Vella…a Cappella

In the context of the tenth anniversary of its inauguration this weekend, Il-Ħaġar | Heart of Gozo Museum, Cultural Centre, and Community Space will also be commemorating the fifth anniversary of the passing of Professor Joseph Vella. 

We invite you all to join us for a concert by the Laudate Pueri Choir (director: Rev. George J. Frendo), featuring a beautiful selection of works composed specifically for the choir by the late Mro Vella.

𝑽𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒂…𝒂 𝒄𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒂 is a celebration of the life and legacy of Mro Vella.  It will take place at St George’s Basilica this Saturday, 25th February at 20:00, and admission is free.

Seat reservations can be made by sending an email to

The Fifth Joseph Vella Memorial Lecture – The Philosophers of Ġgantija

Il-Ħaġar Museum Founder and Curator Mgr Dr Joseph Farrugia will be giving the Fifth Joseph Vella Memorial Lecture this Friday 24th February 2023 at 7.30pm.  It is among the events prepared to celebrate Joseph Vella’s life and legacy on the fifth anniversary of his passing, incorporated within a whole programme marking the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of the museum.  Admission is free, but we recommend reserving your seats by sending an email to

Abstract: According to Emanuele Severino, an Italian philosopher who died only recently, “il ricordo e’ il presente”, not only in the sense that remembrance renders present what is past, but rather in the sense that the act of remembering is by itself a fact of the present irrespective of whether what is beingbrought to mind had actually come to pass or not. 

This brings to mind Ġorġ Pisani’s romantic poem Il-Ġgantija t’Għawdex with its brilliantly visualised and lyrically skilful narrative of the sacrifice of a selfless girl to placate the gods and solicit them to send rain, at a time of drought, for the germination of the fields and the regeneration of the island. Whether or not this sacrifice actually happened, the act of invoking it is a fact of the present and gives contemporary relevance and life to a prehistoric relic.

But there is more to the Ġgantija Temples than imagination, conjecture and hypotheses. The temples  are words of truth that thinking beings pronounced and carved in stone in a no less sophisticated manner than the philosophers of the areopagus inscribed their ideas on parchment. 

The question is whether it is possible to elicit from the remembrance of the Ġgantija Temples as a fact of today, a knowledge of what they imply and embody as a fact of all time.

Mgr Dr Joseph Farrugia (b.1954) did his post graduate studies in Rome specialising in Karl Rahner’s theological anthropology and subsequently in the theology of non-christian religions with particular reference to Islam.  In 1983, he joined the academic staff of the Gozo Major Seminary and in 1988 the theology faculty of the University of Malta. He was involved in the establishment of the University Gozo Campus where, on the invitation of Prof Peter Serracino Inglott, then university rector, he was its first ative lecturer, delivering a course on Mediterranean civilizations and religions. In the 1990s, he coordinated several highly successful series of public lectures on behalf of the University Gozo Centre, focusing on the history and culture of Gozo.  Deeply involved over many years in the promotion of culture, Farrugia gives pride of place to his role in the creation and running of Il-Ħaġar Museum and Cultural Centre, inaugurated in 2013.  Mgr Farrugia considers his priestly vocation and pastoral commitments as deeply inherent to his academic activity. He has served as archpriest of St George’s basilica, as representative of the Maltese Episcopal Conference in Brussels and currently as parish priest of Pelissanne, Lançon-de-Provence, Aurons and La Barben in France where he nevertheless continues his academic research.

A big weekend – a big year – for Il-Ħaġar!

Today, the 23rd of February, 2023, we proudly celebrate the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of Il-Ħaġar│Heart of Gozo Museum, Cultural Centre, and Community Space.

It has been an incredible journey since the project was launched under the name The Making of a People in 2009, with the aim of reviving and promoting Il-Ħaġar, the mediaeval town of Gozo, through the development of a cultural and heritage Centre.  The project was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF 142), the Maltese Government, Fondazzjoni Belt Victoria, St George’s Basilica, and by public subscription.

Housing a rich collection of historical and artistic artefacts previously inaccessible to the general public, Il-Ħaġar Museum has grown and established itself as one of the most active cultural institutions in the country, aiding in the branding of the islands of Gozo and Malta as cultural destinations of excellence.  During these ten years, the museum hosted no fewer than eighty temporary exhibitions and hundreds of public lectures, recitals, and cultural events. 

We are thrilled to mark this milestone with a special weekend of events, starting with a harpsichord and violin recital this evening, and culminating on Sunday with thanksgiving High Mass at St George’s Basilica, followed by a celebratory luncheon at award-winning restaurant Ta’ Frenċ.  Limited places are still available for the luncheon, and reservations can be made by sending an email to  

We are also dispatching the full programme of events for this weekend. All cultural events in the programme are free of charge. 

The tenth anniversary celebrations do not stop this Sunday. We have a long list of educational and cultural events planned throughout the whole year, including six landmark exhibitions, thirty-two public talks, and other events which we hope to be able to announce soon.

We are proud to have achieved so much in just ten years, and we remain committed to promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of Gozo.  We invite you all to join us on this exciting journey.

Thank you all for your support, and here’s to the next ten years of Il-Ħaġar Museum!

How Europe Faced Up To The Energy Challenge

Il-Ħaġar Museum, Cultural Centre, and Community Space continues the series of Saturday talks programmed for this year which celebrates the tenth anniversary of its inauguration. The third will be held this Saturday, the 18th of February, at 11.00am.

In Every Cloud has a Silver Lining, Dr Joseph Ellis will discuss how Europe has faced up to the energy challenge. When Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, Europe was spending about a billion euro daily in fuel imports from Russia.  Europe’s largest economy, Germany, at the end of 2021 imported 55% of its gas from Russia.  And Germany was obviously not the only European country to rely on cheap Russian energy for its industry and to warm homes and offices.

Over the years Russia built up foreign reserves in anticipation of western sanctions and it must moreover have calculated that Europe’s dependence on its energy exports would blunt the reach of western sanctions against its rogue behaviour.  We now know that this was a colossal miscalculation! Western countries, and especially Europe, could not continue to bankroll Russia’s war machine and have imposed sanctions of unprecedented depth and breadth against Russia.

Several pundits and propagandists anticipated power outages but, after a huge spike, gas prices have gone back down.  Gas reserves are actually higher than a year ago  – and Russian revenues from energy exports have suffered a lot. Dr Ellis will also ask whether these efforts to avoid an energy crisis have been at the expense of commitments to phase out CO2 emissions.

Attendance is free but booking a seat for this talk in English by sending an email to is recommended.

Special Anniversary Weekend at Il-Ħaġar

Il-Ħaġar | Heart of Gozo Museum, Cultural Centre, and Community Space was officially inaugurated on the 23rd of February 2013, and an exciting weekend of cultural and celebratory events has been prepared to mark its 10th anniversary.

On Thursday the 23rd of February 2023 the museum is hosting a Harpsichord and Violin Recital by Joanne Camilleri and Jacob Portelli at 7.30pm.

The 5th Joseph Vella Memorial Lecture will be held on Friday the 24th at 7.30pm where Museum founder and curator Mgr Dr Joseph Farrugia MOM will be speaking about The Philosophers of Ġgantija. Immediately after (at 8.30pm) a documentary exhibition What’s in a Bequest? – The Joseph Vella Music Archive will be inaugurated in Audiovisual Room II.

Saturday the 25th begins with a hands-on workshop for children by artists Victor Agius and Rachel Galea: booking is essential (on

In the evening, the Laudate Pueri Choir presents a concert of music by Joseph Vella on the day of the fifth anniversary of his demise. Vella…a cappella is a celebration of Professor Vella’s life and legacy. The concert is taking place at St George’s Basilica and starts at 8.00pm.

Sunday the 26th of February offers 11.00am Thanksgiving High Mass at St George’s Basilica celebrated by Curator Mgr Dr Joseph Farrugia and with the participation of the Laudate Pueri Choir. A celebratory luncheon (for which booking is of course required) will be held at Ta’ Frenċ at 12:30.

All cultural events in this programme are free of charge. Seat reservations for Thursday’s recital, Friday’s lecture, and Saturday’s concert may be made by sending an email to

Additionally, Il-Ħaġar Museum continues with its special exhibition over all levels featuring Donations and Bequests. The museum’s opening hours are 9.00am to 5.00pm, seven days a week, and admission is free of charge.

The First 10 Years: Bequests and Donations

Il-Ħaġar | Heart of Gozo Museum was officially inaugurated ten years ago, on 23 February 2013. So this is a particular year – where we will be marking the tenth anniversary of this cultural centre with an impressive list of events.

Progress over these ten years has been more than satisfactory, despite quite a few obstacles – not least COVID restrictions. Support has been forthcoming from institutions and individuals, many offering hours of voluntary help.  Numerous artists, admirers, and supporters have donated works of art to add enormously – in both quantity and quality – to the museum’s collection, permanent and reserve.

The first temporary exhibition in 2023 will, in fact, be The First 10 years: Il-Ħaġar Bequests and Donations, which will be officially inaugurated on 11 February at 19:30 by the Hon. Minister for Gozo Clint Camilleri.  The exhibition will stay open until 19 March. 

Distributed over all the different levels, the vast range of artefacts will serve as tangible proof of the management’s efforts and wide contacts. It will feature works by Mario Agius, Victor Agius, Vincent Apap, Christine Agopian, Bill Armstrong, Franco Maria Bedini, Alessandro Bergamini, Debbie Bonello, Andrew Borg, Celia Borg Cardona, John Martin Borg, Mario Caffaro Rore, Alfred Camilleri Cauchi, Austin Camilleri, Bob Cardona, Mario Cassar, Shawn Cauchi, Joseph Chetcuti, Norma Cili, Walter Coccetta, Giambattista Conti, Savio Deguara, Damian Ebejer, Richard England, Josette Fenech, Gianfranco Ferroni, Aaron Formosa, Rachel Galea, Isabelle Gavoty-Ravanas, Maria Grech, John Grima, Graham Gurr, Paul Haber, Luciano Micallef, Savio Mizzi, Toni Mizzi, Sergio Moruzzi, Sue Nightingale, Mark Sagona, Patricia Sant, George Scicluna, Paul Stellini, Joe Vassallo, Tommaso Vecchi, Ramon Vella Bamber, James Vella Clark, and Francis Webb, among others.

All the artefacts (well-nigh hundred) will be illustrated in full colour in Il-Ħaġar Gems No. 23 which will be published before the end of this event.

The museum is open seven days a week from 09:00 to 17:00, and entry remains free of charge.

On Being Human: Perspectives from Astronomy

Il-Ħaġar Museum and Community Cultural Centre in Victoria’s Pjazza San Ġorġ continues the series of Saturday talks programmed for this year which celebrates the tenth anniversary of its inauguration. The second will be held on Saturday 4 February at 11am.

Professor Joseph Caruana will be discussing “On being Human: Perspectives from Astronomy”. After graduating from the University of Malta, he read for a DPhil in astrophysics as a Marie Curie research fellow in a network associated with the NASA/ESA James Webb Space Telescope NIRSpec instrument. This was in Oxford where he also tutored he tutored General Relativity and Cosmology. He then took up a postdoctoral research position in astrophysics at the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik.

Returning home, Professor Caruana now lectures on optics, astrophysics and cosmology, and the philosophy of science, having joined the Department of Physics and the Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy. His main astrophysics research interests encompass the early universe, galaxy formation and evolution, and galactic dynamics. A widely-published author, he is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a member of the European Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union.

He is thus extremely qualified to treat the stark contrast between man and cosmic grandness. Many fundamental questions still remain to be answered but successive technological innovations continually expand our knowledge of the universe.  

Attendance is free, but reservations by sending an email to are