Mystic and Philantropist

The daughter of Gio Andrea Parlar and Carmela née D’Amato, Francesca Teresa was born in Valletta.

The Parlar wera a wealthy family, which experienced misfortune and fell upon hard times. Faced with this situation, the Parlar family emigrated to Constantinople with the hope of recovering financially. But due to lack of business the family returned to Malta after three years.

Teresa’s uncle and godfather, Don Luigi Fernandez, canon at the Cathedral sought to take care of Teresa himself, but since Teresa Parlar felt detached from earthly wealth from a young age, she refused the offer, and wanted to live with her mother and look after her.

Until 1881 she lived with family of Lorenzo and Vittoria Ebejer in a small room in 74, Point Street, Senglea. In the Ebejer home, Teresa lived alone in a small humble room, and used to wear a black dress with a black faldetta.

In February 1882 she joined the Third Order of the Dominicans and it is recorded that during this celebration she was in ecstasy. Teresa’s reputation for sainthood soon flourished among the Maltese. Parlar indicated to her confessor the cause and the day of the week of her death (Friday).

The ecclesiastical authorities felt obliged to verify and called Rev Anonio Bottalla SJ to investigate what people were saying. Rev Bottalla and her confessor Rev Enrico Vella OP visited Teresa. They concluded that she was possessed by evil spirits.

Eventually Parlar was examined by Prof Galea and Rev Bottalla. Although no one had informed her in advance about the visit, she still new the professor’s name and the aim of the visit.

When in 1889 the Bishop of Malta Pietro Pace showed particular interest in this case, and in January 1891 visited Teresa at her home.  He was of the opinion that Teresa should be taken to Ta’ Saura. Teresa and the family Ebejer opposed this idea.

On 6 July, 1901, she was given permission to leave the hospital and went to live in that small and humble house at Point Street, Senglea. It was a solitary life, spent in prayer and penance.

After a truly extraordinary life, Francesca Teresa Parlar breathed her last on 12 August 1927 in Senglea where she spent the last years of her life. It was a Friday, a special day for her, and the day on which she had wished to die and which she had predicted. Her funeral was held at the Basilica and Collegiate of Maria Bambina, Senglea.

The most mystifying fact surrounding Teresa Parlar’s life remained her complete abstinence from food from the early age of 8 until her death at 85. Receiving only Communion for 77 years, this enigma aroused both devotion and suspicion.

During her life, facts she foretold came to be and astonishing things, that can be called miracles, ensued. After her death, many attained no small graces by her intercession. While she is also said to have experienced bilocation, another prediction of hers was that the spot on which her room stood would be one day destroyed and eventually remain empty ground. Bombed out during the Second World War, the plot remains desolate to this day.

On the announcement of her death, people flocked to pay homage to this woman who died in odore di santita. Francesca Teresa was buried in the chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows of the Vittoriosa Dominican Friars at the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery. Her tomb is found in the middle of this chapel and in front of the main altar. It is sealed by a marble slab on which are inscribed the words: Qui giacciono le spogli mortali – della - Serva di Dio - Francesca Teresa Parlar - Terziaria Domenicana - Morta il di 12 Agosto 1927 - all’eta di 85 anni.

Francesca Teresa Parlar’s life was eminently and exclusively ascetic, interwoven with prayer and spiritual aspirations, built on suffering and spiritual mortifications, purified by persecutions caused by incredulous people.

Years after her death, flowers and lit candles are still laid on Teresa’s tomb, a clear indication that, after so many years, her memory survives in the lives of many.

Her moral remains were exhumed on 7 August 2020 and transfered to the church of the Annunication Birgu on 13 February 2021.

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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