Founder of Dominican Order in Malta

Born in Mdina, Pietro Zurki joined the Dominicans in Sicily. About 1450 he came to Malta with two other members of the reformed Order by the Blessed Pietro Geremia to establish the Order here. Having been granted land by the church and financial help by the Universitas and other benefactors he built a church and convent on a grotto outside Mdina.

From his childhood, Zurki knew about the devotion with which the Maltese regarded the cave where, according to tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary had appeared in a vision to a hunter; it was probably he who had proposed to his Sicilian Dominicans that they set up their Order above this cave.

Relations between Rev Geremia, leader of the Congregation of Observance, and Antonio de Alagona, the Bishop of Malta, were very cordial, and the bishop not only gave the friars the hallowed cave but also later gave them parcels of agricultural land in the vicinity of the site where the friars were building a priory and church. Since then these were called the Church and Priory of Our Lady of the Grotto. The building was completed in 1505.

Zurki died two years previously.

Rev Zurki served as prior almost until his death. In one of the cells of the convent’s dormitory, these words were etched by his brethren: Frater Petrus Zurki Melitensis huius conventus fundator...  

This biography is part of the collection created by Michael Schiavone over a 30-year period. Read more about Schiavone and his initiative here.

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