Nazju Falzon
(1813 – 1865) 


The Venerable Nazju Falzon was a man endowed with many talents which he put to good use obtaining degrees both in law and theology. He was very fluent in English. He was also a source of enlightenment and encouragement to a number of children hailing from poor backgrounds as well as a number of British servicemen stationed in Malta.

Family background. 

Nazju Falzon was born in Valletta on the 1st July 1813. He came from a very distinguished family that was a very religious one as well. His father, Francis Joseph was a Judge and his mother, Mary Teresa was the daughter of Judge Calcedonio Debono. He was baptized at the Church of Porto Salvo in Valletta.

There were four boys in the family, and all graduated in law. Two of them went on to become priests: Father Kalcidon who eventually became the Treasurer of the Cathedral Chapter and Father Francis who was very much sought after for spiritual counseling. Another brother, Anthony, was a lawyer and married with a family.

Cleric. 

At 15 years of age, Nazju received the Minor Orders and in spite of graduating with a degree in theology, he did not feel worthy to be ordained priest, hence he did not want to go further than the Minor Orders.

His first pastoral activity involved the teaching of catechism to the children at the Institute of the Good Shepherd, first as the Church of Sta. Barbara and later at that of our Lady of Victory. He used to help the children not only in their studies but also financially.

His biggest contribution

Nazju Falzon will be best remembered in the religious circles of Malta for his unstinting work among the British servicemen especially where the teaching of Catechism was concerned. This ended up being the most important and unique apostolate that he ever undertook and was to remain his distinguishing mark. In the beginning, his own home in Strait Street was the meeting place where he used to gather the soldiers and sailors. However, as the numbers grew, he moved to the Jesuits’ Church in Valletta. For these people he founded as well the Congregation of the Rosary that came to be known simply as ‘The Congregation.’ He also wrote a book titled “The Comfort of the Christian Soul”. To make it easier for the servicemen to understand their Faith, he saw to it to bring ‘religious’ books from abroad in their vernacular.

All of this earned Nazju Falzon the blind trust of the servicemen. Knowing about his law degree, they would approach him for advice on legal matters as well and quite often he would serve as the go-between with the families back in their homeland. Before going to the battlefield, the servicemen would entrust to his safekeeping their most personal belongings, including gold adornments, jewelry and other things of sentimental value. They knew that should they end up missing, he would forward them to their loved ones.

Hundreds of baptisms. 

In this period, Malta was often host to as many as 20,000 British servicemen at a time and Nazju Falzon was the one engaged in teaching them Catechism. Many Protestants, buddies of those under instruction, used to accompany their friends to the sessions of ‘The Congregation’. He organised them into different sections according to the different levels. There were more than 650 such servicemen that must have been baptised as a result of this ministry.

Nazju Falzon used to follow the progress of those baptized right up to their marriage especially those who went on to date and get engaged to Maltese girls. We must remember that this was the pre-ecumenical era when Canon Law allowed only exceptionally marriages between Catholics and ‘other’ Christians. On top of all this, in Malta’s traditionally Catholic families, such ‘mixed’ marriages were looked upon with disapproval. Nazju Falzon used to encourage the converts to receive the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and would administer the Sacrament of the Sick as and when needed. 

Some of the co-workers of Nazju Falzon went on to become priests and Military or Naval Chaplains. Fr. Cullens, who himself became a priest due to the encouragement of Fr. Falzon eventually took over the apostolate with the servicemen after the latter had passed away.

His death 

The Ven. Nazju Falzon died on his very birthday, 1st July 1865 at the age of 52. He was buried in the family vault in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in the Church of the Franciscan Minors, Mary of Jesus, Valletta.

His reputation for holiness and hence devotion spread fast not only in Malta but also in those locations wherever Maltese used to emigrate. Three years after his death, the Bishop of Malta, Gajetan Pace Forno OSA had his body exhumed and placed at the entrance of the same Church.

Beatification Process 

As soon as the process for beatification began, the Bishops of England, who had heard of the wonderful work done by this Maltese priest from the servicemen back in their own dioceses, were among the first to write ‘postulatory letters’ requesting the commencement of the beatification process. 

On the 23rd October 1987,  Nazju Falzon was declared to have practiced the theological and cardinal virtues to a heroic degree.

Miraculous Healing. 

Among the Church’s requirements for the declaration that a person lived a holy life, there must be proof of some special, specific ‘miraculous’ intervention. This happened to a gentleman born in 1937 and still alive today. He was the recipient of a miraculous healing at the intercession of the Venerable Nazju Falzon. On 3rd June 1981 this gentleman was operated for a tumor and his situation became rather precarious. The doctors were of the opinion that he would neither recover still less survive. Prayers were made for the intercession of the Ven. Nazju Falzon. The man says that after the operation he remained fearful but did not feel any pain. On the 15th June he left the hospital without ever undergoing the chemotherapy treatment. The doctors declare that the tumor disappeared
completely. Once the Ecclesiastical Tribunal gathered all the relevant data and testimonials from the witnesses, these were sent them to Rome according to the norms set up by the Holy See. The decision of the Congregation for the Cause of Sainthood was taken on 19th February 2001 and it was declared that according to the report of the five medical experts engaged by them, the cure was completely miraculous. 

 

From the The Archdiocese of Malta - Public Relations Office
( http://www.maltachurch.org.mt )