maltese province
  • NAZJU FALZON (01.07.1813-01.07.1865)
  • Updated today Tuesday, April 24, 2001 at 11:30 am

  • HIS APOSTOLATE   by Dr. Joseph Sammut
  • MALTA

  • 21.04.2001

    Nazju's main apostolate was that of imparting religious instruction both to children and to adults. Every afternoon, Nazju went to the Church of St. Barbara and to the Church of Our Lady of Victories, both in Valletta. He also gave religious instruc-tion and lessons in Latin, Italian and English, free of charge in his own home, where he also used to help children in their studies.

    In the catechetical field, Nazju may be said to have been a real pioneer, in that he promoted catechism lessons to the children of the poor families living in Val-letta. In Valletta at this time there were 4 institutes for religious instruction to children. In 1839, the Jesuits started giving catechism lessons in their church, but in 1840 these lessons were instead given in the Church of St. James. Other lessons were also held at the Church of St. Barbara and later these lessons continued to be held in the Church of Our Lady of Victories.

    Although Nazju never felt that he should become a priest, he always showed a great respect for the priesthood, and encouraged those young men in whom he saw the seed of the priestly vocation and he tried to help them in their studies. Among these we may mention Fr. Joseph Corbett, who became a military chaplain; Fr. Cullen, an Irishman who became an Augustinian friar and Fr. Butler and Fr. Delamey, who spent a long time in the missions.

    Another branch of Nazju's apostolate was imparting religious instruction to British servicemen, mostly soldiers and some sailors, who at that time happened to be in Malta. He started this activity in 1833 and continued doing so for more than 20 years, up to the Crimean war of 1853-1856. In this field as well, Nazju can also be considered a pioneer, in that the English Protestant ruling classes, living in Malta at that time were very proud of showing staunchness to their belief in an island which was hundred per cent Catholic. This fact sometimes even gave rise to certain tensions.

    Up to 1840, Nazju used to welcome soldiers in his own house. An average of thirty soldiers used to come every evening and about 100 on Sundays. However, his house then became too small, because the number of soldiers increased rapidly. Irish Catholic soldiers started to invite their Protestant friends to attend the meet-ings, which began to be held in the Jesuits Church in Valletta. Here Nazju founded the Congregation of the Holy Rosary for British soldiers. British soldiers used to come together every evening round sunset. They recited the rosary and prayed for England's conversion to Catholicism. If any of them wished to go to Confession, confessors were available. There were also some catechists who were ready to throw light on any difficult points of Catholic teaching.

    Nazju's apostolate among British servicemen was twofold: he used to strengthen Catholics in the Catholic faith and also help Protestants who desired to become Catholics (During the Crimean War (1853-1856), the number of British soldiers in Malta amounted to about 20,000).

    Nazju managed to win over to the Catholic faith more than 600 Protestant soldiers, together with some Jews and Arabs.

    In this apostolate, Nazju had many helpers. We must not fail to mention Fr. Karm Gerada, who for more than 12 years was Nazju's right-hand man. Other helpers included Nazju's own brother, Fr. Calcedonius Falzon, Count George Sant Fournier and the young man, Ganni Sciberras (Ganni Sciberras later became a priest and a chaplain in the British army)
    Nazju used to distribute prayer-books, holy pictures, Rosary beads and scapu-lars to those servicemen who were about to leave Malta in order to take part in the Crimean War. He also wrote for them a book of prayers entitled: "The Comfort of the Christian Soul." He brought hundreds of religious books from England and distributed them to the soldiers.
    British soldiers and sailors found a friend and a trustworthy counselor in Nazju and used to seek him in their problems. Nazju encouraged many of them to over-come alcoholism which was very common among them. When they left Malta, they kept in touch with Nazju through their letters to him.

    Return to Nazju Falzon's main page

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    Created / Updated Tuesday, April 24, 2001 at 11:30:06 am by John Abela ofm
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