Falzon, Ignatius, Bl.

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Catechist; b. July 1, 1813, Valetta, Malta; d., July 1, 1865, Valetta. Ignatius (Nazju in Maltese) was born at the time when Malta was in the process of becoming a British colony and naval base. His father was a lawyer and later a judge; his mother was the daughter of a judge. Two of his brothers became priests. Ignatius received degrees in both civil and canon law at the Athenaeum of Malta (1833) and began theological studies, receiving the four minor orders in vogue at the time, but decided against ordination to the priesthood. Ignatius became a member of the Franciscan Third Order.

Ignatius read the signs of the times and studied English. When he realized that the British military personnel stationed in Maltalike the Maltese themselves lacked a sound formation in the Gospel, he decided to devote his life to catechesis. Ignatius started first by teaching catechism to children and later on to British servicemen. He organized prayer meetings and catechism instruction for the British Catholics and then nonCatholic servicemen as well. Ignatius invited other laymen to help in the catechetical ministry. Some who became priests served as military chaplains in the British army and navy. It is estimated that Ignatius personally prepared at least 650 individuals for reception in the Roman Catholic Church.

Ignatius died on his fiftysecond birthday and was buried in the family tomb in the Franciscan church of St. Mary of Jesus in Valetta. Pope John Paul II beatified him when he visited Malta on May 9, 2001. Ignatius' feast is celebrated in Malta on July 1, the day of both his birth and death.

Feast: July 1.

[e. magro]