the tone and volume of his voice?  By his gestures?

Did you ever see the S.G., saying Mass on weekdays? Was there anything in his Mass that struck you? In case, what was it? Did you notice any difference between the way he performed functions on some special occasions and the or­dinary daily functions?

 

Did you ever see him during some other Eucharistic Ce­lebration (adoration, benediction)? In case, did he lead the service or was he simply present? What do you have to say about his comportment during some procession, etc.? Did you ever see the S.G., hearing confessions? Do you know if there were many people who went to him for con­fessions? Perhaps some particular category of penitents? Did you notice that he was patient during the confessions? Did you ever hear any comments about the S.G., as a confes­sor? In case, what were they? Did you ever have a chance to see the S.G., praying alone? Where? Can you say something par­ticular about this activity?

 

Did the S.G., preach? Did you ever hear any of his sermons? Where? Did he have any particular subject for his sermons? What language did he speak in his sermons? Why? Were his sermons easy to follow, or was he the type whose sermons were difficult to follow? What did people say about him as a preacher?

 

Mgr. De Piro attended only the major feasts, when there would be the Bishop present, among them the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. I know also that when the Governor General was present, the reception was held at the house of Mgr. De Piro’s mother. Other details I cannot give.

 

When I say dignity (with dignity) I mean that he carried out his duties in a way consonant with his office. I am not referring to the clothes he used (though these were impeccable, as became such occasion), but to his personali­ty and the whole manner he carried out his duties.

 

Et sic hora 12 05 p.m. suspensum est examen dictae testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 25 Februarii, hora 9.30 am., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam eadem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eadem testi perlexi eius depositionem, data eae facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipsa eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit:

 

Sr. Paola Formosa S.S.D., testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiecopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Natarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 18 Februarii, 1991

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Octagesima Prima

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo prima, die vero vigesima quinta Februarii (sive 25-2-1991), hora 9.25 am., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Sr. Paola Formosa S.S.D. testis inducta et citata cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod illa statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Sr. Paola Formosa S.S.D.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicta teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis quae ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Answer to question no.6 continues.

 

When I said “with dignity” I wanted also to mean that he dressed and behaved in such a manner that he gave dignity to the religious functions and to the Church in general. I cannot now remember what I had in mind when I wrote in my declaration: “Tarah jiddistingwi, etc., (distinguishing himself).”  For the rest I cannot answer since I never saw him during such occasions, nor did I hear any remarks from others. I must say that I saw Mgr. De Piro during religious fun­ctions only at the Cathedral during solemn occasions, and just a few times.

 

7.         “ I used to hear people say how charitable he was.” Whom did you hear say this? Among his charitable acts you say that once he went begging alms as a “rosariant”, and then, his work in the institutes. Besides these two modes, do you remember hearing about his other modes of charity? Perhaps he gave some money? In case, do you know if this money was his or his family’s? In the latter case, do you know if, at times, this was a source of conflict between him and other members of his family? If not, does it mean that the members of his family helped him in the charitable acts he performed? If he gave some money, do you know if he was careful to whom he gave it, or did he give money to all those who asked him? Do you know if there were many who asked him for money and where did they go to ask him?  Did he himself find people to whom to give money? Do you know if his charity also consisted in giving ad­vice, finding employment for some people, trying to sol­ve some trouble between married couples or families? How do you know all this?

 

I cannot now remember who told me, but his works them­selves speak about his charity. I do not know any particular instances, which show Mgr. De Piro’s charity towards others, besides those I mentioned. I know, how­ever, that Mgr. De Piro came from a rich family, and I think that he gave his portion to help the orphans and his Society. Surely he must have had great hope in God’s providence to take the responsibility of so many good works, which needed continuous funds.  I do not know about any other forms of charity practised by Monsignor De Piro.

 

8.         You say that he was a member of the “Rosarianti”. Can you say exactly what these were? What was their scope and in what way did they try to achieve it? If they col­lected money, what use was made of it? If this money was given as some kind of help, do you mean that the S.G., was one of the “Rosarianti” because he understood the need of such help, and so he tried to give his share? Do you, in fact, know when and how he became a member of this Confraternity? Is it possible that the S.G., was in this Confraternity because of some devotion he had to Our Lady? In case, can you tell me what this devotion consisted in? In what way did he show it, and, perhaps, encourage it? You say that he used to collect money “… with his face covered”. Can you tell me why? Was it, perhaps, the custom at that time? Was there anyone who, in spite of this cus­tom, came with his face uncovered? Is it possible that the S.G., came with his face covered because he was shy to show himself in that poor condition? Or could it be, per­haps, that this collecting of money could have served him as an occasion of pride?

 

The Confraternity of the Holy Rosary (Rosarianti) used to beg alms for the repose of the soul of somebody condemned to death for some crime. In the incident I mentioned, one of the members of this Confraternity came begging alms. I could not know who he was since these people begged for alms with their face covered.  But my mother told me that, from the stature of the man we saw, she would conclude that he was Mgr. De Piro.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

9.         You say that the S.G., lived charity when he accepted to direct some institute of charity. You add that “... in these institutes the Monsignor showed great love for the children.”  Can you explain further what exactly were these institutes? Which were they? How many were the children in them? What was the state of the institutes at that time in Malta? What exactly was the S.G’s work in these institutes? Was it simply that he saw to their smooth running, or did he also have to undertake the maintenance and education of the children, to see what children were admitted, to provide for them when they would eventually leave the Institute? Do you have some idea as to how the S.G., tried to perform these duties? Did you ever visit some institute that was in the care of the S.G? Did you ever hear someone, who belonged to the Institute in the S.G’s time, talk about the life there?

 

As regards the Institutes you say that it was the Arch­bishop who entrusted them to the S.G. Do you confirm this? If it was so, why do you think the Archbishop entrusted them to the S.G? Was it perhaps because he was his friend? Perhaps because he came from a wealthy family and could therefore help with his own money? Perhaps because at that time it was a difficult task to direct the institutes and no one would be willing to accept this responsibility? Per­haps because the S.G., was always ready to accept? Perhaps because the S.G., was a popular person and had contacts with important people from whom he could easily beg and receive help? Perhaps because he had the knack to direct? How do you prove this?

 

You say that “he always accepted without any hesitation” and that he “lived this charity in his spontaneous obed­ience”. How do you know this? Was it only this work that the S.G., accepted “spontaneously” and “obediently”? Do you know of some other tasks, which the Archbishop entrust­ed or wanted to entrust to the S.G? In what way did the S.G., cooperate in these?

In a general way do you know what relations existed bet­ween the Archbishop and the S.G? If they were good, were they always good?

 

I remember that he was Director of St. Joseph’s Institute at Hamrun and that of Fra Diego, at Hamrun also; and per­haps of others as well. I think that there were many child­ren in these Institutes. I know that Fra Diego was an Instit­ute for girls only, and St. Joseph’s for boys only. These In­stitutes were for orphans and destitute children, but I do not know details. Nor do I know what Mgr. De Piro’s duties were. I know that at Fra Diego he had Sisters to help him, and at St. Joseph’s there were brothers from his Society. But I had no direct contact with these Institutes nor do I know details from other people.

 

I used to hear people say that it was the Archbishop who put these Institutes under the care of Mgr. De Piro, but I never heard anybody say why. Now, looking backwards, I would say that the Archbishop had great faith in Mgr. De Piro. At that time I wondered how and why Mgr. De Piro accepted all those responsibilities, and even at that time I admired his faith in Providence and his holiness when I saw this. Today, especially as a religious, I ap­preciate these qualities in Mgr. De Piro still more. When I spoke in my declaration, about prompt obedience, etc., I was only expressing my own personal thoughts about Mgr. De Piro.

 

I never heard that Mgr. De Piro refuted any work the Archbishop offered to him.  Nor do I know anything about his relationship with the Archbishop. 

 

The Archbishop was Mgr. Mauro Caruana O.S.B., Bishop of Malta and Archbishop of Rhodes.

 

10.       “ I remember the first house in which De Piro receiv­ed the first members of his Society.” When you say “his” do you mean that the S.G., founded some Society? In case, what was the exact name of this Society?  Where and when did he found it? What exactly do you mean by “Society”? Perhaps something like a religious order whose members live together and are bound by their vows? Was it a Society only for priests (as you seem to suggest from your information), or also brothers? Do you know if the S.G., was a member of this Society, took the vows and lived with the other members?

 

You say that when the people saw a certain member they would say, “ See this is the first missionary of De Piro. First of all, do you remember who this member was? “…the first missionary…” Do you mean to say that the S.G’s Society had the missions as its aim? If yes, what did peop­le understand by “mission” at that time? What did the S.G., understand by “Missionary Society”? If the mission was the aim of the Society, how was this aim being achieved? Do you know how the S.G., arrived at the idea of founding this Society? Do you know if it was easy for him? If not, what do you think were the difficulties? Do you think that he was understood by the Ecclesiastical Authorities? Do you know how members of other religious orders looked at him? How did the people regard this Society? How do you know all this?

 

You say that, “ you remember the first house”. Do you mean that perhaps you also entered it? Can you describe it? If, perhaps, you had seen it only from the outside, what impres­sion did it give you? Did you sometime hear someone who had entered it at that time talk about it? Do you know how the S.G., acquired it? Do you know how long it was in his hands, and, if later he left it, why?

 

What did the S.G., do to encourage youths for this Society? In fact do you remember if at first there were many of them? Do you know what environments they came from? What did he expect most from the candidates to the Society? In what way did he try to form them?

 

When I say “his” I mean that Mgr. De Piro founded a Society but, at the time I was young, I did not know what was its name. I know that he founded the Society at Mdina. I know also, from other Sisters of our Congregation, that the Society of the S.G., was in a part of the house of a certain Mgr. Mifsud before our Congregation moved there in 1920. I note that in 1920 I was only ten years old. I do not know if, before the house at Mgr. Mifsud’s residence, they had another house or not.

 

By “Society” I mean, a group of persons living together. At that time I knew that there were brothers in the Socie­ty, since I heard members of my family saying that a broth­er from the Society went to the missions. I knew also, from my family, that there were two priests, but one of them left to become a diocesan priest. It was only later, when I returned from my novitiate in Rome, and therefore after the death of Mgr. De Piro, that I came to know better the Society of the S.G.

 

In my family circle it was said that the first aim of the Society of the S.G., was to help Maltese emigrants abroad. Among the people the idea of “missions” was that one would go to preach to the infidels.

 

I cannot give any description of the house of the Society, in St. Roque’s Street, which I mentioned above, since many alterations have been carried out.

 

I do not know anything about the number, etc., of the mem­bers of the Society. I now recall that once I saw an Augustinian Father with some members of the Society. When I asked my family why, they told me that this Father was giving formation to the members of the Society in commu­nity life.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

13.       “... and I also remember people say how sorry he was when one of the first members, who was on the eve of his ordination, left him.”  Whom do you remember saying this? Do you mean that this news created a commotion? If yes, what was the people’s reaction to this fact?

 

“ How sorry he was...” Did people say in what way the S.G., had shown this sorrow? Was it perhaps that, after he had form­ed him for so many years, he could not now get anything from him? Did they say if in this sorrow he showed calm and trust in God, or despondence and anger? Did they say if, after the departure of this member, he tried to take steps so that this thing might not be repeated? Do you, in fact, know if this was the only member to leave? If not, does it mean that there were other members who left? In case, at what level of their formation did they leave? Did you ever hear anyone commenting on the reason of their leaving? In case, whom and what did the individual say? Could it be possible that the S.G., was to blame?

 

Even this I heard in my family circle only. I remember that those who spoke about this event were sorry because of what happened. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

12.       In your information you said that the S.G., besides his duties at the Cathedral, had to take care of the In­stitutes and the Society. Do you know if he presumed oth­er responsibilities? In case, do you know what they were and how he accomplished them?

 

I know that there were some connections between Mgr. De Piro and a certain Miss Curmi who was founding a con­gregation of Sisters. But I cannot give details.

 

13.       “On the day of his death…”  Do you know when?  You said that the S.G’s nieces who were with you told you that “… he fainted...” Did they say what exactly hap­pened to him? Do you know if his family members were ex­pecting him to die suddenly?

Do you know where the S.G., was buried, and if today he is still buried in the same place? If he is no longer in the same place, do you know when and in what way were his remains transferred to the actual place?

 

Did you ever visit his grave? Can you describe it? Would there be other visitors? In case, what would they be doing? Would there be candles, flowers, ex voto? Do you know if people pray with his intercession? Are there many or few? Do you think that they always prayed through his intercession? Do you know of some favours received through his intercession? If yes, can you give more details?  Do you feel that the S.G., enjoys the repute of a saint? If yes, for what reason do people regard him as a saint? Do you know if this repute already existed when he was still alive?  And immediately after his death?  What is your judgment about the saintliness of the S.G?

 

When Mgr. De Piro died, I was in Rome. It was in Septemb­er, 1933 after the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows. While he was giving Benediction with the Holy Sacrament, he felt ill, was taken by ambulance to the first available place, and died in the children’s ward at the Central Hospital, Floriana. I read this in the newspapers at the time of the S.G’s death.  I was not given any further details by the nieces of the S.G., who were doing the novitiate with me.

 

I only know that the S.G., is now buried at St. Agatha’s. I visited his tomb a few times. He is buried in the crypt in simple but decorous surroundings. But I cannot give details.

 

I know that there is veneration towards the S.G., and people pray through his intercession. I know this from what I heard and from the fact that many people attend the Masses held “pro bono exitu Causae”. However it is only lately that I noticed these things.

I personally hold Mgr. De Piro as a holy man whom God called for many works, a man who gave his life to do good to others. But I have not spoken about these things with other people. Members of my family also held him in high esteem.

 

14.       Do you know anyone who is against this Cause of Bea­tification and Canonization? If yes, who and why?

 

I do not know about anybody who is adverse to this Cause of Beatification.

 

15.       Have you anything to add, cancel or change in this evidence you have given?

 

Negative ad omnia.

 

Et sic hora 12.10 p.m., absoluto praedictae testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis Ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlexi integram depositionem, data illae facultate addendi, minueadi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipsa eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

Iuro me veritatem tota in mea depositione dixisse et confirmo omnia quae superius deposui.

 

 

Sr. Paola Formosa S.S.D., testis.

 

 

Dimissa autem teste Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mihi mandavit expediri citationes contra Rev. Dnum Josephum Caruana ut examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotarem ut assistat die 11 Martii, 1991 hoc in loco.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Iustitiae

 

 

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

 

Actum die 25 Februarii, 1991

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Octagesima Secunda

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decima prima Martii (sive 11-3-91), hora 9.30a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Chnistus Sacerdos, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Rev.,us Dom.,us Josephus Caruana, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Joseph Caruana testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum cx eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen testis:

 

Personalia: I am Rev. Fr. Joseph Caruaua, son of Generoso Caruana and Angela nee Degabriele, both dead, born on 15  March, 1914, at M’Xlokk, and now residing at Marsaxlokk. I am a diocesan priest.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in the Cause of Beat­ification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mons. Guzeppi De Piro, founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. Can you tell us what made you come to give evidence and from where you obtained the information you are going to give in your evidence? Was there someone who told you what evidence to give? When did you get to know the S.G? Did you have any particular relation with him, as, for example, if you were related to him?

 

I came to give witness in this Cause of Beatification because I was asked to do so by Fr. Anthony Sciberras M.S.S.P.  He asked me to give witness because as a boy I was a student in the Society of St. Paul, and later a priest in the Society. The first time I met Mons. De Piro was at Marsaxlokk, where Mgr. De Piro had brought the “educandi” of his Society for a summer vacation.  I passed a day with them. I was then about seventeen years old.  I am not related to Mgr. De Piro.

 

I have not been told in any way what to say in my evidence. I will speak from personal experience.

 

2.         You refer to the S.G., as “Monsignor”. Do you mean that he was a regular canon of the Cathedral? If yes, do you know when, how and why he became a Monsignor? Do you know of the duties he had as Monsignor, and how he performed them (perhaps attendance, choir, masses, confessions, preaching)? Can you describe the person of the S.G? Did he appear healthy or sickly? How did ha keep himself, his person, his clothes?

 

Mgr. De Piro was a canon of the Cathedral Chapter. In our Society we called him “Padre”. The first time I met him he was already a Monsignor. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

He was a wellbuilt man, and gave one the impression of being a healthy man. But once I noticed that on the way he stopped. At that time I did not realise why, but later I reflected that he did so in order to have the possibility to breathe. I remember also that in the refectory there would be a loaf of bread, of a different type, reserved for Mgr De Piro.

 

About his way of dressing, etc., all that I can say is that Mgr. De Piro dressed like other common priests. He was very tidy, but in a normal way.

 

I note that I entered the Society of the S.G., in 1931 or 1932.

As regards the loaf of bread reserved for Mgr. De Piro, I think that it was said that that type of bread was for diabetics.

 

3.         You say that the sister of the S.G., was married to Baron Zimmerman. Were there others of his siblings married to other nobles? Do you mean to say that the family of the S.G., was itself a noble family? In case, what did its nobility consist in? Perhaps only in the title? Or perhaps also in wealth, houses, property, authority? What can you say about each of these? Do you know what was the S.G., share of this wealth? And what did he do with it? Did you know some particular member of the family of the S.G: parents, siblings? Where did they reside? What was their work? What repute did they have among the people?

 

I cannot give more details about the family of Mons. De Piro except what I said. The family was of noble descent. From Fra. Consolat SSP, one of my companions in the Society, I know that the De Piro family had a house at Qrendi. I heard also that they had a house in Mdina and lived there.

 

I do not know any member of the family of Mgr. De Piro. I only heard about the sister I mentioned in my declar­ation, and two of his brothers, one Gino and another Fr. Santin. Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP used to mention also his mother.  I do not remember any other details.

 

4.         From the very beginning of your information you mention the “Society” of the S.G. What Society was this? If you are referring to the Missionary Society of St. Paul, can you say when it was founded, and where and how? Was it founded as a family of religious, that is, its members made vows (In case, which vows?) and lived in a community? Was it formed of priests and brothers, or only of priests, or only of brothers? Who were the first members? Were they numerous? From which environments did they come? What was the exact aim of the Society? If it was the mission, what did they understand by this at the time?

How did the S.G., get the idea of founding a Missionary Society? How did he begin to achieve this aim of the Society? Did the Society have other aims?  Do yow know where exactly the Society began? Can you give details about the first house of the Society, above all, if it was poor or luxurious, and if it was enough large and suitable for the first members to live in it? Why was this house chosen, and in what way was it acquired by the S.G., (rent, purchase, donation)? For how long did the Society use this house? If later on they ceased to live in it, why? Where did they go? What do you know about the kind of life the first members lived(as regards food and clothes)?  Do you know if it was easy for the S.G., to found the Society? If not, what kind of problems did he have to face, and what was their cause? How was the Soc­iety received at first by people, the clergy, other religious, ecclesiastical authorities?

 

From what I heard, Mons De Piro founded his Society in 1910, at Mdina. At first there were no vows, but when I entered there were the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and also to go to the missions. In the beginning the first members had an Augustinian Friar, Fr. Bugea O.S.A.,. to take care of them. At first the idea of community life was not very clear. I know also that in the beginning there were two priests, a certain Fr. Gwann Vella and another who left the Society; why I do not know. I know also that from the beginning there were lay brothers and priests. One of the first members was Fra Guzepp, a lay brother, who was sent as a missionary to Abyssinia in 1927.  Another was  Fra Salv, who was also a lay brother, about whom I know nothing.  Another was Fr. Gwann Vella, I mentioned above.  Another was Fr. Carmel Azzopardi, who later left the Society and his name as a secular priest was Dun (Father) Benin. The only one whom I do not know whether he is alive or dead is Fra. Salv. All the others are dead. There were others, whose names I do not remember. These members of the Society of St. Paul were not from the nobility or from the higher classes of society, but from the common people.

From what I heard, I know that Mgr. De Piro went to Tunis to make popular missions among the Maltese emigrants there, and from this he conceived the idea of organizing a Society for the missions. I heard also that in the beginning there were no vows, and when the S.G., decided that there would be vows in his Society, many left. It seems to me that Mgr. De Piro had in mind that there would be Maltese priests where there were Maltese migrants.  However the only member of the Society who went to the missions in the beginning was Fra Guzepp, who went to Abbysinia, where there were the Maltese Capuchins, but no Maltese migrants.  And I never heard that members of the Society of St. Paul held any popular missions among Maltese migrants at the time. I heard also that Mgr. De Piro was happy because he had sent a member of the Soc­iety to the mission in Abbysinia.  I do not know whether the Society had any other aims in the beginning.  I note that when I entered the Society the aims of the Society were clear: there were the three religious vows, plus the vow to go to the missions wherever needed; the aim of the Society was the missions.

 

The only idea I have of the first house of the Society is that I heard others mention a house at Sda. Celsi, Mdina. I know that later they went to a larger house, near the Cathedral, which I entered. It was an old house. From there, the Society went to St. Agatha’s, at Rabat, around 1931 or 1932. Other details I cannot give.

 

When, in my answer to this question, I say that I heard, came to know, etc., I mean that I got the information from older members of the Society of St. Paul. From certain comments I heard, I deduce that the quality of life of the first members was poor.

 

I have a very vague idea that members of the family of the S.G., were not very happy with the project of Mgr. De Piro as regards the founding of the Society. I know also, from personal experience, that a certain Monsignor, whose name I forget, looked down upon us, “members of the Society of Mgr. De Piro.” This was even after the Founder’s death. When we spoke about this to Mgr. Pantalleresco, our superior at that time, he told us that he knew that this Monsignor did not like the Society.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 meridie suepensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 8 Aprilis 1991, hora 9.30a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data illi facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento seque in fidem subscripsit:

 

Sac. Gius Caruana, testis

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius, de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc pub1icum instrumentum confeci in forma ac meum Notariatus Sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 11 Februarii 1991

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Fanrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Octagesima Tertia

 

 

 

Anno domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero octava Aprilis (sin 8-4-1991) hora 9.25a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopalis in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente, in Domo Cleri, ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Revdus Dominus Joseph Caruana, testis inductus et citatus, cui detatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Joseph Caruana testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset. clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

5.         You describe your first meeting with the S.G.  You say that he soon made you feel at home:  “He wasn’t the person to put you off. On the contrary I soon realized that he was an affable priest.”  Do you mean that the way he welcomed you helped you not to be shy of him? Can you give details as to how he received you? You also say that he asked you about your family. Do you know if he did this with every boy who went to him? Why did he ask about the family? Besides the family, didn’t you talk, let us say, about your vocation? In case, what did you say? In what way did he present to you the vocation for his Society?  Do you know the S.G’s method of attracting youths to his Society?

 

What I mean to say is that I did not feel shy in his presence, and that I could talk freely with the S.G.  I remember that I was invited by a member of the Society, Fr Michael Callus, the superior, to pass a day at Marsaxlokk, my native village, with the members of the Society. I remember the S.G., asked me about my family, and when I told him that my mother’s maiden surname was Degabriele, he asked me whether she was a relative to one of the women who were founding an institute at Zejtun. I told him she was my mother’s cousin. I do not remember that we talked about anything else, not even about my vocation.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

6.         “...he asked me if she was related to Mother Curmi of Zejtun.”  Who was this Madre? Perhaps of the Sisters of Jesus Nazarene? In case, do you know what was the work of these Sisters? In case, have you an idea why and how he was acquainted with the “Madre”? Perhaps he had some connection with these Sisters? In case, what was it?  Perhaps he visited them often? Preached to them?  Confessed them? Or perhaps some other reason? Since the Madre you mention was your mother’s cousin, did you ever hear her say something about the S.G? Do you know if the S.G., went to visit other Sisters? In case, whom and for what reason? Did you ever hear any comments on him from some Sisters? What did they say?

 

This cousin of my mother was the superior of the In­stitute “Tan-Nazzarenu”, popularly known as “Tas-Sindku”, which was founded by a certain Guzeppina Curmi, the daughter of the “Sindku” of Zejtun. This Institute was intended for orphan children. Besides the house at Zejtun, they had another one at Marsaxlokk. At that time I did not know anything about the Sisters or what connection there might have been between the S.G., and these Sisters. Later I came to know from a member of the Society, a certain Fr. Joseph Spiteri, that Mgr. De Piro had sent to Rome a model of the dress of these Sisters.  I never talked to my mother’s cousin.  I know that Mgr. De Piro had connections with the Sisters of Fra Diego Institute, since I know that he went to this Institute.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

7.         “At first I began to attend the Oratory of Birkirkara, one day a month...”  First of all, what was this Oratory? Who had opened it, and what did it serve for?  Do you mean that after your first meeting with the S.G., you promptly began to frequent the Oratory? If not, does it mean that you had other meetings before with the S.G?  In case, what form did these meetings take? If you did not meet the S.G., again but promptly began to frequent the Oratory, did you go on your own, or perhaps with others? Was there any one in particular with whom you talked at the Oratory in this period? Who had told you to go to the Oratory once a month? If it was the S.G., did he leave you free whether to attend or not, or perhaps he put a little pressure on you? In these visits to the Oratory what exactly did you do? 

 

Did everyone who joined the Society attend the Oratory for a year once a month? Or was there perhaps some particular category that became aspirants immediately?

 

A certain Casolani had a house in Birkirkara, which he gave to Mgr. De Piro. Fr. Michael Callus S.S.P., whom I mentioned above, was superior. There were catechists, who were not members of the Society, but Fr. Callus was responsible. Besides, there was also a theatrical company named after “St. Genesius”. There was also an “edukandat” for those who were beginning life as members of the Society of St. Paul.

 

After meeting Mgr. De Piro at M’Xlokk I began to attend once monthly at the Oratory. I did not have any other conversation with Mgr. De Piro, and it was Fr. Michael Callus SSP who invited me. I used to go there for a whole day to get accustomed. I was the only one from Marsaxlokk. And I do not know what procedure others followed before entering the Oratory. I know from Brother Emmanuel that Mgr. De Piro had a room at the Oratory, but during these monthly visits I never met the Servant of God.

 

 

8.         “After about a year I entered as a boarder, as an aspirant, in the education section of the same Oratory.” Who had decided that it was time for you to enter as an aspirant? Perhaps the S.G? If not,  do you mean then that the S.G., did not have a say in this decision? What were the aspirants? Why were they kept at the Oratory and not in some other place? What exactly was the education section? Perhaps a part of the Oratory, which was purposely built for the aspirants? Do you know when the education section was introduced, and by whom? Do you know if it was given some particular name, and in case, what was it, by whom was it given this name, and why?

 

Were aspirants common to the religious in Malta at that time? If not, do you mean that it was something new? In case, why do you think the S.G., wanted to introduce this system?

 

Would there be many aspirants? What age were the asp­irants? For how long were you aspirants? Everyone for the same period? If not, who was the one to decide? Did all the aspirants stay, or were there some/many who left the Society in this period? In case, did they leave of their own accord, or were they sent away? What do you think was the reason why they left or were sent away? Did you ever hear anyone say that one left because of the S.G? In case, can you give details?

 

It was Fr. Michael Callus SSP who told me that I could enter as a boarder, as an aspirant. I do not know whet­her Fr. Callus consulted Mgr. De Piro or not.

 

We aspirants went to St. Aloysius College to study. Studying was our main duty. I will give more details in answering other questions about our daily life at the Oratory.

 

I do not remember for how long the “edukandat” had been opened, nor whether some part of the building had been extended for the purpose.  If I remember well St. Mary was our Patron Saint. I do not know if other religious orders had similar aspirants. We were quite a number, but I cannot remember how many. I was seventeen when I began, but I was an exception. Normally those who entered were twelve year olds. Not all aspirants continued in the Soc­iety.  Some left of their own free will,  while others (at least in one case I think this was the case) were dismissed by the Superior, Fr. Callus. In all cases it was Fr. Callus who had to take the decisions.

 

N.B. The term “aspirants” was not used at the time I was at the Oratory.  It was used afterwards to describe the youths who attended the ‘edukandat.”

 

9.         “We went to school to St. Aloysius College, B’Kara.” Who ran this College, and what was its level of education? What subjects did the aspirants study there? Did you pay for your tuition? Who had chosen this College for the aspirants, and why? Is it possible that the S.G., had some particular contact with the directors of this College? In case, what was this contact? Did the S.G., show interest in your studies? In case, in what way? For example, did he ever talk to you about the importance of study? In case, what did he emphasize? Later on you say that the “… the day was dedicated in a special way to school and studies.” Do you mean that study came first? If yes, do you mean that you did not even do some work in the Oratory? Do you mean by this that you did not take any part in the activities at the Oratory?

 

This College was run by the Jesuits, and it was a secondary school. Subjects included English, Latin and Arith­metic. We followed the same lessons as other stud­ents, sat for examinations, etc… We did not pay any­thing, but I do not know whether somebody else paid for us or not. I do not know why St. Aloysius Coll­ege was chosen (perhaps because it was near?). I do not know whether Mgr. De Piro and/or Fr. Callus had any contacts with the Jesuits, or with the superiors of the College.

 

Except for what I shall say later about the Academy, I do not know if and how Mgr. De Piro interested himself in our studies.

 

As aspirants we had no other duties except studies. We did not teach catechism, did not take part in the activities of the Theatrical Company, and had no man­ual work to do, except to clean, etc., our quarters, and some work connected with the daily upkeep of the chapel.

 

 

10.       You mention various acts of piety you did during the day in the education section. Do you know if it was the S.G., himself who planned this program of prayers?  You say that you had “… mass together”. Do you mean by this that when you heard mass you were the only ones in the congregation? In case, what was the reason? Per­haps because you did something special in the mass? Who would say mass? Would the S.G., be with you, did he come for mass? Perhaps he also said mass? If yes, do you still remember something particular about his mass? When he said mass were you pleased or did you prefer someone else? In every case, why? Did the S.G., ever talk to you about the mass? Did he pay attention to objects connected with the mass, like, for example, vestments, the altar, and the chapel? In what way did he show his attention to these?

 

You also mention the visit to the Blessed Sacrament after dinner and Eucharistic Benediction. Would the S.G., be with you for these acts (when he was at the education section)? In case, do you remember his com­portment during these moments? Did he ever talk to you about the importance of this visit and the adoration?

 

You also mention spiritual reading and the examination of conscience. Do you still remember the form these acts took? Perhaps there were some particular books used? Do you remember which ones? Who chose them? Would the S.G., be with you in these periods? In con­nection with this, did the S.G., exhort you to read the lives of saints and to pray to them? Do you know if the S.G., had some particular devotions? Do you know if he wished to increase any of them among the members? In case, do you know to whom and why?

 

Did you have meditation? How was it done? Did the S.G., attend for it?

 

Did you ever consider if in his spirituality and in that which he wished to introduce into the Society, the S.G., was influenced by some other particular spirituality? In case, which do you think was it? How do you prove this, and why do you thick he was influenced by it?

 

 

Obviously, besides studies, etc., great importance was given to our spiritual formation. The daily program included a meditation (at about 5.30 a.m.) for half an hour; Mass, together with other people; breakfast; then we went to College. Lessons were held in the morning. After returning from the College we had our mid­day meal; Siesta up to about 3.00 p.m; Coffee at 3.00 p.m., and then study. At 6.00 p.m., recreation with the children of the Oratory. Then we recited the Rosary and had Sacramental Benediction. In the evening we had supper, and then recreation. Finally there was the examination of conscience. Besides, we had in common the morning and evening prayer, spiritual reading, visits to the Blessed Sacrament after meals.

 

Fr. Callus was responsible for the running of the edukandat, but I must think that he acted on instructions from Mgr. De Piro. I remember that, at least during the Sunday Mass, the children of the catechism classes participated by saying prayer and singing hymns corresponding to the mass liturgy.  Fr. Michael Callus SSP celebrated Mass. I do not rem­ember Mgr. De Piro celebrating mass at the Oratory, and I never heard his mass.  Nor did he ever speak to us about such matters at the Oratory. So I cannot answer the relative questions. Nor was the S.G., ever present during the acts of piety, as far as I remember, when 1 was at the Oratory.

 

It was Fr. Michael Callus who read during reading time. He read from Rodriguez; he read in Italian and explained to us in Maltese what was read. We finished our examination of conscience by reciting together the Act of Contrition.  But I cannot remember what form the ex­amination of conscience took. I remember also that during Meditation, Fr. Callus used to read something, but I cannot remember more details.

 

There was a particular devotion to Our Lady “Auxilium Christianorum”, whose feast we celebrated yearly. I note that before Mgr. De Piro, at the Oratory there had been the Salesians. There had also been the Chri­stian Brothers (Freres).

 

Besides we had a yearly retreat of eight days at St. Calcedonius Retreat House at Floriana.  We attended also sermons held for the people in the Chapel of the Oratory.

 

I cannot answer the last paragraph of the question.

 

Et sic hora l2.05p.m., suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 16 Aprilis, hora 9.30a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data et facultate addenti, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit:

 

Rev. Joseph Caruana, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis at sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsti cuem Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 8 Aprilis 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Octagesima Quarta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decimaquinta Aprilis (sive 15-4-91), hora 9.25 a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit Rev.dus Dom.us Joseph Caruana, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Seesione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Sac. Giuseppe Caruana testimoni.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognivisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

11.       “The place and the food were very good.” Can you give more details about the food? Would the daily meals differ from those of Sundays and feast days?  How did you compare your life as an aspirant with that of one in a normal family of that time? When the S.G, came to the aspirants’ place did he have meals with you and the same food as you, or did he have his meals apart, and different food? In case, do you know what would be the reason?  Was the place big enough for your needs? Was it well furnished? Was there some room reserved for the S.G? If yes, did you ever enter it? In case, can you describe it?

 

Before you became aspirants did you have to pay something? In case, how much? Was this a particular custom of this Society only, or did candidates of other religious orders and congregations in Malta also pay before en­tering? If you did not pay, perhaps the S.G., insist­ed that you should take certain things with you? In case, what did you take? Was there any case when someone was refused because he could not take with him these things?

 

If you did not pay how was the “Edukandat” fin­anced? Were there perhaps some benefactors? Perhaps the S.G., himself? How do you know this? Did the S.G., ever talk to you about this aspect of the life of the Society? Did he ever mention the Providence of God?

 

For meals we used to have broth, sometimes fish, etc. I found it sufficient and it compared well with the meals 1 had at home. I never heard any of my comp­anions murmuring about the food we had. But I cannot remember details. Nor do I remember anything about Mgr. De Piro’s eating habits when he came to the Oratory. But in this connection I remember that later, when I happened to be at St. Joseph’s In­stitute, I noticed that Mgr. De Piro ate special bread; it was brown bread, that which was usually eaten by diabetics.

 

Even the room and space we had at the Oratory comp­ared well with private residences of the time.  We each had a separate room at the Oratory; 1 did not have a room for myself at home. I remember also that at the Oratory we had electricity (in the early thir­ties) while at my village, Marsaxlokk, electricity was brought in 1947. We had space for recreation, yards, football ground, etc. We also attended the plays, brought up by the St. Genesius Company I mentioned above, at the Oratory theatre. There were no unnec­essary restrictions.  We had various works and activ­ities, besides prayer and study; and life was in no way monotonous. I was very happy there.

 

I remember that Mgr. De Piro had a room at the Oratory.  It was called the room of the “Padre”. (It was said at the Oratory that Mgr. De Piro himself wanted to be called “Padre”. I do not remember that I ever entered the room nor heard about what was in it, but from the outside (I always saw it when it was closed) I would judge it to be a little larger than out rooms.

 

We did not pay anything when we entered the Oratory. I took with me only my clothes in a box, and I believe that others did the same. I do not know what was done in other orders or congregations in Malta at the time. We did not have any pocket money, but everything neces­sary was provided, and when, once a month, we went to our respective families we were given the necessary money to pay for transport.

 

Though we took nothing with us, nor did we pay anything, we never lacked anything, but I had no idea how the money needed was obtained. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

12.       “The Monsignor paid us a short visit at times.” How often? Do you think this was enough? We have already talked about whether he took part in the program of the aspirants when he was with you. Do you remember if he spent some time talking to Fr. Michael Callus who, according to you, was in charge of you? If yes, do you know what they talked about? Did you take the impression that the S.G., was interested in you? How did you come to this conclusion? Did you notice if there were good relations between the S.G., and Fr. Michael Callus? Did the latter talk to you about the S.G? Do you remember what he said? Did the S.G., talk with you during tie visit? In case, about what? Did he talk to you in a formal way (for example, lectures) or in an informal way? Did you have the opportunity to talk to him privately? Did you ever see this taking place?

 

All that I can remember now is that I saw Mgr. De Piro during the annual Academy.  In fact I can now remember only one Academy in which he came. But this does not mean that he did not come more often. I remember also that he once came to deliver a talk on the missions to the general public at the theatre of the Oratory.  The talk was in Maltese. I never felt the absence of the Founder, since Fr. Michael Callus was enough for me and for my needs. Nor do I remember that my companions mur­mured about the fact that Mgr. De Piro did not visit us more often. I do not know whether one would have had a chance to speak privately to him if one felt the need; I never felt it. I do not remember that he ever delivered a talk to us. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

13.       “We also had moments of recreation...”  Previously you had mentioned the holidays the members of the Society spent at Marsaxlokk in summer. Besides the daily recreation, did the aspirants have similar holidays? In case, how did you spend the time? Did you have enough time for your daily recreation? Do you think this was something the S.G., himself wanted? How do you know this? Was the S.G., ever at the Oratory during your recreation? In case, what was his compor­tment at that time? Did the S.G. have holidays? When, where and how?

 

We aspirants used to go for a week long vacation in Gozo during the summer. We used to pass the day at sea. I remember, in a general way, that we made our acts of piety at St. Joseph’s Institute in Gozo, but I cannot speak in detail. While in Gozo we stayed at a house apart from the Institute, at Sqaq Balliju, Ghajnsielem.

 

During the year, while at the Oratory, we had time for recreation. I remember that we played football, looked after the garden, etc. (cfr.. 11 above). We had enough recreation. The S.G., was never present during recreation time.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

14.       When the aspirant period was over, how did the formation in the Society continue? Can you give details about this phase of formation? To whom was it entrusted! What things were insisted on most? Did the acts of piety mentioned in relation to the aspirandate continue even later? What do you say about the studies?  How and where were they held? Why did you have them there?

 

In general, do you think the formation given in the Soc­iety was adequate? If you had to give judgment on it today, what would you say? What was there good in it? What could have been improved? As regards what depen­ded on the S.G., what could he have improved?

 

After finishing the course as aspirants, we went to St. Agatha to begin our novitiate. Our Master of Novices was Fr. Wistin Grech SSP. The novitiate was for a year, during which we studied the rule of the Society (written by Mgr. De Piro), under the guidance of the Master of novices. We also had lessons in literature by a certain Fr. Alipio Scerri O.E.S.A. There was a much greater emphasis on our spiritual formation, and we had more acts of piety than when we were aspirants. Another Augustinian Father, Carlo by name, taught us Gregorian chant.

 

(I know that there was some connection between our Congr­egation and the Augustinian Order- we also went for our philosophy and theology classes there, but I do not know any details).

 

When I went to St. Agatha as a novice, St. Agatha was al­ready built. But I remember the foundation of the build­ing. When the foundation stone was laid, there were many people present. Mgr. De Piro delivered a speech, and I remember him quoting the Psalms: “Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum in vanum. laboraverunt qui aedificant eam.” (it was usual at that time to quote in Latin during ser­mons and on such special occasions). In his speech he also said that our hope is to be in the Lord.

 

I do not know how he obtained St. Agatha’s Church and the surrounding lands.  Perhaps they were family prop­erty. I have an idea that he had some difficulty in obtaining a part of the land, but I cannot give det­ails.  In connection with this I heard from some member of the Society, that Mgr. De Piro had had a dream in which he found himself trying to repair the propeller or rudder of a ship, but could not. A woman (St. Agatha?) came and repaired it for him.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 meridii suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 22 Aprilis, hora 9.30a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore at compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem me subscripsit:

 

Rev. Joseph Caruana, testis.

 

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Detegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt 0P, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus Sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 15 Aprilis 1991.

 

Its est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Octagesima Quinta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero vigesima secunda Aprilis (sive 22-4-1991), hora 9.15a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Rev.dus Dominus Joseph Caruana, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego  Sac. Joseph Caruana testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogat­oriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dictae testis:

 

14.       (cont.) After the novitiate we made the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and to go to the missions.  If I remember well, we made them yearly for three con­secutive years, before our perpetual vows. The vow to go to the missions meant that we were to be disposed to go to the missions anywhere we were sent. I know that a brother of our Congregation, Br. Joseph Caruana, was sent to the mission in Abyssinia where he worked with the Capuchin Fathers. I remember that when we were still aspirants a certain Fr. Ang Mizzi OFM Cap., who himself was a missionary in Abyssinia, sometimes came and delivered a talk to us to prepare us for the missions. In this connection (the missions) Mgr. De Piro told us to pray for those people whom later we were to convert. At that time I took these words of the S.G., as referring to the people of Abyssinia.

 

I note that I began my novitiate in the year 1934 or 1935, shortly after the death of Mgr. De Piro in 1933. During the years we passed as students of Philosophy and Theology (which we studied at the Augustinian Priory, as I said above), we still lived at St. Agatha’s. Our Superior was Fr. Wistin Grech SSP. We had good professors, and a sound formation.

 

15.       “I also remember that once a year we organised an Academy for him.”  Do you remember on what occasion it was held? Whose idea was it? Perhaps of the S.G., himself?  You said that on these occasions the S.G., was much pleased and appreciated your efforts. In what way did he show this pleasure and appreciation?  On these occasions we also read poems for him. Do you remember in what language they were written?  Why was this language chosen? Perhaps because the S.G., wanted it? In case, why? And why did you choose to read poems for him? Perhaps because the S.G., liked poetry? Perhaps because he himself liked to write verses?

 

I note that this Academy was held when we were still Aspirants at the Oratory. I do not remember what the occasion was, nor do I know who originated the idea. In it all of us read some poetry. The poems were written by us (except for some exception., when someone copied his poem instead of composing it). I do not know that Mgr. De Piro ever wrote any verses himself. For the rest I do not remember.

 

16.       “I remember once I went for a walk with Borda and down the street from St. Joseph we met the Padre; and we continued our walk with him...”  First of all, who exactly was Borda? Perhaps one of the aspirants? If yes, do you know if he remained in the Society? If not, do you think it was owing to some fault on the part of the S.G?  You also mention the “Padre”. Perhaps by this title you are referring to the S.G? If yes, were you the only one to refer to him in this way? If not, do you mean to say that this was the way to refer to him in the Society? If yes, why this title and not another more commonly used by other religious? Did he perhaps want you to address him with this title? Away from the environment of the Society, how did other people address the S.G?

 

You also mention the Institute of St. Joseph.  What was this Institute? Was it by chance that you met the S.G., there, or perhaps because he had some contact with this Institute? In case, what was this contact? If the S.G., was director of this lnstitute, do you know how and when he became a director? Do you know for how long he was director? Do you know exactly what was his work as director? Do you know if he engaged the members of the Society in this work? In case, in what way and with what aim? Did you ever visit St. Joseph’s Institute at the time of the S.G? Can you describe life at the Ins­titute in those times? Did you ever hear, or know dir­ectly, if this had been different before the S.G., took over? In case, in what sense? Do you know if the S.G., was also responsible for some other Institutes in Malta? In case, can you give details about his work in these Institutes!

 

“We continued our walk with him...”  Was it the only occasion when you walked with him? Do you remember how you felt yourselves? Perhaps embarrassed? If yes, do you mean that you did not speak at all?  If you walked with him at other times, on what occasions?

 

This Borda was one of my companions at the Oratory.  He is now a priest in the United States. I do not know that Carmelo Borda ever had any trouble with Mgr. De Piro and he was ordained priest as a professed member of the Society of St. Paul long after the death of the S.G.

 

As how and why we called Mgr. De Piro “Padre” cfr. no. 11. above.

St. Joseph’s Institute was an Institute directed by Mgr. Do Piro. There were many boys. They stayed there until seventeen years of age. There they learnt some trade among others, tailoring, carpentry, printing). These children were orphans. When aspirants, we sometimes went to this Institute, once a year, in summer, to send the Almanac to the benefactors of the Society, and to help in caring for the children.

 

I once went into the office of Mgr. De Piro at St. Joseph’s Institute to help him. I remember that this office was a large room. I remember that he had a small desk, where he was writing. Everything was in order. I remember that he asked me to hand to him a “carta busta” (meaning an envelope). I did not understand, and the S.G., calmly took one himself, thus teaching me also what a “carta busta” was. I remember that in every corridor there was a door leading upstairs, and above it was written in Maltese “Alla jarani” (God is seeing me). At this Institute there were brothers of the Society of St. Paul who took care of the children and the running of the place under the direction of Mgr. De Piro. There were also some employees: the masters of the various trades, a cook, a certain Versin, teacher at the Institute’s school. The brothers, however, took care of the spiritual and material welfare of the children. They also looked after the recreation of the children, taking them, for example, to the sea in summer. I do not know whether running institutes was one of the aims of the Society. I know that these children, when they grew up and became of age (seventeen), were found a job according to the trade they had learnt.

 

I once heard a certain Manwel Attard (whose father had been killed during the June riots of l919, and whom I knew as a boy at the Institute when Mgr. Pantelleresco was director) lamenting that he suffered hardships at the Institute. I do not know exactly to what period he was referring, nor who was director at the time. From my experience I cannot confirm what he said. Besides he gave me the impression that he was speaking influenced by political prejudice; it was during the nineteen eighties that he told me this.

 

Besides St. Joseph’s Institute, Mgr. De Piro was dir­ector of the Institute of Fra Diego for girls. There were Sisters to take care of the Institute (now I know they were Franciscan Sisters). But I cannot give any details.

 

I refer also to what I said in No. 6 above. I do not know what the office of director entailed.

 

Besides, Mgr De Piro was director of an Institute for boys in Gozo, St. Joseph’s, which was of the Society of St. Paul. Later, after the death of Mgr De Piro, the Society relinquished this Institute. It was at Ghajnsielem. The building existed before it was con­verted into an Institute, and was old. In summer we also went there to take care of the children when the brother in charge made his yearly retreat. It was run on the same lines as St. Joseph’s Institute, Malta, teaching the children how to read and write and some trade.

 

Both in Malta and in Gozo these Institutes depended on alms and offerings by the people. I know that in Malta there was the “Opera della buona morte”.  People offered one penny a month (one shilling, five cents in modern currency, a year), and when they were dying, the children at the Institute prayed for them in the chapel. In Malta they begged alms at the Dockyard.  In Gozo they collected melons. In each of these two Institutes there was a band, formed from among the children of the respective Inst­itutes, which took part in village fiestas.

 

Et sic hora 12.05 p.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ab tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 29 Aprilis, hora 9.30a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali. tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuranento et in fidem subscripsit:

 

Rev Joseph Caruana, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium dep­ositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus Sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 22 Aprilis 1991.

 

Ita est.

Fr. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Octagesima Sexta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero vigesima nona Aprilis (sive 29-4-91), hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos”, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Rev.dus Dominus Joseph Caruana, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Sac. Joseph Caruana testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promatore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis:

 

16.       (cont.) Near St. Joseph’s Institute, a little further down, there was an Institute for male infants (babies and small children). I knew at the time that Mgr. De Piro was alive, that the Brother in charge of St. Joseph’s Institute had some connections with this other Institute, and I knew also that a certain Sr. Agatha (whom I knew also at Marsaxlokk), who was a member of the Congregation I mentioned in No. 6 above, was one of the Sisters who took care of these children. However it was only much later that I came to know that Mgr. De Piro was director of this Institute. As I also, much later, came to know that Mgr. De Piro was director of another Institute at Birkirkara, also under the care of these same Sisters. This is the only occasion I remember that I had a walk with Mgr. De Piro. I did not feel. in any way embarrassed; and although I was conscious that he was my superior, still I felt free, and was happy to be walking with him.

 

17.       “...in the street we met Borda’s father…, and he invited us to his house. I remember he took us near the crib he had.”  As aspirants did you keep contact with your families? If yes, do you think that such contact was enough? If not,  how did you feel about it at the time? Did the S.G., ever speak to you about the point? Where did he live? If he did not live with his family, do you know if he visited them often? Did the S.G., appear to be interested in your families? In what way did he show interest? Did he ever help some parents of the aspirants? In case, in what way? You mention the crib. Do you know if the S.G., loved the crib? How do you know this? Did he perhaps exhort you to make one for yourselves? Did he encourage Xmas decorations? In case, what was his aim in doing this?

 

“When he was in front of the crib, the Monsignor said to us, ‘Now Jesus is still a baby; we can take from his hand all the favours we need’.”  Do you remember what these words meant to you at that time? If with these words he wanted to exhort you to pray and to feel that your prayers were heard, don’t you think that his words emphasised prayers done to “receive” from Jesus? Do you remember expressions usually uttered by the S.G?  The Crib is a reminder of Xmas and the Mystery of In­carnation. Do you remember some particular activities that were organised for you at that time? Did the S.G., celebrate and remind you of the other mysteries of salvation? Did he, for example, reflect on the crucifix? In what way did he celebrate Easter time? Did he encourage some particular celebrations among you in this period?

 

As aspirants we went home for a day once a month. Our superior, Fr. Michael Callus, used to give us the money necessary for the trips by bus. I did not feel homesick, and felt it was enough to visit my family just once a month. I never heard any of my companions lamenting about this, or showing any wish to be able to make more frequent visits. Mgr De Piro never spoke to us about these visits to our respective homes.

 

I do not know where Mgr. De Piro lived, although I am under the impression that he slept at St. Joseph’s Institute. Nor can I say anything about his relations with his relatives.

 

About the S.G’s interest in our families I cannot say anything. Although I remember that once, when a priest member of the Society was with his fam­ily on account of his illness, Mgr. De Piro sent me and one of my companions (Tony Formosa) with a chicken to this priest. This priest was Fr. Frangisk Camilleri, now dead.

 

I cannot answer the part of the question about whether Mgr. De Piro liked cribs or not.

 

I never heard this thought from anybody else, and at the time I took the words of Mgr. De Piro in their literal meaning. Later on in life, however, these words made me reflect on the great faith the S.G., had, and his trust in God. I do not think that Mgr. De Piro’s sense of prayer was just a prayer of petition.

 

I do not now remember any other expressions of the S.G.

When we were aspirants at the Oratory, the Theatrical Company of St Genesius used to present some play at Christmas time at the Oratory, but I do not remember that we aspirants had anything special.

 

I cannot answer the last part of the question.

 

18.       “ I also remember people saying that De Piro helped the Archbishop in the question that there was between the Maltese Church and Lord Strickland.” Did the S.G., help the Archbishop only in this question, or were there perhaps other questions? In case, which were they? Why do you think it was only the S.G., who helped the Archbishop in the case mentioned? Do you know if it was the Archbishop who asked for this help from the S.G., or it was the S.G., himself who offer­ed it spontaneously? Do you know if, besides this question, the S.G., was involved in the political life of the Country? If yes, in what way? Perhaps he was at times member of the Senate? In case, whom did he represent? How did he find himself in the Senate? Was he ever criticized that he sided with some political party?

 

Back to the Strickland question.  Do you know exactly what help the S.G., gave? Did it have the results desired?

 

All I know about Mgr. De Piro’s part in the politico-religious difficulties between Lord Strickland and the Church is from what I heard from Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP.  It boils down to this: Mgr. De Piro brought peace between Lord Strickland and the Church authorities in Malta. But I do not know any details. I remember also that Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP told me this: When the Padre, (meaning Mgr. De Piro) was at Rome during the time of Lord Strickland, here in Malta there was a rumour that Malta was to be divided into two dioceses, one in the northern part of the Island, and the other in the southern part. It was also rumoured that Mgr. De Piro was to be made bishop of one part.

 

When the Padre came back from Rome, Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP told this to the Padre. The Padre asked: “When did these rumours start?” And Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP realized that about that time a certain person, who was his enemy, had left Rome, and it was he who spread these rumours to create obstacles.

 

Fr. Gwann Vella SSP (who was the first, or one of the first priests of the Society of St. Paul, and who later became a diocesan priest) told me that Mgr. De Piro had sent him to the parish of Gudia to take care of the parish Church since there was no other priest after some trouble that had arisen in the parish. But I cannot give details.

 

At the time Mgr. De Piro was alive, I did not know that he was a member of the Senate, nor have I heard anything from witnesses “fide digne.”

 

I once also heard, but I do not remember from whom exactly, that Mgr. De Piro jumped from a tram to separate two men who were fighting.

 

19.       “It was said that the Monsignor used to sleep in the car when traveling from one place to another.” Who said this? Why do you think the Monsignor slept in the car? Perhaps, because he liked to sleep very much? Perhaps, because he would feel very tired? If yes, does this seam that he slept little at night? And if it is so, perhaps because he had a lot of work to do? Did he choose to do this work, or was he told to do it? Did you ever hear him complain because of the volume of work he had to do? In case, what exa­ctly did he say? Perhaps he complained against the authorities? In fact, could you see if he did his work with true obedience, or because he was unable to say no?

 

I have a vague idea that I heard that Mgr. De Piro slept while traveling. I must think that he did this because he was weary.  I know that Mgr. De Piro had various institutes to direct and was founding our Society.  But I cannot assess the amount of work this involved.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 p.m., meridie suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 6 Maii, hora 9.30a.m. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem tes­tis quam Iustitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi, si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit:

 

Rev. Joseph Caruana, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Iustitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 29 Aprilis 1991.

 

Its est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Octagesima Septima

 

 

 

 

Anno domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero sexta Maii (sive 6-5-1991) hora 9.30 a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit Rev.dus Dominus Joseph Caruana, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Rev. Joseph Caruana testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad ezamen dicti testis:

 

(The Promotor Justitiae presented a set of questions based on the declaration made by the witness Rev. Fr. Joseph Caruana, on what he had been told by Rev. Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP, and as recorded in No.18 above).

 

Ex officio.

 

1.         In the sitting of 29 April 1991 you mentioned rumours that the S.G., was going to be chosen bishop of one of the two dioceses into which Malta was ex­pected to be divided in those days. When the S.G., heard about the spread of these rumours, he put blame on an enemy of his.

 

First of all, what can you say about the rumours that Malta was to be divided into two dioceses? Is it true that this thought existed? In case, how do you know this? Was this rumour widely spread in Malta? Where did you learn about the other rumour that the S.G., was going to be made bishop? If from Fr. Guzepp Spiteri, whom you mentioned at other times, do you know from where he heard it? Did you ever hear about this rumour from some other sources? If you had heard it from other sources, do you mean that it was a rumour widely spread? Did you ever learn more about this rumour, if, for example, it was true that some one had in mind to make the S.G., a bishop?

 

I had heard about the fact that Malta would be div­ided into two dioceses before Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP had spoken to me, probably even before I entered the Society. It was a popular rumour, but I never heard anybody in authority confirming or denying it. For my part, I had believed it. But I cannot give details as to how much it was diffused.

 

The fact that Mgr. De Piro would be made bishop of one of these two dioceses was part and parcel of the fact that Malta would he divided in two. The rumour ran: Malta would be divided into two dioceses, and Mgr. De Piro would be elected bishop of one of them. But, as I said above, I never heard from authoritative sources whether this was true or not, nay, not even that Mgr. De Piro would be consecrated bishop, whether of an ex­isting or of a one yet to be erected, or just a titular bishop.

 

Ex officio.

 

2.         You say that when this rumour began to spread the S.G., was in Rome. Can you say more preci­sely which period this was? Why was he in Rome? Did he often go to Rome? Did he always go with the same purpose? From what you said it appears that the S.G., had not known anything about this rumour before Fr. Guzepp Spiteri told him. Do you confirm this? If yes, do you think it was possible for him not to know any­thing about it?

 

I remember that it was during the politico-religious question of Lord Strickland. The impression Fr. Joseph Spiteri SSP gave me was that when he (Fr. Spiteri) spoke to Mgr. De Piro about this rumour, it was news for Mgr. De Piro. But I cannot say how, for it was possible that a rumour like that had not come to the knowledge of Mgr. De Piro before.

 

Other details I cannot give.

 

 

Ex officio.

 

3.         “The “Padre” perceived that at that time an enemy of his had left Rome and spread this rumour to obstruct him.”  How did you get to know that the S.G., had perceived this? If it’s because this is what Fr. Guzepp Spiteri had told you, did he tell you how the S.G., had perceived this?

“… an enemy of his.” Do you mean that the S.G., had enemies in Rome? Did you ever hear more about this point? Do you know if, besides the one you mention, he had other enemies in Malta? Did it ever come out to whom was the S.G., referring as “enemy”? “… and spread this rumour to obstruct him.”  Was this also said by the S.G? Can you explain better how this rumour could have obstructed the S.G? Exactly in what?

 

All my declaration is based on what Fr. Spiteri SSP told me. From these words of Fr. Spiteri it results that Mgr. De Piro had at least one enemy. I do not know from pers­onal knowledge that Mgr. De Piro had any enemies. I know that he had people who helped him in his work in the institutes (from the list of persons who were benefactors, and whose addresses I wrote) and I remember one particular per­son, Mr. Alfred Cachia Zammit, who was his friend.  My strictly personal opinion is that whoever spread this rumour had in mind that once it was rumoured that Mgr. De Piro would be elected bishop, the chances that he would in fact be made bishop would be less.

 

As to whether Mgr. De Piro had enemies, I can mention an incident in which a farmer made obstacles. This farmer dug a well in his own field, but which was con­nected with catacombs that spread over a wide area, including St. Agatha’s Motherhouse. I do not know why he did this, but perhaps to vindicate his rights on the catacombs.

 

For the rest, I do not know more than I said in my declaration.

 

Ex officio

 

4.         Did you ever learn what the reaction of the S.G., was when he heard this from Fr. Guzepp, excluding what you yourself have said? In other words how did he react in this circumstance, perhaps he lost his calm, got angry, was upset, was afraid, remained calm, took it as a joke, said words that expressed trust in God?

 

From the way Fr. Spiteri narrated the incident, I got the impression that the S.G., took the whole thing calmly. The idea I have, from my personal experience of the S.G., is that he was a person who toot things calmly.

 

Ex officio.

 

5.         Do you know if this rumour influenced the life and work of the S.G?

 

Mgr. De Piro simply continued his usual work.

 

(Continues the questionaire)

 

20.       “In September 1933 I was for a retreat with all the other members.”  What retreat was it? Did you have it every year?  How long did it last? In what way was it done? Was it usual for the S.G., to take part in it? Did he perhaps preach it? Besides these annual retreats did you make other retreats during the year?

 

What was the “San Kalcedonju” you mentioned? Why was the retreat held there?

 

You say that the S.G., collapsed after having conducted the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows. Do you know the reason why the S.G., conducted the procession that year? Was he often invited to conduct processions? If yes, to which part of Malta did he go, and which village? Did he appear to enjoy it, or did he seem to do it as a service? Did he involve the members of the Society in these processions? Could it be that he exhorted you to take part because the service was paid? On such occasions, and others, did the S.G., preach? Do you know if, in fact, the S.G., was reputed to be a good preacher? Did you ever hear any of his sermons? In what language did he preach? Did he use simple language which every­one understood, or was he perhaps the type to speak a difficult language? Do you know if he was also invited to hear confessions? In case, where? When did he con­fess most? How was he reputed as a confessor? Did he administer other sacraments?

 

 

It was the annual retreat, which was for a whole week. During this retreat we had the usual conferences, etc. I do not remember that Mgr. De Piro attended these annual retreats of the Congregation, nor that he ever preached our retreat. I know that at St. Calcedonius other ret­reats were held. This place was at Floriana.

 

I know that he fell ill during the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows at Hamrun. It was not usual that he went to this procession. I do not know whether Mgr. De Piro usually led processions, nor, as far as I know, did members of our Congregation take part in processions on a regular basis. But it was said that Mgr. De Piro liked to go to processions of Our Lady.

 

I never heard Mgr. De Piro preaching, nor do I know whether he preached or not. Nor can I speak about the administration of other sacraments.

 

21.       “While we were there news reached us that the Padre had collapsed.”  Do you still remember who brought you this news? Perhaps he also told you what exactly had happened? If yes, can you still describe the fact?

 

As regards the funeral you say that you remember nothing. Do you at least remember the atmosphere among you immed­iately after the death of the S.G? If it was an atmosphere of sorrow, what was it that saddened you most? Do you know if on the occasion of his death, some part­icular mourning appeared in Malta? Do you know if something was written about him in the newspapers? Do you remember where he was buried, and if he is still buried in the original place? If the burial place was changed, where is he now buried, when was he transpor­ted there, and how was the transport carried out? Did you ever visit his grave? Can you describe it and the atmosphere there when you made your visit?

 

I do not remember who brought the news of the S.G’s sudden illness. I think it was some member of the Society. We were told that he was being taken to hospital, and we went on the roof to see him being taken there.

 

I remember we stopped our retreat. The funeral mass was held at the chapel of St. Joseph’s Institute. I remember there was a great number of people. I rem­ember also that I did not go to the funeral. Local newspapers spoke about the event. I heard from a member of our Congregation that he was buried in the family chapel at the Addolorata Cemetery.  Later he was transported to St. Agatha’s, Rabat, but I was not present.

 

I never visited the tomb of the S.G. Fr Joseph Spiteri SSP took the death mask of the S.G.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

22.       What do you think of the saintliness of the S.G? During his lifetime did you regard him as a saint? And soon after his death?  How did your mates in the Society regard him? Where those who stayed and those who left, in agreement about this? What did the people who did not belong to the Society say about his death? Do you know if there ever existed a devotion to the S.G? In case, in what way? Do you think that devotion to the S.G., is now increasing? If yes, why is it increasing?  Do you know if there are people praying with the int­ercession of the S.G? In case, many or few? Do you know of favours received through the intercession of the S.G?  In case, can you give details?

 

I believe that Mgr De Piro led a saintly life. The works that strike me most are his love for the poor and his founding of a Society for the good of souls. During his life I held him to be a good priest, but good in a special way and above the common piety of priests. I felt this most from the fact that he gathered orphans and abandoned children.

 

I cannot say what the reaction of others was immediat­ely after the S.G’s death, as regards his sanctity. I remember, however, that while people ordered from the printing press of St Joseph’s Institute pictures of Fr. Alfred Gatt, I do not know that they made the same thing in the case of Mgr. De Piro, they did not ask for his images.

 

I am not in a position to say whether or not at present there is a special devotion to the S.G., nor whether people pray to or obtain graces through the intercession of the S.G.

 

23.       Do you know if in the past there ever was the idea of starting the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the S.G? If yes, why was it not started?

 

Do you know if there is someone today against this cause? In case, who and why?

 

Negative ad omnia.

 

24.       Do you have something to add, delete or change in what you said in this your evidence?

 

I wish to add two details to what I said.

 

a)         My companions, when I was an aspirant at Birkirkara, said that Mgs. De Piro removed the confessional where Fr. Michael Callus SSP used to hear confessions. (Fr. Callus did not hear the confessions of us Aspirants, but of other people.  Our confessor was a certain Canon Lawrence). The S.G., did this, my companions said, so that Fr. Michael Callus could give more time and att­ention to us Aspirants.

 

b)         Fr. Joseph Spiteri. SSP told me much later that once Fr. Michael Callus SSP wanted to make a report against the Padre, but I do not remember to whom or why.

 

Et sic hora 12.10 p.m. absoluto praedicti testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis Ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlexi integram depositionem, data illi facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:

 

Iuro me veritatem tota in mea depositione dixisse et confirmo omnia quae superius deposui.

 

Rev. Joseph Caruana, testis

 

Dimisso autem teste, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mandavit expediri citationes contra Victor Tedesco ut examini se subiiciat et contra Justitiae Promotorem ut assistat die 13 Maii 1991, hoc in loco.

 

Deinde idem Dolegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Plisani OCD , Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc pubilicum instrumentum confeci in forma ac meum Nottariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 6 Maii 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Octagesima Octava

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decimatertia Maii sive 13-5-1991), hora 9.55a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri, ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, pnesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato, meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Victor Tedeeco, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulas in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Victor Tedesco testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibns Judice Delegato, Iustitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset, clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis:

 

Personalia: I am Mr. Victor Tedesco, son of Vincent and Miriam nee Filletti, both dead, born on 9 April, 1917, at Imsida, retired businessman, and practicing Catholic. I am not a relative of the Servant of God.

 

1.         You have come here to give evidence in this Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the S.G., Mons. Guzeppi De Piro, founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul.  Can you tell us what made you come to give evidence?  Was there perhaps someone who told you what evidence to give? What contact did you have with the Servant of God (S.G)?  When did it start, and how long did it last?

 

I have been asked to give witness by some member of the Society of the S.G., (I do not know the name of the member).  I am glad  I am able to witness in such a case about Mgr. De Piro, whom I have known somewhat closely. However nobody told me, or in anyway suggested, what I have to say.

 

I met the S.G., for the first time when I was about thirteen years old and felt a vocation to go to the missions. I kept contact with him for the time I was at the Oratory, where I remained till December 1932. Later I met him again. All I will say is what I heard and knew at the time of Mgr. De Piro. Since then I never read about him.

 

2.         Can you give details about the S.G’s family? If they were noble, what did this nobility consist in? Was it a mere title or did they have a lot of wealth and property and perhaps even a share in the running of the Country? Do you know some details about the parents of the S.G?  Who they were and where they lived? How were they known among the people? How many were his siblings? What position did they have in Society, and how were they known among the people? Were you close to any of them in a particular way?

 

I know little of the family of the S.G. I heard, even before I entered the Oratory, that it was a rich and noble family. I heard also at that time that Mgr. De Piro dedicated whatever he possessed to the promotion of his Society. This was common know­ledge. Later, at the Oratory, I heard the people of Birkirkara commenting that the Oratory was kept in such a tidy and good state through the services of the S.G. Fr. Michael Callus SSP, who was our superior at the Oratory, also told us that Mgr. De Piro paid the necessary expenses for the running of the Oratory. I can confirm, through personal experience since I lived at the Oratory, that it was kept in a tidy and good state, and can add that we students lacked nothing either materially or spirit­ually.

 

About the family of the S.G., I heard that it was rich because it possessed both property and money.  But I cannot say to what extent. I do not know anything else.

 

3.         You refer to the S.G., as “monsignor”. Do you know if this was a mere honorary title or if in fact he was a regular Canon of the Cathedral? If the latter, what were the duties connected with this office and how did the S.G., perform them? Do you know how and when be became a Monsignor?

 

I know only that Mons. De Piro was a Monsignor, but I do not know whether this was just a title, or whether it implied some duties and rights. All I know is that Mgr. De Piro passed a lot of time at St. Joseph’s Institute.

 

4.         From the very beginning of your evidence you make reference to the “Society of De Piro”. Can you give more details about the beginning of this Society? For example, do you know when it was founded (at least if it was long before or a little before you joined it), and in case, when did you join the Society? Where was it founded? How did the S.G., come by this idea? Was he alone to found it, or perhaps with the help of someone else/others? Do you know if in the beginning it was to be a Society of priests only (as you seem to hint), or were there some brothers from the very beginning? If there were also the brothers, do you mean that it was to be a Society of religious in the sense that its members had to make some vows? Do you rem­ember them making these vows? Perhaps the members of the Society also lived together? Do you know if the S.G., ever became a member of this Society by making vows himself? Did the Society have many members in the beginning?

 

The Society of the S.G., was founded a long time before I entered, and so I cannot give details. I remember that at the Oratory there was a plaque with the date of the foundation. It was always known as the Society of “Mgr. De Piro”. There always had been priests and brothers in this Society. The mem­bers lived a community life and had a rule, but I do not know any details. I also heard that at Rabat there was another community under the direction of Mgr. De Piro.

 

At the Oratory we were between twenty and twenty-five students.  There were at least three members who took care of the place. Besides, from time to time other members came from Rabat.

I do not know whether Mgr. De Piro ever became a member of his Society or not.

 

4b.       You seem to hint that at the time when you joined the Society, the missionary aim of the Society was clear. At that time what did you mean by “mission”? Do you know how in your time this aim was being achieved by the Society? And in case, do you know if this aim was clear to everyone from the beginning of the Society? Do you know if, besides this aim, the Society had other aims? In case, what were they? Perhaps the teaching of Catechism? Perhaps the care of children in the Institutes? In case, in what way were these aims being achieved?

You refer to this Society as the “Society of St. Paul”. Was this perhaps the official name of the S.G’s Soc­iety? If yes, do you know who had given it this name and why? Do you know if the Society had some partic­ular devotion to this Saint? In case, how was it shown? Were there some other devotions to other saints? Which?

 

When I entered the Society it was clear in my mind that I was to go to the missions. By “missions” it was und­erstood that one would go to a foreign country to convert people to the faith. At the Oratory it was made clear to us that we were to be ready to sacrifice our­selves for the missions. We were told that, at that time, there were members who were already at the miss­ions. I. do not know whether this aim of the Society was clear from the beginning or not, but all of us at the Oratory knew, even before entering, that that was our aim. We sometimes had conferences on the subject. I remember that sometimes missionaries (I do not rem­ember whether members of the Society or not) came to the Oratory. I remember that members of the Society (and Mgr. De Piro himself) wore a wooden crucifix, as missionaries do.

 

When Mgr. De Piro came to the Oratory, about three times a year, he used to deliver a talk to us. The topics included sacrifice, dedication, the miss­ions, etc. He urged us to study, and told us it was our duty to study, and to keep in mind the expenses inv­olved. He also told us not to lose time.

 

I cannot speak about secondary aims of the Society.  Though Fr. Michael and the brothers took care of the supervision of the children at the Oratory, and I saw members of the Society at St, Joseph’s Institute, these were never presented to us as aims (secondary or other­wise) of the Society.

 

I do not know why the Society was called “… of St. Paul”. I remember that the feast of St. Paul’s shipwreck (10th February) was held with greater solemnity, and that was one of the occasions on which Mgr. De Piro visited us. I cannot speak about any other special devotions.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 meridie suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 20 Maii, hora 9.30a.m. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius deposit­ionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi, si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

Victor Tedesco, testis.

 

Deinde ipse Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conticerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 13 Maii. 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Octagesima Nona

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero vigesimo. Maii (sive 20-6-91), hora 9.30 a.m,. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti causa canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri, “Christus Sacerdos” Birkirkara, praesentibues Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Victor Tedesco, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

­Ego Victor Tedesco testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen testis.

 

5.         “I got to know about this Society...because I used to read some pamphlets published by the members every now and then. In them the mission was mentioned a lot as well as all that the Monsignor did and was still doing to found the Society.” Do you remember the name of these pamphlets? Who published them, and how often? In what language were they? What exactly do you mean when you say that in these “… the mission was mentioned a lot…”? Perhaps that there were articles about the missionary activities of the Church in a general way?  Or perhaps about some par­ticular work of some member of the Society of the S.G? Perhaps these were appeals for help to the mission, to the Society, and perhaps also to attract new members to the Society? Do you know who wrote these articles and appeals?

 

“… and also all the Monsignor did and was still doing.” Do you remember in greater detail what was written about this? Perhaps the difficulties were mentioned?

 

I cannot remember the exact name of the leaflets I men­tioned in my declaration, but the letterheads were those of the Society of St. Paul.  The gist of what was cont­ained was to foster and encourage youths to go to the missions.  It contained news about the missions, appeals to help the missions and the Society, and some news about the Society itself. They were published in Maltese. I cannot remember the names of the contributors. They were published by the Society of St. Paul. I cannot remember details of what was written, but surely there was no self praise by Mgr. De Piro, nor was he praised by others. In this leaflet it was made clear that anybody who entered the Society must have a genuine intention. No difficulties of the Society or of Mgr. De Piro him­self were mentioned in these leaflets.

 

6.         You say that your father always wished you to become a doctor or a lawyer, but when you showed him you want­ed to join the Society of the S.G., “… he agreed...”. Do you mean that your Father agreed promptly? If this is the case, do you mean that your father attributed a certain prestige to the Society of the S.G? Do you know if your father had some other information about the S.G., and the Society? Can you tell what was the general idea of the people at that time about this project of the S.G? And about the S.G., himself?

 

My father did not accept immediately, but this more for reasons of family ties than for any other reason. He knew nothing about the Society. My mother knew more about the aims of the Society, and held Mgr. De Piro in great respect. In fact my mother found no difficulty against my entering the Society, and immediately accepted, and persuaded my father to do the same. I note that my father was from Tripoli (Libya), and was often abroad. Later on he was very happy that I had entered the Society. Here I wish to add that at that time all spoke about Mgr. De Piro with great respect; everyone considered him as a very spiritual person. Besides, all admired the fact that he not only founded the Society of St. Paul, but that he was also res­ponsible for its upkeep from his own personal possessions. The Society was called “Mgr. De Piro’s”, and this not just in the sense that Mgr. De Piro was the Founder.

 

7.         “...and in fact we went together to the Oratory of Birkirkara and there we met Fr. Michael Callus.” First of all what was this Oratory you mention? If it was a house of the Society, do you know if it belonged to the Society from its beginning, or perhaps the Society acquired it from someone else? In case, who gave it to the Society, and why? At the time you mention what were the activities of the Oratory? Perhaps it was a place to receive the new members of the Society? If yes, was it, in your opinion a suitable place for this purpose? How long did the members stay in this place? At what age were they admitted? Did each member stay for some time in this Oratory? Did many join? Did all of them stay? If not, why not? Did the Oratory serve for some other purpose? Can you give details? Did the Society own some other house at that time? Did you ever visit it/them?You say that you went to Fr. Michael Callus. Who was he? Perhaps he ran the Oratory? Perhaps it was he who decided who should join the Society? Do you mean to say that the S.G., had no say whatever in this decision? Do you mean that you had never met the S.G., before you joined the Society?

 

From what you say it appears that to enter the Society it was necessary to present some certificates and to sit for an examination and interview. Do you mean that admittance to the Society was taken seriously and not lightly? What did the examination consist of? Was everyone examined?

 

As far as I know the Oratory belonged to the Society of St. Paul. We, students, lived in it. There was a separate room for each student, there was a refectory, recreation rooms. There was also a church, which served also the people who lived in the vicinity. There was also a place, apart from where we students lived, that served for the teaching of catechism. From the way the Oratory was built, I must think that it was precisely built for this purpose, and not converted from an already existing building. However I do not know how the place passed into the hands of the Society.  It was very suitable and satisfied all the needs of us students.

 

We stayed at the Oratory for the period at our sec­ondary education. Then students went to complete their studies in another place, perhaps at Rabat. I remember that before we entered St. Aloysius College, we had to sit for an examination, and one was placed in a class according to how far one had progressed in studies before entering the Oratory. So the period one passed at the Oratory differed from one student to another. All of us at the Oratory attended St. Aloysius College.  At least all who entered the Society at an early age started their studies at the Oratory.

 

At that time I heard about a house of the Society at Rabat, but I never visited the it. Fr. Michael Callus was a priest member of the Society of Mgr. De Piro. Ho took care of the Oratory and of the students (discipline, study, etc); but it was not he who decided who would enter the Society.

 

Et sic hora 11.30 am., suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 27 Maii, hora 9.30 am., hco in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse haec addidit ad num., 6 um:

 

I wish to add that people at Imsida (the place where I lived) used to go to Hamrun for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows during September, since it was not held at Imsida. When people knew that it would be Mgr. De Piro who would lead the procession, they used to go more willingly and in greater numbers because they admired him and respected his spirituality. This spirituality was more evident in Mgr. De Piro than in other priests at the time.

 

Ipse depositionem confirmavit iuramentu et in fidem se subscripsit:

 

Victor Tedesco, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopali

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me eubscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 20 Maii 1991

 

Ita est.

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo prima die vero tertia Junii (sive 3-6-1991), hora 9.45am., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legitime citato meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Victor Tedesco, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Victor Tedesco testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis qui ita respondit ad quesita:

 

(7. cont.)         I cannot say who decided who entered the Society. But speaking for myself, before entering the Society as an aspirant, I paid a visit to Mgr. De Piro. My father and mother accompanied me. On this occasion Mgr. De Piro asked me certain questions. In answering I spoke about my life.

 

a.         Whether my parents depended on me financially.

 

b.         How and why I had conceived the idea of entering a missionary society (meaning his Society, in this case). He also asked me if I knew what is entailed in going to the missions, and even explained things to me. He returned on this point several times during our conversation. He explained the necessity of detachment from one’s family and the readiness to undergo hardship. From what he told me I understood that by “mission” the S.G., understood not just the places where there were Maltese emigrants, but everywhere.

 

c.         He asked me where I attended school.

 

d.         He made it quite clear that, while one was not obliged to continue in the Society if one did not have a vocation, one had at least to have the intention of staying in the Society, before entering. The Society was not there to provide education, and then one would leave.

 

At the end of this conversation, although Mgr. De Piro did not tell me clearly that I would be accepted, it was clear to me that I was going to be accepted. Mgr. De Piro told me that I would be informed later.  In fact, after three days I received a letter from the Oratory that I could enter the Society. I presented my school certificate. I sat for an examination at St. Aloysius College, together with some others who were to begin the course with me. This was a public exam­ination for which sat all those who wanted to enter St. Aloysius College. On this examination depended which class we were to attend.

 

I also had an interview with Fr. Callus when I presented my certificates. The questions, more or less, were like those of Mgr. De Piro. He asked me also whether I was ready to live as a boarder and in a community life. Looking back, I can now see that things were done with great seriousness, and that the questions took cognizance of all aspects of one’s personality and conditions of life.

I know only of one case when one was not admitted immediately, but had to wait for a year before being admitted. This person was a year older than me. I know this from first hand information from the person concerned and from what I overheard his parents saying.

I do not know of anyone who was expelled from the Society.

 

8.         You say that you went to secondary school at St. Aloysius College. Perhaps by this you are referring to the College run by the Jesuit fathers? If yes, do you know why this College was chosen? Do you know if there were particular contacts between the S.G., and the Jesuit fathers? In case, what were they?

 

From what you say it appears that the S.G., gave great importance to schooling (“It was clear that he was well informed about us and our education.” “Every month he was informed about us.” Etc). Why do you think he wanted the report about your studies? Perhaps because he had not full trust in Fr. Michael? Perhaps because he felt responsible for your progress?

 

Don’t you have anything to say about other aspects of the life in the Oratory: food, clothes, recreation, spirit­ual activities, time schedules, etc.? Can you talk about these? Did the S.G., give importance to these as he gave to studies? In what way did he do this?

 

You do not mention the life after a member left the Oratory. In fact, do you know how the process of formation continued? Where? With whom? What exactly was done? Can you give details?

 

St. Aloysius College was the one run by the Jesuits. I think we were sent there because of the reputation this College had, and because it was run by religious priests.

 

I do not know what contacts, if any, the S.G., had with the Jesuits.

 

I confirm that Mgr. De Piro gave great importance to study. From the way Fr Michael Callus spoke to us, I must conclude that Mgr. De Piro took personal inter­est in our progress in our studies, and that he saw the examination results.

 

Mgr. De Piro gave me the impression of being above average, when compared to other priests I knew, not only spiritually, but also culturally and intellect­ually. Looking back now, I, who in my life have traveled much and met many people, can say that Mgr. De Piro was one of those who most impressed me favorably. I can say that in him I found all the good qualities I had heard from others, and the good opinion I had formed myself about him before I met him - and I found that he was far better than all I had heard or thought.

 

The daily program at the Oratory included spiritual exercises (mass, meditation, etc), study, recreation. Food was enough and varied; no one lamented about food. There was a recreation room.  There was a football ground. There was no restriction on the way one passed one’s recreation time. We took care of the chapel of the Oratory. Life at the Oratory, though it had its limit­ations necessary for our formation, was not only not boring, but we were quite content and happy.

 

We played football also with other boys who attended the christian doctrine classes at the Oratory. When I entered the Oratory I took with me only those things that were strictly for personal use, and during my stay there my family provided me only with the clothes I wore; the Oratory provided the school uniform.

 

I do not know what others provided for themselves and what they received from the Oratory, but at the Oratory there was absolutely no division or distinction between those who came from better off families and those who were poor.

 

The program at the Oratory was, more or less, something like this: We woke up early in the morning.  We had mass, had break­fast and left for St. Aloysius College, about a quarter of an hour walk away, and began school at 7.00a.m. (if I remember well).  We remained there up to 3.00 p.m. (or was it 4.00p.m.? I can’t remember exactly). We took a lunch with us from the Oratory, so that we had no need to return to the Oratory for the midday meal.  Then we returned to the Oratory, for study. Fr. Michael Callus SSP helped us in our studies. During the evening we had time to go to chapel, had our meditation, said the Rosary at the chapel and had Sacramental Benediction. During the weekdays we had little time for recreation, and what I said above about recreation applies mostly for Sundays and holidays.

 

We passed two days at home at Christmas, New Year, Easter and the titular feast of our respective parishes. Besides, our families visited us once a week. We passed our summer holidays at the Oratory. During these holidays we contin­ued our regular program including studying, though we went for walks and to the seaside for recreation. During the year at the Oratory we had also certain special occasions; Christmas, Easter, Our Lady of Sorrows, and other special feasts in the Church Calendar. A special occasion was also the Feast at St. Paul. Sometimes Mgr. De Piro visited us at the Oratory. At the Oratory there was a theatre, and it was used by a theatrical group. We had no connection with this, except that once in a while we went to see some program performed by this group.

 

We took an active part in the celebration of the holy liturgy at the chapel, which, was open to the general public.

 

Fr. Michael Callus SSP delivered talks regularly to us.  These included lives of saints and the missions, among other topics. Occasionally the talk was conducted in the form of a discussion, during which one could present our difficulties and ask questions. Occasionally priests from outside the Oratory gave us talks.  We also had our annual retreat.

 

I do not know anything about the formation after students left the Oratory.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 meridie suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 10 Junii, hora 9.30 am., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit.

 

Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

Victor Tedesco, testis;

 

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sig­illo ipsius obsignatis interogatoriis cum testium depositionibus mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP , Promotor Justitiae

 

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopali hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsit ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 3 Junii 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima Prima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decimo Junii (sive 10-6-1991), hora 9.00a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citatus, meque Notario, comparuit En.mus Dominus Alexander Cachia Zammit M.D., testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego A. Cachia Zammit  testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore et dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationibus, quem cum Delegato Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia: I am Dr. Alexander Cachia Zammit, born at Birzebbuga on the 10 August 1924, son of the late Alfred and Helen nee Asphar, residing at “Merhba Bik”, St. George’s Bay, Birzebbuga. I am Ambassador to the Holy See for the Malta Government. I am a practicing Catholic.

 

The witness presented a document, No. Doc.

 

I was six years of age when I first met Mgr, De Piro. At that time Miss Guzeppina Curmi was still building the Institute of Jesus of Nazareth in my home village Zejtun and exactly near St. Gregory’s. It happened that Mr. Fons Maria Galea, who was my mother’s uncle, gave much help to this Miss Curmi. Also, my father was a great collaborator of this Miss Curmi. At the same time, as I’ll say later on, De Piro was a close friend off hers. It also happened that, as my Confirmation was approaching, my father expressed the des­ire that I should not receive it at the parish church. Since De Piro, as I have already said, was close to Miss. Curmi and her Institute and at the same time heard about my father’s desire, he suggested that I should receive this Sacrament at the Institute. It was at this time that I began to hear so many beautiful things about De Piro, which I always continued to hear about him.

 

When Archbishop Mauro Caruana came to the Institute of Jesus of Nazareth for Confirmation he was accompanied by Mons. De Piro. In fact I still have the certificate signed by him. It is certain that there were strong and intimate relations between the Archbishop and De Piro, so much so that once the same Archbishop, who was the cousin of the wife of Mr. Fons, was at his house and I happened to be there ant he told me that he entrusted certain important things only to De Piro. He added that he did this because at times only he could help him. In fact I know that Archbishop Mauro had four Monsignors whom he trusted very much: the brothers Bonnici whom he appointed monsignors, Mons. E., Galea and Mons. De Piro.

 

Mons. De Piro was most educated and noble in his comp­ortment. It was held in awe but he had very beautiful manners especially with the children of the Institutes he directed. I often happened to see him in circumst­ances where there were children (more of this later on), but I never saw him angry, and not only with children; he received everyone with a smile.

 

Once I am mentioning the Institutes I want to add that, from what my father used to say, Mons. De Piro believed that children should have a lot of time for playing. This, De Piro would say, made the children tired and when they went to bed they slept more. I heard that the Monsignor also insisted on spiritual welfare. He also wanted that children should find good families to receive them on leaving the Institute. Besides, as far as possible, he found good jobs for them. In addition, I know that De Piro kept contact with them after they had left the Institute.

 

Mons. De Piro appeared to be a sick man. In fact whenever I met him I noticed that he soon lost breath. He was also a little pale and his face was whitish. Not infrequently we children were told not to upset him because trouble was not good for him.

 

Although what I have said is a fact, it is also true that I heard my father say that Mons. De Piro was involved in difficult situations: My father used to say that the Monsignor had also a great ability to solve these same difficulties.

 

Since, as I have already said, Archbishop Caruana was related to our family I often went to his palace in Mdina. When I was there, since the Archbishop was int­imate with the De Piro family, I at times visited their house where I also saw the Monsignor’s mother. I remember her weeping for the death of her other son Fr. Santin, who had died before the Monsignor. I also remember that this Fr. Santin was regarded as another saint but the Monsignor had more projects to show his greatness. As I am talking about his relatives I would like to say that some of the things I mention I obtained from my mother who was a friend of the Monsignor’s niece, Marie. I would like to add that whereas people like me who were not noble felt separated and apart from the nobles, we did not feel this with the De Piros. If this applied to his relatives, the Monsignor was to a much- greater extent humble and unassuming; he could have lived the life of a nobleman like others but in fact he always followed the poor and those in need.

 

One of the institutes he directed was St. Joseph’s Institute in Hamrun. Although his way of running this Institute was not perfect, he worked miracles in running it. As the government helped the Inst­itute, it had the right to admit children. These were not always the best and they therefore caused many problems. However, he could manage, and in fact succeeded in running the Institute.

 

I do not want to forget to say that at St. Joseph’s De Piro had the help of the lay brothers of his Soc­iety who did not say mass and therefore did most of the work; they were mostly with the children (I had many contacts with these since as a child I was left with the children while my father talked to the Monsignor, or on other circumstances). And I repeat that it was the brother who was with the children. When I heard my father talk about the Monsignor I concluded that the latter was a very busy man. In fact when he spoke about the foundation of the Society that De Piro started, my father said that in addition to St. Joseph’s Institute he now had the work of the Society as well. Besides his energy and thought, the Society depended on him also for its maintenance. He gave all his wealth to the Institute and the Society. It. is true that Mr. Fons helped St. Joseph’s Institute, but the same Mr. Fons said that De Piro made most of the contributions. Once I am mentioning the Society I would like to say that when he met my family he mentioned the Society but I confess we did not even understand what he exactly meant by Missionary Society. It was an extraordinary idea for Malta. At the same time it appeared to be a project most cherished by him. As regards the case of the children I insist that he did his utmost, so much so that my father said that he knew about four unfortunate boys who lived like animals; they had no food or clothes and much less care of their souls. This was so because their mother had died and their father was busy with his work at St. Lucian’s Tower. My father informed Mr. Fons about them. The latter approached Mons. De Piro and asked him to keep them at St. Joseph’s. In fact Mons. De Piro without hesitation accepted three of them in the Institute ant took care of them; the fourth one was in the care of my father.

 

I continue on the connection of De Piro with the children. I remember that on Ascension Day my father would bring children of the Institute of Jesus Nazarene to our house in Birzebbugia. I remember they came in a cab, all happy waving flags. I also remember that Mr. Fons would give them tea, sweets and a lot of gifts. Even the Monsignor attended. And on such an occasion the agreement between De Piro and Mr. Fons could be noticed. Besides, on such an occasion the Monsignor was very kind to the children.

 

On one of these occasions, probably that of 1930, my mother had invited Mr. Fons, De Piro and Mother Curmi to our house for dinner (the children were outside enjoying themselves). On that occasion my mother was worried because she saw that there was not enough food. She told Mr. Fons about this since he was our neighbor. The Monsignor soon perceived the problem and the common preoccupation. He intervened there and then and told her: “God’s providence is very great.” He said this because he truly believed in God’s providence, especially in the Institutes. In fact there was enough food to go round.

 

Curmi and De Piro were on very good terms.  The Mother always sought his help not only as regards the children but the Monsignor was also of great help in the founding of her Congregation and in the spiritual direction of the members in the first years of the Congregation. Again, when the foundress died, De Piro appeared to be much upset, because of the death of the foundress and some other reasons. At the same time my father used to say that God would provide for them in the future. In fact, Archbishop Mauro sent them Bishop Galea, who was his treasure.

 

I would add that after all this, Mons. De Piro was of great help to the Sisters of Curmi in the legal case they had with her relatives. I do not want to forget that previously De Piro had helped Mother Curmi to acquire the land for her Institute. This land belonged to the Monsignor’s brother, Gino, who refused to release this property. If it were not for the interven­tion of the Monsignor they would never have acquired this property.

 

If one inquires into the De Piro family one will soon find out that they belonged to Strickland’s party, but in spite of all this and the fact that my father bel­onged to a different party, my father said that the monsignor was a reasonable person. In fact, I know for certain that De Piro played an important part in settling the conflicts between the Church and Lord Strickland. I also know that the Archbishop obtain­ed a lot of advice about these questions from the Monsignor.

 

His death was a great commotion.  Everyone said that Malta lost a great benefactor. Many believed that his death would bring everything to an end. It happened, however, that, for example, the Society he had founded went on making great progress.

 

Although I never confessed to him I felt that I could easily go to him if the need arose.

 

I would also say that the Monsignor and my father resembled each other, but I add that De Piro was able to get in contact with anyone whoever one was; he had no pretensions. In connection with this I may add that in fact I myself never thought I would give all this information. In his lifetime he never seemed to do anything extraordinary. His saintliness did not manifest itself in his lifetime. It seems that God now wants him to come to light so that his Society may prosper.

 

Perhaps today it’s propitious that this Cause has started because today it’s becoming clearer that even the nobles can be good. It’s more difficult for a nobleman to be good, but De Piro succeeded in this. He was so dedicated and he worked so hard that after his death, three people were needed to continue his work.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mons. De Piro, Founder of the Missionary Soc­iety of St. Paul. What has made you come to give evidence? Was there perhaps someone who told you what evidence to give? What contact did you have with the S.G? When did this contact begin and how long did it last?

 

I came to witness of my own free will. When I heard about the fact that this Cause for beatification was introduced, I felt it my duty to deposit my witness. I am not a relative of the S.G., but my family was on intimate terms with the De Piro family. So I met him when I was very young.  Besides, I often heard my father speaking about him. I also knew some­thing about the S.G., since Mgr. Caruana OSB, the Bishop of Malta, was a cousin of my grandfather, on my mother’s side, and was brought up with him. I will speak, therefore, both from personal experience and from what I heard from reliable sources. My contact with the S.G. remained till the latter’s death.

 

2.         You say that the S.G., came from a noble family. What did the nobility of his family consist in? Perhaps titles only? Or did it perhaps include prop­erty, lands, money? If yes, do you know the extent of all this, and how this wealth was used? Do yow know if the S.G., had some direct share of this wealth? What did he do with it? Do you know if, besides this wealth, the nobility also meant a share in the administration of the Country? In case, what was this share? Do you know if the S.G., had some particular share in this? In case, what was it?

 

The family of the S.G., was a noble family.  This was not just a title, but the family was very rich. They had various properties in Malta and also in Italy. The De Piro family used this wealth to help others. Mgr. De Piro had his own share, which he used for charities.

 

I heard from my father and mother that Mgr. Joseph De Piro had the right to a noble title, but he renounced it, as has done his brother, Fr. Santin, before him. The father of the S.G., used to represent the nobility. The S.G., himself was chosen by the Bishop to represent the Church in the Senate.

 

3.         You refer to the S.G., with the title of Monsignor. Do you know if this was just a title, or was he a regular Canon of the Cathedral? If the latter, do you know what duties were connected with this office? Do you know how the S.G., performed them? Do you know why the S.G., was appointed a monsignor? By whom and when?

 

I do not know when, why and how Mgr De Piro was elect­ed member of the Cathedral Chapter, but he was still very young.  He also became a Dean of the Cathedral Chapter. I know that he was of great help to the Bishop, whom he respected very much. His duties were as those of the other members of the Chapter. I never heard anybody saying that he did not carry his duties well.

 

Mgr. De Piro was one of those who benefited from the fact that it was Mgr. Caruana’s policy to nominate young members of the clergy as Monsignors and as parish priests.

 

4.         “...my father expressed the wish that I should not receive Confirmation at the Parish Church... (De Piro) got to know this...and therefore he suggested that I should receive it at the Institute.”  Was it normal at the time for children to receive Con­firmation where the parents desired and not at the parish church? Do you remember why your father did not wish you to receive Confirmation at the Parish Church? Today do you regard it as a valid reason? When you say you received Confirmation at the Institute, do you mean you were with the other children or perhaps you received it privately, alone?

 

“... he, then suggested to him...” How did you judge the comportment of the S.G., at that time when he sug­gested to your father that you should be confirmed at the Institute?

 

My father did not wish us his children to receive Con­firmation at the parish and the Bishop did not want to administer it privately. So a compromise was found (probably it was the Bishop’s wish as well as of Mgr. De Piro’s) and I received Confirmation at the Jesus of Nazareth Institute, Zejtun.

 

Before the times of Mgr. Caruana, there were a lot of people who received Confirmation privately. Mgr. Caruana wanted to do away with this custom. When I consider the relationship of my family with Mgr. Caruana, who was our relative, and all other circumstances, I believe it was a prudent compromise. For my part, I did not like to receive Confirmation with other girls (I was the only boy), but the thought that I was to be near Mgr. De Piro compensated for everything.

 

5.         “Mons. De Piro was then with Archbishop Mauro Caruana when the latter came to the Institute of the Nazarene to administer Confirmation.. . Certainly there were intimate and strong relations between the Archbishop and De Piro, so much so that once the same Archbishop... told me that he entrusted certain import­ant things only to De Piro... adding that he did this because at times he was the only one that could help him.”  Why, do you think, was there such a relation? Do you remember when the Bishop told you what you refer to above? Did he tell you why the S.G., was the only one who had the possibility of helping him in some things? Perhaps of the particular abilities of the S.G? In case, what were they? Perhaps his academic education, or his nobility, or his character?

 

Mgr. Caruana did not say these words to me directly, but said them in my presence. The Bishop came regularly to my grandfather’s house at Birzebbugia, where he talked openly to my grandfather who was his cousin. Here he also held, so to say, his Curia, where he sent for those to whom he wanted to speak, studied problems, took dec­isions. But here came only those for whom the Bishop sent. Mons. De Piro came and went frequently and freely. Mons. De Piro was a prudent man, altruistic, calm, intelligent, but his intelligence had as a basis his spirituality. These qualities made oft Mgr. De Piro a great  he1p to the Bishop. Besides, the S.G., was the confidant of the Bishop.  The latter asked his advice and took it. The S.G., also had great responsibilities and initiatives (Institutes, the Soc­iety he was founding, etc.), and because of these there were continual contacts between him and the Bishop. Add to all this the fact that Mgr. De Piro held the Bishop in great respect and was very obedient. The Bishop and Mgr. De Piro talked freely, discussed problems of the Diocese, and also met just socially. All this created an intimate friendship between them.

 

 

6.         “Mons. De Piro was most educated and noble in his comportment.” Later on you talk about his health and say “… he appeared a sick man,” soon lost his breath, he was pale, etc. Can you give some idea of the physical aspect of the S.G? Did he keep himself neat? Perhaps too much? What do you say about the way he kept his clothes? Do you remember if he wore some distinctive sign as a monsignor? As regards this, how did he compare with other priests and monsignors of his time?

 

What exactly do you mean by “… most educated and noble in his comportment”? Perhaps that he knew the etiq­uette? Or perhaps that he respected the dignity of others? In case, of everyone, or only of those who were his superiors?

 

“One felt very shy in his presence.” What do you mean by this? Perhaps that you were shy or afraid to app­roach him? In fact, did people approach him? If yes, for what reasons did they do this? Was he the type to joke with? Or did you perhaps always see him serious, absorbed in his thoughts, absent minded?

 

You said he appeared to be a sick man. As a doctor, can you say more clearly of which illness could the symptoms you mentioned be? Do you know if this was some hereditary illness? If yes, do you know if there was already some other member of the family suffering from the same illness?

 

If, as you said, you were told not to upset the S.G., because this would affect him and, according to your father, he was involved in a lot of trouble, don’t you conclude that the S.G., lacked prudence as regards his health?

 

Mgr. De Piro’s family had a medical history of tuberculosis.  He was pallid.  Trouble was bad for his health because of his sickness.  We children had orders not to go near him and to keep away when he was resting. I noticed as a child that his breath was short. Now I realize how much it cost him to carry out so many dut­ies, which entailed so much hard work and trouble.  Besides, he never refused to take on himself work which involved bringing peace and calm among others.

 

He had a noble heart, with all that this phrase entails. Although he was a well-built man, he was not corpulent. He was a very clean person, as behaved his position and his priesthood, but there were no exaggerations.

 

He always wore the cassock (Mgr. Caruana had issued orders that all priests wear a cassock), even when playing with children. I do not remember him wearing any distinctive as a Monsignor, except for a purple cloth under the collar. Of course, during ceremonies he wore the vestments befitting the occasion. Although he loved playing with children, and although the brothers who brought the children to B’Bugia did swim, I never saw Mgr. De Piro swimming (and I had many chances of seeing him swim, if he had done so). As a medical person I presume that he did not swim because of his health.

 

Mgr. De Piro was “… edukatissimu” (very educated) meaning that he knew how to put the right word at the right time, knew what to say and not to say.  He knew how to behave with all. I would not say that he was “self-controlled”, but it was natural to him to be so. He was naturally calm. He respected all, whether a boy who wanted to enter the Society, or a one who wanted to enter some one of his institutes, a father, or a one who had some problem, etc.  He treated all as persons. I do not know that he ever offended anybody, neither by some harsh word, nor by his behavior. In the few instances I knew of, those who came in contact with him, always went away satisfied and happy.

 

Et sic hora 12.10 pm., suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi 24 Junii, hora 9.30a.m. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quem Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit.

 

Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

A. Cachia Zammit, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus mandavit mihi ut de praesissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopali.

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 10 Junii 1991.

 

Ita est

Fr. Carmelus Farrugia , Notarius


 

Sessio Nonagesima Secunda

 

 

Anno domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo prima, die vero vigesima quarta Junii (sive 24-6-91) hora 9.30 a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Joeephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citatus, meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Victor Tedesco testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulas in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Victor Tedesco testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius rnandato. aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

9.         “The Monsignor did not come to see us often.” Do you remember roughly how often he came to see you? When he came, how long did he stay? Did you reckon this was enough for you, or did you wish him to come more often, or less often? In every case, why? Did he express the wish to be with you more often? If yes, in what way? Did he tell you why he did not come more  often?

 

What form did his visit take? Did he have time to stay talking with you? If yes, were they formal meetings (lectures, etc), or were they perhaps more familiar and individual? What did you think of the relations between the S.G., and Fr. Michael? How do you conclude this? Besides Fr. Michael, was there some other adult with you? In case, what were the relations between this one/these and the S.G? What impression did you form of the S.G., from these visits? About his health, activities, dedication, saintliness, etc?

 

Probably the S.G., had his own room at the Oratory. Did you ever enter this room? Are you still able to describe it? When the S.G., was not at the Oratory, where would he be? Did he have his own proper residence? Why there?

 

Mgr. De Piro did not pay regular visits. During my stay at the Oratory he came five or six times, and stayed for the whole day. We did not feel the need for more frequent visits from Mgr. De Piro. At the Oratory we were very happy, did not have any compl­aints that I can remember, and we had with whom to talk over our things. We appreciated, however, the visits of Mgr De Piro very much.

 

During these visits, Mgr. De Piro met us as a group. The topic was taken from the particular circumstan­ces of the day. Sometimes he met us even twice on the same occasion, He talked to us informally. He even talked to us individually, when the need arose. I myself once asked to speak to him about my difficulties.  He heard me patiently and calmly. He gave me reasons why I was in the wrong, and though I had thought very much that there was nothing wrong in what I was doing, still Mgr. De Piro persuaded me. I can say that, though I left five months later, this was in no way the effect of my meeting with Mgr. De Piro.

 

During these visits, Mgr. De Piro passed most of the time with our superior, Fr. Michael Callus SSP. I noticed a deep respect on the part of Fr. Michael towards Mgr. De Piro. This respect was not based on fear, but from deep filial reverence. This was the impression I got when I saw them together. I confirm it from the manner Fr. Michael Callus spoke to us about Mgr. De Piro, which also showed Fr. Michael’s respect and filial reverence. All this was spontaneous, and Fr. Michael also showed this by exuberant external signs, which Mgr. De Piro tried to stop. I remember that once the Bishop visited us.  Fr. Michael showed greater filial respect and love to Mgr. De Piro, than he showed to the Bishop.

 

What I said about Fr. Michael Callus’s attitude towards the S.G., applies also to the other elder members of the Society at the Oratory.

 

During these visits, people used to come to speak to Mgr. De Piro, and he accepted them; but I cannot give details.

 

Our comments about the S.G., were that he was humble, approachable by all, deserved the respect of others.

 

The impression I got about the S.G., was that he was quite healthy; he had a strong voice. I cons­idered him as a person who had various duties and res­ponsibilities; even the fact that people came to meet him at the Oratory showed how dedicated he was. But he never spoke to us about the work he had. His talks were directed to us and our formation; e.g. not to waste time, to be dedicated to our studies, etc.

 

Although, from what I noticed at the Oratory and elsewhere, Mgr. De Piro, was very much occupied, I noticed also, even from personal experience, that he carried out his duties well. Now I also notice that he had an aim in all he did: and this scope, the mainspring of all his action, was to instill and encourage a spiritual love for things religious. One could feel it when talking to him. As for his own personal holiness, I say this: I think that the res­pect and reverence he inspired in others was due to his intense spirituality.

I do not remember that Mgr. De Piro had his own room at the Oratory. Nor do I know where he lived, though I know that he passed a lot of time at St Joseph’s Institute.

 

10.       “I remember that he talked to me also about sports. He encouraged  me a lot and he also asked me if I wanted to sit for a more advanced examination to skip a class.” Do you remember what he told you about sports? Perhaps you mention this point to show that the S.G., was inter­ested in all the aspects of your formation? At that time what type of sport was practiced in Malta and how did people regard it?

 

Do you remember what words he used in order to encourage you? What were the motivations he presented in order to make you study more: success, to emulate you, the good of the Society, the good of the Church?

 

Did it sometimes happen that someone did not make pro­gress in his studies? If yes, how did the S.G., deal with this/these? How do you know this?

 

During the meeting, which I mentioned above (No. 9), Mgr. De Piro spoke to me also about sports, which I loved, and he spoke to me about a medal I had won. He told me to be careful not to lose time because of sports, and I assured him I was not going to do so. At that time there were diverse forms of sports in Malta besides football.: table tennis, tennis, athletics. Mgr. De Piro showed that he was happy that I had won a medal in sports. He encouraged me to study, telling me that if I put some extra effort in my studies, I would be capable of skipping a class. But he did not give me as reason anyone of those mentioned in the question. I do not know that anybody was told to leave the Society because he was backward in his studies. I remember that one of my companions was not as bright as others in his studies, but he left Mgr. De Piro as happy as any of us after he had talked to him.

 

It was Mgr. De Piro who took the initiative and talked to me about my success in sports and my studies. From the way he spoke to me he showed me that Mgr. De Piro used to see our study reports, knew how much we studied, and how much more effort we could put in our studies.  It was quite clear that he also took interest in other extra curricular activities.

 

11.       “… Mgr De Piro was in charge of the Institutes of Fra Diegu and St. Joseph.”  Can you give more details about these two Institutes? Whom did they receive? If children, what type of children? What ages? Boys or girls? What was the number of children in them?

 

Do you know if, besides these two institutes, there were other institutes for children at that time? Do you know what the financial situation of the instit­utes was at that time in Malta? How did the people regard these institutes?

 

The S.G., was “… in charge” of these Institutes. Do you mean that he was their director? If yes, do you know when­, how and why he was made director? Do you know exactly what his duties were as director? Perhaps he was responsible to meet every now and then those who directly took care of the children? Or perhaps to check the registers? Or per­haps he was responsible for the maintenance and educ­ation of the children, collection of funds, finding benefactors?

 

You say you “… knew Fra. Diegu very well and I still hear the older Sisters say what great care he took of the Institute. “The same was said about St. Joseph.” Can you give concrete examples about the S..G ‘s care of these Institutes?

 

What I know about these Institutes is mostly, from hearsay. I learnt at the time that these children were orphans or from very poor families. At St. Joseph’s boys were accepted.  At Fra Diegu, girls.

 

I do not know whether there were any other Institutes. People looked at children in these institutes as un­fortunate children, and at the institutes as the place where these children could receive an education and learn a trade.

 

As a child I did not know what the term ‘director’ implied, except that Mgr. De Piro organized the Institute. Later (in the late thirties and forties) I heard that Mgr. De Piro helped these Institutes finan­cially. I also knew personally that at St. Joseph’s Institute trades were taught; I remember, from the time I was at the Oratory, that there was the carpentry. I knew there were others, but I did not know which at the time. At St. Joseph’s Institute, I also saw other priests  who dressed as the members of the Society, at the Oratory.

 

It was when I grew up that I frequented Fra Diegu Institute. What I say I heard from older Sisters, who spoke about the fame Mgr. De Piro enjoyed at the Institute. They spoke about him as the one who, although not the Founder, took great interest in the Instit­ute’s progress; that although he came from a rich and noble family, he left all and dedicated himself to the Institute.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 meridie suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae anima illud resumendi die 1 Julii, hora 9.30a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt a Delegato Archiepiscopali tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit.

 

Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit:

 

Victor Tedesco, testis..

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 24 Junii 1991.

 

lta est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima Tertia

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero prima Julii (sive 1-7-1991), hora 9.40a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesesti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Victor Tedesco testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Victor Tedesco testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quesita:

 

12.       “I also heard that many mothers went to St. Joseph to ask him to admit their children into the Institute. I can say that all his life was dedicated to the Inst­itutes and to charity with everyone who was in need.” “I heard...” From whom?

 

“… to admit their children to the Institute...” Perhaps this thing depended on him as director? If yes, do you know if there were fixed criteria to admit child­ren to the Institute? If yes, do you know if the S.G., followed these criteria? Did you ever hear of some case when the S.G., refused admittance to the Institute to someone, or sent out someone? Do you know what were the reasons?

 

“I can say that all his life...” How can you say this?  “...and for charity with everyone who was in need.” Do you have some concrete examples at these charities? Perhaps giving of money, advice, finding a job for some­one, solving family problems?

 

What I said in my declaration was common knowledge, and people spoke persistently and convincingly about this. I heard these things mostly at the Oratory from people who frequented the Oratory. I cannot say whether there were any fixed criteria, but the children who were ad­mitted were from broken families, orphans, and destitutes.  A certain Filomen, an elderly lady, used to gather alms and give holy tokens. She used to come to our home and speak to my mother, as she also went to other homes. She spoke very well and most enthusiastically of Mgr De Piro, saying that he kept the Institute by his char­ity (she spoke about St. Joseph’s Institute). She used to say that the Institute was well kept and looked after, and whoever left the Institute “… minn hemm kien johrog ragel” (meaning: the boys who left the Institute as grown ups were well formed in their character).

 

I do not know whether it was Mgr. De Piro himself who admitted the children, or whether they were admitted after his recommendation. I never heard anybody speaking about any irregularities in admi­ssions, nor that Mgr. De Piro ever refused entry to anyone.

 

From what everybody used to say, I can declare that Mgr. De Piro was a person dedicated and given to charity. Besides, even though young, I myself noticed that Mgr. De Piro must have been a very dedicated person since he was responsible for at least two Institutes, the Oratory and another house at Rabat. Besides I came in contact with several people who told me how much Mgr. De Piro helped them through his good counsel, and also financially.

 

13.       “… I add that he was involved only in such work? He was never mentioned in activities which would make him popular.”  Can you explain better what you mean by these words? Perhaps you mean to say that he did not look for popularity? Perhaps by this you want to indicate that the S.G., was a humble person? What can you say about this virtue of his?

 

Do you know if the S.G.., as a monsignor, used to take part in some particular functions: processions, masses, sermons? Did you ever see him in any of these cir­cumstances? In case, how did you judge his comport­ment?

 

I spoke from what I noticed. By popularity I mean when someone does something with the aim of becoming known, so that people would speak about him; it con­tains an element of vanity as well, and with the int­ention of achieving some personal gain or benefit. All this was absent from Mgr. De Piro; his aim was only to help others. I can say that, in my opinion, what Mgr. De Piro did was naturally and materially speaking, more to his disadvantage than advantage.

 

Mgr. De Piro was popular because of his charities and good works, but this was the natural outcome of his doings. He did not do anything with the intention of becoming known and popular.  In my opinion this shows his humility. I came across people who at first would give the impression of being humble and not intending to seek their own advancement, but later on it resulted that all this was just pretence. Mgr. De Piro was absolutely not like these people; his humility and goodness were real.

 

The only procession which I know that Mgr. De Piro­ attended was that of Our Lady of Sorrows. Something he did every year. 

This I know from what people said and from what I noticed myself. His attitude was that of a very recollected person. We dressed as a simple priest. I remember that many people from Imsida, including my family, went to this procession both because of the decorous and devotional way it was conducted and because of the presence of Mgr. De Piro.

 

14.       You mention the question between the Church and Lord Strickland, and you refer to a case connected with. your family which occurred on the occasion of the blessing of houses at Easter. About this you say that the Monsignor took prompt action. “In fact, after a little time the parish priest called my father and apologized. The Monsignor was a means of peace because he made the parish priest and my father friends again”.  Besides this particular case, do you know if the S.G., was involved more directly in the question between the Church and Lord Strickland? In case, in what way? Do you know if there were other episodes in the civil history of our Country in which the S.G., contributed his share to secure peace?

Do you know if there were other occasions within the Church itself when the S.G., was called to mediate in order to bring peace? If yes, can you give details about all this? From where did you get to know all this?

 

I confirm what I wrote in my declaration, but I do not know of any other such instances.

 

15.       “When he died everyone wondered who was to take his place in the work he was doing.” Do you mean to say that everyone was afraid that with his death the projects he had in his care would deter­iorate or come to an end? If yes, did this in fact happen?

“All the people greatly felt his loss.” You. say nothing about when and how he died and about his funeral. Can you give some details about all this? Were you still a member of the Society when he died? If yes, do you remember who gave you the news and in what place you were at the moment? What atmosphere did this news create? Did it last for long? Were any particular comments made, which you still remember? In case, who made them?  “All the people”. Do you mean that his loss was felt all over Malta? What do you mean by this? Perhaps that everywhere there were signs of mourning? Were any speeches made about him? Were any articles written in the papers?

 

I think people were not speaking only about financial matters, but also about the way things were organized. After Mgr. De Piro’s death, his works continued.  In my opinion, this shows that he built on strong foundations.

 

I was not present when Mgr. De Piro died. He died during some religious function. I was not at the Oratory at the time. I was present for the funeral. There were representatives of the institutes. My mother gave the news of his death to me.

 

Et sic hora 11.05 suspensum est examen testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 8 Julii, hora 9.30 a.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositione, data ei facultate addendi minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

Victor Tedesco, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis tnterrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 1 Julii 1991.

 

lta est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima Quarta

 

.

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo prima, die vero decimaquinta Julii (sive 15-7-91), hora 9.l5a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in presenti Causa Cananizationis super vita at virtutibus in’ specie Servi Dei Mons. Iosephi De Piro, pro Tribunali. sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario comparuit Ex.mus Dominus Alexander Cachia Zammit MD., testis a Postalatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim pvaestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego A. Cachia Zammit testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae promotore et dicto teste, Ego Natarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui, et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

(Continuatur a Session 91)

 

6.         (Continuatur) Mgr. De Piro inspired respect and reverence, but not fear. He was approachable by all.  He was affable.  He played with children, and loved seeing them playing.  He was, naturally, a happy person, but since he had a lot of responsibilities, sometimes he gave the impression of being a pensive person.  He knew how to adapt himself to the circumstance in which he found himself and he adapted also to the persons he met (I believe this was one of his greatest virtues).

 

When my father told us not to trouble Mgr. De Piro this was in the sense that we were not to increase by our behaviour the troubles he had. And I repeat what I said at the beginning of this question.

 

7.         “… however, he had very beautiful manners with the children of the Institutes of which he himself was director.”  Can you say which were the Institutes of which he was director? Do you know what children they received? What was the number of these? Were they boys or girls, or both?

 

In general what was the situation of the Institutes of Malta at that time, especially as regards finances and the preparation they gave for life? Did they have less­ons in school subjects and in trades? Were the children cared for spiritually? Did they have periods of recreat­ion? Were they given the opportunity to develop their talents? In case, how do you know all this? What can you say about all these aspects of the Institutes directed by the S.G?  How do you know this?

 

What was the S.G’s work as director? Perhaps it was his duty to see how to provide money for the Institute? In case, do you know how he performed this duty? Was it perhaps also his duty to provide the teaching of school subjects and trades? In case, what did he do in this respect? Do you know in what way he tried to develop the children’s talents and in what way he prepared the children for life out of the Institute?

 

“… he had very beautiful manners.” Did you ever reflect why he treated the children of the Institutes in this way? Perhaps because he felt more at ease and sure of himself with them than with adults? Or perhaps because he felt pity for them? Or perhaps because in his family he was brought up to love these children? In the latter case, how was this achieved? In what consisted the beautiful manners you mention? Perhaps simply because, as you say, he did not get angry with the children? Or perhaps something more than this?

 

Mgr. De Piro directed St. Joseph’s Institute at Hamrun, Jesus of Nazareth Institute at Zejtun and St. Joseph’s Institute at Gozo.

 

I noticed that Mgr. De Piro knew how to take care of, make happy, recreate, etc., the children.

 

The children at St. Joseph’s Institute were boys. They were from the worst strata of society.  They were diff­icult cases.  When boys were accepted there were the problems of cleanliness, moral problems, social problems, back­ground of broken families, and other problems. At that time there was only another Institute for boys run by the Salesians, where there were many formalities for acceptance.  After all this Institute depended on the govern­ment. Mgr. De Piro accepted all, even those not accepted by the Institute run by the Salesians.

 

There were many children, at least about 80 (my family took care to buy 80 presents), but I cannot say how many. Though by present standards one would say that there were certain things lacking, by the standards of those times things were quite well. There was a school, and children learnt a trade (carpentry, typography, tailoring, etc.). They had also a band.

 

The children were well looked after, both materially and spiritually. I can give an example of what type of children Mgr. De Piro admitted, and what change the Institute brought in those children’s lives. There was a family near Fort St. Lucian.  The mother died young, leaving four children. Their father simply could not care less about them; he left them on their own, not even providing food and clothing. These children wore sacks and ate wild herbs; they did not even know what an egg was. My father told Mgr. De Piro about them.  He took three of them into St. Joseph’s Institute; the eldest was employed by my father. All three grew up; one of them was not married while the other two got married.  One went to Australia where he is quite well off; another is still living at Zebbug, where he has a farm.

 

Mgr. De Piro had helpers.  He mentioned those who helped him in the running of the Institute, meaning the brothers of the Society. Besides, there was a man who toured the whole of Malta, collecting alms for St. Joseph’s Institute. People helped St. Joseph’s Institute quite willingly, since all knew that the children there were very poor, and they had no income. Besides there were various other benefactors, like Mr. Alfons Maria Galea. For example, there were those who aided this Institute and others, by giving a chance to these children to take a holiday at the seaside in summer. The Bishop, Mgr. Caruana, was one of the benefactors. Mgr. De Piro saw to it that children learnt a trade, which they could practice later, and that they had a job when they left the Institute.

 

In my opinion, at St. Joseph’s Institute, Mgr. De Piro was everything. He was not just an administrator, or supervisor. He was the heart of the place. He lived there and looked after everything. One cannot separate Mgr. De Piro and St. Joseph’s Institute.

 

Jesus of Nazareth Institute was founded by Miss Giuseppina Curmi. It was for girls. Mgr. De Piro worked hand in hand with Miss Curmi, but the administration of the place was not Mgr. De Piro’s responsibility, although he was Director. Of course, he helped Miss Curmi a lot, especially when one remembers that the Institute had to be built from the very foundations.

 

I cannot say for sure why Mgr. De Piro’s behaviour with the children of the Institutes was as I described above. But I can say that he treated children from the Institutes as he treated me, and as he treated the child I mentioned above whom my father employed. In my opinion, his family background was such that he grew up as a good and kindhearted person.

 

Mgr. De Piro was a person who “… could not say no”.  This does not mean that he was not a man of principle, or that he vacillated where matters of principle were involved. But he seemed not to be able to say “no” when it was a question of helping others, or where there was some necessary work to be done.

 

I never saw Mgr. De Piro angry, nor even heard others say that he was angry with the children.  But I refer also to what I said at the beginning of this session; children obeyed him and loved him. On his part, Mgr. De Piro took personal care of the children and their needs. I know from my father that Mgr. De Piro passed a lot of time talking to the children at St. Joseph’s Institute about their difficulties and problems.

 

8.         “I never saw him getting angry.”  Do you mean to say that the S.G., was a very calm person? That he was able to control himself even when something was not done according to his instructions? Was he like this only with children or with adults as well? Can you show this by some facts? Is it possible that he did not get angry because he would be distracted and would not notice certain defects and faults? Or perhaps he himself was careless and indifferent by nature? Did the fact that he did not get angry mean that he did not correct faults? Or perhaps that his correction was gentle? In case, have you got some concrete examples?

 

Mgr. De Piro was calm, but this did not mean that he did not have troubles, or was of an “I could not care less” attitude. He was naturally calm, and more than this, he was of a peaceful nature. Mgr. Caruana used to discuss things with the S.G., especially because of his peaceful nature. Mgr. De Piro was calm with everybody. His attitude towards others and their problems was such that his calmness, love of peace and goodness helped in difficult situations. It was the common opinion that Mgr. De Piro could solve even very difficult problems.

 

I have no concrete examples of how he corrected others.

 

9.         “… Mons. De Piro was convinced that children should have a lot of time for play. This, De Piro said, tired the children and they slept more.”  Besides the days spent near the sea at Birzebbugia, which you mention later on, do you know of other similar days when children were taken for recreation? Do you know if they had some periods of holidays during the year? In case, how did they spend this period?

 

“This would tire the children...” Do you mean that for the S.G., this was the only value he saw in playing? Didn’t your father mention other values, such as the sense of teamwork in play, development of personality, rest from work, etc?

 

What I mean is that these children, especially when they became adolescents, used up their energy in sports, swimming, etc., so that they would sleep more soundly. This would help them physically and spiritually. The outing to Birzebbugia was the event of the year for these children. I do not know that these children had other such outings or holidays. However they went for walks, and held an annual festa at the Institute.

 

10.       “I also heard that the Monsignor insisted on spiritual retirement.”  What exactly do you mean by this? Perhaps he wanted that in the Institutes the children should have a lot of time for prayer, as if they were in a convent? Or perhaps he wanted children to be brought up aware of the presence of God in their life? In the latter case, do you know how God was presented in the Institutes of the S.G? Which attributes were accentuated most: mercy or justice, love, reward or punishment, etc.? How do you know all this?

 

Mgr. De Piro was a very spiritual person, and because of this, he worked hard to give a spiritual basis to all his work. There were times of prayer at St. Joseph’s Institute. But more than that, there was a spiritual change for the better. One could see that the children there had a sound moral formation. This could be seen also in them when they left the Institute. I cannot say how the presence of God was presented to these children, but surely they were taught how to live good Christian lives.  And they did live good christian lives when they left the Institute. I sometimes heard Mgr. De Piro preaching or deliver­ing talks. He gave the impression of being well prepared. He kept his audience attentive.  He was practical. In his sermons he did not instill undue fear of God. He talked in such a way that, though giving sound doctrine, he could be understood by all.

 

Et sic hora l2.l5 pm., suspensum est examen dicti testis, ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 5 Augusti, hora 9.30am., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut cornpareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlexi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi minuendi vel corrigendi si neceseario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

A. Cachia Zammit, testis.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumantum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 15 Julii 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima Quinta

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero vigesima secunda Julii (sive 22-7-1991), hora 9.20a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Victor Tedesco testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Victor Tedesco testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

15.       (cont.) I now remember that the religious function during which Mgr. De Piro was taken suddenly ill was the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. This is according to what my mother told me. Her words were “during the function”, which may mean, after the procession ended. If I remember well, she also told me that he was taken to hospital. My mother was present. At that time the parish priest of Msida, Fr. Schembri (now dead) had words of praise for Mgr. De Piro, saying that his death was a gross loss for Malta, and spoke about his many good works in the Institutes he had directed. He said these words in my presence (N.B. This Fr. Schembri was already sick at the time, and another had the care of the parish, a certain Fr. Innocenz Zammit. I want to make it clear also that it was not Fr. Schembri who had the misunderstanding about religious-political matters with my father, but Fr. Zammit. Fr. Schembri died a short time after Mgr. De Piro, and Fr. Zammit succeeded him).

 

When I say “… all the people…”, I mean the people of Imsida, where I lived, and Hamrun, where I had relatives. At Hamrun people remembered him and spoke about him much more. I had no contact with other places, and so I cannot speak about what were the people’s reactions in these other places. I remember that at the Parish Church of St. Cajetan, Hamrun, a Mass was held, during which an oration was held about the S.G’s life and works. This was some time after the funeral.

 

The funeral itself was held from the chapel of St. Joseph’s Institute to the Addolorata Cemetery. It was a private funeral. But there was a large crowd of people, the members and children of St. Joseph’s and Fra. Diego’s Institute, the members of the Society, and also of other Institutes whose name I now don’t remember.  During the funeral people could be seen crying.  All were very muck filled with sorrow. I do not remember who celebrated the funeral Mass, during which a funer­al oration was held. At that time I did not read newspapers. I cannot give more details. I was present for the funeral, but only for the Mass and at Hamrun. I was not present at the Addolorata Cemetery, and so I do not know what happened there.

 

16.       What judgment can you give today about the S.G?  Do you regard him as a saint? In case, for what reason?  Did you ever hear anyone referring to the S.G., as a saint during his lifetime? If yes, whom and on what occasions?  What was his repute at his death and immediately after?  Do you think that today he enjoys the repute of a saint?  In what way does this repute appear?

 

Now, after nearly sixty years from his death, I can say that rarely did I meet anybody who could instill confidence in me as did Mgr. De Piro. His works among people, especially the poor and outcasts, have left their mark to this day.  There are still people living who benefited from his good works and charity.  Were it not for Mgr De Piro these could never have found a place in society. As for his being canonized or not: if the criteria for declaring someone a saint are humility, dedication, the giving up to others of one’s possessions, and especially what I said in the preceding paragraph, to which I add the societies he founded to he1p him in his work, then, I must say, Mgr. De Piro lived a saintly life.  During the S.G’s life I heard people ref­erring to Mgr. De Piro as a saint. At that time I lived in religious circles. Later in life, even after many years, I still heard people referring to him as a saint, even in circles not religious. The comments I heard after his death emphasized the good qualities, as his charity towards others, which were admired during his lifetime.  His way of life, the way he acted and behaved towards others, when compared with other high ranking people, even in ecclesiastical circles, show his deeper spir­ituality and that he was a man of God, completely dedicated to the good of others. I know that this opinion about Mgr. De Piro is shared by many others, since I have spoken to and heard others speaking in this sense.  My mother used to say that we had been very much privileged to have talked to Mgr De Piro personally. She herself was very much devoted to him, kept his picture, and used to pray to him till her death in 1981.

 

I cannot say what people now think about Mgr. De Piro, since during these last few years I have concentrated completely on my activities, and have not talked to others about such matters. I myself, however, daily pray to Mgr. De Piro, since I am devoted to Our Lady of Sorrows, and I always connect Mgr. De Piro with her.

I can talk about a grace I obtained through the interc­ession of the S.G., and of Our Lady of Sorrows. I was a shareholder with an Arab prince, and left the business to my son’s care. The latter fell foul with the prince because of financial matters without really having committed any crime, and was imprisoned. I prayed the S.G., for him, ad he was totally acquitted and declared innocent after five years imp­risonment. I had little hope about him, considering the fact that he had been imprisoned by a prince, in a land where such men’s word is final, under cultural and religious conditions, which are totally alien to us. Rarely, if ever, is such a person, especially if he is not a Moslem, set free.

 

17.       Have you ever visited the grave of the S.G? If yes, alone or with others? Can you describe the grave? Do you remember if there were candles, flowers, ex-voto, some writing? If you went alone, did you find some other people there? If yes, what were they doing? Do you pray through the intercession of the S.G? Do you know of people who pray through the intercession of the S.G? Did you ever hear of some favour granted through the inter­cession of the S.G? Can you give details?

 

I never visited the tomb of the S.G. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

18.       Do you want to add, delete or change something of what you said in your evidence?

 

I wish to add that I tried hard to see whether I could find some moral defect in Mgr. De Piro, even considering certain delicate situations (as when a companion of mine left the Society when we were aspirants), but I could not.

 

Et sic hora 11.20a.m. absoluto predicti testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis Ego Notarius, alto et intelligibili voce testi perlegi integram depositionem, data illi facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit.  Ipse eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis:  Iuro me veritatem tota in mea depositione dixisse et confirmo omnia quae superius deposui.

 

Victor Tedesco, testis;

 

Dimisso autem teste, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mandavit espediri citationes contra Dr. Alexander Cachia Zammit M.D. et contra Justitiae Promotorem ut assistat die 5 Augusti 1991. hoc in loco.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 22 Julii 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima Sexta

 

 

 

Anno Domini rnillesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero quinta Augusti (sive 5-8-1991), hora 9.00a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit Excellentissimus Dominus Alexander Cachia Zammit M.D. testis a postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulas in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Alexander Cachia Zammit testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem,, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognavisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

11.       “He also wanted that children, on leaving the Inst­itutes, should find good families to receive them.” What do you mean by “… good families …”? Perhaps morally good? Were there many of the children who did not have a good family to receive them?

 

12.       “He wanted ... should find good families.” Do you  mean that the children had to find families where to be re­ceived or perhaps that the S.G., did this for them? In the latter case, in what way did he achieve this? Was he always successful? What type of families would they be? Friends of the S.G? Perhaps also noble and rich? Large families? Childless couples? Do you know of any case when someone from the Institute went to some family found for him by the S.G., and it resulted that it was not a “good family”? How do you know this?

 

13.       “... he took care to find them a good job.” Do you know what type of work he found for them? And how did he succeed in finding these jobs? What do you mean by “a good job”? Perhaps regarding the wages they received, or the moral environment as well, the toil in that particular work, hours of work, amount of work, etc?

 

14.       “Besides all this, I know that De Piro still followed their lives after leaving the Institute.” In what way did he still follow the children after they had left? Perhaps he went to look for them in their new environments?  Perhaps he invited them for special occasions at the Institutes? Perhaps he made regular appointments with them?  Do you know with what aim he did this? Do you know if those who had left the Institutes appre­ciated this, or perhaps they regarded him as one who wanted to interfere in their lives, etc? How do you know all this?

 

(Answers to 11 – 14)

 

Mons De Piro ascertained himself, as far as possible, that the families of the young men who left St. Joseph’s Institute were capable of accepting them back. (The girls, who were not otherwise settled, remained in their institute). Otherwise, Mons De Piro himself saw to it that these young men found a good family. He also helped them find a job and settle in life, either himself personally, or through others. I also know from personal experience, through in the case I mention­ed above (Q. 7), that Mgr. De Piro followed up those who left the Institute.

 

I cannot say what percentage had their own good family ready to accept them back.

 

As for jobs, Mons De Piro tried first to find a job according to the trade the lad had learnt. If he failed, he tried to find some other job compatible with the character, capabilities, etc., of the lad concerned. Those who employed these young men were glad to employ them since they already knew the trade and had a sound formation. By the way, the children who left St. Joseph’s Institute, not only did not suffer from any stigma because of their social condition, but they were easily and happily accepted in society; they did not find it difficult to be accepted for work, or to marry. The same may be said of the girls in the Institutes run by Mons De Piro.

When I said that Mgr. De Piro followed up those who left the Institute, I meant that he did this in order to see that things were going on well. I cannot say whether he himself sought them out intentionally, or took the opportunity when­ever it presented itself. But surely, in the case I mentioned above, Mons De Piro himself asked for the Tabone brothers.

 

These families were morally good families, who could help these young men, and they were families in which these young people could find their place. Mons De Piro himself saw to these things. I never heard that it resulted that the choice made by Mons De Piro misfired, and I feel that I was in such a position that, if anything like that had happened, I would have heard about it, at least from my father.

 

In finding jobs, I must think that considering Mons De Piro’s character, and from what I noticed, Mons De Piro tried to find those conditions of work that were good, according to the standards of those times.

 

15.       You refer in particular to St. Joseph’s Institute and you say that “although he was not perfect in the way he ran this Institute, he made miracles in running it. If for nothing else, the government gave some help to the Institutes and therefore it had the right to send children there. These were not always the best and therefore caused many problems. However, the S.G., was able to cope and in fact he did not fail.”  Can you indicate the defects the S.G., had in running the Institute of St. Joseph? Do you know if these same defects existed in the running of the other In­stitutes? What do you think led him to these mistakes? Perhaps because he was not prepared for this work? If he was not prepared, don’t you think that it was presumptuous to take this responsibility?

You said that the Government gave some help. Do you know in what this consisted? Do you know if there were particular criteria for admitting children into the Institute? Do you know if the S.G., observed these criteria?  Do you know if the S.C., was ever criticized because he showed preferences when admitting children?

You say that the children admitted by the government into the Institutes created problems for the S.G. Can you give more details about this point and how the S.G., succeeded in tackling these same problems?

 

You say that “...he made miracles.” Where they miracles because he could cope with these children, or because of other reasons? In case, what were they?

 

I know from my father that Mgr. De Piro took over from Fr. George Bugeja. During the time Fr. Bugeja was Director, who otherwise was a very holy priest, at the Institute there was a great lack of discipline. It was his idea that the important thing was to take a boy into the Institute, there offer him food and a place where to sleep and offer him spiritual help also. The result of this was that children there did what they liked. Besides, there was a lack of cleanliness.

 

When Mgr. De Piro took over he had to tackle these problems. He succeeded to bring back good administration to the Institute. To bring back discipline, he took it on himself to see the needs of the Institute. He separated the boys into different rooms according to age. He ameliorated those things that were good. He gave a great incentive to education. I myself could notice, in general terms, that great progress was made. I could notice also certain things that showed the discipline at the Institute, e.g. in the case of the Tabone brothers, they had a fixed time in which to depart, and Mgr. De Piro asked about their behaviour. I could also notice great strides forward in cleanliness.

 

The shortcomings were the result of the fact that Mgr. De Piro had a lot of work to do, besides St. Joseph’s Institute: the Society he was founding, other institutes, his duties as Canon of the Cathedral Chapter, member of the Senate, work at the Curia, etc. Added to all this there was the fact that he was not physically strong. Besides, Mgr. De Piro was one who wanted everything done well. But his great load of work did not allow him to carry to perfection what he intended to do. He also died in his fifties, before reaching old age and carrying out his program.

 

The only Institutes for boys in Malta at the time were St. Joseph’s Institute and another run by the Salesians.  All I can say is that, among the common people, St. Joseph’s Institute had a better name.

 

I cannot give any details about the aid the government gave, but the government had no saying in the running of the Institute.

 

As for the criteria of entry, the necessity and needs in individual cases were taken into account. I never heard that Mgr. De Piro was criticized because of preferences in admitting children in institutes. I know that Mgr. De Piro sent someone away from the Institute as a punishment … probably he took him back. More than a “right” of the government to put children in St. Joseph’s Institute, one should rather speak of a “custom”. These difficult children came from the Salesians’ Institute. The S.G., found a solution for these problem children because he was Mons De Piro; his character, insight, love, etc., helped a lot. As he succeeded to find solutions for more intricate political and ecclesiastical problems, he found a solution to these children’s problems.

 

By “making miracles” I mean he did more than was possible for ordinary persons. I say this in a general way.

 

Et sic hora 12.l0 p.m. suspensum est examen testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 12 Augusti, hora 9.00 hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

Alexander Cachia Zammit, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur.

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD , Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopali hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillo apposui.

Actum die 5 Augusti 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima Septima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decimasecunda Augusti (sive 12-8-1991), hora 9.10a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit Excellentissimus Dominus Alexander Cachia Zammit M.D., testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praeatitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Alexander Cachia Zammit testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore, ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita ei proposita:

 

16.       “I still remember my father saying how many troubles Mons De Piro was involved in; my father would add that the Mons had great ability in solving this same trouble.”  Do you remember if your father also told you what this trouble was? In case, can you give details? Perhaps it was the trouble of the Institutes? Of the Society he was founding? Or perhaps also of a political and social nature (later on you mention the case of Lord Strickland, but we talk about this later on)? Who involved the S.G., in this trouble? Or did he perhaps get involved of his own accord? If this was the case, was he the type to get involved in all matters? If others involved him, did you ever hear him complain about this? “He had great ability...” Did your father ever explain to you what this ability of the S.G., consisted in?

 

My father referred principally to the troubles Mons De Piro had in running institutes, especially St. Joseph’s Institute.  The number of children and their problems, the lack of funds, etc. Also, there was the building of St. Agatha’s. My father however, never gave details. After the death of the foundress there was also the trouble of Jesus of Nazareth’s Inst­itute; Madre Curmi died intestate and her family pretended to own the institute. Besides, there were the usual small troubles of everyday occurrence.

 

He was also very much trusted by his family, who consulted him and accepted his opinions.  He was held in very high esteem by them.

 

His character was such that people, contrary to what happens usually, not only did not rebel to his words and opinions, but accepted them quite willingly. Besides, when trouble arose, Mons. De Piro did not shirk off his responsibilities, but tried to tackle them. He acted with calmness on all occasions. I cannot say that I ever heard Mgr. De Piro complain­ing, or that there was ever anyone who told me that one complained about Monsignor’s works or troubles. But this does not mean that he did not have troubles. My father sometimes told us, his children: “Today leave Mgr. De Piro alone; he has a lot of trouble.”

 

I will give more details in answering other questions.

 

17.       “When I went there (Mdina)...at times I visited their house (of the De Piro family). I then saw the mother of the Monsignor.”  Do you confirm that the S.G’s family lived in Mdina? Do you mean that they lived there all the year, or did they have some other house/houses somewhere else? If yes, where?  Since you visited the house in Mdina, can you give some details about it? If it was big or small, its plan, how it was furnished, who exactly lived in it, if the S.G., also lived in it and, in case, permanent­ly, if he had his own room in this house, if you ever entered it and in case, how it was furnished?

 

“I used to see the mother of the Monsignor…” First of all, did you see only his mother? Didn’t you see, for example, his father or any of his siblings? What details can you give about these? “The mother of the Monsignor...” How do you remember her? Perhaps old, ill, healthy? What else do you know about her? Do you know if she exerted influence on the S.G? In case, in what way? Perhaps in the sense that she guided him or that she backed him in all his needs? If the latter, what sort of help did she give him? Perhaps moral support, financial? Do you know if there ever were conflicts in the home of the De Piros about some help the mother gave the S.G? Did you notice that there was mutual love between the S.G., and his mother? In what way was this shown? “I remember her weeping for the death of her other son, Fr. Santin ...”  Do you mean that there was another priest in the family, besides the S.G? Perhaps this means that it was a good family? In fact, what was the repute of this family among the people? Further down, regarding the De Piro family you also say that, “Even though they were nobles, and we were not, we did not feel distanced from them as we felt from other noble families.” Can you explain this a little better, and in what way you felt nearer to the members of the De Piro family?

 

What can you say in particular about Fr. Santin? Was he older or younger that the S.G? If older, do you know if he had a share in the S.G’s vocation for the priesthood? In fact, did you ever get to know how the S.G’s vocation for the priesthood developed, and when it was that he made his final decision?  “Fr. Santin was regarded as another saint but the Monsignor had more projects to his credit.” What was the work of Fr. Santin? Was there any resemblance between the S.G., and Fr. Santin? If yes, in what? “(The S.G.) had more projects to his credit.” What were these projects? What was the “credit” you mention?

 

The family of Mgr. De Piro had a house at Mdina. Besides, they had other houses: at Valletta, B’Bugia, Qrendi, Attard, St. Paul’s Bay. Mgr De Piro, however, did not have a house of his own.

I spoke to Mgr. De Piro’s mother only once before his death. She walked with difficulty. She was a woman full of courage. After the S.G’s death, I visited her sometimes at Mdina.

 

The house in Imdina was a large house, well furnished, a house of nobles. Sometimes I found her saying the Rosary. She was humble and kind hearted. We children loved to go to her. She and Mgr. De Piro had much in common as regards character and holiness of life. When I visited the S.G’s mother, I always found her alone. But I do not know whether Mgr. De Piro had a room in his mother’s house, or whether he lived there or not. I do not know his father or his brothers or sisters.

 

From my father and mother (who knew the S.G’s family also, but from other contacts) I know that Ursola (the S.G’s mother, known popularly as Kika) helped her son a lot, financially. She also gave her son moral support. I can say that Mgr. De Piro respected his mother very much. It was the normal thing that widowed mothers be respected by their children. In the case of Mgr. De Piro, however, this was carried to perfection.

 

The family of the S.G., were wealthy, but they also had a very good name. My father and mother, who saw to it that we came in contact with good families only, did not find any difficulty to visit the De Piros and receive them in our house. Although noble, they did not have class distinctions; they knew how to keep their position and at the same time to be approachable. In this they were different from other noble families.

 

Mgr. De Piro had another brother, who was a priest, Fr. Santin, who was also held to be a holy priest.  He had a right to the title of nobility, which he waived in favour of another member of his family. He was older than Mgr. De Piro. But I cannot say whether or not Fr. Santin influenced his brother’s vocation, nor how the S.G’s vocation developed. Fr. Santin died relatively young and had been sick for a long time. The similarity between Fr. Santin and the S.G., was their holiness. In my family circle it was said that Fr. Santin was true to his name. The works of Mgr De Piro were those I mentioned, and these works gave him a certain “greatness”.

 

Et sic hora 11.00 am. suspensum est examen testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumandi die 19 Augusti 1991, hora 9.00 am, hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscriptis.

 

A. Cachia Zammit, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me sub~scripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui.

 

Actum die 12 Augusti 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima Octava

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decimanona Augusti (sive 19-8-1991), hora 9.10 a.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtut­ibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi Dc Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore, rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit Excellentissimus Dominus Alexander Cachia Zammit M.D., testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Alexander Cachia Zammit testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentihus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognavisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

18.       “... the Monsignor was far more humble and without pretensions; he could have lived the life of a nobleman like the others, but, in fact, he always sought the poor and the needy.” “… others …”. Perhaps noble laymen, or perhaps also priests? If the latter, how did they live? How do you imagine the S.G., could have lived as a noble priest? “… humble and without pretensions…” Can you give concrete examples with which to show the qualities of the S.G?

 

“… he always sought the poor and the needy.” We have already talked about the S.G’s work for the children’s Institutes. Perhaps you are now referring to some poor people and others in need?

 

Was the S.G., reputed among the people to be charitable, or did you know these things because you were a frequent visitor to the family?

 

With the word “… others …” I mean not only seculars, but even noble priests. I mean that Mgr. De Piro, while he could have shown off his nobility, lived as a rich man, just carried out his duties without going out of his way in his pastoral work, served the Diocese in some honorable ecclesiastical position, in short just be a good priest, he went out of his way to seek and help others. His work among the orphans was very hard, and far from the way of life in which he was brought up: these children, besides being poor, were, in many cases, dirty and infested with insects - Mgr. De Piro lived with these and helped them. Mgr. De Piro never showed off, or in any way showed pride, in his titles of nobility or ecclesiastical and political positions.

 

Besides, in Malta there were two classes of priests. A large section of priests were country priests who kept contact with people, at least in their own environment. Mgr. De Piro’s position was such that he passed from an “upper class” society of priest to this type of priest, one in contact with the people and their needs. He personally did away with the custom of the nobility of keeping at a distance from the people.

 

I know this mainly from personal experience and what I know from my family circle and their friends, including Miss Curmi. But this was also the common opinion of the people.

 

Through his work in the Institutes Mgr. De Piro came in contact with the families of these children. Cfr. as example the case of the Tabone family I mentioned above. Besides, Mgr. De Piro was a person who never shirked the chances of helping families in their material and social needs.

 

19.       “I do not want to forget that at St. Joseph’s De Piro had the help of the lay brothers of his Society.”  Were, there lay brothers in the other institutes? If not, did he run the institutes alone or were there perhaps other people to help him? In case, who? Were these in the institutes before him, or did he perhaps invite them? In case, why did he choose them?  Do you know if these people, including the brothers, were prepared for this work? In what way do you come to this conclusion?

 

You say that the lay brothers belonged to his Society. Do you mean that these were members of the Society he founded? If yes, can you give the full name of the Society? When, where and how was it founded? What was the real aim for which it was founded? If the aim of the Society was for the missions, what exactly was meant by this at that time? In what way was this aim being achieved? Do you know if, besides this aim, the Society had other aims, and in case, what was being done for these to be achieved? Do you know if this Society was formed of brothers only or of priests as well? Do you mean to say that this Society was regarded as a religious one, i.e. that the members made some vows and lived in a community? Do you know if there were many members in the beginning? Did they all stay? If not, why not? From what environments did the members come? When did they have their first homes?

 

Do you know if the Society had some particular problems at its beginning? In case, do you know what they were, and from which quarters they came? You say that the Society totally depended on the S.G. Do you confirm this? In case, what do you mean by this and how do you confirm it?

 

You say that when the S.G., met your family he mentioned his Society. “It appeared to be a project very dear to him.” Do you mean that he talked about it with enthus­iasm and optimism? Or did be perhaps give the impression that he allowed himself to be much influenced by his fantasy? Or did he perhaps show that he was desp­ondent about it?

 

“It was an extraordinary idea for Malta.”  In what sense “extraordinary”? Perhaps strange, unusual, new? Perhaps no one ever thought to found a similar Society?

 

As far as I know these lay brothers, who were members of the Society Mgr De Piro was founding, helped only at St. Joseph’s Institute. Some of these brothers originally were children at the Institute. Besides these lay brothers, there were others who, after having passed their childhood at the Institute, when grown up, remained there and gave their help. Mgr. De Piro found people who were already helping at the institutes.  As time passed, he found others to help At St. Joseph’s Institute Mgr De Piro chose those who were members of his Society or who had been inmates at the Institute. Mgr De Piro was a person who did not have radical methods; he effected changes, but slowly and as occasions arose.

The training these lay brothers got was from the days when they had been inmates at the Institute. For the rest they had no formal training, they learnt the hard way, through experience. Mgr De Piro, however, guided them himself. I take the opportunity to say that the food at St. Joseph’s Institute, which was prepared by a lay brother, compared well with food at home. Whenever I had occasion to eat there, I remember that I made positive comments to my father, telling him “The food at the Institute was good”, meaning that it compared well with food at home; I liked it. This was the time when Mgr. De Piro had the idea of founding a missionary Society. At that time there were Maltese missionaries abroad, but these were individual cases. Mgr De Piro had also in mind Maltese migrants, who were in danger of losing the faith. My father used to tell me that the first place to which the members of the Society would be sent, would be Australia, where there was a considerable number of Maltese migrants.

 

We knew the members of this Society as “the priests at St. Agatha”. I know that at some time the title “of St. Paul” was added.

I do not know how Mgr. De Piro got the idea of founding his Society, but Mgr. De Piro was a man at great and broad ideas, and I can imagine that he saw the needs of mission lands and countries, which accepted immigrants. I know also that Mgr. De Piro had contacts with missionaries; once he brought to our home a certain Fr. Ang., Mizzi OFM Cap., a missionary in Abyssinia, and accepted in his name a motorcycle from my father and also saw to shipping it to this same Fr. Mizzi. The primary aim of the Society was the missions. Besides, there were secondary aims: the care of children in Institutes, and the education of children (religious, social, etc.), which was carried out at the Oratory at Birkirkara. But these secondary aims were subordinate to the primary aim: the missions.

The members of this Society lived a community life.  There were vocations not only from institutes, but also from elsewhere. There were also priest members, among them a certain Fr. Gwann Vella, who later left the Society and in 1929 was vice parish priest at Zejtun. There were others who remained in the Society till today.  Others, among them, Fr. Wistin, who died members of the Society.

At the beginning the members were few, but immediately after the death of Mgr. De Piro the Society increased in number and became well established. Some left, but I cannot say that many left.

 

The members of the Society came from all strata of society (except the Nobility), but they were mainly middle class. The first house of the Society that I remember is St. Agatha’s. There were members of the Society also at St. Joseph’s Institute and at the Oratory, Birkirkara.

 

From my family I came to know that one of the difficulties that Mgr. De Piro had to fact was the fact that his idea of founding a missionary Society was so new and revolutionary, at least in Malta, that many did not understand it and, consequently, opposed it. The Bishop, however, was in favour of the idea. Nor did he find opposition from his family: they were good and prudent people.

Mgr. De Piro financed the Society, but this does not exclude the fact that there were other benefactors, which I know from personal experience.

 

Et sic hora 12.00 meridie suepensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 16 Septembris, hora 9.00a.m. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora. Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam comfirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

A. Cachia Zammit, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

 

 

 

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

Actum die 19 Augusti 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Nonagesima Nona

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decima sexta Septembris (sive 16-9-1991), hora 9.10a.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae promotore rite citato meque Notario, comparuit Ex.mus Dominus Alexander Cachia Zammit MD., testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego A Cachia Zammit testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Judice Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Ex officio (following No. 19):  In the previous session we were speaking about part­icular problems that the S.G., might have had to face as regards the founding of his Society and in his other responsibilities. Do you feel that in all this the S.G., used to show faith in God’s providence? Can you prove this with some concrete facts?

 

It was natural for Mgr. De Piro to trust in God’s providence.  And he had to, since he had to take care of institutes, which depended totally on Providence. His friend and great collaborator, Mr. Alphonse Maria Galea, himself had a great trust in providence, and this surely influenced also Mgr. De Piro.

 

This trust in providence on the part of Mgr De Piro did not mean, however, that the S.G., rem­ained passive; he had to think things out and had his troubles and preoccupations.  But in all this he kept calm and serene because of his trust in providence. I remember a case: Mr. Alphonse Maria Galea, my great uncle in law, once, at the last moment, decided to come to lunch with us. On this occasion my father had also invited the children of St. Joseph Institute, and Mgr. De Piro happened to be present also. It so happened therefore that there were at least two persons more than expected; my great aunt Liza and her husband, Alphonse Maria Galea. My mother was very preoccupied because there was not enough food for all, (more so since what had been prepared was poultry, and my great uncle was a person who was too punctual for lunch), and told my father so. Mr. Galea told Mgr. De Piro: “See how much troubled is Helen (my mother) because she is afraid that the food would not suffice for all.” Mgr. De Piro answered: “Oh, don’t worry. The Lord will multiply.” (U le!  Il-Bambin ikattar). In fact, all had enough, and, as the servant told me later, there was also something left over.

 

Once, my father was talking to the S.G., and they remained talking for some three hours.  I lamented with my father about this.  My father told me that they discussed the building of St. Agatha’s. On that occasion he told me: “Mgr. De Piro tells met ‘In spite of all the difficulties we are encountering, we ought to continue working because it is here that the Lord wants the Motherhouse to be built’.” I came later to know, through what I read, about how great the difficulties were.

 

19.       (Cont.,) Mgr. De Piro used to talk about St. Agatha’s because he loved the project, but he also talked to us to report progress (my father used to help him) and also because he knew he was talking with people who could understand and appreciate. But he was not a person who lived in a world of fantasy.  Nor did he ever show the least sign that he was discouraged; nay, he was always full of hope. Nor did he talk out of vanity.

 

Mgr. De Piro’s idea of missions was ‘extraordinary’ in the sense that it was not usual, new for Malta, and, as far as I know, no one had ever thought of founding such a Society in Malta. Even the idea of ‘missions’ was new, not just to those places that were still pagan and culturally backwards, but wherever there was need for evangelization, even among emigrants.

 

20.       In your information you mention the relations that existed between the S.G., and Miss Guzeppina Curmi. Among other things you say: “The Monsignor was of great help also for the founding of her Congregation and in the spiritual direction of the members in the first years of their existence.”  Do you mean to say that Miss Curmi had founded some Congregation? In case, what was its name? With what aim was it founded and did this aim begin to be achieved?  What was the help that the S.G., had given for the found­ing of this Congregation? Perhaps some legal help? Or perhaps in the Archbishop’s Curia? Perhaps financially? In a general way, what did the relation between the S.G., and Miss Curmi consist in? You mention the spiritual direction. Do you mean to say that he was reputed as a spiritual director?

 

Miss Curmi was the foundress of the “Suore Missionarie di Gesu’ Nazzareno,” though the official recognition of the Congregation came only after her death. After her death, Mgr. De Piro became director of the Institute Miss Curmi had founded at Zejtun.  Things happened so. Miss Curmi, who came from a rich family, started gathering orphans at Zejtun. Her father was the ‘Sindku’ (Mayor) of Zejtun. Other young women gathered around her, and they started ed­ucating these orphans. Then they decided to form a Congregation of Sisters. The aim of this Congregation was to take care of orphan girls, educate girls and serve in the missions.

 

When Miss Curmi died, I remember that Mgr. Caruana OSB, the bishop, told us that he had nominated Mgr. De Piro as Director of the Institute “Gesu Nazzarenu”. Mgr. De Piro was Miss Curmi’s support in her endeavors and works. They had common aims: education, care of orphans, and the missions. The help Mgr. De Piro gave was: good advice, moral support, help in solving problems, encouragement, and he was the intermediary between her and the Curia in all things pertaining to the founding of a new congregation. I do not think that the S.G., needed to help Miss Curmi financially.  Nor was he a legal person to help her in legal problems.

 

Et sic hora 11.05 a.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 14 Octobris, hora 4.30 p.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

A. Cachia Zammit, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese snbscripsit cum Iustitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

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

 

Actum die 16 Septembris 1991

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Centesima

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero, trigesima Septembris, hora 4.20 p.m. (sive 30-9-1991), coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri, Birkirkara,, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit Paulus Xuereb, testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Paul Xuereb testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore, ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quam cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui, et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia: I am Paul Xuereb, pensioner, born on 10 February 1918, son of Carmelo and Giuseppa nee Vella, baptized at Birkirkara Parish of St. Helen, practicing Catholic.

 

1.         You have come to give witness in this Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mons Guzeppi De Piro, Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. What made you come to give witness?  Was there perhaps someone who told you what to witness?  What contact did you have with the S.G? When did this contact begin, and when did it end?

 

I came to know about this Cause of Beatification, and I contacted the Society of St. Paul, was introduced to Fr. Anthony Sciberras MSSP, who told me to write what I knew about Mgr. De Piro. Which I did. No one told me what to write or say. I had presented to the Tribunal what I had written.

 

I came to know Mgr. De Piro when the latter took over the Oratory at Birkirkara. I knew him from 1927 to 1933, the year of Mgr. De Piro’s death.

 

2.         In the information, which you have already presented, you continuously refer to the S.G., as Monsignor. Do you know if this was a mere title or if the S.G., was in fact a regular canon of the Cathedral of Malta? In the latter case, do you know what duties were connected with this office, and how the S.G., performed them? Do you know how and when he became a Monsignor?

 

Mgr. De Piro was a member of the Cathedral Chapter. I saw him only once during a function: he was on the altar with the Bishop, Mgr. Caruana. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

3.         The surname De Piro indicates nobility.  In fact, was the De Piro family noble? If yes, what did this nobility consist in? Do you also mean that, besides being noble, they were also wealthy? Besides the S.G., did you know other members of the De Piro family? Per­haps his mother, his father, some of his siblings? Can you give some details about them? Can you say at least what reputation they had among the people? How do you prove this?

 

Mgr. De Piro came from a noble and rich family. I saw his mother only once. I did not know her, but people told me she was his mother. I do not know any member of Mgr. De Piro’s family. It was said that Mgr. De Piro’s mother helped her son financially. For the test I cannot answer.

 

4.         You got to know the S.G., “… through the Oratory of Birkirkara.” It appears from the context that this Oratory was a place where the teaching of catechism was imparted. Besides, it also served as a center for Aspirants of the Society founded by the S.G. Do you confirm this? Do you know if it also served for some other purpose? You say that the “… Chapter of Birkirkara relinquished this Oratory to Mons. De Piro.” Can, you give more details about this transfer? whose initiative was it? Why was this transfer made? Why was it given to Mons. De Piro? Who had been it charge of it before? Was there some payment to enable the S.G., to take this place, or were there perhaps other conditions? “It was Mr. Fons Maria Galea who helped so that this not­ary, ceded it to Mons. De Piro.” Do you know who this “Mr. Fons” was? What were his activities in Malta? What relations did he have with the S.G?

 

The Oratory was used for the teaching of Catechism. Catechism was taught in the chapel, the sacristy, in the theatre and in a loggia.

 

The Oratory was founded in 1910. A certain Casolani gave the land for the building of this Oratory. At first it was the Salesians (of Don Bosco) who ran it, and then the Christian Brothers (known as Freres) took over. Then two Canons of Birkirkara, the brothers Michael and Joseph Sammut, took care of the Oratory. Then, in i927 Mgr. De Piro took over.

 

I do not know whether it was the Chapter of Birkirkara who was responsible for the Oratory, or whether these Canons took the initiative. So I do not know who passed the Oratory to Mgr. De Piro, and how this was done.  I know that Mons De Piro was seeking a house at B’Kara and I know that the S.G., was a friend of Mr. Alphonse Maria Galea.  So I presume that Mr. Galea helped Mgr. De Piro to acquire the Oratory. I know also that an agreement about the Oratory was made between Casolani and Mgr. De Piro. What I wrote in my declaration must be taken in this sense. I know about only one clause of this agreement: the teaching of catechism.

Mr. Alphonse Maria Galea was a wealthy man, who was also a charitable person.  He also took care to publish books in Maltese to educate the people.

 

5.         “The Society of Mons. De Piro.”  Do you mean that the S.G., founded the Society to which you often refer in your Information? In case, do yow know where and when this founding took place? How did the S.G., come out with the idea of founding this Society? Was he the originator of its founding, or did he receive help from others.  In, case, from whom? What was the exact aim of this Society? In what way do you remember this aim was reached? Do you know if, besides this aim, there were other aims?

 

In connection with the Society, you also mention the “community”. Do you mean to say that the members of this Society lived together? If yes, do you mean that this Society was a kind of a religious family? If yes, do you know if its members also took some vows.  In case, which? Do you know if the S.G., himself ever took these vows?

 

From what you say it appears that the members of this Society consisted of both brothers and priests. Do you confirm this? If yes, who were the more numerous? What do you think was the reason for this? Above all, were there many members at the time you recall? From what environments did they come? Did they all stay? If not, do you know if they left a long or a short time after they had joined? Do you know what the reason was? Perhaps too much strictness, or too little? Can you assess the comportment of the S.G., when some­one left the Society? Do you know if someone was sent away from the Society? If yes, did you ever get to know the reason for his sending away?

 

Do you know of some particular problems the S.G., had to face at the beginning of the Society? Perhaps problems regarding money, place, people, comprehension?

 

When I mention the “Socjeta’” of Mgr. De Piro, I mean the Society of St. Paul, which Mgr. De Piro founded. Mgr. De Piro started at Imdina, first in one house, then in another. Later it moved to St. Agatha’s. Mgr. De Piro had in mind to send missionaries where there were the Maltese migrants. I knew this from Fr. Michael Callus, who. was our Superior at the Oratory.  And it was in the rule. There was also the vow to go to the missions. However, I must note that Mgr. De Piro sent Fra. (Brother) Guzepp to Abbysinia. At the time of his death we at the Oratory knew that Mgr. De Piro meant to visit Fra. Guzepp in his mission. The missions were the only. aim of the Society.

 

The members of the Society lived a community life. The members, after the novitiate, made the vows of poverty, obedience, chastity, and to go to the missions. I do not know whether Mgr De Piro himself took the vows or not.

 

In the Society there were both priests and brothers. In my time there were more priests than brothers. By “priests” I mean both ordained priests and those preparing for the priesthood.

 

At the time of Mgr. De Piro, many left.  It was not so difficult to leave. Still, there was a good number of members. I never knew why these left. I do not know what Mgr. De Piro’s reaction was when these left. I do not know that Mgr. De Piro ever dismissed anybody from the Society. Nor do I know of anybody who was not fit to be a member of the Society.

 

The members of the Society were mainly from the middle class of those times.  There were some from poor families.  No one came from the nobility.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

6.         Let us talk a little about the teaching of catechism that was practised at the Oratory. You say that there were lay catechists teaching catechism even before the S.G., took over the Oratory. You also say that when the S.G., came he let them go on teaching and he also made meetings for them. Did the fact that the S.G., let them teach mean that he was pleased with them and that he was in favour of the part played by laymen in this field of apostolate? Or did he perhaps keep them because in the circumstances he could not do otherwise?  Also perhaps because he was not able to tell them not to come any more? Can you assess how the S.G., regarded the laymen in the Church? If he was the type who liked to involve them in the work of the Church, can you give some concrete example to prove this?

 

As regards the meetings the S.G., held for the catechists: do you remember what type of meetings they were and why he held them? Perhaps to keep encouraging these laymen, or perhaps because he saw that they had not enough pre­paration, or perhaps to make propaganda for his Society?

 

What do you say about the children who attended the catechism classes? What types of children were they, children of the common people, of the poor, of the rich? When the S.G., came, did the same children keep attending, or did others replace them?

 

When Mgr. De Piro took over at the Oratory, the same catechists continued teaching catechism. They were lay people. I knew that Mgr. De Piro held conferences for these catechists, but I am not in a position to say what was said during these conferences. I cannot answer the other question about Mgr. De Piro and the lay apostolate.

 

The children who came for the catechism lessons were from the common people.  Many were very poor. The same type of children continued to come when Mgr. De Piro took over. The classes continued even after the child­ren had received Confirmation.

 

At the Oratory there was also a theatrical company, run by the people, under the patronage of St. Ginesius.

 

I do not know that Mgr. De Piro ever made any propaganda for his Society at the Oratory; those who entered did so simply on their own initiative.

 

7.         You state that the S.G., did not often visit the catechism classes. Didn’t this show lack of interest in this teaching? Or perhaps because he trusted the catechists so much that he felt there was no need to visit them often? Were there occasions when he visit­ed the classes? What were they? Can you say whether at the time of the S.G., the teaching of catechism at the Oratory improved or deteriorated, or remained the same as before? How do you prove this?

 

Mgr. De Piro was a very busy person, and could not possibly add the burden of inspecting the catechism classes himself. But the superiors he put at the Oratory visited these classes. One could notice the progress in the teaching of catechism, especially when Fr Michael Callus SSP was superior.

 

8.         “There were times when he came in the morning and he therefore carried a parasol.” Was the parasol popular in Malta? If yes, also in the neighbourhood of the Oratory? If it wasn’t, don’t you think that the S.G., was a person who liked to appear different from the rest of the people? What do you say about the way he dressed? Did he like to show that he was a Monsignor? In what way? Whilst he did not often visit the catechism classes, however, “from the start he thought to extend the build­ing to accommodate the community that was there.” Do you remember how the building of the Oratory was when the S.G., came and what additions he made? Do you, who have lived in the Oratory, feel that in fact it was necessary to add to the building “for the community that was there”?

 

It was not usual for people to have sun umbrellas. I think that Mgr. De Piro used it out of necessity. Mgr. De Piro was a humble person, and surely he did not carry the umbrella out of vanity.  The clothes he wore were those that common priests wear; and he carried no dis­tinctive to show that he was a member of the Cathedral Chapter.

 

The Oratory, at the time Mgr. De Piro took over, was a large courtyard and a field.  There was a house occupied by a woman who took care of the Oratory.  There was a theatre whose roof was of corrugated iron.  There was also a Chapel. When Fr. Callus became superior, the house became vacant and was used by the aspirants. However this house became small for the number of aspirants, and Mgr. De Piro enlarged the building by ten rooms and a private chapel. Mgr De Piro did this because it was necessary on account of the number of vacations, which was increasing.

 

Et sic hora 6.45p.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae illud resumendi die 7 Octobris, hora 4.30p.m. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultatem addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

Paul Xuereb, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscapalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interregatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt 0P, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis. Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillo apposui.

 

Actum die 30 Septembris 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Centesima Prima

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero septima Octobris (sive 7-10-1991), hora 4.20p.m, coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri “Christus Sacerdos”, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Paulus Xuereb, testis a postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

 Ego Paul Xuereb testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisqae remanentibus Judice Delegato, Jastitiae Promotore ac dicto teste Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est examen dicti testis:

 

9.         “I remember after a short while after the time of Fr. Benin, Fr. Michael Callus and Bro. Kalcidon Zammit came and made their residence at the Oratory. Immediately afterwards the first group of aspirants arrived, because De Piro, from the very start, had in mind to have a group of Aspirants at the Oratory.”  Do you remember exactly when the “Aspirandat” started at the Oratory? Did all the aspirants come from the area of the Oratory, or did they come from other parts of Malta? In the latter case, how did they get to know about it? Perhaps by some propaganda made by the S.G? In case, what did this consist in?

 

“... Edukandat S. Marija.” Do you know why it was given this name? Was any particular devotion to S. Marija noticeable at the “Aspirandat”? In what way?  Besides the devotion to St Mary (the Assumption) you make reference to St. Paul and St. Joseph. Does this mean that there were some particular devotions to these Saints at the Oratory? If yes, how did they originate? Perhaps they were the devotions of the S.G., himself? In case, how did he show them in his life? Do you know of other devotions that the S.G., had and/or existed at the Oratory?

 

The “Edukandat” began in 1928. The aspirants came from all over the Island (incidentally I was the first aspir­ant from Birkirkara, and I was not from the first group which entered; I began in 1929); there was even one from Gozo. The Society was surely already known everywhere in Malta, but I do not know whether any propaganda was made.

 

I confirm that the name was “Educandato Santa Maria”.  There still exist a banner with this name dating from those days.  But I do not know how and why this name was given. There was a special devotion to St. Paul, the patron Saint of the Society; the feast we celebrated was that of his Conversion, in January, in the chapel of the Educandato. There was no special dev­otion to the other saints.

 

I am not in a position to speak about Mgr. De Piro’s devotions.

 

 

10.       “I joined as an aspirant...” Was there any particular process used to admit an aspirant? Perhaps some examination? Some interview? If an examination was held, what was it about? Did everyone sit for it? Did everyone pass? If there was an interview, what was it about? Who was the interviewer? What was the S.G’s share in the process of admitting aspirants? Was the family background, the physical and mental health of the individual, etc., taken into consideration? If yes, how was this done?

 

“We were all students with the intention of joining as priests.” What was the approximate age of admittance? For how long did you remain aspirants? What do you mean when you say that you joined “with the intention at becoming priests?”

 

“Fr. Michael Callus was in charge of us.” Who was Fr. Michael? Do you feel he was the right person for you? Who had chosen Fr. Michael for this office? If it was the S.G., why do you think he had chosen him?

 

In my case, 1 felt an attraction to the Society. At ­that time I attended St. Aloysius College and was somewhat backward in Latin. Fr. Michael Callus SSP, the superior of he Oratory, gave me some private lessons. I spoke to Fr. Callus SSP about my inclinations.  He told me to make a novena to the Holy Ghost and speak to him fifteen days later. I presume that Fr. Callus SSP spoke about the matter to Mgr. De Piro, but it was the former who decided.

 

Fr. Callus SSP knew my family well. I do not know what procedures were carried out in the case of other aspirants. In my case I sat for no examination or interview (other than what I said above). Nor was I asked to produce any medical certificates.

 

I was about twelve years of age. There were some of my companions who were somewhat older, fifteen or sixteen. I think that there was only one who was younger than me by a few months. The aspirandat expired when we finished our fourth year at St. Aloysius, at secondary school level. Our aim was to become priests. Those who intended to remain lay brothers (there were about two) did not attend St. Aloysius College.

 

Fr. Michael Callus SSP, was a member of the Society of Mgr. De Piro.  He came from a good family.  Some of his brothers were members of the Society of Christian Doc­trine (MUSEUM). He was a good, humble, and edu­cated man. He was strict, but not excessively strict; he knew how to take care of us, boys, and of our needs; there was no grumbling at the Oratory. He was the right person for the job.

 

It was Mgr. De Piro who chose Fr. Michael as superior. I do not know why he chose him.  Surely at that time Mgr. De Piro did not have many priests from whom to choose. I note, however, that when the aspirandat was erected, Fr. Benin Azzopardi was transferred from the Oratory to Gozo and Fr. Michael Callus was made superior at the Oratory.

 

11.       “We practised diverse spiritual activities.” Among these you mention the meditation together, the mass, the reading during meals, Sacramental Benediction, examination of conscience.  Can you comment more fully on each of these and the way they were practised?

Didn’t you say the Rosary?  Did the S.G., when he was at the Oratory, join you in these acts of piety? What part did he take in these (besides the examination of conscience which you mention later on)? Did he ever exhort you about the importance of these acts?

 

During our aspirandate we had, more or less, the following timetable.  We woke up at about 5.l5am., At 5.30 am we made half an hour meditation at our private chapel. Fr. Callus read a section of a spiritual book, and then asked questions. At 6.l5am., we went to the chapel of the Oratory and heard mass together with the people; we had reserved seats at the front, and we served mass when it was our turn. The mass was then in Latin, and it was celeb­rated as anywhere else.  After mass we had breakfast. We went to our rooms to prepare for school, and at eight we left for school. We took lunch with us, since school continued during the afternoon, until about 3.00p.m. We went to school on foot.  When we arrived back, we had tea, and continued our studies. I continued to teach a catechism class. There was no time for recreation.  At about 7.00 pm., there was Benediction at the chapel of the Oratory. I and another aspirant sometimes stayed over to learn religious singing in preparation for some occasion.  Immediately before supper, which was at 8.l5 pm., we recited the Rosary at our private chapel. During dinner there was spiritual reading from the lives of the saints. At the midday meal, the martyrology was also read, and at supper we read a short part of the rule daily.

 

After supper we had some recreation. At about 9.00 pm. we had the examination of conscience. Fr. Callus read something, made some reflections, and we were given time to reflect.

 

On rare occasions, Mgr. De Piro was present. I remember that when he conducted the examination of conscience, it was on the same lines as Fr. Callus, but I noticed that he was more detailed than Fr. Callus and the examination of conscience was somewhat longer. When he conducted the meditation, it was on the same lines as Fr. Callus, but here the time taken was not longer. Whenever Mgr. De Piro ate with us, the read­ing was carried out as usual.

 

I do not remember that Mgr. De Piro ever spoke to us, or exhorted us as a group, about the need and impor­tance of the acts of piety.

 

12.       “We attended school at St. Aloysius College, of the Jesuits.” What was the reputation of this College at your time? What subjects did you study? What was the reason why you were sent to St. Aloysius? Whose idea was it?

 

“We stayed at the College until we finished Form IV and were promoted to Form V.” Why didn’t you do Form V as well? “When we returned in the evening we did our studies.” Did you have enough time for study, or were you perhaps told to do a lot of work and were not allowed time for study? Was there anyone to help you with the studies? If yes, who was he? In what way did he help you? (just supervision, or could you ask him your difficulties)?

“Every day we spent some time in the yard.” What did you do during this time? When the S.G., was at the Oratory, did he join you in your recreation? If yes, what did he do when he was there? Did you have other periods for recreation during the day? Did you have holidays during the year? When did they occur? Where did you spend them? What did you do in them?

 

St. Aloysius was one of the few secondary schools on the Island at the time. Subjects included English, Latin, Mathematics, and Religion. I do not know why we were sent there, but I think the reason was that St. Aloysius College was near the Oratory. I do not know why we finished school after the fourth year, but it was considered that we would have had in this way enough schooling for the priesthood in our Society. We had enough time for study at the Oratory. There was no one to help us in our studies at the Oratory, but we had help at the College. Fr. Callus received a monthly report, and he drew our attention if we had a poor report. For discipline Fr. Callus chose one of the seniors from the Oratory.

 

Ex parte iam provisum. During holidays, and on Sat­urdays and Sundays, we had the same timetable. Besides we took care of the daily upkeep of the Educandat and the Oratory, as regards cleaning, etc. One of us held the office of sacristan. We helped also in the kitchen. But if there were maintenance works to be carried out, Fr. Callus hired workers.

 

During holidays, sometimes, we went for a walk. We had recreation time after the midday meal. In summer we went for three weeks to Gozo. Besides, we used to go also to St. George’s Bay for swimming.

 

In September we had our annual retreat at St. Calcedonius, Floriana.

 

Et sic hora 6.30 pm. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae illud resumendi die 14 Octobris, hora 4.30 pm. hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore, ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

Paul Xuereb, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis.

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

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

 

Actum die 7 Octobris 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Centesima Secunda

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decimaquarta Octobris (sive 14-10-1991), hora 4.25 pm., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali, in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri “Christus Sacerdos”, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore legittime citato meqae Notario, comparuit D.nus Paulus Xuereb, testis inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Paul Xuereb testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationem, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum, ex eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

13.       “Mons. De Piro used to visit us once a month.” Did he have a room in the Oratory? If yes, how was it furnished? Where did he come from, or better where did he reside when not at the Oratory? When he came how long did he stay with you?  Were his visits regular? Did he come of his own accord, or was it necessary for someone like Fr. Michael to remind him? When he was with you what impression did you have of him? Did he appear to be happy, sad, worried, despondent, etc?

 

In your private conversations with him, to which you refer in your Information, did the S.G., seem able to communicate? Did he let you do the talking or was he the only one to talk? Did he appear to pay attention to what you were telling him? Did he seem able to comp­rehend and talk in a clear way? In general, did his words encourage or discourage you? Was he optimist or pessimist?

 

You say that he would talk to you about some virtue. Do you mean by this that he always talked to you about spiritual things? Didn’t he ever talk to you, e.g. about your health, school, talents, if you were happy, etc? Didn’t he talk to you in a group?

 

“When he was with us he also conducted the examination of conscience himself. This examination took a long time and he asked several questions.” What were these questions about? From these questions, what impression did you get of him, perhaps that he was scrupulous, perhaps always talking repeatedly about sin, hell, the anger of God?

 

Did he ever hear your confession? If yes, what was he like as a confessor? Perhaps very hard? Did he hear confess­ions at the Oratory? If yes, often? Who were usually his penitents? Besides at the Oratory, did he hear confessions somewhere else?

 

Mons De Piro had a room for his use at the Oratory.  It was the same as those we aspirants had. (Our rooms were in fact parts of larger rooms, partitioned by wood by Brother Ca1cedon Zammit MSSP). The furniture was the same as we had. Mgr. De Piro did not live with his mother; he had his residence at St. Joseph’s Institute, though he visited, and occasionally slept, at some other Institute which he directed. This was not because he was on bad terms with his mother, who lived at Imdina, but because his duties required him to act so. When Mgr. De Piro came to the Oratory, he used to come, more or less, once a month.  He stayed for a day and a night. I do not know whether it was Fr. Michael Callus who invited him, but I believe Mgr De Piro did not need to be reminded to visit us. When Mgr. De Piro (whom we called “Padre” while we called Fr. Michael, “Superjur”) was present, we, students, were more attentive to be exact.  But we were not afraid of him. He was approachable, humble, always ready to hear those who wanted to speak to him. I never saw him angry. I had occasion to speak to Mons De Piro privately, about three or four times. In fact it was Mgr. De Piro himself who, through our superior, Fr. Michael Callus SSP, called us to him. It was in such circumstances that I talked to him.  I repeat that whoever wanted could make an appointment through Fr. Callus SSP to speak to Mgr. De Piro. On all these occasions we could talk to him in all liberty.  He spoke to us in a language and manner we young men could understand.  He heard our problems (when we had any).  He encouraged and exhorted us.  He would let us express ourselves first, and then talk himself, according to our heeds. He did dot know what was pessimism. The meeting would last between fifteen and thirty minutes.

 

In these meetings he spoke about spiritual matters, discussing some virtue or other (humility, chastity, obedience). He spoke about other spiritual matters, but I forgot the details. He spoke also about our studies, school, how we got on, etc. He saw our school results (I know this because I saw the reports in front of him). As regards our health, it was Fr. Callus who looked after us. When someone was sick, we looked after the individual under the supervision of Fr. Callus. If need arose, a doctor was called and the necessary precautions were taken. Once I became sick of undulent fever (deni rqiq). I was sent home, since at the Oratory there were no facilities for more serious illnesses.   Fr. Callus himself visited me regularly, and when he could not come, he sent some companion of mine. When, a short time later, another fell sick of the same illness, I remember that he was sent home also, and again we visited him, though he was from Naxxar and we had to go on foot. Mgr. De Piro never delivered conferences to us as a group, except on the occasion I will mention later on (No. 15). Fr. Callus used to take the opportunity of the meditation and examination of conscience in order to speak to us about the rule and spiritual matters. As for the examination of conscience, cfr. above No. 11. Mons. De Piro did not frighten us. Mgr. De Piro never confessed us. There was another confessor who came regularly. I do not know that Mgr. De Piro had the fame of a confessor. He did not hear confessions at the Oratory. Other details I cannot give.

 

14.       “For us children, the rooms were very comfortable and sufficient.” Is it possible for you to describe them? When considering the way children and youths lived at that time, were these rooms poor, rich? What do you have to say about the food when comparing it with that of normal families?

 

Did you ever come to know by whom was the Oratory financed? Do you know if the S.G., ever organized activities to collect money? What would these activities be? What was the share of the S.G., in them?

 

When I say that our rooms were comfortable, I mean by the standards of those times, and considering that we were still very young. We had a bed, a table, a chair, a commode, and other elementary necessities. We toot this furniture with us from home when we entered the Oratory. If someone left, he took them back home. As for food, it was sufficient; we had two courses each time. It compared well with food at home. I never heart anybody complaining about food. When Mgr. De Piro was present, he ate the same food we ate, including the dessert. I note that in Malta at that time there were hart times, and there also were those who were hungry, but at the Oratory we never lacked anything.

 

I do not know how finances were procured. We did not beg or ask for help in any way, nor did we make any fund raising. When once a fair was held at the Oratory, I have the impression that it was for the missions. I do not remember that we were ever told to pray for ben­efactors, neither for anyone in particular, nor in general.

 

15.       “I remember that once we organised an ‘academy’ in his honour on the occasion of the feast of St. Joseph ...” Perhaps he himself asked for it, or did someone else organize it for him? In case, who? What did this ‘academy’ consist in? Was it held only once? If not, when was it held again?

 

“He appreciated our effort very much because he was a man who appreciated what others did for him.” How did he show his appreciation? Did he perhaps make a speech, or did he talk to you about how much he had enjoyed it, etc?

 

“He was a man who knew how to be happy...”  How did you reach this conclusion? Perhaps these were some occasions on which he showed this joy?

 

It was Fr. Michael Callus who organized the academy. We students, all wrote something about St. Joseph, and read it. It was introduced by Fr. Michael Callus and Mgr. De Piro made the concluding speech. This academy was held only once. It was during the morning. The speech he made at the end showed his appreciation for our effort. Besides, his attitude showed that he was happy. I have no other concrete occasions that prove his appreciation and pleasure at the efforts done by others.

 

16.       “Apart from all this we were trained to give a helping hand in the community.”  Did the S.G., have any influence on this? If yes, do you mean that at times he spoke to you about this service, or perhaps you saw him giving a helping hand?

 

“We used to take part in Church services.” What kind of service did you give? Perhaps as altar boys, or perhaps in the teaching of catechism as well? In the latter case, do you mean that the S.G., expected you to give this service? Did you teach on a regular basis or perhaps only when any of the catechists were absent.

 

Fr. Michael Callus told us what jobs to carry out in the house and in the chapel. We were trained to carry out the chores needed in a community life. I do not know that Mgr. De Piro had any direct influence on us in this training, nor did he take part in the upkeep of the place when he was present. We served as altar boys, we read the lessons during Holy Week. I taught catechism for some time after entering, but I had been a catechist before my entering the Society. Other aspir­ants did not teach catechism.

 

Et sic hora 6.30p.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae illud resumendi die 28 Octobris, hora 4.30p.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

Paul Xuereb, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius ohsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis Ego Notarius de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui:

 

Actum die14 Octobris 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Centesima Tertia

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero vigesima octava Octobris (sive 28-10-1991), hora 4.20p.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit Ex.mus Dominus Alexander Cachia Zammit M.D., testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego A. Cachia Zammit testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque rem­anentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

21.       “Again, when the Foundress died, De Piro appeared to be much upset; there was the death of the Foundress, and for other reas­ons.” What could be the other reasons besides the trouble the Sisters had with the relatives of Curmi? When you say “… upset …” what exactly do you mean? Perhaps despondent? Feeling lost? Can you say something about the case that the Sisters had with the relatives of Miss Curmi? You say that the S.G., gave the Sisters great help in this case. Did he perhaps suggest that they should start it? If yes, do you mean that he had not advised them to try to settle the question peacefully and perhaps he himself tried to do this for them? Do you also mean that the S.G., was not the type to keep away from the law courts? In what sense did he help the Sisters “… in the law courts”?

 

The other reasons were: Miss Curmi had died suddenly and she died intestate.  At the time there was no one who could take her place. The Institute was still under construction. The Congregation had not yet been canonically founded. Mgr. De Piro was troubled because he found all this, when he was nominated Director.  But this does not mean that Mgr De Piro lost heart, far less that he lost his head.  In fact Mgr. De Piro took over and helped a lot to solve the problems. He was of great help in the lawsuit that followed Miss Curmi’s death, since the family pretended that even the Institute was theirs. In my opinion Mgr. De Piro helped mostly because he was by nature a peace­maker.

 

It was Miss Curmi’s family that started the lawsuit. Mgr. De Piro helped to clarify the position on the Institute; he helped the Sisters to write (and in the case of three of them, who were illiterate, he himself wrote) what they had to testify.  He also helped the Sisters to make things easily understood. I know all this from my father, who I repeat, was a confidant of Mgr. De Piro.

Mgr. De Piro was not a quarrelsome person.  He was a magnanimous person, who, however, kept to principles and did his utmost to defend those principles.

 

22.       “I do not want to forget to say that De Piro had helped Madre Curmi to acquire the site for her Institute...This site was the property of the Monsignor’s brother, Gino, who did not want to give up the property. If it were not for the intervention of the Monsignor they would have never acquired the property.”  Do you know why the S.G’s brother refused to give up the land? What did the intervention of the S.G., consist in? Why do you think that the S.G’s intervention made his brother Gino change his mind?

 

The proprietor did not want to give up the land since it was land that had belonged to the family. This person, on his deathbed, gave up this property for a yearly token. My father used to say that Mgr. De Piro helped by trying to persuade this man to give them the land.

 

23.       “If one examines a little the De Piro family, one soon finds out that they were supporters of Lord Strick­land, but in spite of all this, and the fact that my father belonged to another party, my father said that the Monsignor was a reasonable person.”  When you say “… the De Piro family…” do you mean that even the S.G., supported Strickland? Do you mean that the S.G., was a priest involved in politics? Was he reputed for his sympathy with Strickland? If yes, do you mean that the S.G., sympathized with a party that at that time had created trouble to the Church? Do you know if the S.G., was ever admonished by his superiors because of the sympathy he showed for Strickland?

 

I confirm what I said. Mgr. De Piro was surely a member of a family that supported Mr. Strickland, and nobody ever said that Mgr. De Piro had polit­ical ideas, different, from those of his family. In those days even common people interested themselves in politics. Mgr. De Piro never had an active part in party politics.  He was a member of the Senate as a representative of the Bishop and not as member of some one party or another.  Nor did he ever speak about politics. (My father never said that Mgr. De Piro spoke about political matters, though they had long conversations). He never defended Mr. Strickland in his quarrels with the Church. Nor did he ever, on the other hand, speak in favour of the Nationalists. Mgr. De Piro definitely did not have any reprimand from his Ecclesiastical superiors because of his sympathies with Lord Strickland. Nay, he was trusted by the Bishop and served as an intermediary between the Church and Lord Strickland.

My father was a member of Parliament, a member of the “Unione Politico Maltese”, that was on the other side of the political spectrum. However he got on very well with Mgr. De Piro; they never quarreled, and worked together on many projects. This shows how much Mgr. De Piro was moderate; my father, himself a moderate man, had broken friendly relations with others on account of politics, but not with Mgr. De Piro.

 

24.       “In fact I know very well that De Piro worked hard to bring peace between the Church and Lord Strickland. I also know that the Archbishop took a lot of advice from the Monsignor about the same questions.” What exactly do you mean when you say that “you know very well”? Where did you get your information? What exactly was the share of the S.G., in the solution of these conflicts? Was this the only share of the S. G., in Malta’s political life? Or did he perhaps have some other share? In case, what was this? Perhaps representative of the clergy in the National Assembly? Perhaps in the trouble of 7 June 1919? Perhaps in the Senate between 1932 and 1933?

 

I know this mostly from what I heard my father say.  Besides, I also overheard the Bishop saying that he had sent for Mgr. De Piro. I take the opportunity to say:

 

1.         that Mgr. De Piro always came whenever the Bishop called him, even late at night;

 

2.         that the Bishop was always happy after meeting Mgr. De Piro; something that could not be said about other Monsignors whom the Bishop met.

 

Et sic hora 6.35p.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae animo illud resumendi die 4 Novembris 1991, hora 4.l5p.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

A. Cachia Zammit, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis iinterrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysiuis Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

 

Actum die 28 Octobris 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Centesima Quarta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero quarta Novembris (sive 4-11-1991), hora 4.15p.m. coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopalis in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit Ex.mus Dominus Alexander Cachia Zammit M.D., testis a Postulatione, inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego A. Cachia Zammit testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui, et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

24 (cont.) I remember my father, who himself was involved in politics and was a personal friend of the Bishop, saying: [1]If it were not for Mgr. De Piro, no solution would have been found for the differences;  and that [2] Mgr. De Piro helped the Bishop to find the compromise that had been reached.  My father knew these things from inner sources.

 

Mgr. De Piro was a nominee of the Bishop in the Senate. As such he was not directly involved in party politics. I cannot say whether Mgr. De Piro was in anyway involved during the 7 Giugno riots. My father, who was present there, never mentioned Mgr. De Piro.

 

25.       “Although I never confessed to him I felt I could easily go to him if the need arose.”  Do you know if the S.G., spent a lot of time hearing confessions? In case, where and whom did he confess most? Why do you say, “… if the need arose...? Perhaps you mean that you did not feel embarrassed to go to him? In case, why? Perhaps because of his goodness, or per­haps you reckoned he was the easy type?

Do you know if, besides hearing confessions, the S.G., also preached? In case, a lot?  Where, and to whom most often? Was there anything particular in his sermons?

 

Mgr. De Piro was considered a good confessor. My statement shows the confidence I had in him. He was a good man, neat and clean, humane, affable.  Besides this, the fact that he directed so many institutes made me believe that he would understand the problems I had as a boy. I was ready to confess to him, even though he was a family friend; something I was not ready to do this with other priests who were family friends.

 

As for preaching I refer to what I said in No. 10.  I would like to clarify my statement about “preaching”: I never heard Mgr. De Piro delivering “sermons” as it was understood in those days (panegyrics and the like).  Mgr. De Piro had the fame of being a good preacher, but he was calm in his sermons, practical, something which was not the style of the panegyrists.  I do not know whether he had any particular theme in his sermons, but he was devout to Our Lady.

 

26.       In your information you mention the death of the S.G. Do you know when and where it occurred? What was the cause? Do you know some details about the funeral and the burial? Where did they take place? People who attended? Was it held with solemnity? Is he still buried in the original place? If he was transported: when, why, and in what way? Do you know if on his death articles about him were printed in the newspapers? In case, do you remember what was said?

 

You say that when he died everyone began to say that Malta had lost a great benefactor. Didn’t anyone refer to him as a Saint? Later on you say that “His saintliness was not manifested in his lifetime.” Do you mean that he was regarded as a great man, just that? Today what do you say about his saintliness?

 

You say that “In his lifetime he never appeared to do anything extraordinary.” At the same time the following words apply to him: “He did what God wanted from him, always, quickly and joyfully.” Can you explain these words a little better?

You say that “...he was so dedicated and he worked so hard that, after his death, three people were needed to continue his work.” Do you remember who these were? Did you ever have the occasion to hear these people talk about the S.G? What did they say about him?

 

The S.G., died after the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows at Hamrun. It was a Sunday afternoon. He was taken suddenly ill in front of the altar. It was said that he felt unwell before the procession, but con­ducted it anyway. I feel that he died of a heart attack, considering that his breath was short and his physique. His death took everybody by surprise.

 

I did not attend the funeral, but my father did go. He commented on the great number of people present. It was clear that the people felt the loss of the S.G. I know that the S.G., is now buried at St. Agatha’s. It is a traditional custom that a person, if he is a founder, director of an institute, be buried in the place where he had carried out his apostolate. People used to discuss whether Mgr De Piro was to be buried at St. Agatha’s or St. Joseph’s Institute. I do not know more details about the funeral. Now I know that newspapers carried articles about Mgr. De Piro, and they praised the S.G.

 

I do not exclude that there might have been people who referred to the S.G., as a “saint”, but what I heard was that he was a “benefactor”. Of course, those who do well to others are good, perhaps even holy. He was one who did well to body and soul. The S.G., was a bene­factor in a christian sense.

 

Although “… he did not manifest his holiness”, this does not mean that he was not holy. In my opinion Mgr. De Piro lived a saintly life. People who knew him held him as such. Besides this, Mgr. De Piro never did anything that could blemish his holy character, such as stinginess, excessive familiarities, etc.

 

By “extraordinary” I mean preternatural things and mir­acles, and things that are not ordinarily done by people (public acts of humility, great penances, etc.). But he was “extraordinary” in his acts of charity towards others especially the institutes.

 

The statement “He used to carry God’s will always, quickly and with a happy heart” is my assessment of Mgr. De Piro, and reflects his saintly character.

 

The three persons who took over were these: Mgr. Enrico Bonnici took over St. Joseph’s Institute; Mgr. Pantalleresco; and Mgr. Emmanuel Galea, later Vicar General, who took over Jesus of Nazareth Institute. I know that these wondered how Mgr De Piro alone could carry out so much work.

 

 

Interrogationes ex officio.

 

1.         Throughout your testimony you frequently refer to the friendship which existed between the S.G., your father, Bishop Mauro Caruana, Mr. Fons Maria Galea and Miss Curmi. Can you explain better what brought these people together? Was there any project in common between them? Were there other people involved in this “Circle”?

 

Mgr. Caruana was the Bishop, who as such gave Mgr. De Piro his works, or approved them. Mr. Fons Maria Galea was a rich man who helped institutes, and who gave whatever was left over from his income at the end of the year to the Institutes. Besides, he helped Miss Curmi who was founding a Congregation of Sisters. Through his contact with the institutes, Mr. Galea came into contact with Mgr. De Piro. Mr. Galea was the pivot of the whole group. My father was a “benestant”.  As such he did not need to be employed to earn a living, had a lot of free time and could thus help a lot. The families of Mr. Galea and my father had their share also. Besides, my mother was a niece of the wife of Mr. Galea.

 

2.         You make reference to the Congregation founded by Miss Curmi and the Missionary Society founded by the S.G. Do you think that the relationship which developed between these two religious families was something the S.G., himself wanted, or did it develop on its own later on?

 

The origin of the foundation, of the Congregation of Jesus of Nazareth was totally Miss Curmi’s; her original idea was an orphanage, where girls could be brought up as good christians. In my opinion it was the “missionary idea that came from Mgr. De Piro. Circumstances brought the Congregation of Mgr De Piro and that of Miss Curmi very near each other; they had similar ideas and ideals, but they were intended to be separate Congregations.

Et sic hora 6.45p.m. absoluto praedicti testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis Ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlegi integram depositionem, data illi facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit.. Ipse ad Num. 21 addidit:

 

A document (an extract from a sentence of the Civil Court) lately came to my notice in which Mgr. De Piro was Respondent in a Civil Case relating to a benefice.

 

De cetero ipse eam ratam habuit et confirmavit his verbis :

 

Iuro me veritatem tota in mea depositione dixisse et confirmo omnia quae superius deposui.

 

A. Cachia Zammit, testis;

 

Dimisso autem teste, Delegatus Archiepiscapalis mandavit expediri citationem contra Paulus Xuereb et contra Justitiae Promotore ut assistant die 11 Novembris 1991 hoc in loco, hora 4.30p.m.

 

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Actum die 4 Novembris 1991.

 

 

Ita est.

 

Sac Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Centesima Quinta

 

 

           

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decima prima Novembris (sive 11-11-1991), hora 4.l0 pm., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Paulus Xuereb, testis a Postulatione inductus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Paul Xuereb testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestatianum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscapalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita ei proposita:

 

(Continuatur a Sessione centesima secunda)

 

17.       “On the feast of St. Paul ... he wanted us to join the rest of the Society and celebrate the feast at the Imdina home.” Up to the time we are mentioning, when did the Society have its homes? If only at Mdina (excepting the Oratory), can you describe this house? If there were others, did you ever visit them? In case, can you describe them? What did the Mdina home serve for? Perhaps there was some other stage of formation carried on in it? In case, which? Do you know how formation was imparted there? Can you give details?

 

“He celebrated the feast of St. Paul with such solemnity that he even wore the mitre.”  Did the solemnity consist only in the mitre? Or perhaps also in the devotion, collectedness and attention he showed? In some sermon he preached for the occasion? Do you mean to say that he did not usually wear the mitre on other occasions? How do you know this? If this was the case, do you know why he did not wear the mitre?

 

Besides the feast of St. Paul, did he preside in some other feast among you? In case, which? If not, why not? Did he preside in other celebrations held somewhere else? If’ yes, which? Was he invited for these celebrations or did he go on his own initiative?

“... with the rest of the Society.” Were there other occas­ions during the year when all the Society met together? What were these occasions? Did you consider you were a great number? Who made up the greatest part, the students, the priests or the brothers?

 

“We used to go there by train.” Was this the only means of transport? If not, what other means were there? Which one was used most by the people?

 

We used to go to the evening function only. The houses of the Society, at the time, were: this house at Mdina, which was part of a larger one, now used as a hotel; the Oratory; and St. Joseph’s Institute. I cannot give a description of the house. I remember that there were some ten members living there at the time. The Society then moved to another house at Sda. Celsi. In the house at Imdina lived the novices and the students. I an not in a position to make comparisons between these houses and the house at the Oratory. I cannot give details about the novitiate. I know the students went to study at St. Mark’s, at the Augustinian’s Priory (perhaps because it was near?).

 

I mentioned the mitre to show the solemnity of the occ­asion. I noticed Mgr. De Piro at prayer when he prayed with us. The way he prayed was very devout. I never noticed that Mgr. De Piro wore the mitre on other occasions of the Society. I do not know that Mgr. De Piro ever led solemn feasts.

 

No sermons were delivered on the occasion. After the function, the Second Vespers of the Solemnity, there was a drink, and we met the members of the Society who lived at Imdina. This was the only occasion when we members met all together. I calculate that in all, including us aspirants, we were about thirty, and mostly priests or those preparing for the priesthood.

 

The railway was the only means of public transport from B’Kara to Rabat.

 

18.       “I remember the building of St. Agatha’s.” Obviously you are referring to what today is the Central Home of the Society, at Rabat, in Malta. Do you remember exactly when its building started? Why did the S.G., begin to build just there? And what was the scope of this build­ing, that is, for what was it intended? Do you know if the building, projected for the moment, was completed at the time of the S.G? If not, do you know the reason? Perhaps because the S.G., lost interest? Perhaps because of other problems? In case, what were they? Do you know how he obtained the money for the building of this place?

 

Perhaps it was his own money or that of his family? Or perhaps offered by some benefactors? Perhaps he used to make appeals? In case, in what way were they made? As we are mentioning the raising of funds, can you say something about the trust the S.G., had in the Provid­ence of God? Did he ever talk to you about this subject?

“Archbishop Caruana had come for the laying of the foundation stone.” Do you think this ceremony deserved the presence of the Archbishop? Or perhaps the S.G., was the type who exaggerated? Do you know what were the relations between the S.G., and Archbishop Caruana? If they were great friends, do you know what brought about this friend­ship? Did you ever hear the S.G., talk about Archbishop Caruana? Did you ever hear Archbishop Caruana talk about the S.G? In case, on which occasions? What did he say?

 

“A procession was held from the chapel of St. Agatha to the place where the foundation stone was to be laid.” You also state that there were several Augustinian Fathers. Was there perhaps some contact between the latter and the S.G?  In case, what was this contact?  Weren’t there other religious?

 

You also mention Parish Priest Buhagiar who was also present for the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone. Do you know if there existed good relations between the S.G., and this Parish Priest? And with the other diocesan clergy? How do you know this?

 

“St. Agatha” is the Motherhouse of the Society, at Rabat. I remember when the foundation stone was laid. We made a procession from St. Agatha’s chapel to where the stone was to be laid. The stone was laid by His Grace Mgr. Mauro Caruana OSB. I do not remember that any speeches were del­ivered. Many people, especially from the vicinity, were present. I do not know exactly why this site was chosen. The aim of this House was to serve as a novitiate and for the students.  At the time of Mgr. De Piro only a small part was built, both because the project was large, and because Mgr. De Piro died soon after the first part was ready. Work was continued after his death.

From my superiors I came to know that Mgr. De Piro’s mother helped financially.  Besides, there were other benefactors who helped to carry out such a project. I never heard that Mgr. De Piro made appeals for money or made any fund raising activities.

 

Though I never heard Mgr De Piro speaking about Provid­ence, still, in my judgment, he must have been a man who believed in it.

 

It is usual for such occasions to invite the Bishop, as head of the Diocese. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

By “hafna” I do not mean “many” but “several”. There were contacts because, as I said above, the students of the Society studied at the Augustinian’s Priory. There may have been other religious.

 

I confirm what I said in my declaration, but now I do not remember all the details I wrote there.

 

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

19.       “While the building was in progress... I went there for eight days...I remember that Mgr. De Piro was there.” Where did you reside at that time if the building was not yet completed? Did the S.G., stay with you at the same place? In fact, you say that the S.G., was also there. Do you mean that he personally supervised the building? Why? Perhaps he knew about the building trade? Perhaps he did not trust the work of others?

 

“The Monsignor was not finicky and fussy...he was always satisfied with the meals.” Do you mean that he was satis­fied with whatever you gave him? That he was in no way pretentious? Did you expect him to be pretentious? Why? Perhaps because he was a Monsignor?  Also perhaps because he was the Founder of the Society? With what title did the members of the Society refer to him? Why?

 

“The Monsignor...was not finicky.” Did he, though, make corrections where necessary? How do you know this?

 

We lived in the part (ground floor) that was ready. We were three, a certain Peter Mizzi, Fr. Alwig Gatt SSP, and myself. We three lived in the same room. I served as cook under the direction of Fr. Gatt. I do not know why Mgr. De Piro stayed there for those eight days. I had occasion to notice that Mgr. De Piro ate the same food we ate.  Besides, he never lamented about the food I prepared.  At the time I was only a boy, and no expert cook.

 

In the Society we called Mgr. De Piro “Padre”.  It was a custom in the Society, and I do not know how it began. I know that Mgr. De Piro called some student to correct him privately. Of course I do not know details.

 

20.       You say that the S.G., died when he was conducting the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows in Hamrun. He collapsed during Benediction. Why was he conducting the procession? Perhaps because he had some particular con­nection with it? What was it?

How did you get to know about the death of the S.G? Who came to give you the news? Where were you at the moment of the news? What was your reaction and that of the others to the new? Perhaps it was received lightly? Or were you shocked? If it was the latter case, perhaps because you were not expecting it? If yes, perhaps because the S.G., was never ill? Didn’t he show signs of approaching death? If you were shocked, was it because he had close ties with you?  Or because you loved him? Was everyone shocked, or only you aspirants? What was the reaction of Fr. Michael Callus and Bro. Kalcidon? The reaction of the people in the neighbourhood of the Oratory? Of the other members of the Society?

Was there in Malta an atmosphere of mourning? You say that you went for his funeral. Can you still describe it? Is he still buried in the same place where he was first buried? If not, where is he now and in what way was the transport held? And when? When you say that he collapsed during the Benediction, do you mean that he died on the spot, or perhaps later on?

 

When Mgr. De Piro fell suddenly ill and died we were at the Oratory. Fr. Michael Callus SSP gave us the news that Mgr.De Piro fell suddenly ill. Fr. Spiteri SSP, as he later said, received a telephone call, called a car to take him to hospital where the S.G., died. He told us also that Mgr. De Piro had celebrated mass also as part of the feast at Hamrun that morning.

 

I remember that same evening we prayed for the repose of his soul. Fr. Michael was sorrowful. His death took us all by surprise. It never crossed my mind, at the time, that Mgr. De Piro suffered any illness. I felt the loss of Mgr. De Piro as if I had lost a member of the family. A short time later a Mass was celebrated for the repose of the soul at the S.G., to which this people of the vicinity of the Oratory attended.

 

The funeral mass was conducted by Mgr. Enrico Bonnici in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Institute. Prominent people were present. The chapel was filled to capacity. We students stayed in the gallery.

There were many cars that followed him to the Addolorata Cemetery, where the S.G., was buried in his family grave. We students went there also.

 

Later on the remains of the S.G., were transferred to St. Agatha’s.  This was many years later. I was not present.

 

Other details I cannot give.

 

21.       Today what is your judgment of the S.G? Do you regard him as a saint? If yes, for what reason? In the lifetime of the S.G., did you ever hear anyone referr­ing to him as a saint? If yes, whom, and on what occasion/s? What was his reputation at his death and immediately after? Do you think that today the S.G., enjoys the reputation of a saint? In what way is this reputation experienced?

 

In my opinion Mgr. De Piro lived a saintly life. He never searched his own comfort and dedicated himself to the children at the Institute. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

22.       Have you ever visited the tomb of the S.G? If yes, alone or with others? Can you describe the tomb? Do you remember if there were candles, flowers, ex voto, some inscription? If you went alone, did you find other people there? If yes, what were they doing? Do you pray through the intercession of the S.G? Do you know people who pray through the intercession of the S.G? Have you ever heard of some favour received through the intercession of the S.G? Can you give details?

 

I never visited the tomb of the S.G., at St. Agatha’s. I pray through the intercession of the S.G, and sometimes I feel that I obtained what I prayed for. For the rest I cannot answer.

 

Et sic hora 6.l5p.m. absoluto praedicti testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopali Ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlegi integram eius depositionem, data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit his verbis:

 

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

 

 

Paul Xuereb, testis;

 

Dimisso autem teste, Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mandavit espediri citationem contra Joannem Vella et contra Justitiae Promotore ut assistat die 18 Novembris, hoc in loco, hora 4.30p.m.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut seq­uitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopali

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 11 Novembris 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Centesima Sexta

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decima octava Novembris (sive 18-11-1991), hora 4.20p.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore, rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Joannes Vella, testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formula in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego John Vella testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

Personalia: I am Mr. John Vella, pensioner, son of Emmanuel and Maria neé Simiana, both dead, born at Hamrun, Parish of St. Gajetan, on 30 May l919, and now residing at Hamrun. I am a practicing Catholic. I am not a relative of the S.G., Mgr. Joseph De Piro.

 

1.         You have come to give evidence in this Cause of Beat­ification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mons. Guzeppi De Piro, Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. What made you come to give evidence? Was there perhaps someone who told you what evidence to give? What contact did you have with the S.G? When did your contact begin, and how long did it last?

 

Once, I was speaking to Fr. Joseph Bajada, former Promotor Justitiae in this Case of Beatification. Fr. Bajada contacted Fr. Tony Sciberras, the Postulator, who asked me to present a written declaration of what I knew.  This I did before the Tribunal at the Arch­bishop’s Curia, Valletta.

 

At twelve years of age, the mother of Fr. Michael Callus SSP asked me if I was interested in joining the Society of Mgr. De Piro. Then I started to visit the S.G., at Fra Diegu Institute on Wednesdays. I told him that I wished to enter his Society, but he told me I was still too young. I entered the Society, in fact, but after Mgr De Piro’s death.

 

2.         In the written information you have already presented, you refer to the S.G., as Monsignor. Do you know if this was just a title or if the S.G., was really a regular canon at the Cathedral of Malta? In the latter case, do you know of some duties connected with this office and how the S.G., performed them? Do you know when, how and why the S.G., became a Monsignor?

 

Mgr. De Piro was in fact a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter, but I do not know exactly what this office entailed. Nor do I know how, when or why he was nominated Monsignor.

 

3.         The surname De Piro indicates nobility. Was the De Piro family in fact noble? If yes, what did this nobility consist in? Do you mean to say that besides being noble they were also wealthy? Besides the S.G., did you know some other member of the De Piro family? Perhaps his father, his mother, some of his siblings? Can you give details about them? Can you say, at least, what was their repute among the people? How do you prove this?

 

I always heard that the De Piro family was a noble and wealthy family. Mgr. De Piro himself was wealthy. I heard this from my family circle, from my catechist, at the Soc­iety of the MUSEUM, amongst others. It was also said that Mgr. De Piro spent his money to aid his Society and the Institutes he directed. In my case, Fr. Callus had asked my father, who was in business, to pay my school fee of one pound a month when I frequented the Jesuits’ College.  But this was after Mgr. De Piro’s death.

 

I saw, once, the mother of the S.G., when she was brought to Fra Diegu Institute in a wheelchair. Mgr De Piro was with her. I know a nephew of the S.G, the son of the Marquis, Mgr. De Piro’s brother, at the Jesuits’ College.  He was known as “Budaqq”. Sometimes I saw the Marquis himself. The latter took an active part in politics, and was a member of Mr. Strickland’s party. I do not know any other member of the family.

 

The mother of the S.G., was known as a good woman.  The S.G., loved his mother very much, and the relations between them were very good.

 

I cannot give more details.

 

4.         In your information you talk about “...the Society of De Piro.” Do you mean that the S.G., founded some Society? In case, what was the name of this Society? Where and when did he found it? Was this a religious Society, i.e. its members made the vows and lived in a comm­unity? Was it composed of priests only?  Or perhaps also of brothers? Or perhaps only brothers? In case, which were the more numerous? Did the Society have a large num­ber of members at the time you are referring to? From which environments did they come? Did they all stay, or were there perhaps some/many who left? At what stage of their life in the Society did they leave? For what reason/s?

 

The S.G., founded a Society.  Its name at the time, if I remember well, was “Is-Socjeta’ ta’ San Paul” (St. Paul’s Society). They had a house at the Oratory, Birkirkara, which had been given, recently, to the Soc­iety. I do not know where the first house of the Soc­iety of St. Paul had been.

 

At that time I knew the Society as a Society of diocesan priests, who led a common life, and who had taken the vow to go to the missions. At that time the members of the Society wore the cassock as diocesan priests, but they wore also the crucifix.

 

The Society consisted of priests and brothers.  I do not know whether there were more priests or brothers. At the time there were not many members, and they were mostly students. It was said among the common people that many entered the Society just to get an education, or to become priest members and then become diocesan priests. I know of some cases myself. People used to say that these acted so because they found Mgr. De Piro “a kind hearted man”. In one case, at least, it does not seem that there was any trouble or difficulties.  This person left just before he was ordained priest, to become a diocesan one. This person was ordained bef­ore the death of Mgr. De Piro. He is now dead.

 

5.         What was the exact aim of this Society? If it was the missions, what did people understand by mission at that time? What did the S.G., mean by this? You mention Abyssinia as a place where Bro. Guzepp Caruana, one of the members of the Soc­iety, went. Do you know for what reason the latter went there and not to another place? You state that in the “Malta

 

Missjunarja” you read a lot about the Society and especially about Bro. Guzepp Caruana. Do you remember what was written about these? Do yow know if propaganda was made for the Society of De Piro in this journal? Who used to write this material? Besides Bro Guzepp were others also mentioned? What was said about them?

 

Besides the mission, do you know if the Society had other aims? Perhaps work in the children’s institutes? Also perhaps the teaching of catechism? If yes, in what way were these aims being achieved? If these were not the proper aims for which the Society was founded, do you know if the Society made its contribution in these areas of apostolate at the time of the S.G? If yes, in what way?

 

Do you think it was easy for the S.G., to found the Society? If not, what type of problems do you feel he had to face in its foundation? Perhaps lack of comprehension from the Hierarchy?  Or from his colleagues? Or from the people? Or lack of vocations? Or of adequate places, money, formation of members?

 

It had always been the idea of Mgr. De Piro to found a Missionary Society. This was common knowledge. When I asked Mgr. De Piro to enter his Society, I had this in mind, though the S.G., himself never spoke to me about this.

 

My idea of a missionary, at that time, was that of a per­son who went abroad to convert people. I think Mgr. De Piro had the same idea. I know that Fra (Brother) Guzepp Caruana was sent to Abyssinia, but I do not know why. I do not remember what was written in the “Malta Missjunarja” about Fra Guzepp. And I cannot give more details.

 

I know that the members of St. Paul’s Society took care of St. Joseph Institute at Hamrun, and St. Joseph in Gozo. But it had never crossed my mind that this was one of the aims of the Society.  It was always said that even those who took care of the Institutes were to go to the missions.

 

I do not know that the members of the Society taught cat­echism.  Although catechism was taught at the Oratory, Birkirkara, but this was done by lay catechists.

 

I do not know what difficulties the S.G., had in founding the Society, if he had any.

 

6.         “The mother of Fr. Michael Callus told me to go and find Mons. De Piro at Fra. Diego’s Institute, where he regularly attended on Wednesdays.”  What was Fra Diego’s Institute? Whom did it receive in it, and how many people lived in this place? What conn­ections had the S.G., with this Institute? If perhaps because he was its director, do you know what were the duties connected with this office? Perhaps he had to see the registers and the expenses incurred? Or perhaps he himself was responsible for everything connected with the daily life of the children and the maintenance of the place; clothes, food, recreation, education, trades, etc? Do you know some details about the life of children in these Institutes at the time of the S.G? From where do you know this?

 

However, you say that “he was in charge of diverse Inst­itutes.” Can you say which were the other Institutes in his care, and in what way he took care of them? Perhaps also as director?  Do you know how he performed his duties in all these Institutes? How do you know this?  Do you know how he became director of these institutes?  Who had chosen him, and why?

 

 

Fra Diego’s Institute was an orphanage for girls. These girls were accepted when they were children.  Some of them remained there even when they grew up.  Some are still there. I know they were many, but I cannot give a number. I know that the Bishop entrusted institutes in Mgr. De Piro’s care. I presume that as director he had to see to the needs, spiritual and material, of the children, the upkeep of the place, etc. I know that the members of the institutes, even the Sisters in charge, begged from door to door. As a child I felt that Mgr. De Piro was entrusted with the Institutes because, since he was rich, he could help financially.

 

The children were taught at the Institute itself; at that time these children did not go to public schools. They were also taught embroidery.

 

I do not know why Mgr. De Piro went to Fra Diego’s Institute on Wednesdays, nor do I know whether he went there on other days or not. Nor do I know anything about the daily running of the Institute.

 

I know also that Mgr. De Piro was director of St. Joseph’s Institute at Hamrun and St. Joseph’s Institute in Gozo. I know that the Institute at Hamrun had a band — my grand­mother used to hire it for the feast of St. Gajetan at Hamrun, and she used to give them five pounds, which at that time were quite a good sum of money.

I cannot give any more details.

 

7.         You say that the S.G., “… used to come to Fra Diego regularly every Wednesday.” Do you think that this reg­ularity reflected his character? In fact, what can you say about this? Can you say that he was a person who was punctual, methodical, ordered, disciplined and had a sense of duty? If yes, is it possible for you to give some other examples from his life to show this?

 

Mgr. De Piro was at Fra Diego’s Institute regularly every Wednesday; I never went and did not find him, though I never made an appointment; and the mother of Fr Callus always told me to go on Wednesday, implying that on that day I would surely find him. His clothes, cleanliness etc., also showed that he was a person who was ordered in his habits. He carried out his duties very well. My overall impression was that he was precise, methodical, ordered and discip­lined.

 

8.         “I did this and began to go to confess to him and talk with him about the vocation.”  What can you say about the S.G., as a confessor? Did you regard him as a strict person, or a moderate one? Or per­haps also that he did not make any fuss? Did he make some exhort­ation in the confessions? Do you remember what he emph­asized most? Was the S.G., well known as a confessor? Did he have some particular places where he went to hear con­fessions? Was there some category of people who regularly sought him for confession? Do you know if he was well known as a spiritual director?

 

“… and I talked to him about the vocation. I remember that I even told him that I wished to go to the mission.” You say that you used to go to him “regularly”. How often did you go?  Was it he who wanted you to go to see him so frequent­ly, or did you go of your own accord? If it was he, why?

 

“... received me and listened to me patiently.” Do you remember how long these visits lasted? Did you talk to him about the vocation? Do you remember what he used to tell you about this subject? Do you know if he talked to you about the missions, and in what way he did this? Did he ever give you a hint that he too wished to go to the missions, or that perhaps he was preparing for this project?

 

“Receive me and listen to me patiently.” It appears that this impressed you so much that you also refer to the fact that he “had a lot of other work...he did not appear to be in haste when I went to talk to him.” Did you ever reflect why he listened to you patiently? Do you know if this was his attitude with everyone who went to him, or perhaps only with you? While he listened to you “… with patience …”, did you feel that he understood what you were telling him? Was he the type who was able to get down to your level? When he talked to you was he clear and direct in his words, or did he seem to avoid to get straight to the point? “To go to talk to the S.G., for a period of time.” Was this part of the procedure for one to be adm­itted into the Society?  Or were you the only one regarding this?

 

I correct myself; I did never confess to Mgr. De Piro.  My regular confessor was a Canon from Birkirkara who came every Saturday to the MUSEUM centre at Hamrun, which I attended. Therefore I cannot speak from personal experience about his qualities as confessor. Nor can I answer the other questions related to Mgr. De Piro as a confessor.

 

Ex parte iam provisum. My meetings with Mgr. De Piro lasted only a few minutes. I myself left. The only thing I remember is that he used to tell me that I was still young. Many times I went just to make myself present. Mgr. De Piro took interest in me; he never showed that he was in a hurry, although he had a lot of work to do. I felt that he understood me.

 

Looking back, I now feel that in fact I had no vocation at all, and when Mgr. De Piro told me that I was still too young (it was not usual for boys of twelve to be admitted as aspirants at the Oratory; usually they were about four­teen years old) he referred not only to my age, but also to the fact that my vocation had not strong roots.

It was not necessary to meet Mgr. De Piro regularly to be admitted to the Society.

 

Et sic hora 6.50p.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae, animo illud resumendi die 25 Novembris, hora 4.15p.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

John Vella, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopali, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

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

 

Actum die 18 Novembris 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius.


 

Sessio Centesima Septima

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero vigesima quinta Novembris (sive 25-11-1991), hora 4.15 p.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in sp­ecie Servi Dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Joannes Vella, testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego John Vella testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quam cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

9.         “I also add that although De Piro was at a time when he wished to find members, he did not seem to show excit­ement and haste to admit me. On the contrary he told me I was still young.”  Why do you say “that he wished to find members”! How do you know that he had this wish?  Perhaps he told you exp­ressly about this? Do you think that only in your case he did not show haste, or was it like this with every young one? What was the prescribed age for admittance into the Society? Before admitting someone into the Society did he consider only the age? Didn’t he consider, for example, the matur­ity of the individual that is how much one realized what one was undertaking! Do you know of any cases when, even if children were of the required age, they were not accepted?

 

At that time there were just a handful of members. Even as a boy of thirteen I could realize that a person who had an aim, i.e. to found a Society, would like to have more members. Besides, I could see Mgr. De Piro’s happ­iness when Fr. Wistin Grech celebrated his First Solemn High Mass. There were also children of my age who had been accepted, though Mgr. De Piro told me that I was too young.

 

From the group of my age no one continued the course and became member of the Society, though two became members of other religious orders, viz, one a Carmelite and another a Dominican. This was after Mgr. De Piro’s death.

 

There was no fixed age for one to be accepted as an asp­irant. I believe that besides age, those responsible also took into consideration one’s progress in studies. But I have no concrete cases to give.

 

10.       “After this period he suggested that I should speak to Fr. Michael Callus ...”  Was the speaking to Fr. Michael also part of the process of admittance, or did he send you to him simply because, as you yourself state, you lived near his mother’s house and therefore you were acquainted with him? Exactly who was Fr. Michael? Did he have some particular office in the Society?

 

You also mention that, before you joined, you started to go to “… the Oratory of Birkirkara every Sunday and spend the day there with other youths like me.” What was this Oratory? What activities were held in it? Was going to the Oratory also part of the process of admittance into the Society? Would there be many other youths? How did you spend the day together?

 

“At this time I lost contact with the Monsignor although I remember that at times he came to see us at the Orat­ory.” Are you referring to the time before you began the Aspirandate, or during the aspirandate? In each case, where did the S.G., come from? In what did his visit consist?

 

I do not believe that Mgr. De Piro sent me to Fr. Callus because he was a neighbour, but because he was superior at the Oratory. Fr. Michael Callus used to help me in my studies; I went on Sundays for a whole day, when­ever Fr. Callus invited me, and it was on these occas­ions that he helped me in my studies.

 

Fr. Michael Callus SSP was Director of the Oratory, was the person responsible for the aspirants of the Society, and, at that time, I considered him (and I believe others also) as second to Mgr. De Piro in the Society.

 

At the Oratory there was the teaching of catechism.  This was done by lay people. Other activities for young men were held, such as slide features and theatrical performances. I do not know that the student aspirants took part in these activities. There was also a part reserved for members of the Society. Beside myself, I remember a certain Victor Tedesco who, like me, sometimes came on Sundays. While there, I heard Mass and studied.  Besides we had recreation, playing football. At midday I ate with the aspirants and the other members of the community. The food was good, and comp­ared well with the food I ate at home. The aspirants were happy there.  They encouraged me to continue, but used to tell me that I had to study harder to be able to enter.

 

There was also the Rosary and Sacramental Benediction, in the evening.  These were not only for the members, but also for the public.

 

In my case, my Sunday visits were part of my preparation to enter the Society. But I do not know of others, except, perhaps Victor Tedesco, whom I mentioned above.

 

The only occasion when I remember that Mgr. De Piro came to the Oratory was on the occasion of the Solemn High Mass of Fr. Wistin Grech SSP. On this occasion there was a dinner held for which the family of Fr. Grech was invited. I can still remember the happiness of Mgr. De Piro, but I cannot give more details.

 

When I entered the aspirandate Mgr. De Piro was already dead.

 

11.       “After a short time that I went to the Oratory every week, I joined the aspirants but I lived with my family. Even at this stage we were under the care of Fr. Mikiel.”  Can you explain this fact more clearly? Was this your case only, or was it the normal procedure of the life of each aspirant? If it was the procedure for everyone, why do you think it was so? Perhaps to think better about your vocation?  Or perhaps there wasn’t enough room for you? Who had decided that you did the aspirandate in this way? What exactly was the aspirandate? Did you have some ob­ligations to perform? Did you have some particular uniform? Did the joining as an aspirant mean that you were committed to the Society? If yes, in what sense? Do you feel that Fr. Mikiel was the right person for you?

 

Beside myself, there was a certain Manuel Caruana, now dead, and another John Gauci, now married and residing in Australia. Another was Lawrence Caruana, who later became a Carmelite; I do not know whether he is still living or not. We four, though admitted as aspirants, still lived at home. I believe that the reason was that there was no space for us at the Oratory. I do not know, however, whether this was the normal procedure or not. At that time I was given no rule of life (meditation and other acts of piety); I was only expected to go to St Aloysius College and study.

I cannot speak about the aspirandate at the time of Mgr. De Piro, since I did not live at the Oratory. I noticed, however, that the aspirants were happy, they lived as a family, and I noticed no difference between one and another.

 

Et sic hora 5.30p.m. suspensum est examen dicti testis ob tarditatem horae, animo illud resumendi die 2 Dicembris, hora 4.l5p.m., hoc in loco. Ad quem effectum moniti fuerunt tam idem testis quam Justitiae Promotore ut compareant dictis die et hora.

 

Deinde Ego Notarius eidem testi perlegi eius depositionem data ei facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit iuramento et in fidem se subscripsit.

 

John Vella, testis;

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis rnandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur.

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis. Ego Notarius de mandato Delegato Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum confeci in forma et in fidem me subscripsi ac meum Notariatus sigillum apposui

 

Actum die 25 Novembris 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Centesima Octava

 

 

 

 

Idem die, hora 5.40p.m., in eadem loco, coram iisdem ufficialibus Tribunali comparuit D.nus Arthur Vella S.J., testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Arthur Vella S.J. testis iuravi.

 

et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia: I am Rev. Arthur Vella, of the Society of Jesus, born on 27 September 1930 at Zejtun, son of the late Anthony and of M’Dolores, also Vella. I am a member of the Maltese Province of the Society of Jesus.

 

1.         You came to give evidence in this Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God (S.G) Mgr Joseph De Piro, Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. What made you come and give your evidence? Was there somebody who told you what evidence to give? Did you have any direct contact with the S.G? If no, from where did you bring the evidence about the S.G?

 

I came to give evidence because I have been asked by Fr. Tony Sciberras MSSP. I have not been in anyway influenced by anybody. I do not know the S.G., personally.  What I know is from my maternal uncle, Fr. John Vella, who was the first priest member of the Society. He left because of family financial difficulties, but primarily because when he entered the Society he had in mind that it was to be a Society of priests who were to work among Maltese migrants. When it was decided that it was to be a congre­gation with vows, my uncle was afraid, especially of the vow of poverty, considering the financial state of the family, and especially the actual difficulty to live up to the vow. Mgr. De Piro was ready to help the family of my uncle, but the monthly allowance was not enough.

According to my uncle, he knew three saintly people: Mgr. Gorg Preca, Fr. Gorg Bugeja, (a director of St. Joseph’s Institute, Hamrun, prior to Mgr. De Piro), and Mgr. De Piro himself.

 

2. What do you remember about what you heard about the S.G?  Possibly, see whether the witness can also speak about the virtues of the S.G.

 

My uncle used to say that Mgr. De Piro was a very patient, humble and fatherly person. Mgr. De Piro always waited for the right moment to correct; he never corrected at the times of examination, because of the tension of the moment. The students read, or heard the reading of the “Trattato della Perfezione Cristiana,” of Fr. Alfonso Rodriguez S.J. He remembered in an especial way the section on correction, especially because they saw it reflected in the way Mgr. De Piro himself corrected them (This is my reflection when I remember how my uncle used to speak about correction). Mgr De Piro was a man who led a simple life, very near to the students of his Congregation.

 

My uncle used to say that Mgr. De Piro had been sick with TB and had gone to Switzerland for cure. My uncle used to apply iodine to Mgr. De Piro’s back.

 

The S.G., was very close to the students. He used to speak about his family. He told them that his mother always insisted that each member of the family learnt a trade; Mgr De Piro was a tinsmith. This was for financ­ial security in case the family became bankrupt.

 

Mgr. De Piro monitored the newspapers for the Bishop.  There were many anticlerical papers at the time.

 

3.         Can you give a judgment about the sanctity of the S.G?

 

From what I heard from family members I deduce that Mgr De Piro was a man of God. My uncle always spoke favorably of the S.G., and never said anything negative regarding his moral character. As I said earlier, he considered him as a saint. The S.G., was a man with great self-control.

 

4.         In the Congregation of which you are a member (S.J.) did you ever hear whether the S.G., had any particular contact with this same Congregation, or with any partic­ular members. In case, what were these contacts?

 

I know from my uncle that the S.G., sent the Aspirants of the Society to study at St. Aloysius College, run by the Jesuits. From the very beginning they offered the S.G., to give tuition free of charge to the members of his Society.

 

Et sic hora 6.30p.m., absoluto praedicti testis examine de mandato Delegatus Archiepiscopalis Ego Notarius ad actum alta et intelligibili voce testi perlexi integram eius depositionem, data illi facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit his verbis.

 

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

 

Fr. Arthur Vella SJ,  testis;

 

 

Dimisso autem teste Delegatus Archiepiscopalis mandavit expedire citationem contra Joannem Vella et contra Justitiae Promotore ut assistat die 2 Decembris, hoc in loco, hora 4.30p.m.

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis, clausis et sigillo ipsius obsignatis interrogatoriis cum testium depositionibus, mandavit mihi ut de praemissis instrumentum conficerem:

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

Supra quibus omnibus et singulis ut supra gestis, Ego Notarius ad actum de mandato Delegato Archiepiscopalis hoc publicum instrumentum conficerem ut in fidem me subscripsi meum Notariatus sigillum apposui:

 

Actum die 25 Novembris 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Notarius ad actum.


 

Sessio Centesima Nona

 

 

 

 

Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo primo, die vero decimatertia Januarii (sive 13-1-1992), hora 4.25p.m., coram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi Dei Mons. Joseph De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit D.nus Joannes Vella, testis a Postulatione inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra.

 

Ego John Vella testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis, solisque remanentibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Notarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis, qui ita respondit ad quaesita:

 

12.       “It is to be said that we aspirants all attended secondary school at St. Aloysius College, B’Kara.” What was this College? Did everyone attend there? Up to which form did you attend? Did you pay fees to att­end? Why did you go to this College and not to another one? Perhaps because the S.G., had some particular link with it or with the Fathers who ran it? Did the S.G., follow your studies? In what way?

You say nothing else about the formation in the Society! Can you give more details about life in the aspirandate and after the completion of the aspirandate?

 

St. Aloysius College was run by the Jesuits. It was expected of us to be of good example to the other students. It was a secondary school, and accepted all stud­ents, not only those who intended to continue for the priesthood. In my case it was my father who paid the school fees when I was an aspirant. The fee was one pound a month, except for other extras. I am of the idea that it was only my father who paid the school fees, and I think it was Mgr De Piro who paid the fees of my companions; but I have no proof of this.  I cannot say why we went to St. Aloysius College, and not elsewhere.

 

It was Fr. Michael Callus who saw to it that we carried out our studies well.  This I know from personal experience. I point out that Mgr. De Piro died soon after I became an aspirant.

 

When I used to attend the Oratory on weekends I noticed that there was a chapel in which we paid a visit before meals. There was reading during meals. But I note that I was never a boarder during the aspirandate. Like me there were two others.

 

13.       “The Monsignor was a tall and stout person.” Did he appear to be healthy? Do you mean that he showed no signs of illness, and that you do not remember that he was ill before? Was he neat in his person? Perhaps he paid too much attention to his person (washing, perfumes, care of his hair)? How did he keep his clothes? Perhaps always elegant, smart, fine clothes? Did he wear some particular distinctive mark as a Monsignor? Or did he perhaps wear clothes, which were soiled, torn and old? In the first Solemn Mass of Fr. Wistin Grech SSP you say you held the S.G’s mitre. Do you mean that the S.G., liked to wear special vestments during the church ceremonies?

 

“He was a very thoughtful person. He was serious and taciturn.” Do you mean to say that he appeared different from other priests and monsignors of his time? Don’t you think, however, that his seriousness and thoughtfulness alienated people from him?

“...When he met us children he liked to cover our heads with his hands, as if to embrace us.” Do you think that this contradicts what you have just said before? How do you explain this attitude towards the children? Did he act in this way with all children?  Even with those of the Institutes? Is it possible that he treated children in this way because with them he felt more free? Is it possible that he suffered from an inferiority complex? Did you ever notice anything exaggerated in the way he treated children?

 

“I remember he liked to accent the last letter of the word when he was talking.” Why did he do this? In, what language did he speak with you?  Always? Did you ever hear him speak in another language? Which, and in case, on which occasions? Did he show much love to the language of his Country?

 

Mgr De Piro gave the impression of being a healthy man.  I never heard that he was sick of anything. He was clean and tidy, but without any exaggerations. His cassock, etc., were like those of other normal ordinary priests.

 

I believe that Mgr De Piro wore his Monsignor’s paraph­ernalia during the First Solemn High Mass of Fr. Wistin Grech SSP because the occasion so required.  But during the dinner that foll­owed even the way he spoke and behaved showed that Mgr De Piro had no pretensions - nay that he was a humble man.

 

However one could easily recognize that Mgr De Piro was a cultured man. As for his nobility, I came to know about it only because one of the students at St. Aloysius Coll­ege was his nephew, and it was said that this student was from a noble family. I saw Mgr De Piro as a recollected man, because he was not loquacious, but I attribute this to his nature. But he was not of a strange character; he knew how to behave according to the occasion. This explains also his attit­ude towards us children. I precise that he had this att­itude towards me, and from this I inferred that he treated other children in the same manner.

 

I think that Mgr De Piro placed the accent on the last syllable because it was his nature to do so. He spoke to me in Maltese, and I never heard him speaking or pr­eaching in another language.

For the rest I cannot answer.

 

14.       “Above all, however, he was a man of God.” What exactly do you mean by this? What else can you say to prove that the S.G., was really a man of God? Perhaps you noticed something particular in the way he prayed? Some particular devotions to some saints? Did he make some sacrifices and penances? Some extraordinary things? In this regard, you compare the S.G., with “Fr. Gorg Preca.” Can you say briefly who this priest was? Why have you com­pared the S.G., with him and not with others? What did you notice common to both?

 

I consider Mgr. De Piro as a man of God because of:

 

1)         the foundation of the Society of St. Paul, set up for the good of the missions. The responsibilities this entailed were great, but Mgr De Piro undertook them voluntarily.

 

2)         The fact that he took care of so many orphans in Institutes, and he passed his free time with them.

 

3)         The few sermons I heard him deliver also impressed me as striking more the heart than the mind (love, devotion, etc).

But I never saw Mgr De Piro praying (except during some liturgical functions).  Nor do I know of any particular devotion he had, or of any corporal penances he made. I felt the same spiritual attraction to both Mgr Gorg Preca (founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine, popularly known as MUSEUM, a priest who died in the odour of sanctity, and whose beatification process is in progress, and to Mgr De Piro. I was a member of the Society founded by Mgr Preca.  I noticed that both of them, when talking to me, did not look straight into my eyes, but kept them lowered. They both founded Societies for the salvation of souls.

 

15.       You indicate that the S.G., died, or at least coll­apsed, whilst taking part in the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows in Hamrun. Do you know if he liked to take part in several occasions like these?  If yes, was he invited, or did he present himself for it? In the former case, perhaps he was invited by the parish priest? If yes, was there some particular reason for this?

 

You say that “… before Benediction...he preached a short sermon about a spiritual thought.” Did the S.G., preach? If yes, often? On which occasions? To whom? Did he like to preach on some particular theme/s?

 

Mgr. De Piro was not the type who liked to lead process­ions. It was said that Fr. Gejt Mifsud (who had recently died and was parish priest of Hamrun at the time when he died) had invited him to lead the procession. Mgr De Piro was a friend of Fr. Gejt Mifsud. I do not remember that he had ever led the procession before; there were others who had celebrated the feast. This procession was held in September, and it was only recently that it started being celebrated. I have a faint idea that Mgr De Piro once preached the Lenten Sermons (a sermon every Sunday during Lent) at St. John’s Co Cathedral. In that case, he must have been known to be a good preacher, since only good preachers were invited to del­iver these sermons. I cannot say more than this. Before the Sacramental Benediction, on the day he died, Mgr De Piro had delivered a short sermon on Our Lady of Sorrows, and had mentioned Fr Gejt Mifsud.

 

16.       “Mons. De Piro was well known for his love for child­ren; it was said that he left all his wealth for the Inst­itutes.”  By “children” do you mean only those of the Institutes, or the children in general? What was the wealth the S.G., left for the In­stitutes? From where did you get this detail?

“His charity was not only with the children; I have the idea that when he went to Fra Diegu there where many people waiting to talk to him.” When you say “charity” do you mean giving of money? If yes, do you mean that he gave money to everyone who asked him? If yes, without bothering as to who was genuine or not? If the charity did not regard only money, in what else then did it consist?

 

 

The fact that he lived with orphans and dedicated his time to them, showed his love towards children. That he gave his substance (gid) to the Institutes was some­thing everybody spoke about.  But how people knew this I do not know. By “karita” (charity) towards those who visited the S.G., at Fra Diego Institute, I do not mean only alms (which I do not know whether Mgr De Piro gave them or not), but help in general (good advice, admitting children to Institutes, etc).

 

17.       At the end of your information, you mention Strick­land. Evidently you are referring to Lord Gerald Stri­ckland, leader of a political party in Malta, who also had diverse arguments with the Church.  “Some people even said that … he himself (the S.G) supported Strickland’s party.” How did they come to this conclusion? You say that the S.G., was never invol­ved directly in politics. You also state that “… it was said that he settled matters and brought peace (between the Church and Strickland). Do you today confirm that the S.G., was never involved directly in politics? Who said that he brought peace? What exactly did he do to bring peace? In what way did he get involved if he had nothing to do with politics?

 

The family of the S.G., had the fame of belon­ging to Lord Strickland’s party, but I do not know, nor have I ever heard, that Mgr De Piro sided with any party. I confirm that it was said, and it was commonly known, that Mgr De Piro arranged the peace agreement between the Church and Lord Strickland. But I do not know how people came to know this. No one ever denied these rumours. Other details I cannot give.

 

I do not think that converting a man and making him return to the Church is taking part in politics; Mgr De Piro on this occasion simply carried out his duties as a priest.

 

18.       You refer to the death of the S.G. Do you know exactly when his death occurred? Why was he invited to conduct that particular procession? Did he show some strange signs during the procession? Why did he appear moved during the sermon which you say he preached before Benediction, and in which he mentioned Fr. Gejt Mifsud, parish priest of Hamrun, who had died a short time before? You say that when he collapsed there was bewilderment in the church. Can you give some more details?

 

You do not say anything about the funeral mass. Do you remember some details about it? Where, when and how was it celebrated? Who attended? Who officiated? You say that he had a private funeral. Why was it private? Perhaps because he himself left written instructions to this effect? Or perhaps his own people or the members of the Society wanted it so? Is he today still buried in the same place? If not, where is he buried now?  When was he transported?  And in what way was he transported? Who took the initiative of this transport, and why?

 

Mgr De Piro died on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. For details cfr. my answers above. During the procession Mgr De Piro showed no strange or abnormal signs. The funeral Mass was held at St. Joseph’s Institute. There were many people present. But details I do not remember. I do not know why the funeral was private. Even at the Addolorata Cemetery there were many present. He was buried there. The corpse was later transported to St. Agatha’s, Rabat, the Motherhouse of the Society.

 

19.       You say that when the S.G., died, there was great mourning in Hamrun. Do you know if his death was felt in other parts of Malta?  Do you remember what people said about the S.G., in those days? Do you know if reports appeared in the newspapers?  In case, what was written about him? Can you say that the S.G., enjoyed the repute of a saint, both in his lifetime and at his death? In case, in what way can you prove this? What do you say about the time between his death and today?  Do people still talk about him, and in case, is he still reputed as a saint? How do you prove this?

 

I remember that there was public mourning at Hamrun, but I do not know what happened elsewhere. The people commented on how much Mgr De Piro loved children, and that he had spent everything in favour of orphans and of the Society of St. Paul. At that time I read only the “Lehen is-Sewwa.” There were comments about the S.G., but I do not remember the contents. At the time of his death, Mgr De Piro did not have the fame of sanctity as Mgr Gorg Preca.

 

20.       Have you ever visited his grave? If yes, alone or accompanied. Can you describe the grave? Do you remem­ber if there were candles flowers, ex voto, some writing? If you went alone, did you find other visitors there? If yes, what were they doing?

 

Do you pray through the intercession of the S.G? Do you know people who pray through his intercession? Have you ever heard of favours received through the intercession of the S.G? In case, can you give details?

 

I never visited the tomb of the S.G, but I prayed through the intercession of the S.G.  My prayer is that someone of my nephews becomes a priest.  I do not know whether others pray through his intercession or not. Nor have I ever heard of any graces obtained through his intercession.  I believe that Mgr. De Piro led a saintly life.

 

Et sic hora 6.45p.m. absoluto praedicti testis examine de mandato Delegati Archiepiscopalis, Ego Notarius alta et intelligibili voce testi perlegi integram eius depositionem, data illi facultate addendi, minuendi vel corrigendi si necessario reputaverit. Ipse eam confirmavit his verbis.

 

Juro me veritatem in tota mea depositione dixissi et confirmo omnia quae superius deposui.

 

John Vella, testis;

 

 

Deinde idem Delegatus Archiepiscopalis rnandavit mihi ut de praesissis instrumentum conficerem ac sese subscripsit cum Justitiae Promotore ut sequitur:

 

 

Fr. Aloysius Pisani OCD, Delegatus Episcopalis

Fr. Paul Gatt OP, Promotor Justitiae

 

 

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

 

 

Actum die 13 Januarii 1991.

 

Ita est.

 

Sac. Carmelus Farrugia, Notarius


 

Sessio Centesima Decima

 

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Anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo nonogesimo secundo, die vero vigesima septima Januarii (sive 27-l-92), hora 4.30p.m. caram infrascripto Delegato Archiepiscopali in praesenti Causa Canonizationis super vita et virtutibus in specie Servi dei Mons. Josephi De Piro, pro Tribunali sedente in Domo Cleri ‘Christus Sacerdos’, Birkirkara, praesentibus Justitiae Promotore rite citato, meque Notario, comparuit Rev.dus Dom.us Alexander Bonnici OFM Conv., testis cx officio inductus et citatus, cui delatum fuit iuramentum iuxta formulam in Secunda Sessione adhibitam, quod ille statim praestitit et sese subscripsit ut infra:

 

Ego Fr. Alexander Bonnici OFM Conv., testis iuravi.

 

Quo iuramento praestito, clausis ianuis solisque remanientibus Judice Delegato, Justitiae Promotore ac dicto teste, Ego Natarius exhibui plicum interrogatoriorum cum testium attestationum, quem cum Delegatus Archiepiscopalis recognovisset clausum et illaesum de eius mandato aperui et statim deventum est ad examen dicti testis.

 

Personalia:   I am Rev. Fr. Alexander Bonnici OFM Conv., member of the Ordo Fratrum Minorum Conventualium,Provinciae Melitensis, born on 28 January 1936 at Floriana, son of the late Salvatore and the late Rita nee’ Galea.

 

Fr. Alexander Bonnici presented  the following Document:

 

The impressions about Mgr. G. De Piro

shared by Fr Alexander Bonnici OFM Conv.,

biographer of the Servant of God.

 

 

I couldn’t have known Mgr De Piro personally. In fact he died in 1933, while I was born in 1936. But in 1976, Fr Stanley Tomlin, as Superior General of the Society of St. Paul, expressed to me his wish, and that of the Society of which Mgr De Piro is Founder. He wished that I write a complete and documented biography of Mgr De Piro. In fact, this biography was published in two volumes. The first was printed in 1982 with the title: Mgr De Piro: Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. The second volume was printed in 1986 with the title: Mgr Joseph De Piro: In Every Sphere of the Story of Malta. An abridged version was published in English, having 473 pages and entitled: Joseph De Piro: Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul.

 

Indirect Witness.

 

Until I started writing his biography, I didn’t know Mgr De Piro except in a very superficial way. But as soon as I put the material in order and spoke to those who knew him closely, I understood that I was face to face with an extraordinary man. He wasn’t only a great benefactor of Malta, because of his help in many social services. He was also a priest of a deep spirituality. His spirituality is not as visible as much as the work he undertook, or works which were directed by him. These works needed a lot of dedication, and so they were quite visible. But his spirituality was the direct relationship he had with God. It was his hidden life. He never spoke about himself. This is evident from his behaviour. But even when not talking, those who used to meet him realised that they were in the presence of a man of firm principles and that he would change God for nothing. The dignity of his behaviour might have sometimes kept people from approach­ing him. But contact with him soon changed one’s idea. Soon people would realise what a kind hearted person he was. He would never slip away whenever he could help.

 

It is evident that mine is an indirect impression of him. But I came to know De Piro, you might say, directly.  I heard him speak when I read his letters, even those of his childhood and youth. I noticed his spirituality in a direct way when I studied his writings in which he made strong promises for himself. He even presented a kind of consecrated life for those who chose him as their spiritual father.

 

I also add that those few witnesses who are still alive couldn’t have known De Piro deeply in his spirituality. They were still youths when Mgr De Piro died. Those who knew what Mgr De Piro meant as a spiritual person are individuals like Ursola De Piro (his mother), Archbishops Pietru Pace and Mauru Caruana, Mgr Joseph Coselli (rector of Cap­ranica College in Rome), the Jesuit Fr. Vincent Sammut (who helped him with his advice), Mgr Emmanuel Vassallo and Fr Gorg Bugeja (directors of St. Joseph’s Institute) and the Augustinian Fr Emmanuel Bugeja. With these, De Piro was quite open. The documentation we have about these individuals shows us what a great esteem they had towards Mgr De Piro. But it was not possible for them to give evidence in his Cause, because almost all of them died before him. In. my writings, I brought forward many of their impressions about him. They helped him with advice and other ways because they had faith in him and they were convinced of his sanct­ity.

 

Genuine Spirituality.

 

I admire De Piro very much as a spiritual person because he never did anything so that the others might praise him. While he never sought to become popular in what he did, those who lived close to him used to consider him as a man of rectitude and precision. He always tried to be methodic so that everything he did would be in order. He was a man of great sensitivity. Not only did he help in every way, but he was in empathy with the others. He had a really sensitive heart. He became poor to help others. But he didn’t want that there be some relative who acc­used him of any injustice in what he used to give. For that reason he was always aware to give from what belonged to him, and nothing from what belonged to his relatives. More than anyone else, he used to ask help from his mother. He used to beg her unceasingly for the orphans and the poor. She used to call him “my pauper”.  When at a time of poverty he learnt that in the Cathedral, while he would be saying Mass, some boy would take from the bread which his mother would prepare for him, De Piro wanted that she prepare a bigger portion so that the children would have more from where to take.

 

I consider him a man of great spirituality and of an end­less kindness, even in the way in which he used to work for vocations. As a Founder, Mgr De Piro was troubled because his Society was not growing in number. For those who entered the Society, he used to do everything. His wealth served for their living. It was a sorrowful moment for him when Fr John Vella, the first priest member, left him to become a diocesan priest. But De Piro in no way broke his relationship with him. He continued helping him even after his leaving the Society ... because of his being in poverty. He also failed in his first attempt to help a foreigner enter the Society.  He helped as much as he could a certain youth from Sicily in whom he had hope. But, when his relatives told him that he was not coming to Malta, and that he was not going to become a priest, De Piro was not sorry that he had helped him. He didn’t even take any notice of those nuns who tried to persuade him not to help such youths. He used to look at only one thing: that of doing good.

 

But, regarding vocations, he was utterly happy with Br Joseph Caruana. The latter not only persevered in the Society, but was also a religious to his liking. Mgr De Piro’s happiness and satisfaction were great because the beginning of the project he wished most became a reality in Br Joseph. De Piro, in his love towards God, was very eager to have a missionary Society. In his time, only one member, Br Joseph, went to the missions, and never again met Mgr De Piro. But he was most dear to him. He became more encouraged by Caruana so that, together with others, he would work for the missions. This work remained until the end of his life. We know that he died at a time when he was preparing to go to Africa together with two miss­ionaries of his Society.

 

Exactness.

 

Mgr De Piro was a man who wrote a lot, while keeping a copy of what he wrote. He never threw carelessly away the letters he received. But I see his precision in the relationships he had with those to whom he was spiritual director. He was very causious to keep an absolute sec­ret about the problems of those who conferred with him. These surely wrote to him at some time or other. But he never kept letters concerning spiritual direction. If some of these did reach us, this happened because it was they who talked during some interview which was made to them. I saw this exactness also in him as a Superior of the Society he had founded. When it began having a few priest members, De Piro started to keep a more regular register of the Council Meetings. In those acts, De Piro surely had to treat problems concerning individual persons. As a saintly person, De Piro was convinced that a case concerning an individual must not be kept written in the register for ever. It was written on a seperate piece of paper. Then, when the problem was solved, the paper would be destroyed, and nothing would remain in the reg­ister.

 

This is proven from a difficult case which emerged at the end of his life. As on other occasions, De Piro kept it on a seperate piece of paper, in the register. But then, he died suddenly, and therefore De Piro had no time to remove that paper from the register. In fact, the problem mentioned was overcome. After more than fifty years, that piece of paper ended up in my hands, while I was compiling the biography. I told Fr James Bonello, the Superior General, that De Piro’s intention was that the paper must not be kept. In fact it was destroyed.

 

Love that comprehends.

 

I admired De Piro’s love towards the others for many reas­ons. In his love towards others, without even speaking, he used to help with the same perfection as in the carrying out of his duties. He used to give warnings also. But he used to do it gently. Someone said that De Piro had a defect: he was too comprehensive; he would find it difficult to punish. There were those who sometimes abused of his kindness because they knew that he would pardon them always. Because of this I consider De Piro as an ideal christian. Everybody used to say that his presence prompted reverence. But surely nobody used to look at him as an inquisitor, ready to condemn. On the contrary, he would try always to convince himself that the guilt of the individual was involutary, and so it deserved pardon.

 

United with God in prayer.

 

Although a sick person, De Piro worked tirelessly. But it never happened to him, that because of his work, he abandoned prayer. He was convinced that working for the good of others is like a prayer. But he was also convinced that the christian, and even more the priest, cannot but find enough time for prayer. When he founded a religious society, he noticed that the members were very busy. He was never sorry for this. But at the same time he was attentive to see that the material work and the apostolate do not hinder in them that by which they coudn’t live.

 

He remained always happy with what he was hearing about the work of Br Joseph in Africa. But, out of a fatherly love, De Piro continued to help him with his advice and admonitions. Sometimes he wrote to him to ask him whether he was doing the daily meditation and whether he was doing the annual retreat.

 

Nobody knew how much De Piro himself used to pray in his room, although several have mentioned seeing him saying the Rosary. The day he died they found his meditation book, with the day’s theme, open on the table. While he was a methodic person, De Piro knew how to find time for everything. His organised life itself was like a spiritual source, for it helped him not to leave anything out. But, surely, he was always wishing to have more time to spend with the members of his Society.

 

Good use of his money.

 

While for most, money was a ruin, for De Piro it was like a means by which he made a lot of good. He was not att­ached to it. We find in the Curia’s register that some­times he renounced for that which was his due as a salary for his work. When, for some reason, he was in an Orphanage, they saw him putting something in the almsbox as a contribution for his dinner.

 

De Piro didn’t only love his works and the Institutes, but wished to save them from any trouble after his death. Since he had a room in every Institute, he left in his will that he considered as belonging to the one or other institute all that was in his room at his death. This is another evidence which brings to light the love towards others; he showed it in his meticolosity itself.

Christian Patriotism.

 

His love was also visible towards his native country. But in him this was a virtuous act because in him it was always under control. He defended the Maltese people and workers with all his might, when there was some friction with the British, especially during the disturbances of the 7 June 1919. But, instead of alarming the people, he helped to find peace. Archbishop Caruana, and also the British, found in him a big support in difficult times.

 

Also in the Senate, De Piro wasn’t a person who talked a lot. But as a christian, when there was the need to defend christian morality, he spoke at lenght. He openly condemned those pubs in Valletta which were ruining young girls and children at a young age.

 

Girls who were hit by poverty or some error found in Mgr De Piro a father who helped them immeasurably when he did his utmost to open a laboratory in Valletta. His plan was that when they leave the institutes, they get employed, and find a place where to stay during the night. He asked for money from the rich. There were those who opposed or ignored him. But he was a determined person. Only when he had tried all the possibilities, did he conclude that such an idea was not possible.

 

Since he always had good intention and never wanted to be praised for what he did, De Piro was visible much less than one would have expected in his work.  He knew how to work by means of others, by inspiring trust in his collaborators. In this way he also practised the virtue of humility. Those who would receive something with his help, very often would not even know that it was by De Piro’s help that they were acquiring what they wished. At a time when nobili