Our Lady and the Maltese Islands, before 2006
Ta' Pinu National Shrine (http://www.tapinu.org or click here)
The shrine was visited by the late Pope John Paul II in May 1990 and the image of Our Lady presented with a golden rose by Pope Benedict XVI on 18 April 2010.
Our Lady of Girgenti
Girgenti lies on the outskirts of Siġġiewi, a place of unearthly serenity and beauty. It is renowned for the Inquisiter’s Palace which dominates the skyline and overlooks a fertile valley and picturesque countryside. Since 1986 the area shown here, which is perched on the valley side, has been transformed into a place of worship.
In 1983, Ġuża Mifsud, a spinster from Siġġiewi, claimed that in the 1950s she had visions of Our Lady at her house in Siġġiewi. Our Lady asked her to spread devotion towards the new title “Our Lady of Consecration”. Ġuża claims that the Blessed Virgin told her, “I was consecrated to God since I was a little child but no one on earth gave me this title.”
Two years later, Ġuża disclosed that she had even seen the Holy Mother in an apparition in the valley at her family’s farmland in Girgenti. Our Lady requested that a statue is erected here which is very close to the place of the apparitions. Anton Aġius, a renowned sculptor from Rabat was commisioned to make this statue which was placed at Girgenti on 5 May 1986.
Ġuża Mifsud used to organise prayer meetings every first and third Sunday of each month during which she addressed the congregation in her typical humble and straightforward way. Her lack of schooling did not hinder her from delivering the messages she claimed to have received from the Blessed Virgin, from Jesus and also from saints. She used to preach about the love of God, the Eucharist, the Passion of Christ, brotherly love, peace, unity, modesty and on numerous other subjects. Her fortitude and the love she had for God urged her to write letters to various Heads of States including Presidents Bush, Gorbachev and Saddam Hussein encouraging them to stop war and work for world peace.
In the following years, Ġuża made various additions to the shrine which she claimed were on the direction of Our Lady. In May 1988 a stone water trough was placed on site and Ġuża claimed, “This water has been given to us as a source of spiritual and temporal grace...” The trough was blessed by Mons. Amante Buontempo. Four years later, in May 1992, a large timber cross was also erected on site to give a feeling of comfort to pilgrims in distress. By time this cross suffered severe weathering and was replaced by another timber cross in May 2007, while the original one was conserved in Ġuża's house in Siġġiewi.
During her speeches Ġuża often recalled how in the nineteen fifties she had a vision of St. Michael who had told her, “You must become a warrior to defend Malta, to defend the Eucharist and to defend the message given by Our Lady...” His statue which was blessed in February 1993 was set up with the aim to increase devotion to the archangel and help us eradicate evil from Malta and the whole world.
A statue of St. Joseph was also erected at Girgenti in November 1995. Ġuża claims to have had various visions from her patron saint. The marble plaque which was placed near the statue contains an extract from his message to Ġuża. It reads as follows: “The whole world is undergoing a great Calvary of darkness... many kind people are being killed... Pray for heavenly peace... Together with the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin I am the protector of the Catholic Church... and I place the dying before the mercy of God the Father and that of His son Jesus.”
The latest addition to the shrine was the statue of the Suffering Christ by the sculptor Andrew Bugeja. It was paid by Lord and Lady of Kenfig from Wales and was blessed on June 7, 2009 by Mons. Francesco Adeodato Micallef, Bishop Emeritus of Kuwait.
Many devotees have claimed receiving special graces both spiritual and physical through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and Ġuża Mifsud. The small bronze bell which adorns the little belfry on the adjoining room is a memento of a particular grace received. A person who was given to swearing had inexplicably dropped this habit after praying at the shrine and as thanksgiving had donated money to purchase a bell to be placed in the shrine so that by its clapper (like a tongue) it would give praise to God and atone for the impious words he used to utter with his own tongue. During each prayer meeting the bell is tolled five times in honour of the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph together with all the Saints.
Although Ġuża Mifsud passed away on October 28, 1996, yet her words still echo in the minds and hearts of many devotees of Our Lady. The Committee of the Movement of Our Lady of Consecration which was founded by Ġuża Mifsud in 1987, still organizes prayer meetings on every first and third Sunday of each month while other private meetings are organized during week days. The Committee administers the shrine in Girgenti and Ġuża’s house in Siġġiewi and is also always pleased to offer its assistance to those who visit the shrine.
The summer heat and the cold winter months do not detract from the visual and spiritual beauty of Girgenti. The shrine is visited by many people of all ages, from all walks of life both by locals and foreigners. Girgenti is a place of refuge for people in search of spirituality, comfort and peace of heart and mind.
Author: Sylvana Spiteri
Facebook: Madonna tal Konsagrazzjoni
Further information may be obtained from www.ourladyofconsecration.org
Our Lady of the Grotto (Il-Madonna ta’ l-Għar)
After the evening mass at the Church of the Dominican Priory in Rabat, one of the oldest on the island, on Thursday 6 May 1999, worshippers were praying the rosary close to a resin bust of Our Lady with baby Jesus, which had been left in the church following the feast the previous Sunday. One person, Rita Mallia, initially thought that an insect had rested on the statue’s cheeks. However on realising that it was more like a stain beneath the right eye, she went on to call Fr Francis Micallef, the prior of the church.
Fr Francis admitted that he was soon convinced by what he saw and that the statue had shed tears of blood. Even the Provincial of the Dominican Fathers, Fr Charles Fenech, supported his colleague since he observed tears tricking down the cheeks of the statue. This evidence was photographed and given to the Archbishop. The following day, there was a reoccurrence of the phenomenon, this time with tears of blood seeping from the left eye. Being the first Friday of the month, some two hundred people had attended church and witnessed this phenomenon.
The statue itself is a replica of a 17thcentury statue and was made in Italy. Experts had advised the Dominicans to preserve the statue and conserve its artistic value. Since it was made of alabaster, the old statue needed a humid environment and was at risk of serious deterioration from changes in temperature if used during outdoor processions in the hot weather.
The statue was transferred to the Oratory of the Rosary in Rabat and locked on the advice of Bishop Annetto Depasquale.
A marble expert noted that since the statue was made of resin, there was no possibility that this could in any way contain liquids that could have been mistaken for tears.
The statue was exposed to the public in 2001 when the doors of the Oratory where it had been stored were opened for the public. In 2002, conclusive forensic tests proved that the tears wept were actual human blood.
All devotees of the Madonna of the Grotto know that it carries a long history going back to the 15th century when apparently Our Lady appeared to a hunter in a grotto in Rabat, the place where the Dominican Church now stands.