Malta to get its first saint

A Maltese priest, Fr George Preca, who founded a society of lay catechists, the Society of Christian Doctrine, will become the island nation's first native born saint, the Holy See has announced.

Playfuls reports that thousands of Maltese Catholics are expected in Rome next June to attend the canonisation ceremony of Malta's first native-born saint, who has become known as the "Second Apostle of Malta" after St Paul. Fr Preca died in 1962 at the age of 82.

Dun Gorg (Father George), as he was affectionately known, created the Society of Christian Doctrine, also known as MUSEUM, despite initially strong opposition from the local Church hierarchy.

MUSEUM now has branches in six other countries - including Australia, Britain and Peru - and this year celebrates its first centenary.

George Preca was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II, along with two 19th century Maltese, a Benedictine nun and a cleric, during the late pope's second visit to Malta, in May 2001.

His canonisation was approved by Pope Benedict in February after a second miracle was attributed to George Preca. It involved a baby boy with severe liver complications recovering in 2001 after a glove used in the exhumation of the priest's body was placed on the child.

The Malta Star adds that the newborn developed critical liver difficulties and was rushed to St Luke's Hospital, Malta. Eventually the infant's condition worsened and was taken to King's College Hospital in London. Here it was confirmed that the only hope of survival was a kidney transplant. But a few days before the planned surgery, the hospital found that the organ available would be rejected by the child's body.

At this point, the child's family prayed for the miraculous intercession of Rev Preca. They even placed a glove that was used during the priest's exhumation, on the child.

A few days later, the baby started to show signs of recovery, and on 24 July 2001, the doctors at the English hospital confirmed that the planned surgery was no longer required - the baby has recovered full health, and is now five years old.

A previous miracle had occurred in 1964, when a man's detached retina healed after he placed a relic of Dun Gorg under his pillow.

Dun Gorg's body is preserved inside a glass urn inside the chapel of MUSEUM's headquarters.

Born in Valletta on 12 February 1880, Gorg was the seventh child in a middle-class family of nine. His father, Vincent Preca, was first a merchant and then a sanitary inspector. His mother, Nathalie Ceravolo, was a teacher.

Catholic Malta Gets Its First Saint (Playfuls, 27/2/07)
Gorg Preca is officially Malta's first Catholic Saint (Malta Star, 23/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
George Preca (Wikipedia)
Society of Christian Doctrine Australia
Society of Christian Doctrine

28 Feb 2007

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