Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Pavia’


    Madre Phyllis Agius“This place was much livelier when children were around, especially in Christmas,” reminisced 60-year-old Madre Phyllis Agius of Jesus of Nazareth Institute in Żejtun. Around forty years ago, when she became a nun, the institute catered for orphans, teenage girls with family problems, and Muslim refugees. Nowadays, the nuns have dwindled to only nine and the institute serves mainly as a night shelter for the elderly.

    “It was the need to take care of children which made me decide to become a nun. When I was a little girl, I noticed the institute’s orphans attending my same school in Żejtun and I hoped that one day, I would be able to give them all my love and support.”

    She was initially approached by a nun while she was participating in a raffle which was being held at the institute as part of the Christmas activities.

    “I visited the mechanical crib at this institute each year and like many others, I tried my luck at the raffle. On one of these days, I won the raffle but I had no idea which gift to choose. It was at that point that a nun gave me a pamphlet which read – Why not you? From then on, I began to consider becoming a nun.”

    The large mechanical crib which was opened for the public in 1947, was one of the main attractions which brought people to the institute.

    “People were simply amazed by this crib and its moving figurines. When it opened for the first time, crowds came from all over the island to see it. There were such long queues that people got restless waiting and the police had to be called in to calm the situation. By time, we became known as the sisters of the crib.”

    Il-presepju (1)“No entrance fee was charged to visit this crib but people gave us donations to support the needs of our institute. Both this crib and also the orphans drew the attention of several benefactors who helped us to live a simple but comfortable life.”

    Like Madre Phyllis, when I was young, I remember some of these young children who attended the primary school in Żejtun. They were always very smart and tidy.

    “Older nuns recall a time when there were around two hundred children at this institute. There were not as many children when I became a nun, and the last group who lived here around twelve years ago, consisted of just six children. Although the children lived a disciplined life, they were all very dear to us, and some of them are still in contact with us.”

    “Our children were always very busy during the Christmas season. Nuns trained them to participate in plays and also in the institute’s choir. A group of nuns who could play instruments organized a small orchestra which accompanied the choir. On Christmas eve, the Institute’s director would attend and he was always very pleased to see everyone having fun.”

    L-Isqof-Emmanuel-GaleaThe first director of this institute and orphanage was none other than Bishop Emmanuel Galea, the very person who came up with the idea to construct the large mechanical crib.

    “During the Christmas season, the children attended to many parties and they received several presents. Some of the children were also invited to spend the Christmas with families. It was such a happy time.”

    “One of the nuns, Sister Ursola, was an excellent pastry maker. The aroma of baking Christmas cakes and qagħaq tal-għasel was heavenly during those days. Much of these sweets were given to our benefactors as a sign of gratitude.”

    As no more children were left and fewer nuns joined the institute, life changed considerably. Now, most of the benfactors are gone and the elderly nuns have to rely on the help of friends and volunteers. Yet Christmas is still a cherished time.

    “Three weeks before Christmas, we start with the Advent season which prepares us for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus. This consists of teachings and readings during the daily mass that takes place at the institute’s church at 7.00am. Nine days before Christmas, we celebrate the novena which consists of readings and singing at the end of the mass.”

     The expectation for Christmas triggers also a number of traditions within the institute.

     “Volunteers come to help us to decorate the institute’s halls and rooms with cribs, baby Jesus statues, Christmas fathers and Christmas trees. One of the volunteers also takes care of growing vetch for us which is eventually used to decorate the institute’s church together with ponsiettas.”

    Joseph-Pavia - rd“Joseph Pavia, the nephew of Pawlu Pavia who constructed the mechanical crib, calls to check whether everything is fine with the crib and the figurines. In the meantime, we prepare the items for our Christmas bazaar from which we sell books, toys and crafts prepared by the nuns.”

    The day before Christmas eve, Madre Phyllis prepares her renowned chocolate drink which has become a favourite with parishioners.

    “My recipe consists of chunks of exquisite chocolate, drinking chocolate, baking chocolate, vanilla drops, sugar, and peel of oranges, lemons and mandarines. I melt and blend eveything together in two large cooking pots and leave the mixture to cook slowly.”

    “This chocolate drink and a piece of Christmas cake are then offered to all those who attend to the Christmas eve mass which is celebrated at the institute’s church at 8.00pm. Children are also given a present by Father Christmas.”

    The nuns spend Christmas day together at the institute.

    “We wake up at 5.45am to say our prayers. Then we have breakfast and at 7.00am we attend to mass. Afterwards, we fill the nuns’ Christmas stockings with small presents which mainly consist of chocolates since they love them. Some of us receive family visits while others welcome the public at our crib. At noon we have lunch and we pray again.”

    Istitut Gesu Nazzarenu - rd“After enjoying some rest, some of us stand again by the crib to receive the public. More people tend to come at this time, bringing along their families with them. Many people seek this annual opportunity to talk to us. It is pleasant to see that people still trust us and believe that we are a faster way to God,” she said as she smiled.

    Indeed, this is the time when people approach them to share their personal problems, seek advice, and ask for prayers. A good number of those attending give them donations to help with the needs of the institute.

    “Christmas day ends with more prayers and dinner. Then we gather together to watch tv while enjoying some sweets and a sip of vermouth. After all Christmas is about being with family and this is our family now.”

    The Institute of Jesus of Nazareth is located at St Gregory Street in Żejtun.

    This year, the mechanical crib will be open between 16th December 2018 and 6th January 2019. Opening hours: 9.30am – noon and 4.00pm – 7.00pm all week.

    (This feature was published in the Christmas Times issued with The Times of Malta on 8th December 2018)

    2018.12.08 / no responses / Category: Times of Malta


    When the last month of the year steals its way into our hearts, we find ourselves in a world of light, colours, dreams, hopes and Christmas… and nothing symbolises theNativity Scene - Close up Christmas spirit better than the nativity scene captured in a traditional crib. Fiona Vella went in search of two remarkable examples of this long-standing Maltese tradition.

    As December comes round, out come the boxes  loaded with colourful accessories and delights which were stored away the previous year: a disassembled Christmas tree, some intricate ornaments and a few old cherished cards.

    Yet nothing compares to the allure of a precious crib with its little figurines and the statuette of baby Jesus which needs to be warmed up with Ġulbiena, at least in a country with a strong Christian Road to the monasterytradition like Malta. The annual ritual of setting up the crib is fascinating, but what is this enigmatic fascination which draws us each year to recreate this nativity scene?  To unearth this riddle I decided to go back to our roots, seeking out two beautiful antique treasures which lie within our intriguing island.


    The first gem is situated deep in the heart of the medieval town of Mdina, shielded in the core of St Peter’s Monastery, the domicile of the Benedictine Cloistered Nuns.

    With the aid of Joseph Flask, a diligent writer about the life and history of the Benedictine Monastic Order, I was allowed to meet the Rev. Mother Abbess Sr. Maria Adeodata Testaferrata de Noto OSB who received me warmly and invited me to view the oldest known static crib in Malta.

    The monastery itself is a magnificent historic and architectural site, dating back to the 15th century. Nevertheless the experience of stepping inside a location which is customarily prohibited to The Mdina Criboutsiders’ eyes took that sense of magnificence one step further.

    Up the stairs and along the innermost corridors, lying dormant behind a wide glass case and heavy curtains was my ‘prize’, and I was overwhelmed with emotion as I beheld this rarely seen fine example of one of the highest Maltese traditions.

    No one knows who was its original creator or when it was built, but probably the crib’s first restoration took place in 1826, as the earliest painted signature G.B.GNew discovered initials indicates. A similar unspecified restorer enlarged the crib in 1846 and left a simple mark of G.G. A final revamp dates back to 1977, this time clearly signed by Giuseppe Sammut who painted and added the crib’s scenery.

    Incredibly, while we were exploring the crib, we chanced upon another signature which Joseph had never noticed before – a coarse reddish scribbling bearing the initials G.G and a not so clear G.I. Evidently the crib seems to hold even more challenges and clues for devotees to decipher.

    The crib is embedded with personal memories of several people. In fact, a closer glimpse at its figurines lying around theDifferent figurines unrefined landscape made of glued old sacks and newspapers, reveals that oddly most of the figures do not match each other, either in style, age or even size!  This effect was initiated by the nuns themselves when they resolved to bestow the original crib’s population with every relative statuette that came in their possession! Amusingly, more intense exploration discloses even extraneous insertions; such as the Greek classic statuette and an irrelevant building situated at the back. Peculiar as it might seem, this reality exudes a tender feeling as one realizes that the crib actually encompasses the love and memories of each nun that lived with it.

    The crib is in fact of somewhat crucial help to the cloistered nuns, helping them to evoke theColourful old figurine meaning behind the holy birth; a tangible item in a life withdrawn from the usual worldly pleasures, which constantly reminds them of the sweet joy of Christmas. Indeed, this very crib inspired the renowned short writings of the Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani OSB who lived in the monastery for several years. And to this day, the crib continues to instigate the spirits of the other nuns when on Christmas Eve they celebrate a traditional procession which ends up in front of it.


    The other route to discovery led me to the quaint village of Żejtun, again to another convent but this time to see the oldest, large, Maltese mechanical crib, which dates back to 1945, a period whereinBishop Emmanuel Galea our island lay ravaged from the destruction of World War II. It was this devastation that inspired Mons. Emmanuel Galea to create a unique religious symbol as he saw that people desperately needed to rekindle their faith and hope of a better life.

    Together with his nephew Pawlu Pavia he devised a plan to build a large mechanical crib which could be motor-driven.Pawlu Pavia

    I found Pawlu, now 86,  residing in St Vincent De Paule’s residence. Despite his old age, he reconstructed the whole story with sharp clarity and also with a touch of melancholy.

    He remembers how some workers were brought in to build a platform made from random pieces of broken doors and windows. Moreover, three openings were cut in one of the room’s wall as the cribŻejtun crib had to represent three sections: what happened before the birth of Jesus Christ, the actual birth itself and what occurred thereafter.

    The fabrication of papier machè and the layout of the crib he made with the bishop, while he alone  was responsible for building the crib’s figurines from wood and iron wire. However the hardest taskThe presentation of Jesus in the temple was to find some ingenious way of motorizing the figurines’ movements and to actually interelate them at a time when resources were very few. Another difficulty was to surpass the dilemma of an unstable electric current. Incredibly he did all this by means of one single motor which he succeeded to find in a remote shop. Even more incredible is that after 65 years, the crib still functions with this same system!

    This journey also led me to Sister Pawlina Gauci, now 78,  who, together with the late Sr. Angela, had the responsibility of dressing the figures. Her three yearsSwor Pawlina Gauci missionary work in Persia (now Iran) aided her with good knowledge of the type of material to be used and one by one the figures were clothed with several samples of fabric which a number of shops had contributed.

    Both Pawlu and Sr. Pawlina recall the commotion that this crib raised when it was opened to the public for the first time during Christmas of 1947. Visitors came from all over Malta and there was such a big crowd that the police had to intervene to keep control of the situation!

    Now that Pawlu is retired, the crib passed into the care of his nephew Joseph Pavia,Joseph Pavia whose great dedication to it is no lesser than his uncle’s. In fact during the last years Joseph renovated the visitors’ room and included a very interesting documentary which recounts the whole story of this crib in five different languages.

    Remarkably, even this crib seems to bear the destiny to be associated with holiness as currently there is the process of the cause for canonization of its instigator, Mons. Emmanuel Galea.

    As I left the crib, I pondered about the dedication and devotion behind their creation. The endeavour, the ritual, the almost childish happiness to share a crib with others… all lead to an ancient dream Żejtun convent which St Francis of Assisi had foreseen a long time ago in the village of Greccio. For through its modesty, a crib reminds us that the spirit of Christmas is simple and that it is meant to reach out to our hearts and souls and bathe them in the joy of the birth of Jesus.

    (This article was published in FIRST magazine, Issue December 2010. FIRST magazine is delivered with The Malta Independent on Sunday)

    2010.12.16 / no responses / Category: Malta Independent on Sunday - First magazine


    “Għandi ħolma!” qal il-Monsinjur Emmanuel Galea lil neputih Pawlu Pavia.

    Kien l-1945 u Malta kienet għadha kif għaddiet miż-żmien qalil tal-gwerra. L-isqof kien mar joqgħod iż-Żejtun minħabba l-attakki kontinwi fuq l-Isla u matul dak iż-żmien huwa kien laħaq bħala direttur Il-presepjutal-Istitut tas-Sorijiet ta’ Ġesù Nazzarenu. Hemmhekk sab presepju b’pasturi li kienu jagħmlu movimenti żgħar permezz ta’ spaga li t-tfal tal-istitut stess kienu jiġbdu minn taħt il-mejda. Kien presepju ħelu imma l-isqof kien jitħasseb meta jara lit-tfal qed jagħmlu dak ix-xogħol.

    Għalhekk huwa ddeċieda li jibni presepju ieħor, ħafna ikbar minn dak li kien hemm u fuq kollox kellu jkun l-ewwel presepju f’Malta li kellu jkun Pawlu Paviaimmekkanizzat bl-elettriku. L-isqof stess xammar il-kmiem biex flimkien ma’ neputih bena l-presepju bil-kartapesta u bil-kolla. Imbagħad Pawlu ra kif għamel u bil-ftit affarijiet li kien hemm dak iż-żmien, huwa bena għadd ta’ pasturi u b’mod inġenjuż irnexxielu jimmekkanizzahom kollha b’mutur wieħed!

    Il-presepju nfetaħ għall-pubbliku għall-ewwel darba fil-Milied tal-1947. Pawlu Pavia, li llum għandu 85 sena jiftakar li dakinhar kien inqala’ pandimonju sħiħ! In-nies ġiet minn kullimkien għax presepju bħal dak qatt ma kienet rat. Sa kellha tiġi l-pulizija biex iżżomm il-kontroll tal-folla.

    Forsi llum ftit jafu li dan huwa presepju daqshekk storiku. Wara sittin sena taħt ir-responsabbiltà ta’ Pawlu Pavia, illum dan il-presepju qed jiġi kkurat min-neputi tiegħu Joseph Pavia li matul din l-aħħar sena huwa għamel bosta xogħlijiet biex taha aktar ħajja lil dan il-presepju antik. Fostom huwa ħadem ukoll fuq kummentarju li f’ħames lingwi differenti jirrakkonta din il-ġrajja ħelwa tal-presepju.

    Ta’ min isemmi illi fuq l-ordni tal-Isqof Galea nnifsu, dan il-presepju nħadem biex jirrakkonta l-ħames misteri tal-ferħ. B’hekk kull min iżuru, ma jarax biss il-grotta tal-Bambin imma jifhem ukoll l-istejjer L-Isqof Emmanuel Galeatal-evanġelju li jirrakkuntaw dak li ġara qabel u wara t-twelid ta’ Sidna Ġesù Kristu. Interessanti wkoll huwa l-fatt illi bħalissa għaddejja l-kawża għall-kanonizzazzjoni ta’ dan l-isqof, li jekk isseħħ, żgur li tkompli tagħni dan il-presepju tant għażiż.

    Dan il-presepju mekkaniku jinsab fl-Istitut tas-Sorijiet ta’ Ġesù Nazzarenu fi Triq l-Isqof Emmanuel Galea, ż-Żejtun. Il-ġranet tal-ftuħ huma mill-14 ta’ Diċembru 2009 sas-6 ta’ Jannar 2010. Ħinijiet: 9:30am – 12:00pm u 4:00pm – 7:00pm.

    Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fuq ir-rivista GWIDA Ħarġa Nru 5 (31/1/2010 – 6/2/2010)

    2010.01.31 / no responses / Category: Articles


    Mijiet, jekk mhux eluf, bħal daż-żmien imorru jduru l-ibliet u l-irħula ta’ Malta biex jaraw il-presepji ppreżentati. Wieħed minn dawn il-presepji l-aktar magħruf  bla dubju ta’ xejn huwa dak li hemm fl-Istitut Ġesù Nazzarenu fiż-Żejtun…

    B’kumbinazzjoni dil-ġimgħa ltqajt ma’ eks-kollega tiegħi u flimkien ġeddidna diversi memorji. Tiskanta kif jibda jiġri bik moħħok, jgħarrex biex jiftakar dak il-wiċċ, dik l-esperjenza u mitt ħaġ’oħra. Tirrealizza kemm għalkemm jgħaddu diversi snin, ċerti nies u affarijiet jibqgħu għeżież ħafna għalik. Il-memorja tagħhom tkun ittappnet biss bħal kif tagħmel ħġieġa miksija bin-nida…. mesħa waħda malajr u kollox jerġa’ jiġi lura f’tebqa t’għajn.

    U donnha dil-ġimgħa għalhekk ġiet. Kont qed nagħmel xi ftit riċerka dwar presepju fiż-Żejtun u ħabta u sabta ntbaħt li waqt it-tiftix tiegħi kont iltqajt ma’ teżor! U dat-teżor kien ilu taħt ħalqi sew – sa minn tfuliti.

    Niftakar illi fil-ġurnata tal-Milied, il-ġenituri tiegħi kellhom drawwa ħelwa ħafna; dik li qabel l-ikla ta’ nofs inhar, kienu  jieħdu lili u lil ħuti nżuru l-presepji madwar Malta kollha. Biż-żmien saret tradizzjoni li nibdew mill-presepju tal-Istitut ta’ Ġesù Nazzarenu taż-Żejtun. Ta’ tifla li kont, kont nimpressjona ħafna ruħi mill-pasturi jiċċaqalqu li kellu fih u kull darba kont nitħasseb kif kienu jsiru dawk il-movimenti. Min qatt kellu jgħidli xi storja kbira kien hemm wara dak il-post?

    Sfortunatament meta konna mmorru nżuru dan il-presepju, qatt ħadd ma kien spjegalna xi ħaġa dwaru. Konna nidħlu narawh, nistagħġbu bi ġmielu u nitilqu. Għalhekk tistgħu timmaġinaw kif bqajt meta sirt naf illi dan kien l-ewwel presepju f’Malta li kien mekkanizzat bl-għajnuna ta’ mutur elettriku. Iktar minn hekk id-data tat-tiswir tiegħu kienet tmur lura sal-1947! B’sorpriża kbira rnexxieli niltaqa’ ma’ żewġ persuni li ħadmu fuqu f’dak iż-żmien….

    Lil Pawlu Pavia mort inżuru flimkien man-neputi tiegħu Manuel Vella ġewwa d-Dar tal-Anzjani ta’ St Vincent de Paule, fejn illum qiegħed jgħix. Sibtu qed jaqra ktieb dwar it-turbini tal-gass…

    “Illum għandi 85 sena u xorta bqajt ninteressa ħafna ruħi fit-teknoloġija għax nieħu gost nara x’qegħdha toffri d-dinja moderna ta’ llum.”

    Fil-fatt Pawlu għamel żmien twil jaħdem bħala tekniku fil-power station l-antika fix-xatt tal-Belt.

    “U hemmhekk għal ftit ma ħallejtx ġildi. Niftakar illi ġurnata minnhom kont għadni apprentist u kont qiegħed naħdem fuq pompa flimkien mal-istruttur tiegħi Toni Pizzuto. F’daqqa waħda smajna l-Pawlu Pavia balumba (is-sirena) ddoqq sabiex tavżana li kien ġej attakk mill-ajru. Ħarisna lejn is-sema imma ma rajna xejn. Wara ftit jiena bdejt nisma’ l-ħoss imbiegħed ta’ ajruplan. Toni merini imma jiena kont ċert. F’dawk iż-żminijiet tibda tidra ċerti ħsejjes u affarijiet. Saħansitra tkun kapaċi tagħraf x’tip ta’ ajruplan ġej, kemm hu fil-għoli u f’liema bogħod qiegħed. Għall-ewwel rajtu daqs dubbiena – kien hemm ħafna sħab u allura aktar stajt narah malajr. Immarkajt lejh u proprju dak il-ħin smajnih jogħdos ‘l isfel. Għedtlu ser jitlaqha Ton! Toni qabadli jdejja u nżilna niġru lejn in-niżla l-antika tal-kurċifiss. Imma hekk kif wasalna f’nofs triq, jien deherli li aħjar jekk immorru nistkennu f’xelter qrib. Iżda Toni ddeċieda li jibqa’ sejjer fi triqtu u jien irħejtilha qisni għafrid lejn ix-xelter. Hekk kif dħalt fix-xelter bl-eżatt, il-bomba tolqot il-post fejn kien mar jistkenn Toni. Flimkien miegħu mietu tnejn oħra dakinhar. Mumenti li ma ninsihom qatt!”

    Staqsejtu jekk fil-Milied l-attakki kienux jieqfu…

    “Għandek tkun taf li l-għadu la għandu ġranet, la għandu siegħat, la għandu bil-lejl u lanqas bi nhar. Fejn jista’ jattakkak, jattakak. Ġieli kienu jieqfu naqra f’xi Milied imma biex jistrieħu u mhux b’xi rispett lejn xi ħaġa. U inti xorta ma tkunx moħħok mistrieħ għax  ma stajtx tieħu b’garanzija li mhux ser jattakkaw. Tkun beżgħan li jafu jiġu u moħħok xorta jibqa’ jtektek. Għamilna ngħixu hekk mill-1938 sal-1945, kuljum, ġurnata wara l-oħra.”

    Domna ħafna nitkellmu dwar dawn iż-żminijiet sakemm imbagħad wasalna għall-istorja tal-presepju.

    “Fl-1945, kif għaddiet il-gwerra, iz-ziju tiegħi, l-Monsinjur Emmanuel Galea ġietu x-xewqa li jagħmel presepju kbir ġewwa l-istitut li tiegħu huwa kien id-direttur. Sa dak iż-żmien kien jeżisti presepju ieħor, ħafna aktar żgħir. Kellu numru ta’ pasturi li kienu jiċċaqalqu permezz ta’ spaga li t-tfal tal-istitut stess kienu joqogħdu jiġbdu minn taħt mejda. It-tfal kienu jagħmlu siegħa kull wieħed u n-nies kienet tagħtihom xi ftit ħelu. Imma l-isqof kien imħasseb dwar din il-biċċa xogħol u minflok xtaq joħloq presepju li kellu jkun mekkanizzat b’mutur elettriku.

    Fl-1946  ftehemna li nneħħu l-presepju li kien hemm u minflok bdejna nibnu dak li hemm illum bil-qies ta’ 27 pied tul b’20 pied wisa’. Taħt id-direzzjoni tiegħu, ġew xi bennejja li fetħu tlett twieqi filwaqt li l-mastrudaxxi bnew il-pjattaforma tal-presepju. Wara, jiena u hu ffurmajna l-kartapesta mill-karti, l-gazzetti u l-kolla. Trid tifhem li dak iż-żmien ma kien hawn xejn. Ridt tara kif ser tkun kreattiv u tuża l-immaġinazzjoni tiegħek biex toħloq dak li trid.

    Wasalna mbagħad għall-pasturi u l-isqof telaqha f’idi biex inwettaq il-ħolma tiegħu. Bdejt inkisser moħħi kif ser nagħmel biex noħloq il-movimenti li konna ddiskutejna dwarhom. Iddeċidejt li nibda mill-Madonna u ftit ftit bdejt nifforma l-pastur mill-fildiferru u l-injam. Meta lestejtha, l-Madonna setgħet tbaxxi rasha u ċċaqlaq idejha u għamilt ftit aktar kuraġġ. Irnexxieli nsib mutur minn ħanut u bdejt nissara mat-taħbila li kelli nsolvi – dik li nħaddem il-pasturi kollha permezz tiegħu. Biex tgħaxxaqha, dak iż-żmien il-kurrent ma kienx b’saħħtu l-ħin kollu u għalhekk ridt insib irkaptu kif nixgħel il-mutur mingħajr ma nħallih jintefa’. Ftit ftit bdejt nibni l-pasturi u nimmekkanizzahom. Is-sitwazzjoni kienet kull ma tmur tikkumplika ruħha, hekk kif il-movimenti tal-pasturi riedu jikkumplimentaw lil xulxin bħal ngħidu aħna l-Madonna kienet titbaxxa u tbus lil binha filwaqt li San Ġużepp jinżel għarkubbtejh.”

    Fil-Milied tal-1947 l-isqof iddeċieda li jiftaħ il-presepju għall-pubbliku. Hu u neputih kienu bassru li presepju oriġinali bħal dak kien ser iqajjem interess kbir imma qatt ma ħasbu li kien ser joħloq pandemonju sħiħ!

    “Meta ftaħna l-presepju qamet storja sħiħa. In-nies ġew minn kull naħa ta’ Malta.  Ma stajnix inlaħħqu magħhom u dawn bdew jiffullaw għax kulħadd ried jidħol biex jara. Kien hemm min saħansitra kellu xi jgħid għax taf inti, issib min jipprova jqabbeż. Fil-fatt kellha tiġi anki l-pulizija biex tikkalma u tieħu ħsieb is-sitwazzjoni.”

    Pawlu saħaq aktar minn darba li l-isqof ried jgħaddi messaġġ partikolari permezz ta’ dan il-presepju…

    “Hu xtaq li min jiġi jżur il-presepju, ma japprezzax biss il-ġmiel tal-grotta u jitlaq il-barra. Ried li l-viżitaturi jikkunsidraw il-ħames misteri tal-ferħ li fuqhom ġie mibni b’dettall kbir il-presepju. Ippjana illi huma jaħsbu ftit fuq dak li ġara kemm qabel it-twelid ta’ Ġesù u kif ukoll wara.”

    Qatt ma kont intbaħt illi t-twieqi jaqsmu l-presepju fi stejjer partikolari…

    “Ippjanajna kollox eżattament fuq l-istejjer tal-Bibbja. Fit-tieqa tax-xellug tista’ tara dak li ġara qabel it-twelid ta’ Ġesù fostom it-tħabbira tal-anġlu Gabriel u ż-żjara ta’ Marija fil-villaġġ ta’ Ein Karem fejnIl-presepju kellhom id-dar tagħhom Eliżabetta u żewġha Żakkarija. Mit-tieqa tan-nofs tilmaħ lil Betlehem fil-quċċata u aktar ‘l isfel il-grotta fejn hemm it-twelid ta’ Sidna Ġesù. F’naħat oħra, l-anġli qed iwasslu l-aħbar lir-rgħajja filwaqt li l-maġi ġejjin bl-iġmla tagħhom wara li dawn ġew imsejjħa minn Alla nnifsu (b’turija li għalkemm pagani, Kristu kien ġie biex isalva lill-bndemin kollha). Fit-tarf tal-presepju hemm ukoll għajn li minnha qed jimlew in-nies li tfakkarna fi kliem Kristu “min għandu l-għatx ħa jiġi għandi u jixrob”. F’ġenb ieħor hemm ir-rgħajja man-ngħaġ tagħhom; xena li tfakkarna fil-kliem “jiena r-ragħaj it-tajjeb li nagħraf in-ngħaġ tiegħi waħda waħda u li nagħti ħajti għalihom”. Fl-aħħar tieqa ‘l fuq fl-għoli hemm il-preżentazzjoni ta’ Ġesù fit-tempju u t-tbassira ta’ Xmun. Finalment l-aħħar xena turi l-ħarba lejn l-Eġittu.”

    Pawlu Pavia dam jieħu ħsieb dan il-presepju għal aktar minn 60 sena.

    “Bil-mod il-mod għamilt diversi xeni u llum hemm mat-80 pastur. Kull darba kont nara x’ser inżid jew inbiddel fih. Għalija dak il-presepju qatt mhu lest għal kollox. Inqabblu ma’ sinfonija mhux kompluta… dejjem tista’ tirranġa biex issir aħjar.”

    Iltqajt ukoll ma’ Swor Pawlina Gauci li flimkien ma’ Swor Anġela (illum mejta) kellha f’idejha r-responsabbiltà biex tlibbes lill-pasturi ta’ dan il-presepju. Illum Swor Swor Pawlina GauciPawlina tgħodd is-77 sena. Qattat ħafna snin fil-missjoni fejn fostom kellha x-xorti taħdem għal xahrejn fl-Indja ma’ Madre Tereża u s-sorijiet tagħha. F’dawn l-aħħar snin hija għamlet ukoll 14-il sena missjoni l-Perù. Imma kienu t-tlett snin li għamlet il-Persja li daħħluha f’dan il-proġett..

    “Pawlu Pavia talabni ngħinu biex isiru l-ħwejjeġ tal-pasturi. Dak iż-żmien jiena kont il-Madre Superjura tal-Istitut u għalhekk kien dover tiegħi li ngħin. Fl-istess ħin, peress li għext xi snin il-Persja, kelli ċerta esperjenza dwar l-istil tal-ilbies li Pawlu xtaq ilibbes lill-pasturi tiegħu. Tal-ħwienet kienu jagħtuna diversi kampjuni ta’ drappijiet u anki xi biċċiet li kien jifdlilhom u għalhekk id-drapp ma kienx problema. Adattajna kemm stajna biex inqarrbu lejn il-ħwejjeġ li kienu jilbsu fi żmien il-miġja ta’ Sidna Ġesù Kristu. Jiena kont infassal u nħit bil-magna filwaqt li Swor Angela, li kellha jdejha iżgħar minn tiegħi, kienet tħit b’idejha xi irqaqat bħal kmiem u hekk.

    Pawlu kien jaqlagħlna l-pasturi erbgħa erbgħa, niddiskutu miegħu x’jixtieq u l-bqija f’idejna. Kont emozzjonata ħafna waqt li kont qed naħdimhom għax kont qed nagħmel xi ħaġa biex ngħin lill-kunvent u biex permezz ta’ dan il-presepju nirsistu biex inressqu aktar erwieħ lejn Alla.

    Il-kongregazzjoni tagħna ilha teżisti biss għal dawn l-aħħar 70 sena. Imma illum il-vokazzjonijiet naqsu ħafna.”

    Xtaqt inkun naf jekk ilix ma żżur il-presepju?

    “Immur inżuru kull sena għax fl-istess ħin immur nagħti l-awguri lill-Madre tal-Istitut.  Sfortunatament matul dawn l-aħħar snin in-nies li jżuru dan il-presepju naqsu qatiegħ. Forsi l-istorja tinbidel dis-sena għax sirt naf li sar xi tibdil sabiħ ħafna.”

    Ma stajtx ma nkellimx ukoll lill-kuratur preżenti ta’ dan il-presepju li jiġi n-neputi ta’ Pawlu, Joseph Pavia.

    “Inqas ma ssemmini aħjar” laqagħni mill-ewwel Joseph.

    Imma għall-ebda raġuni ma kont ser inħallih barra. Matul sena waħda biss li hu ilu jieħu ħsieb dan il-presepju, it-tibdil li sar fil-lok huwa mpressjonanti u utli ferm.

    “Jiena n-neputi ta’ Pawlu Pavia. Sa minn ċkuniti zijuwi kien jeħodni miegħu biex narah jaħdem fuq il-presepju. Mas-snin ħareġ fija t-talent tad-diżinn u t-tpinġija u ftit ftit zijuwi beda jafdani bl-irtokk tal-pasturi. Huwa dam snin kbar jieħu ħsieb dan il-presepju imma fl-aħħar snin kellu jċedi din ir-responsabbiltà u ddeċidejt li nidħol minfloku jien.”

    Talabni nimxi warajh, daħħalni fil-kamra tal-presepju fid-dlam u xegħel id-dawl. Ħsiebu rnexxielu għax bqajt impressjonata bil-bosta. Lanqas biss għaraftha l-kamra li kont ilni tant inżur!

    “Deherli li din il-kamra kien jistħoqqilha ftit rinovar għax ma kinetx għadha tilqgħek. Ippjanajt li nżommha sempliċi kemm jista’ jkun imma fl-istess ħin ma xxaħħaħt xejn fil-materjali li użajt u fil-ħin li ddedikajt għaliha. Tajtha stil medjevali li jixraq ħafna mal-presepju nnifsu u qgħadt attent li nżomm il-karattru oriġinali tal-kamra u tat-tagħmir li kien fiha. Kont qed nagħmel kollox waħdi, niddedika ftit siegħat kuljum matul dis-sena li għaddiet. Imbagħad ġie jagħtini daqqa t’id Leli Mifsud fejn qaxxar il-bqija tal-ħitan u kaħħal il-kamra. Jien komplejt ngħaddi d-dawl u nagħmel il-bqija tax-xogħol.”

    Mill-bosta xogħol li għamel, l-aktar li apprezzajt kienet l-idea  tal-kummentarju li huwa sawwar dwar l-istorja ta’ dan il-presepju storiku…

    “Dik li jiġu n-nies iżuruh u ma jafu xejn dwar l-istorja tiegħu, kienet tagħtini ġewwa ħafna. Għalhekk bdejt mill-ewwel naħdem fuq kummentarju qasir sabiex jakkompanja lill-viżitatur. Irnexxieli ndaħħal Joseph Pavial-istorja ta’ dan il-presepju f’tul ta’ sitt minuti ħalli dak li jkun ma jiddejjaqx jisma’. Traduċejt dan il-kummentarju f’ħames lingwi differenti u tlabt lil qarrejja professjonali biex jagħmlu dax-xogħol: il-Malti – Frans Zahra, l-Ingliż – Anthony Girard, it-Taljan – Nicola Tombion, il-Franċiż – Elizabeth Grech Scicluna u l-Ġermaniż – Andreas Reiff. Xtaqt ukoll inlaqqa’ mużika apposta għall-kummentarju. Għalhekk avviċinajt lill-Maestro Ray Sciberras u tlabtu jiktibli biċċa mużika li tfakkar fiż-żminijiet imbiegħda tat-twelid ta’ Ġesù. Ma xtaqt xejn bombastiku imma ridt illi matul dawk is-sitt minuti, jiġu espressi l-mumenti differenti li twassal il-ġrajja tal-presepju. Għall-ewwel il-maestro nħasad għax kien dubbjuż kif seta’ jdaħħal dan kollu f’ħin daqshekk qasir. Imma meta lesta u sejjaħli biex nismagħha għall-ewwel darba, mill-ewwel fhimt li kien għamilli kapolavur!”

    Skont kliem Joseph innifsu hemm ħafna aktar x’isir fuq il-presepju…

    “Il-mekkaniżmu mhux ser immissu imma l-pasturi għandhom bżonn xi ħwejjeġ li jridu jinbidlu. Il-kartapesta, is-saqaf u s-sistema tad-dawl iridu jinbidlu wkoll. Barra minn hekk is-susa għamlet ħafna ħsara wara dawn is-snin kollha. Anzi nistagħġeb kif żamm dan iż-żmien kollu speċjalment meta tikkunsidra illi jekk tidħol taħtu tinduna li prattikament il-presepju sar mix-xejn: il-qiegħ tiegħu maħdum mill-fallakki, il-bibien u l-purtelli. Is-sena d-dieħla nixtieq ukoll nerġa’ nħaddem l-għajn bl-ilma għax maż-żmien kienet ġarrbet xi ħsara u ma ħadmitx aktar. Kollox bil-mod għax hawnhekk waħdi qed naħdem. Napprezza kieku kull tant żmien jiġi xi ħadd jagħtini daqqa t’id.”

    Kont kurjuża nistaqsih x’ifisser dan il-presepju għalih?

    “Għalija dan il-presepju huwa parti mill-familja u nħoss nostalġija kbira lejh. L-għan prinċipali tiegħi huwa illi minflok jispiċċa biż-żmien, dal-presepju jingħata mill-ġdid il-ħajja ħalli n-nies terġa’ tibda żżuru bi ħġarha. Żgur li ser nagħmel l-almu kollu tiegħi biex dan iseħħ. Nappella biex in-nies jiġu jaraw ix-xogħol li sar u fl-istess ħin iħallu donazzjoni għas-sorijiet li għandhom bżonn ħafna għajnuna speċjalment fil-manutenzjoni ta’ dan l-Istitut.

    Ta’ min isemmi wkoll li bħalissa għaddejja l-kawża għall-beatifikazzjoni tal-Isqof Emmanuel  Galea. Jekk dan iseħħ, għad jiġi żmien meta l-valur ta’ dal-presepju jiżdied ħafna aktar.”

    Fl-isfond tal-kamra, Joseph beda jsemmagħli l-kummentarju. Bħad-deċifrar ta’ xi manuskritt antik, l-istorja tal-presepju tremblet quddiemi u f’daqqa lmaħt elf dettall li qatt ma nnutajt qabel matul dawk is-snin kollha li kont ilni nżuru. Il-mużika sabiħa mliet il-kamra u ħassejtni nogħdos fiha matul iż-żminijiet, il-bogħod il-bogħod sal-ewwel Milied.

    Il-presepju tal-Istitut tas-Sorijiet ta’ Ġesù Nazzarenu jinsab fi Triq l-Isqof Emmanuel Galea fiż-Żejtun. Ser ikun miftuħ għall-wiri mill-14 ta’ Diċembru 2009 sas-6 ta’ Jannar 2010. Ħinijiet tal-ftuħ: mid-9:30am sa 12:00pm u mill-4:00pm sas-7:00pm.

    (Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tal-20 ta’ Diċembru 2009)

    2009.12.20 / no responses / Category: Torca - Perspettivi