Tuesday, October 2, 2007:

A bereaved La Stella Band escorts coffin of Mgr Salv Borg out of town

The sad tunes of composers Joseph Vella and the late Giuseppe Giardini Vella played by a distressed La Stella Band escorted the coffin containing the remains of Mgr Salv Borg, Archpriest Emeritus and Spiritual Director, from St George’s basilica to Triq ir-Repubblika.  Mgr Joseph Farrugia, his immediate successor in the town parish, flanked by Can. Joseph A. Borg and Hon. Can. George J. Frendo, accompanied the casket and then gave the final blessing at the state cemetery dedicated to Santa Maria Addolorata on the outskirts of Victoria.

A multitude of tearful mourners received the coffin with crashing applause as it was borne out of the illuminated basilica down its imposing stairs into Pjazza San Ġorġ.  The approaching night was already casting its dark shadows upon a day that none imagined so near still less desired.  The Laudate Pueri Choir sang its sacred petitions, the big bell of the basilica boomed its sorrow and as the La Stella Band struck up its musical director’s beautiful In memoriam Mons Salv Borg a sigh of released emotion welled into a thousand eyes.  The young people of the parish were great.  They bore the coffin shoulder-high with poise, their arms laced around each other for strength as much as for emotional support, and giving to others the chance so that they too would carry the coffin for a little, even just a little.

Some of them were Mgr Borg’s young relatives, all of them friends, dedicated parish volunteers and members of the La Stella Society, exemplary in their loyalty to San Ġorġ and in the devotion with which they labour and give their all for the parish that we all love so much and which gives us such a unique identity.

The La Stella Band was a sight to behold and a harmony to hear.  There is no band music as funeral march music. There must have been all of its eighty musicians playing – four of the bandsmen were guests - smart in their uniform as in their musicianship.  Despite the emotion and distress they acquitted themselves wonderfully.  The steady hand of their much respected Mro Vella, and the encouragement of various members of the Central Committee, were effective. 

Besides Mro Vella’s In Memoriam Mons Salv Borg, which Mgr Borg had personally asked “is-Surmast” from his deathbed to compose for him, the La Stella Band played also Mro Giardini Vella’s famous Perche’ piangi and Mater Dolorosa. 

Dr Joseph Grech, President of the La Stella Philharmonic Society, Mr Dolindo Cassar, Vice-President, Mr Paul Zammit, Mr George Farrugia, Mr George Cini and all the other officials and members of the Society leadership led the processional cortege out of St George’s Square, through St Joseph Street, Independence Square and down to Republic Street where the hearse awaited the coffin. 

Behind the La Stella Band, Mgr Joseph Farrugia, wearing his prelatic robes and purple and gold stole, processed together with Canon Joseph A Borg, the deceased priest’s cousin, and Hon. Can. George J. Frendo, the Laudate Pueri Choir director, the Rev. Fr Fabio Attard SDB who had assisted Mgr Borg in the last moments of his earthly life at St Luke’s Hospital, and seminarians Simon Cachia and Francesco Pio Attard.

Mrs Maria Zammit, in mourning black, and her family bearing flowers, the language of affection, followed the coffin containing the remains of her beloved elder brother.  She was followed by immediate and distant relatives, friends and so many people from all over Gozo.  The streets were deep-lined with mourners who intermittently broke into affectionate applause. 

It was very poignant when, as the funeral cortege passed by the Teatru Astra, the coffin paused briefly to receive the homage of the La Stella Band Club.  The flag of the Philharmonic Society flattered at half mast.  The façade was unaccustomedly dark.  Thereupon the La Stella Band branched into two flanks and the coffin passed through the bandsmen as they played the last funeral salute in honour of their Spiritual Director and popular member.

Priests and friends accompanied the hearse by car to the cemetery where Mgr Farrugia performed the last rites of prayer and blessing.  Then it was interred in the family vault where Mgr Borg’s remains will await the last call – the happy call of the resurrection

Photos  by JJP Zammit and Joseph Attard

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Alfred Grech - Mosta   02-Oct-2007 17:41:30
The photos which accompanied the three part report are beautiful but even without them, the description would have given a vivid picture of the event. Prosit to the writer and thanks for the vivid story of the last farewell to our dear Dun Salv.
Prosit also goes to Mgr Salv Borg's family, to our Beloved Bishop, to Mgr Cardona, the clergy, Laudate Pueri Choir, La Stella Band Club and to all those who helped in organizing this solemn funeral. There was great efficiency and lots of love in it all.
Prosit finally goes to Mgr Salv Borg for all he had done in his life and for the happiness he had shared with so many people as an Archpriest and as a friend to so many. We all love you, Dun Salv.
Joe   03-Oct-2007 00:05:15
Veru prosit tal-coverage dwar il-funeral ta' Mons Salv Borg, specjalment ghal dawk li ma kienx hemm post ghalihom fil-bazilka. Il-Mulej jghatih il-mistrieh ta' dejjem u jghati s-sabar lil-familjari li halla warajh. Niehu gost li ggib fil-web site il-poezija li kiteb Can. Joe Mejlaq u l-apprezzament ta Mons. G. Farrugia Inkomplu nghixu l-ezempju sabih lil hallielna D. Salv.
Joe Attard   03-Oct-2007 10:58:55
Naqbel perfettament ma dak kollu li kiteb Joe u nahseb li veru jkun xieraq li ttellghu fil-web site il-poezija li kiteb Can. Joe Mejlak u l-apprezzament ta' Mons. G. Farrugia. Prosit lill kull min kellu x'jaqsam mal-'coverage' tal-funerali specjalment lill kittieb ta dawn it-tliet artikli -veru kien hemm stampa cara ta x'gara fil-funeral tal-mibki Mons. Salv Borg specjalmetn ghal min mhux ghawdex jew ma setax jattendi. Fl-ahhar grazzi kbir imur ghal Mons. Salv Borg ghal dawk it-tifkiriet sbieh, it-taghlim u l-opri li hallielna. Ser nhossu hafna it-telfa tal-prezenza tieghek - hallejt vojt kbir warajk - Mons. Salv Borg. Nkomplu nitolbu ghalih u prosit imur ukoll ghall familja tieghu, ghall Banda Cittadin La Stella, Laudate Pueri Choir u l-organizzaturi kollha, u l-kleru kollu li ha sehem.

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