In 1848 the Provincial (who later was appointed as the archbishop of Malta) Gaetano Pace Forno O.S.A. founded this school to promote the cultural, civic and religious education of the Maltese youth. Since then education, in its multiform dimensions, has been one of the major commitments of the Augustinians in Malta and Gozo. From Valletta, the school moved in 1956 to Hal Tarxien.
Presently, it is at Pieta’ in new and adequate premises. Saint Augustine’s School is nowadays one of the top secondary schools of the Island where education is being imparted according to Augustinian pedagogy. It can boast of an efficient and well-qualified administration and staff. Its web page is http://www.sac-malta.org To these two principal priories we must add that of Gozo. We do not know when the first priory was built there. But in 1533 the premises were demolished, and new and more comfortable facilities were constructed. Between the years 1660 and 1717 both the church and the priory (convento) were enlarged to create more space and splendour to the Augustinian Presence. In 1930 it became the official site for the novitiate of the Province.
In the 1950s the novitiate was enlarged in order to take in the great number of young people asking to embrace the Augustinian life. In 1968 this house ceased to be the novitiate of the Province. Novices were sent principally to Italy and Ireland. In 1993 the University of Malta wanted to hire the premises of the novitiate to serve as a branch of the University for the population of Gozo. After a long discussion, however, the project was not accepted. Little by little, the idea of transforming the novitiate into a retreat house began to take form.
Photos (at right) Picture 1: Valletta harbour, Malta. Picture 2: Augustinian Church of Saint Mark, Rabat, Malta. Picture 3: Augustinian Church of Saint Mark, Rabat, Malta.
Changes for better accommodation were made, and nowadays Augustinians can boast of offering the Maltese population and foreign visitors an excellent space where one can meditate and relax in a renewed 18th century monastic environment. The Provincial Chapter during April 2006 decided to create a team of friars to animate the spiritual and Augustinian programme of this house.
The Augustinians in Malta before 1459 already formed an autonomous congregation governed by a provincial rector under the jurisdiction of the Province of Sicily within the Order of Saint Augustine. In 1788, King Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies ordered that all convents under his jurisdiction should be withdrawn from under the rule of the Augustinian Prior General. In order to avoid various inconveniencies, Stephen Bellesini O.S.A., Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine from 1786 to 1797, brought about a change. By a decree in 1790, he established the three convents of Malta and Gozo as an autonomous Province. But this decree had no effect since the Holy See (the Vatican) did not approve it and consequently the three Maltese convents returned under the jurisdiction of the Province of Sicily.
In 1801, the British Commissioner notified the local bishop and the religious orders that foreign superiors were not recognised by the Crown of England and consequently could not give orders. Realising that their monastic discipline was deteriorating, the local members of the Order of Saint Augustine in 1817 asked Pope Pius VII to establish the three Maltese convents as an autonomous Province. By the decree of 20 September 1817 Septimus Rotelli O.S.A., the Vicar General of the Order of Saint Augustine, received approval of the Pope to take action. He raised the Augustinian presence in Malta and Gozo to the status of an autonomous Province. He named it the Province of Saint Mark.
Since then the Augustinians in Malta have extended their presence in various localities and today they are present in seven places, on the islands of Malta and Gozo. After the World War II they became more and more committed to pastoral life. This activity was crowned with various successes. Thus, on 30th January 1968, Archbishop Gonzi established an Augustinian parish in Valletta.
In the year 2000 a new pastoral project was launched in Paceville, the Mecca of entertainment. This project came to be known as the Millennium Chapel. And in 2004 another step was taken when the WOW ("Wishing Others Well") began there. It brings the activity of social welfare to the entire project. This pastoral and social endeavour has been welcomed by the recent synod of Malta as an appropriate response to contemporary needs of the Maltese church and society. Photos (at left) Picture 1: At the Augustinian Priory (convento), Gozo. Picture 2: Augustinians, Malta. Picture 3: Augustinians at prayer, Malta.
Finally we would like to mention the missionary spirit that has been at the roots of the Augustinian existence in Malta. It is not a rare factor that individual Maltese Augustinians have worked in mission lands. One of these illustrious brothers was Emanuel Farrugia O.S.A.. After his studies in Malta, he served with the Augustinians of Portugal in western India. He became the Apostolic Prefect of that region, and later the Vicar General of the Diocese of Maliapur. He died in 1770.
During the first third of the 20th century the Augustinian Province of Ireland called on the Maltese Augustinians to help them in their mission in Australia. As a result, a number of Augustinians from Malta served for several years in Australia. And then came the big adventure of Algeria and Tunisia. After many delays, in 1930 Clement Fuhl O.S.A., the Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine, obtained approval from the Holy See (Vatican) for the Order to move to Annaba/Hippo, gave the task to the Maltese Province. In 1948 the Maltese Augustinians settled also in Tunisia. After the independence of Tunisia and Algeria,the Christian population decreased greatly. The Augustinians from Malta, however, sought to remain in Tunisia as long as possible. They finally departed in 1981.
Soon after the year 2000 the Province of Malta has asked the General Curia of the Order of Saint Augustine in Rome for permission to withdraw from Hippo in Algeria. This has happened, and volunteer Augustinians from other parts of the world are now in Hippo (now Annaba) where St Augustine had been the bishop.
Photos (at right) Picture 1: Millenium Chapel, Paceville, Malta. Picture 2: Augustinians at prayer, Malta.
In 1978 the Maltese Augustinian Province took charge of a convent (convento) and Church in Catania in Sicily (Italy). For lack of personnel, however, it was decided during our Provincial Chapter in April 2006 to withdraw from Catania.Photo GalleryFor the Augnet gallery on the Augustinian Order in Malta, click here. For the Augnet gallery on the Augustinian Order in Algeria, click here.