Imwieled il-Belt Valletta nhar it-12 ta' Frar, 1880, Gorg kien is-seba’ tifel f’familja ta' disa' ulied.
Missieru, Vincenz, ghall-ewwel kien negozjant u iktar tard spettur sanitarju. Ommu Natalina kienet ghalliema. Wahda mill-kugini tieghu kienet mizzewga lil Guze Howard, l-ewwel priministru ta' Malta. It-tfulija ta' Gorg ma kinitx xi wahda spettakolari izda ma kienx jonqos dak is-sens ta' avventura u kuragg li jsawwar is-sinsla ta' kull leader. Darba iddecieda li jgharrex il-kampnar tal-knisja tal-Hamrun, fejn kien mar joqghod izjed tard, u hemmhekk sab lil certu Wistin Pisani li ried juri kemm hu b'sahhtu u dan dendlu fit-tarf tal-kampnar. Gorg tant impressjona ruhu li baqa' jsemmi din l-esperjenza tat-tfulija tul hajtu kollha.
Billi hass li kien imsejjah ghal qassis, mil-Liceo mar is-Seminarju fejn bhala student zaghzugh wera kapacita' fl-istudju, specjalment fil-Latin. hadd ma ra fih xi haga specjali, madankollu triqtu kienet diga mfassla mis-"Sinjur Alla". Fra Diegu, Dun Ercole Mompalao u Dun Alwigi Galea, tliet irgiel spiritwali ghall-ahhar, dehru li kienu mdawwla minn Alla meta bassru dak li kellu jghaddi minnu (Dun) Gorg. Il-kliem ta' Mompalao, b'mod specjali, twettaq ezatt: "Preca", qal liz-zaghzugh, "int ghad tikber u nies li jirrispettaw lil Alla jidhlu f'familjarita mieghek u inti maghhom. Int ghad issib xortik permezz taghhom u huma ghad isibu xortihom permezz tieghek."
il-Knisja ta' San Gejtanu
Gorg Preca kien zaghzugh marradi. It-tabib tal-familja Preca kellu dubju serju jekk dan is-seminarista zaghzugh kienx se jibqa’ haj biex jiccelebra l-ewwel quddiesa tieghu f’Dicembru ta’ l-1906, ghax diga kien qed isofri minn pulmun marid.
is-seminarju (illum il-Kurja)
Izda Gorg ma mietx. Mhux talli hekk, talli lil missieru u lit-tabib ghaddiehom fl-eta u qabel ma miet ghalaq it-82 sena ta' hajtu. Il-ferh taghna mhuwiex biss ghax ghex hafna izda ghax uza z-zmien tieghu daqshekk tajjeb. Meta kien ghadu seminarista kien imur il-Port il-Kbir, jirkeb il-vapuri barranin li kien ikun hemm, u jintroduci lilu nnifsu mal-bahrin Griegi, Inglizi u Francizi billi joffrilhom sigarett. L-intelligenza u s-sens tieghu ta' umorizmu kien jaghti pjacir lil dawn l-irgiel li kienu jkunu ilhom hafna ma jaraw art u malajr Gorg kien iwassal lill-udjenza tieghu ghal hwejjeg spiritwali. Mhux ftit kienu dawk il-bahrin li kienu jibqghu impressjonati b'dan il-bniedem gentili li kien tant ifittex b'herqa l-gid ta' ghajru.
It-tattika tas-sigarett kellu juzaha iktar minn darba. Billi kien jaf li kien hemm grupp ta' guvintur li kienu jhobbu jiltaqghu regolarment, jitkellmu u jiccajtaw dwar dak kollu li jitkellmu fuqu z-zghazagh: sports, xoghol u tfajliet, Dun Gorg holoq relazzjoni maghhom. Ghall-bidu gieli warrbuh, izda hafna drabi kienu jilqghuh bi pjacir u bil-mod bdew jaccettaw il-pariri tieghu dwar hwejjeg spiritwali daqs kemm kienu jaccettaw id-diskors tieghu dwar hwejjeg ohra. Dan il-grupp ta' zghazagh li kien jiltaqa' qrib il-knisja tal-hamrun, li l-mexxej fosthom kien Ewgenju Borg, malajr beda jikber u jikber, tant li kellhom jikru post fejn setghu jiltaqghu.
Dun Gorg perikoluz?
Fil-bidu tas-seklu 20, f'Malta bdew jinxterdu hafna ideat rivoluzzjonarji, u ghalhekk il-Knisja kienet toqghod b'seba' ghajnejn fuq kull attivita jew organizzazzjoni gdida, bezghana minn xi taghlim gdid li seta' jtebba' t-tradizzjoni Nisranija tal-gzira. Ghalhekk, meta l-kelma waslet f'widnejn il-Vigarju Mons. Salvatore Grech, li grupp ta' zghazagh kien qed jiltaqa' regolarment biex jitkellem fuq Alla, il-biza' ma setax jonqos. Tant nies kienu qed jingabru biex jisimghu lil dan il-qassis u s-segwaci tieghu jitkellmu fuq Alla b'mod semplici u car. Sa waslu biex jifthu l-Bibbja, ktieb li l-qassisin biss setghu jaqraw, il-lajci ma kinux kwalifikati! X'kien qed jigri? X'kien qed jaghmel Dun Gorg? Kien qed jifforma xi setta eretika bil-mohbi?
Dun Gorg kien konxju, bhalma kienet kull persuna intelligenti ta' dak iz-zmien, li s-sitwazzjoni religjuza tal-gzejjer Maltin kienet ilha li marret il-bahar. Ir-religjozita tal-Maltin, bla ebda bazi soda fuq l-Iskrittura Mqaddsa, kienet imwaqqfa fuq ir-ramel iktar milli fuq il-blat - religjozita li setghet tghib facilment fi zmien ta' maltemp. Festi, murtali, devozzjonalizmu pjuttost dubjuz, u superstizzjoni kienu l-karatteristika tal-Kattoliku Malti.
Ma kienet tezisti l-ebda istruzzjoni kateketika organizzata tajjeb biex teghleb din il-mewga ta' injoranza religjuza. Kollox thalla f'idejn l-isforzi individwali ta' qassisin, li fl-1916 gew imhegga mill-Arcisqof Dom Mawru Caruana biex izuru l-iskejjel kull xahar. Tletin sena qabel Dr Keenan tal-Kummissjoni Rjali Ingliza kien hassu mistaghgeb bl-istat dizastruz ta' l-edukazzjoni religjuza f'Malta. Il-Knisja nfisha, ghalkemm kienet tipprovdi hafna mill-aqwa skejjel privati fil-pajjiz, ma nistghux nghidu li kienet qed tahdem ghal edukazzjoni religjuza organizzata ghall-poplu komuni. Dun Gorg kien tassew hanin fi kliemu ma' l-awtoritajiet tal-Knisja, meta qal biss li "t-taghlim fil-parrocci ma kienx organizzat wisq" ghax fil-fatt f'hafna parrocci ma kien organizzat xejn.
Soluzzjoni ghall-injoranza religjuza
Dun Gorg ghazel triq ohra: li jghallem lill-poplu biex dan isir konvint minn twemminu, anki meta l-mewg jibda jhabbat bla heda. Bil-personalita karizmatika tieghu, mexxa armata siekta ghal Kristu: irgiel u nisa li bla ma jiddistingwu ruhhom mill-poplu komuni, ikunu izda mghallmin u ffurmati fil-hajja spiritwali halli jkunu jistghu jiddu quddiem hbiebhom, u jxerrdu t-taghlim ta' Kristu bl-ezempju fil-hajja taghhom ta' kuljum, kemm fuq ix-xoghol u kemm fit-toroq u l-pjazez. Fi zmien meta l-lajci kienu ghadhom mhux meqjusa bhala importanti fil-missjoni tat-tixrid tal-Vangelu, Dun Gorg refa' lis-segwaci tieghu bir-responsabbilta li jghallmu l-katekizmu. Dan il-grupp zghir ta' zghazagh kiber biex sar is-Socjeta tad-Duttrina Nisranija, maghrufa lokalment bhala l-Muzew jew M.U.S.E.U.M., u llum jikkonsisti f'120 qasam (kif Dun Gorg xtaq li jissejhu c-centri tat-taghlim) u iktar minn 1100 membru, imferrxin ma’ Malta u Ghawdex kollha u wkoll f’pajjizi ohra.
Tfixkil u Oppozizzjoni
Minkejja li llum Dun Gorg huwa rikonoxxut ghall-kobor u ghall-vizjoni tieghu, l-ewwel fazi tal-hidma appostolika tieghu ma' kinitx ward u zahar. Ix-xewk li tela' mieghu minn kull naha kien kotran. Bosta gurnali haduha qatta' bla habel kontrieh minkejja li l-poplu kien ifittxu bl-eluf ghall-pariri tieghu. Dan kollu lahaq il-quccata tieghu meta Mons. Salvatore Grech, f'isem l-Arcisqof Pietru Pace, ordnalu biex jaghlaq l-oqsma li kien lahaq fetah. Din it-tip ta' oppozizzjoni ma kinitx xi haga gdida fil-Knisja. L-istess gralhom fundaturi kbar ohrajn. Dun Gorg, bhal Don Bosco, akkuzawh li kien mignun, u bhal San Filippu Neri ikkritikawh ghall-atti tieghu ta' umilta. L-istess arcisqof li kien sabbat fuq il-mejda jghajjat li qatt mhu se japprova s-Socjeta ta' Dun Gorg, ma kienx se jdum ma jhalli lil Dun Gorg u lis-Socjeta tieghu jahdmu bil-liberta kollha fid-djocesi tieghu.
L-Ispiritwalita profonda ta' Dun Gorg
Jekk hafna mill-awtoritajiet ekklezjastici damu biex apprezzaw lil dan il-bniedem li kien jghix dak li jippriedka, il-maggoranza tal-poplu komuni ghamlet tajjeb ghal dan in-nuqqas billi bdiet tqisu qaddis. Min-naha tieghu, l-ispiritwalita profonda, li kienet tixhed rabta intima ma' Alla, imlietu b'karizma specjali biex jifhem u jmexxi l-poplu ta' Alla. L-imhabba tieghu ma kellhiex limiti fi zmien meta l-klassijiet socjali kienu definiti b'mod car. Il-binja psikologika tieghu, mghejjuna kemm mis-sens komun kif ukoll mill-qari, ghenitu jmur tajjeb ma' hafna inkluz ma' l-ghedewwa. Is-sens kbir tieghu ta' umorizmu u l-ghaqal li kellu ghenuh mhux ftit fir-relazzjonijiet tieghu man-nies, kemm mill-pulptu, kif ukoll fuq il-bank tal-pjazza jew fit-triq. Darba, waqt li kien qieghed fuq lanca sejra ghal Tas-Sliema, ragel li ma tantx kellu simpatija lejn il-qassisin, tella' saqajh ma’ wiccu. Jekk dan il-qassis gentili hassu urtat, lil dak ir-ragel zgur ma uriehx. Minflok, Dun Gorg baxxa rasu u ghall-istghagib ta' dak ir-ragel bieslu siequ, kif gesù ghamel ma' l-appostli tieghu inkluz ma' min tradieh. Izjed tard, dan ir-ragel talab mahfra minghand Dun Gorg u minghand Alla, u qalbu xeghlet mill-gdid bl-imhabba wara hafna snin, minhabba gest bhal dak.
Kittieb Kattoliku Konvint: ghex dak li kiteb
"L-ewwel impressjoni li tohrog mill-qari tax-xoghlijiet ta' Dun Gorg hi z-zwieg bejn zewg aspetti: il-konvinzjoni qawwija u c-carezza fl-espressjoni. It-tnejn jipprezentaw bniedem li jrid johrog lill-fidi tieghu mill-qafas tal-privatezza personali, biex jikkomunikaha lill-ohrajn bla xkiel. Il-fidi hi mbiddla fi stil li jindika certezza, u hi certezza li titfisser b'kelma li hi deciza daqskemm nadifa, lesta biex tiftiehem." (Prof Oliver Friggieri fir-Rivista Dun Gorg)
Dun Gorg kien bniedem ta' energija u dinamizmu kbir. Kif tixhed is-seftura tieghu, Nellie Bartolo, kemm -il darba hela xemgha shiha (Dun Gorg ghex f'faqar estrem) tard bil-lejl biex ihejji l-priedki jew jikteb uhud mill-150 ktieb jew ktejjeb li hallielna. Ix-xewqa tieghu kienet li jeduka lill-poplu Malti fl-imhabba lejn Alla u lejn ghajru, li d-dinja kollha taccetta l-Vangelu (Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus: M.U.S.E.U.M.), u ma kienx se jibqa' lura minhabba xi sagrificcju biex jilhaq dan l-ideal. Fi zmien meta l-kwistjoni tal-lingwa kienet tahraq f'pajjizna, u lsienna ntesa' fit-tilwima politika ghas-supremazija bejn it-Taljan u l-Ingliz, Dun Gorg beda jikteb bil-Malti. "Ghal Dun Gorg, imdawwal mill-figura ta' Kristu fqir mal-foqra, l-ghazla kienet hafifa u awtomatika, u mhux ir-rizultat ta' hsieb fit-tul jew ta' polemika gewwiena. Il-fatt li Dun Gorg haddem mill-ewwel il-kelma Maltija hu ghallinqas fatt doppju: l-ewwelnett, ghazel b'mod naturali l-ilsien li jiftiehem mill-kotra l-aktar semplici; it-tieni ghamel ghazla tipika ta' l-imgiba ta' Kristu nnifsu f'pajjizu... Il-kelma Maltija kienet l-ilsien tal-klassi popolari, l-ilsien tal-haddiema. Ghal din il-klassi Dun Gorg holoq lingwagg religjuz xieraq li jiftiehem u li minnu nnifsu hu kontribut importanti hafna f'din il-fergha ta' l-uzu ta' l-ilsien." (O.Friggieri)
L-ewwel manuskritti imorru lura ghall-1909, u l-kontribut li ta bhala kittieb Kattoliku hu ewlieni u jikseb siwi akbar minhabba l-fatt li kiteb fi zmien meta l-Malti kien imzeblah. Dun Gorg jibqa' wkoll maghruf ghall-metodu tat-tqassim tal-"karti manwali", kif kien isejhilhom - karta stampata li tillustra xi punt tad-duttrina Nisranija li titqassam bl-idejn.
Bhala predikatur Dun Gorg kien imfittex hafna mill-poplu u meta fir-rahal kienet tigri l-ahbar li wasal dan is-sacerdot qaddis, ir-rahal kollu kien iqum u jmur bi hgaru biex jisimghu. Kif kien ikun miexi fit-triqat, b'rasu baxxuta lejn l-art, b'idu mghollija biex ibierek, it-tfal kienu jduru mieghu u l-ommijiet jitolbuh iberkilhom lit-trabi taghhom u l-kuruni tar-ruzarju. Il-karizma tieghu ma kellhiex bzonn kliem, bhal ta' hafna mexxejja kbar. Kellu kalamita ta' attur li kienet tigbed l-udjenzi. Ukoll meta kien ikun sieket, id-dehra ta' wiccu kienet iccaqlaq lis-semmiegha tieghu. Meta kien jitkellem, ma kienx biss dak li jghid, izda l-qawwa ta' dak li jhoss u l-konvinzjoni personali tieghu. It-tjubija tieghu kienet tolqot lill-kbar u lit-tfal, u l-katekezi tieghu kienet izjed qawwija minn ta' haddiehor ghax kienet frott il-qdusija tieghu u mhux l-elokwenza tal-pulptu. Kien jaf kif ghandu jidhak u kif idahhak lin-nies bil-bluhat ta' l-umanita, u fl-ahhar jasal helu helu ghat-taghlima. Kien jaf jaghmel lill-poplu konxju mis-sejha importanti tieghu ta' Nisrani, u filwaqt li kien jurih il-hniena ta' Alla, kien igibu konxju wkoll mill-gustizzja tieghU.
hadd ma kien jithalla barra mill-imhabba tieghu, u ghalhekk Malta u Ghawdex kollha kienu influwenzati mill-hila tieghu li jadatta l-perfezzjoni tal-hajja spiritwali ghall-mara tad-dar u ghall-haddiem. Is-sinjur, il-haddiem tat-tarzna, taz-zibel- kulhadd kien jingibed mill-messagg qawwi ta' din il-qassis li kulhadd irid ibiddel hajtu u jaghmilha tixbah lil dik ta' Kristu. Lanqas ma kien jiddejjaq jiddiskuti mal-Protestanti u l-Ortodossi li kien hawn Malta, fi zmien meta l-ekumenizmu kien ghadu lanqas beda jissemma.
Qaddis f'hajtu, f'mewtu...u wara mewtu
Dun Gorg kien bla dubju dawl f'dawn il-gzejjer, izda, bhalma kien ihobb jghid, "ahna m'ahniex mahluqin biex nibqghu hawn ghal dejjem." F'inzul ix-xemx sajfija Dun Gorg halla dil-hajja, nhar is-26 ta' Lulju, 1962, ghall-habta tat-7.45 p.m. Mewtu kienet mera ta' hajtu. Miet jaqra l-Evangelju, jitlob u jimmedita. Il-funeral kien monument ghal ghemilu, ghax 20,000 ruh imlew il-hamrun biex jaghtu l-ahhar titwila lil dal-bniedem daqstant mahbub. hafna bdew jirrakkuntaw stejjer straordinarji dwaru u kienu lesti jipproklamawh qaddis. Uhud tkellmu dwar fejqan mirakoluz u setghat mirakoluzi li kienu johorgu minnu. Ohrajn qalu li kien habbar il-gejjieni, bhal meta habbar l-Ewwel Gwerra Dinjija minn xahar qabel.
Din l-imhabba lejn Dun Gorg ghadha hajja fost il-poplu taghna li ghadu jzur f'ghadd kbir il-qabar tieghu fil-Blata l-Bajda, jitlob 'l Alla bl-intercessjoni tieghu l-bzonnijiet spiritwali u temporali. Il-kawza ta' beatifikazzjoni ta' Dun Gorg Preca nbdiet fit-13 ta' Marzu 1975 meta l-Papa Pawlu VI ffirma d-dokument li bih awtorizza lill-Arcisqof ta' Malta johrog id-digriet ghall-ftuh tal-kawza u s-setgha li jitwaqqaf tribunal biex jibda l-process. Il-Papa Gwanni Pawlu II iddikjarah beatu nhar id-9 ta’ Mejju 2001, waqt zjara li ghamel f’pajjizna. Il-Papa Benedittu XVI iddikjarah qaddis nhar it-3 ta' Gunju 2007 fil-Vatikan.
l-istess artiklu kif jidher fil-wikipedia:
Birth & early years
St George Preca was born in Valletta, Malta on February 12, 1880, George was the seventh child in a middle-class family of nine. His father, Vincent Preca, was first a merchant and then a sanitary inspector. His mother, Nathalie Ceravolo, was a teacher. George's boyhood was nothing spectacular, but he did not lack that adventuresomeness and courage which form the backbone of any leader. Feeling that he was called to be a priest, he moved from the Lyceum to the Seminary where as a young student he distinguished himself in his studies, especially in Latin.
He was a rather inconspicuous fellow, and yet, God's path for him had already been traced, so that the unexpected began to happen. Three saintly men, the Franciscan Br Diego Bonanno, Fr Ercole Mompalao and Fr Aloysius Galea, (his spiritual director), seemed to have been inspired by God and foresaw what would happen in the not so distant future. Fr Mompalao's words, especially, were to prove wonderfully exact: "Preca" he said to the youth, "You will grow up and will be befriended by people who respect God. You will be blessed because of them, and they because of you..."
Had George's father and doctor known about this prophecy they would surely have deemed it false for George was a sickly youth. There was a very serious doubt in Dr. E. Meli's mind whether the young cleric would live to celebrate his first Mass in December 1906 since he already suffered from a deceased lung.
Preca did not die. He outlived his father and doctor by many years, and had celebrated his 82nd birthday before he died.
As a seminarian, he used to go to the Grand Harbour, board the foreign ships there, and introduce himself to Greek, English and French sailors by offering them a cigarette. His lively intelligence and exquisite humour entertained the men who had been so long away from land and soon the young cleric would lead his audience to spiritual matters. Many a sailor must have been impressed by this gentle man who sought so willingly the good of his neighbour.
The cigarette ruse was to be used again and again. Knowing that a group of youngsters were in the habit of meeting together regularly, St George Preca struck up a steady friendship with them. Sometimes he was rebuffed, more often than not he was gladly received so that gradually his advice about spiritual matters was as welcome and accepted as his chattering on other things. Soon the group of youths who met in the vicinity of the Hamrun Parish Church, chief among them being Eugenio Borg, grew and grew so that a premises had to be rented where their meetings could be held.
In the early years of the 20th century several erroneous ideas were being aired in Malta. The Church kept a wary eye open on all new activities and organisations, fearing lest some novel teaching would permeate and damage the traditional Christian skin. So, when the word came to the ears of the Vicar General, Mgr Salvatore Grech, that a group of youths was meeting regularly to talk about God, the scare was on. This fear was crowned by the fact that many people were flocking to hear this priest and his followers talking about God in a simple and clear way and had even the audacity to open the Bible, a book which priests and not the laity were then deemed qualified to read! What was going on? What was St George Preca doing? Was he clandestinely forming some heretical sect?
Preca was aware, as any other intelligent person must have been at that time, that the religious situation on the islands of Malta and Gozo was, to say the least, precarious. With no solid grounding on Sacred Scripture, the religious feelings of the Maltese were founded on sand rather than on rocks - could easily, therefore, be washed away in times of storm and stress. Festivities, fireworks, a rather dubious devotionism and a fair amount of superstition was all that could be said of the piety of many a Maltese Christian.
No really well-organised catechetical instruction was carried out to stem this tide of religious ignorance. Much was left to the individual efforts of priests. The Church itself, although providing most of the best private educational establishments on the islands, could hardly be said to have prompted organised and regular religious education for the common people.
George Preca Response
St George Preca opted for the other way: teach the people so that they could be convinced of their beliefs, no matter who and what challenged them. Using his charismatic force and personality, he wielded a silent army for Christ: men and women who, without radically distinguishing themselves from common people by dress or uniform, would nevertheless be so well instructed and formed in their spiritual life that they would quietly shine forth before others with their example in their everyday life, whether at home or at work. Moreover, at a time when the laity had not yet been officially recognised as important in the mission of spreading the Gospel, St George Preca entrusted his followers with the responsibility of teaching catechism. His little group of men and women grew up to be the Society of Christian Doctrine (known locally as M.U.S.E.U.M.), and today it consists of about 110 Centres and 1100 members. They teach about 20,000 boys and girls in the Maltese islands, in Australia, Peru, the Sudan, United Kingdom, Kenya and Albania.
Despite the now-acknowledged greatness and merit of St George Preca, the early phase of his apostolic work was no bed of roses. rather the thorns that irritated his side were many and sharp. Cried down in the newspapers despite the fact that people continued to flock to him for advice, the climax came when the Vicar General Mgr Salvatore Grech ordered him to close down all the catechetical centres he had opened. These oppositions were no novelty in the Church. Most of the great founders met with the same treatment. St George Preca, like Don Bosco, was accused of being mad, and, like St Philip Neri, was criticised for his acts of piety. The same Archbishop who ordered Blessed George Preca to close down and would never approve of his Society, was soon to give him and his society a free hand over all his diocese, trusting them and confiding in them unreservedly.
His Deep Spirituality
If most of the authorities were slow to appreciate this God-sent man, the majority of the common people made up for this lack by acclaiming him as a saint. On his part, St George Preca's profound spirituality, which witnessed to a close union with God, filled him with a special charism to understand and lead God's people. His fine psychological acumen, drawing as much from his common sense as from his reading, helped him to get along with everybody - even with his enemies. His sterling sense of humour and sharp wit served him on a hundred and one occasions when facing people, whether it was on pulpit, bench or street. Once, while using the boat service provided at Valletta, an anti-clerical man showed his leanings by purposely shoving his foot in front of St George Preca's face. If this gentle priest was irritated, he did not show it. Rather, to the surprise of the smirking man, he bent down and kissed that wayward foot, such as Jesus must have done to Judas at the Last Supper. Unlike Judas, however, this man,s heart rekindled after so many years and he asked pardon there and than from the priest and from God.
On 21st July 1918, Fr Preca joined the Carmelite Third Order, and made his profession in the same Third Order the following year, assuming the name Italic textFrancoItalic text after the Carmelite Blessed Franco of Siena.
A Prolific Writer
St George Preca was a man capable of great energy and dynamism. As his home aide, Nellie Bartolo, testified, he would often burn the candle (literally, for he lived a life of absolute poverty) late into the night - preparing his sermons or writing some of his more than 140 books and pamphlets. His wish was to educate Malta in its love for God and neighbour, that the whole world accepts the Gospel ( Magister Utinam Sequator Evangelium Universus Mundus), and he was ready not to spare himself any pain in achieving that ideal. At a time when the language question was raging in Malta, and our mother tongue was forgotten in fight for supremacy between Italian and English, St George Preca began writing for the public in Maltese. The earliest manuscripts date as far back as 1909, and his merits as a writer have already been recognised. The ingenious method of spreading "manual papers", as he called them - a printed sheet covering some point of Christian doctrine and passed on by hand.
As a preacher St George Preca was much sought after, and when the news ran through village or town that the saintly priest was on his way there, village and town would arouse itself and flock to hear him speak. As he walked through the streets, standing tall and leaning a little forward, with his hand raised in blessing, children would gather around him and mothers would beg him to bless their babies and rosary beads. His power was a thing apart from words, like that of so many - perhaps most - great leaders. When he spoke , it was not only what he said, it was the suppressed heat of personal feeling, personal conviction which enkindled people. Virtue emanated from him, drawing both adults and children, and made his catechizing more potent than the pulpit eloquence of his day. He knew how to laugh and make people laugh at the failings of mankind, graciously drawing the moral at the end. He knew how to make people conscious of their grave calling as Christians, as well as making them aware not only of the rewards and kindness of God, but also of his justice and punishment.
Nobody was excluded from his love, so that all of Malta and Gozo were influenced by his ability to adapt the perfection of the spiritual life for the common housewife and workman. Rich and noble people, Drydock workers, refuse collectors - all and sundry were attracted by this priest's powerful message to reform themselves.
His Last Days St George Preca spent the last days of his life in Santa Venera. Undoubtedly St George Preca was a veritable light on these Maltese Islands, but as he himself loved to repeat time and time again to others, "we are not made to stay here forever". With the summer setting sun, St George Preca passed way on the 26 July 1962, at about 7.45 p.m., assisted by the then Parish Priest Fr Kilian Azzopardi O.Carm. Praying and meditating the Gospel to the last, his death was a memento of his life. His funeral was a monument to his deeds, for some 20,000 people streamed to Hamrun to catch a last glimpse of a man so well-beloved.
Many recounted extraordinary stories about him, and were ready to proclaim his sanctity. Some spoke of cures he had affected at a word or glance, others of the mysterious power which passed from him to others at the touch of a hand, leaving them strangely calm and peaceful. Some said that he had foreseen the future, as when he prophesied the 1914 War a month in advance.
The cause for the sanctification of St George Preca was started in 1975, and when his merit will be universally recognised, he will surely be most honoured for his willingness to serve as an instrument in God's hands, an able and humble tool for the revitalisation of the faith of the Maltese Islands which had been first transmitted to us by that other great apostle, Paul of Tarsus.
He was beatified during a Mass held for the occasion in Malta on 9 May 2001 by Pope John Paul II. The beatification miracle involved the healing of an irreversibly detached retina of a member of the Society. Pope Benedict XVI declared him a saint on 3 June 2007.