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Gozo

Diocese comprising the Island of Gozo, Malta

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GOZO , Diocese of (GOULOS-GAUDISIENSIS), comprises the Island of Gozo in the Mediterranean Sea (seventeen miles west of the harbor of Valetta, Malta) and islet of Comino, and has a population of 22,700 souls. It is more picturesque than the sister island of Malta, arid the country, covered as it is with conical hills, is more fertile in its plains and valleys. On a central plateau the ruined fortifications of an ancient town contain the cathedral church and public buildings, outside of which is a large suburb. Gozo is famed for its grotto of Calypso, at a little distance from which are the ruins of a Cyclopean temple, a most conspicuous monument of antiquity.

Up to the year 1864, Gozo formed part of the Diocese of Malta, but Pius IX, acceding to the repeated prayer of the clergy and the people, erected it into a separate diocese immediately subject to the Holy See. On March 16, 1863, Monsignor Francesco Michele Butigieg, a native of Gozo, was appointed titular Bishop of Lita and deputy auxiliary of the ArchbishopBishop of Malta, for the Island of Gozo. He was consecrated at Rome on May 3 of the same year, on September 22, 1864, was created first bishop of the new Diocese of Gozo, and on the 23rd day of the following month made his solemn entry into the new cathedral. Through the efforts of Msgr. Pietro Pace, who was then vicar-general of the diocese (now Archbishop of Rhodes and Bishop of Malta), a diocesan seminary was established on the site formerly occupied by the San Giuliano Hospital, the revenues of which were appropriated to the new institution. This seminary was inaugurated November 3, 1866, and, by the express desire of Pope Pius IX, was placed under the direction of the Jesuits. On the death of Msgr. Butigieg, Father Micallef, Superior General of the Augustinian Order, was made Bishop of Città di Castello and appointed administrator of the Diocese of Gozo. He left Gozo in May, 1867, and in 1871 became Archbishop of Pisa. His successor to the administration of the diocese was Msgr. Antonio Grech Delicata, titular Bishop of Chalcedon, a native of Malta, who, in 1868, was appointed Bishop of Gozo, and as such assisted at the Vatican Council. Msgr. Grech Delicata’s charity towards the poor went so far that he even divested himself of his own patrimony. This worthy prelate died on the last day of the year 1876.

On March 12, 1877, Msgr. Canon Professor Pietro Pace, a native of Gozo, was appointed to succeed Msgr. Grech Delicata, and was consecrated at Rome by Cardinal Howard. Under his administration the seminary was augmented by the installation of a meteorological observatory, which was inaugurated by the celebrated Padre Denza, Director of the Vatican Observatory. During this administration an episcopal educational institute for girls was also established, under the care of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, to whom was also entrusted the direction of the annexed orphan asylum. The same bishop provided the diocese with a new episcopal palace and new monasteries, besides laying out large sums of money on the cathedral. In 1889, Msgr. Pace was promoted Archbishop of Rhodes and Bishop of Malta. His successor in the See of Gozo (and actual bishop) is the Reverend G. M. Camilleri, O.S.A., a native of Valetta (b. March 15, 1842). Under Msgr. Camilleri’s administration the first diocesan synod was celebrated, in October, 1903. This synod was of absolute necessity, as the diocese was still governed under the rules of the Synod of Malta of 1703, and consequently lacked a safe guide adapted to the times. Constitutions and decrees were also promulgated and published which gave new life to the working of the diocese.

The cathedral church of Gozo was built in 1697-1703, by Lorenzo Gafa. Its ground plan is in the form of a Latin cross. Its interior is adorned with fine paintings. The “Massagiere di Maria”, an Italian periodical, is recognized in the Diocese of Gozo as the official organ of the sanctuary of the Bl. Virgin to Pinu.

ANTONIO VELLA


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