The Malta Independent 22 January 2021, Friday

Malta bids farewell to Oliver Friggieri

Wednesday, 25 November 2020, 15:15 Last update: about 3 months ago

Malta bade a final farewell to Maltese literary giant Oliver Friggieri in a state-organised funeral on Wednesday.

Friggieri passed away last Saturday, and his funeral is being held by the state in recognition of his contribution to Maltese society and the literary society.

The funeral took place at St. John’s Co-Cathedral and is being concelebrated by Archbishop Charles Scicluna.

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The cortege left Mater Dei Hospital and stopped at the University of Malta for a brief ceremony of remembrance, where some of Friggieri's poetry was read out to onlookers.  

It drove past Friggieri’s home in Fleur-de-Lys road in Birkirkara before also stopped outside the Floriana parish church; Floriana being Friggieri’s place of birth. Flowers were also laid by the Mayor of Floriana Davinia Sammut Hili and the Archpriest Fr Charles Cini.

A total of 130 people were invited to the funeral and among these 130, many important figures were present including: Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife, Lydia Abela, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech and his wife Annemarie Grech, a number of government Ministers, President George Vella and his wife, Former Prime Ministers Joseph Muscat and Laurence Gonzi, Former President George Abela, as well as Immanuel Mifsud.

The funeral was restricted to a small amount of pepole due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the University of Malta, the Rector of the University, Professor Alfred Vella together with other lecturers, University workers and students gathered in a parking lot of the University to pay a tribute.

During the homily, Archibishop Charles Scicluna spoke highly of Oliver Friggieri. He greeted Friggieri by reading out words from his book which included a collection of Friggieri’s poems.

Some of these poetic lines were also read out at the University of Malta. An environment which Friggieri loved deeply, Scicluna said.

Scicluna described Friggieri as a person who spoke to the public with truth and honest but always with clarity, from a perspective which carefully sees and understands.

‘Friggieri described himself as a moderate human being as he was one who appreciated both the light and darkness in life. Friggieri was a person who spoke clearly but never caused any damage or harm.’

Scicluna highlighted that the Church in Malta will be forever grateful for Friggieri’s patriotism and contributions when it came to the religious hymns, that are sung during Church regularly.

He also mentioned that Friggieri wrote a beautiful hymn that is used during Church which significantly gathers not only our faith but also his faith.

‘Friggieri was a person who knew that poetry, maturity and wisdom go through the sieve of suffering,” Scicluna said.

He added that Friggieri once wrote that when a poet dies, he leaves behind him a sack of feelings. ‘Today, as a nation and as Maltese citizens, part of this sack of feelings was left behind by his death as a poet.’

Photos: Department of Information / Michael Camilleri

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