Exactly 140 years ago, Mgr Paul Micallef, OSA, was appointed Apostolic Administrator for the diocese of Gozo.

Mgr Micallef was born in Valletta on May 15, 1818. He joined the Augustinian order and in March 6, 1841 was ordained priest in Rome.

In 1855 Pope Pius IX appointed him Vicar General of the order and he was confirmed in the General Chapter in 1859. On January 10, 1864 was consecrated bishop at St Augustine's in Rome.

In 1866 the first bishop of Gozo, Mgr Francis Michael Buttigieg, died. Pope Pius IX appointed Mgr Micallef Apostolic Administrator. He stayed in office for two years, ran it smoothly and was very active.

The appointment of Mgr Anthony Grech-Delicata as administrator, and afterwards as Bishop of Gozo, came out of the blue.

The Gozitans loved Mgr Micallef. When he went to Rome for the centenary celebrations of St Peter and St Paul, the Gozitans sent a telegram to the Vatican authorities asking that Mgr Micallef be appointed their bishop.

Cardinal Antonelli replied that Mgr Micallef was already appointed to a larger diocese: he was appointed Primate of Sardinia and Archbishop of Pisa. Mgr Micallef died at Pisa and his remains are buried in the Duomo.

A monument to him was erected at the Archbishop's Palace, Pisa. Mgr Micallef loved Malta and was homesick (he commissioned a painting of the Grand Harbour for his room which still exists).

When Mgr Grech-Delicata was appointed, he made his residence at St Augustine's Priory in Victoria, Gozo, to show his respect to the Augustinians.

Mgr Grech-Delicata's episcopate did not last long; he died at his family residence in Old Bakery Street, Valletta.

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