VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2001 (VIS) - This morning in Floriana's St. Publius Square, John Paul II celebrated a Mass during which he beatified Servants of God Fr. George Preca, Nazju (Ignatius) Falzon, and Sister Maria Adeodata Pisani. The square, the largest in the country, is also known as the Floriana Granaries as it originally held large silos for storing grain. Over the years, the square has served as the site for many important social, religious, and political gatherings. 
A crowd estimated at 100,000 faithful filled the square and its outlying areas to participate in the Eucharistic celebration, which was conducted in Latin, Maltese, and English.  
In his homily, the Pope recalled that Blessed Preca (1880-1962) "was a pioneer in the field of catechetics and in promoting the role of the laity in the apostolate, which (the Second Vatican) Council was to stress in a particular way. ... The Society of Christian Doctrine which he founded
continues his work of witness and evangelization in these islands and elsewhere." Made up of both men and women, the Society has among its goals the preparation of youth in order that they, in turn, may give religious formation to others. In his writings, the Holy Father noted, using the priest's Maltese name, that "Dun Gorg urges his fellow Christians to follow the example of the Crucified Lord in forgiving every offence. Is not this message of mutual respect and forgiveness especially needed today in Malta and in the world?" 
Blessed Ignatius Falzon (1813-1865), founder of the Congregation of the Rosary, "also had a passion for preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith. ... He renounced the worldly success for which his background had prepared him, in order to serve the spiritual good of others, including the many British soldiers and sailors stationed in Malta at the time. ... (He) drew his strength and inspiration from the Eucharist, prayer before the Tabernacle, devotion to Mary and the Rosary, and imitation of Saint Joseph. These are fountains of grace from which all Christians may
Speaking of Blessed Sr. Maria Adeodata Pisani (1806-1855), born in Italy of a Maltese father and an Italian mother, the Holy Father recalled that at the age of nineteen she came to live in Malta, where she "spent most of her life as a splendid figure of Benedictine religious consecration in the monastery of St. Peter." 
"Sister Adeodata's holy example," the Pope continued, "certainly helped to promote the renewal of religious life in her own monastery. I therefore wish to commend to her intercession a special intention of my heart. Much has been done in recent times to adapt religious life to the changed circumstances of today, and the benefit of this can be seen in the lives of very many men and women religious. But there is need for a renewed appreciation of the deeper theological reasons for this special form of consecration."
At the conclusion of Mass the Holy Father give a special greeting to all those who could not participate in the beatification, to the nuns of the six cloistered religious communities, the elderly, the sick, and the inmates of the Corradino Corrective Facility. "I know," the Pope said, "that it was your great desire to have, together with your relatives and friends, a visit by the Pope in memory of St. Paul, the prisoner Apostle. But this has not been possible. I embrace you all, spiritually, and I invoke upon you abundant divine graces." 
Before leaving, John Paul II made a new appeal for peace in the Middle East. Having received the news of the stoning of two young Israelis in Teokan, located between Bethlehem and Hebron, the
Pope said: "Yet again today we are receiving painful news from the Holy Land, of the terrible violence, even against innocent young people. We must intensify our prayers for peace in the Holy Land."