The Fifth Joseph Vella Memorial Lecture – The Philosophers of Ġgantija Lecture by Mgr Dr Joseph Farrugia

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.