Maltese Province Celebrates Centennial

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

The following is a compilation of this month’s news from the website and Facebook page of the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, composed of provinces from Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, and the United States.

On April 12, 1914, Easter Sunday, General Fr. Pacifico Monza, OFM, declared the Maltese Custody of St. John the Baptist an independent province, with the title St. Paul the Apostle. This year, the province celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Since its establishment, the Maltese province has continued to flourish, with new churches and friaries in Hamrun, Bahar ic-Caghaq and other places in Malta. The friars also have presences abroad in places such as London, Toronto, Hondura and Libya.

The foundations of Franciscans in Malta can be traced back to the end of the 15th century, when one of the disciples of St. Bernardine of Siena spread the Observant reform in Sicily, from where the friars found their way to Malta. The Maltese Franciscans were established as a custody of their Sicilian mother province of Val di Noto in 1838.

“Times have never been easy for the Franciscan OFM Province of Malta,” stated the ESC’s spring newsletter. “This commemoration is not only a joyful celebration of past achievements, but should also be a courageous occasion to face up to the challenge of giving a Franciscan witness in a secularized and postmodern society.”

More about the history of the Province of St. Paul the Apostle is included in the spring issue of the ESC’s newsletter, which includes an account of the recent meeting of the provincial ministers in Florida.

The English-speaking Conference posted many other topics on its website. They include updates from the Order of Friars Minor as well as several Easter messages from the following:

— Compiled by Maria Hayes