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St. George Preca
George Preca, also known as Gorg Preca in Maltese (12 February 1880 - 26 July 1962), was a Maltese Catholic priest and the founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine, as well as a Third Order Carmelite. In Maltese, he was affectionately called "Dun Gorg," and Pope John Paul II honored him with the title "Malta's second father in faith." Preca adopted the religious name "Franco" upon becoming a Third Order Carmelite.
Despite his popularity for pastoral care and religious teaching, Preca faced suspicions of heresy from senior clergy, leading to the temporary closure and subsequent reopening of his teaching centers for investigation. In 1952, Pope Pius XII recognized his activism by appointing him a Papal Privy Chamberlain and bestowing the rank of Monsignor.
In 1957, Preca composed the "Mysteries of Light," five new additions to the Rosary, inspired by John 8:12, for his followers. The Catholic Church canonized him as a saint in 2007.
George Preca was born in Valletta on 12 February 1880, the seventh of nine children to Vincent and Nathalie Ceravolo Preca. Despite a fragile childhood marked by various illnesses, including a near-drowning incident in 1885, he relocated with his family to Hamrun in 1886. Preca received his First Communion and Confirmation in Hamrun, embarking on his path to priesthood.
Encouraged by Father Ercole Mompalao during a chance encounter in 1897, Preca pursued his religious vocation. Despite a diagnosis of acute pulmonary tuberculosis before his ordination, he attributed his recovery to the intercession of Saint Joseph.
Founding the Society of Christian Doctrine:
In 1907, Preca initiated the Society of Christian Doctrine, commonly known as M.U.S.E.U.M., organizing spiritual conferences and gatherings. The movement faced scrutiny and suspicions of heresy, leading to temporary closures. However, a formal inquiry in 1916 cleared the movement, and in 1932, the Society received ecclesiastical recognition.
Third Order Carmelite and Later Years:
In 1918, Preca became a Third Order Carmelite, assuming the name "Franco" and focusing on pastoral activities, including Nativity plays at Christmas. He emphasized the use of the Maltese language in his teachings, reflecting his commitment to making spirituality accessible to all.
Legacy and Canonization:
Preca's dedication to teaching and writing in Maltese resulted in the establishment of "Veritas Press" in the 1920s, a prominent Catholic publishing company in Malta. Despite being named a Monsignor by Pope Pius XII, Preca remained humble and never donned the associated vestments.
George Preca passed away on 26 July 1962, and his funeral on 28 July marked one of Malta's largest funerals. His contributions to the Catholic Church were recognized with beatification in 2001 and canonization in 2007, making him the second Maltese saint. A statue in Hamrun, Malta, and a portrait bust in East Melbourne, Australia, commemorate his enduring legacy.
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