Last Sunday, St Gorg Preca was canonised in a ceremony in Rome attended by 5,000 Maltese. Born in Valletta in 1880, Gorg Preca almost didn't make it to the priesthood - as a young deacon, he suffered lung failure and was not expected to recover. He attributed his subsequent miraculous recovery, shortly before his ordination to the priesthood, to St Joseph, whom he followed devoutly.
At the time, lay people in Malta were taught very little about their faith, and illiteracy was rife. Dun Gorg founded the Society of Christian Doctrine to teach people about the Bible and about theology. The motto of the Society was "Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus!" (MUSEUM), which translates as: "Master, that the whole world would follow the Gospel!" Today the SDC has centres in Malta, Sudan, Kenya, Great Britain and Albania.
Throughout his life, Dun Gorg continued to teach in all towns and villages of Malta and Gozo. Many were enchanted by his words and deeds, and by his simplicity, humbleness and meekness. His words to the Society were "Teach, teach and teach, something of it will remain."
In Sunday's ceremony, the Pope said Dun Gorg was "a priest totally dedicated to evangelisation: Through his preaching, through his writings, through the spiritual guidance and administration of the sacraments and, above all, by setting a living example". And he appealed to him to always be, in Malta and in the world, "a faithful echo of the word of God".
To the Maltese people, the Pope said, ""St Gorg Preca is the first canonised son of your sweet land. He is your second father of faith after the apostle St Paul. He always prays for you, so that you can be close to the gospel. St Gorg Preca, pray for us!"
The second miracle attested for St Gorg's canonisation was the unexplained cure of a small boy who was suffering from a liver disease. Towards the end of the Mass there was a special moment for that little boy as he received his First Holy Communion from the Pope, with his parents and younger sister by his side.
A Mass is being celebrated in Westminster Cathedral today to celebrate the canonisation of St Gorg Preca. You can read more about St Gorg (and see my sources for these photos) here, here and here.