The 8th of December is a special day in the calendar of the Catholic Church: it is on this day that Mother Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Since time immemorial, the Church venerated Mary as she who was conceived without sin! It was convenient that she who would bear the Son of God would be herself clean from every taint of sin. However it was only on the 8th of December 1854 that Blessed Pope Pius IX declared the belief in Mary’s immaculate conception as a dogma with these precise words: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful” (Ineffabilis Deus).
We, the people of Victoria, and the people of Gozo at large, are fortunate to have among our churches, the Conventual Church of St Francis, run by the Franciscan Conventuals, that very same religious Order which throughout the centuries promoted the belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin.
Every year, on the 8th of December, the Franciscan community celebrates in a solemn manner this feast in honour of their spiritual Mother and Queen. Blessed John Duns Scotus and St Maximilian Mary Kolbe are only two members of the Order who went out of their way to promote devotion towards the Immaculate Mother of God.
The 8th of December is also the anniversary of the foundation of St George’s Collegiate Chapter in 1975. From these columns we would also like to congratulate Rev. Dr Richard Nazzareno Farrugia, Rector of the Diocesan Seminary, and Rev. Geoffrey George Attard, who serves as Collaborator at the Żebbuġ Parish, who have recently been chosen by Bishop Mario Grech, Apostolic Administrator for Gozo and Dean of St George’s Chapter, to be installed as new Canons of our Collegiate Chapter.
Our special congratulations go also to Rev. Simon Mario Cachia, another of our priests, who has recently been installed as the eleventh Parish priest of the Parish Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Fontana, who has also been made an Honorary Canon of St George’s.
The aim of a Collegiate Chapter is to pray the Liturgy of the Hours together on Sundays and special feastdays. We promise them our fervent prayers! May the Immaculate Conception and St George be their inspiration and protect them always!