As already stated in my introduction and other chapters about the scope of this collection of information about San Gaetano: This Italian Saint was born in Vicenza, never leaving Italy all his life and not only dying in Italy but having his resting place in one of the well known cities of that country, Naples.
In another chapter I wrote about the spread of devotion towards the Saint to nearly all corners of the world. Malta on the other hand was never part of Italy though there was always a great influence, cultural and social. Malta is only sixty miles away from the nearest Italian landfall. Moreover the Maltese gene pool has a good proportion of Italian in it and of course, Italian names and surnames abound, mine among them. First of all we must take into consideration how the name Gaetano became the Maltese Gejtanu. The proximity to Sicily has had its effect even on the Maltese language, especially nomenclature. In the Sicilian dialect most of the Os at the end of Italian names are turned into Us, thus Paolo (Paul) becomes Paulu and in Maltese Pawlu; Vincenzo (Vincent) turns into Vicenzu and Censu in Maltese. So it is easy to see the transition of the name Gaetano into Gaetanu and then into Gejtanu (ej pronounced ay as in May) or Gejtu for short. Please do go back to the end of the introductory chapter to have a look at how people of different languages call San Gaetano!
One might surely find the name in documents preserved in Malta, from much earlier dates maybe even during his lifetime, but my scope in this chapter is to explain how he found himself as patron of the parish of my native town Hamrun. After that I will brag a little bit about our Parish church and its contents, and also dwell on how the festivities in his honour are held in Hamrun.
The only Parish Church dedicated to San Gejtanu within the Maltese Islands is in Hamrun, my home town. Extensive details about the Church itself, its contents connected with the Saint and the presence of other depictions of San Gejtanu in Hamrun are on a separate page reached from the list of countries. Malta-Hamrun
In the Parish Church of St.Lawrence, during the time of Bishop Balaguer, that is the middle of the 17th century, there was an altar dedicated to San Gejtanu.
At least since the 1722 visit of Mons.Molina in this Church there has been and still exists, a canvas over the St.Catherine altar with Our Lady holding Baby Jesus, St.Catherine herself, St.Anthony and San Gejtanu. Picture Right......
There are records to show that in 1739, the feast of San Gejtanu started to be celebrated in this Church.
In the transept at the altar of the Crucifiction in the Bazilica of St Helen in Birkirkara, there is a painting above a side altar, depicting San Gejtanu, done in 1780 by an unknown painter. Picture on the Right......
Apart from being represented in the sacristy Painting Right in the parish church of St Publius by a painting, the Saint is also present at the Police Depot chapel where in the 1950s a contemporary painting a small copy of the one in Hamrun was installed. Painting in Depot Below.
One of the side altars has a painting representing the Blessed Trinity. Jesus the Saviour stands in the middle with the Holy Spirit as a Dove over His head, and further up is God the Father. At Jesus' feet, on the sides, two Saints. San Gejtanu is kneeling on the left holding a book with the Theatine rule. St Anthony stands at the right. Rokku Buhagiar painted the canvas in 1759 and this date is shown at the bottom. Painting on Right......
One of the altars on the right aisle of the Cathedral of St Paul in the old capital is dedicated to Our Lady and San Gejtanu and has a canvas depicting the Saint with Our Lady and Baby Jesus. There is also a bishop, a knight and other figures in this canvas. This is the work of Mattia Preti school. Painting Top Right......
Also in Mdina, this time in the sacristy of the church of Our Lady of Carmel, there is another painting of the Saint this time holding Baby Jesus. Painting Bottom Right......
The Parish church too has, on the first altar on the left, an exquisite painting by Giuseppe Cali done in 1899 and showing San Gejtanu accepting Baby Jesus from the hands of Mary. The painter accentuated the life of poverty of Gejtanu by the depiction of a torn sock at the heel of one of his feet. This fact was a hint to Bishop PaceForno for not choosing him to paint the Hamrun titular picture. This painting anteceding the one at Hamrun, was done around the turn of the century after Hamrun was already established under the patronage of the Saint. In fact three paintings in our church belong to this particular painter G.Cali'. Painting Right....
The small chapel of St.Anthony Abbott has one altar with the titular picture. On each side of this, lower down, there is a smaller painting. The one on the Left of the altar shows the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St.Anthony of Padova and San Gejtanu in black cassock. This is the work of a local artist of the 18th Century. Picture on the Right courtesy of:
In the Parish church, the first altar on the left is known as the altar of St.Anthony, but the painting over the altar also depicts Our Lady with the Child Jesus and also San Gejtanu. When in 1745 Bishop Alpheran de Bussan visited this church, he found this altar in good condition and the painting framed in stone. Painting Right (Courtesy St Cajetan Band Club Hamrun)...
The Naxxar Parish museum has a painting of San Gejtanu during his vision. It was painted by Frangisku Zahra (1680 - 1765) and also shows St Paul on the left. A new niche for the titular statue of Our Lady has taken the place of an altar over which this painting once stood in the Parish Church. Painting on Right......
Tal-Hniena church: Around the verandah in front there is a set of limestone statues of saints in niches among which is San Gejtanu standing in priestly garb and holding Baby Jesus in his left arm. The titular picture in this same church shows Our Lady with the Child Jesus, seated on a moon crescent surrounded by angles. San Gejtanu too can be seen, standing, book in hand with lilies at his feet. He is on the lower right of the picture while some souls in Purgatory can be seen at the lower left. The work is attributed to a well-known Maltese artist, Guzeppe DArena. Pictures on Right......
Rahal Gdid (Paola):
In the century old Addolorata cemetery of this town, there exist two statues of San Gejtanu over individual graves, one of these shows him with St.Lawrence. Also in the newer addition to this cemetery there is a headstone in black marble over a family grave. A replica of the Hamrun titular picture by gagliardi is carved on it. Picture Right....
The Parish church has a small 'sottoquadro' painting of San Gejtanu underneath the one of the Virgin on her altar while the Saint also appears in his surplice and stole on the altar of the right transept in the painting of St.Andrea Avellino. He has his own altar and canvas in the church of St.John Baptist in the same village. At #77 Sta. Margerita Str. we can find one of the very few niches with the statue of the Saint on the Maltese islands. In the chapel of Our Lady of Divine Providence, above a door, we can find a Painting of our Saint in priestly garb. Pictures Below.
Altarpiece at
St John Baptist Church
Parish Church:
Sottoquadro and Painting
At Chapel of Divine Providence
San Gejtanu is well represented in the Collegiate church of St Paul Shipwrecked, in the capital. He appears on a canvas with Our Lady, St Agatha and other saints and angels over an altar on the left transept. This painting was done in 1852 by Guzeppi Hyzler. Another two small lateral paintings close to the ceiling also of the Saint, flank this picture. One shows him giving alms to the poor and the other tending the sick. Pictures Below
In this same Valletta Church, silver ornaments depicting our Saint abound:
1. A silver bust of San Gejtanu with pursed lips known by the nickname of Saffarielu, is taken out on display for his feast on the above altar.
2. Also in front of this same altar is a silver 'avant'artal' or front cover decoration with San Gejtanu's vision in the middle.
3. In front of the Main Altar of this Church there also hangs a silver Sanctuary Lamp showing our Saint on one of the facets.
Pictures on Right......
Again, in the hall of the Museum 'Domus Pauli' of this same Collegiate church of Valletta, there is another canvas of the Saint by an unknown artist in the style of 16th century painters like Buhagiar or Zahra. Picture Right...
The same painter Frangisku Zahra (1680 - 1765) who painted the image of the Saint in Naxxar, painted another San Gejtanu, which we can find at the church of St. Catherine of Italy in the capital city of Valletta.
In the church of St Nicholas commonly known as All Souls (Tal-Erwieh), a small round painting by Favray of San Gejtanu receiving Baby Jesus from Our Lady's hands. Picture Right (Courtesy of St Cajetan Band Club Hamrun)...
Also in the Capital city of Valletta, there is a private historical house called Casa rocca piccola, owned by Baron Testaferrata. It dates from the time of the Knights. It has a chapel dedicated to San Gaetano showing him in his vision on a painting by a local artist. Picture Right...
Wied il-Ghajn:
In Malta one could already find a chapel dedicated to our Saint when he was still a Blessed (he was Canonized in 1671 by Clement X). This chapel was built by George Mamo, a well to do local land owner, as a benefice together with a nearby tower near the fishing village of Wied il-Ghajn in 1657. It has always been loved by local fishermen and certain graffiti on the facade of the chapel witness to this devotion. In the 1980's a small room was built on the roof to serve as a secluded place for priests wanting to spend some time in quiet and prayer, but it was soon removed on the authorities insistence that it was an environmental eyesore. Mass is still celebrated in this chapel every Saturday evening. In this small church one can also find an old mediochre titular picture of unknown provenance showing San Gejtanu surrounded by cherubs.
Zebbug (Malta):
Another niche can be found in Zebbug, a neighbouring village, precisely at #11-12 Triq Hali. This niche was built in 1749 as the inscription about indulgences below it vouches. Pictures on right...
In the sacristy of the parish church of this same village there is also a small painting of San Gejtanu.
This town has a small picture of the Saint on the altar of Our Lady (tac-Cintura) in the parish church Picture on Right.....
Another small painting of him exists in the parish museum.
In a small niche, a small copy of a Hamrun feast statue of the Saint, exists in the corner of a narrow alley of this town. This was made by a person who moved to this town from Hamrun. See picture far right......
Gozo (Malta):
In the sacristy of the Patronage of Our Lady church of Ghasri, one can find an old painting of unknown origin showing San Gejtanu receiving Baby Jesus from Our Lady. The figures are by no means beautiful to look at, but the presence of the image of our Saint in this church is a kind of consolation for us.
On the neighbouring island of Gozo, as soon as one disembarks from the ferry at Mgarr, one can see Fort Chambray on the hill on the left. The bastion overlooking the harbour is San Gejtanu bastion.
The Bazilica of St George in the main town of Rabat, has a unique connection with San Gejtanu. It started on the 7th August 1672 when the foundation stone was laid on the Saint's feast day. San Gejtanu is visually present on a small deteriorating canvas by Filippu Cosimo S.J., while he is also on a bigger painting, probably a 1678 copy of a painting by L.Massari. Still another one can be found in the Oratory of this Bazilica this time painted by Roccu Buhagiar in the 18th century. Nowadays, these paintings of San Gejtanu are kept in the Chapter House awaiting the setup of a planned museum of the Basilica. Pictures Below
An unusual devotion to the Nativity was begun at San Gorg in 1745. A wax statuette of a reclining baby representing Our Lady, il-Bambina, was placed in a glass case on the altar of San Gejtanu. At first it appealed to the imagination of many but its popularity soon abated.
On the outskirts of Rabat in the small village of Fontana on the way to Xlendi, a statue of San Gejtanu was given to the church by a certain Karmena, a devotee from Hamrun who went to live there with her Gozitan husband Gorg Xuereb in 1968. This statue made by sculptor Wistin Camilleri, is taken out and decorated for the feast of the Saint every year when a Mass in the Saint's honour is celebrated. Although the posture is similar to the Hamrun statue, the figures are separate.