Prelate and Politician

Ignazio Panzavecchia was born in Senglea to Liborio and Catharina née Cuschieri. It was registered that certain Panzavecchia and a woman he used to live with, were the godparents at the baptism of Ignazio. On 2 May 1859, Liborio Panzavecchia and Caterina Cuschieri were married at the parish church of Senglea and on the same day, they recognize their four children as their sons, they gave birth before their marriage. The four sons, including Ignazio, were legitimised. By degree of the Maltese Curia on 26 August 1898, (after 43 years), the four children were registered in the baptismal records of the Senglea parish.

Ignazio studied at the Gozo Seminary. He was active in politics, representing the clergy in the Council of Government (1891-1892) when the introduction of civil marriage was being debated in the Council.

Panzavecchia clamoured for a liberal Constitution and for this purpose he founded the Comitato Patriottico in 1910. He took an active part in the National Assembly which was set up in 1919 to submit a draft Constitution to the British Government for the granting of self-government. When the Milner-Amery Constitution of 1921, which incorporated autonomous government, was awarded to Malta, Panzavecchia founded the Unione Politica Maltese, which stood for the defence of the Catholic Religion, Malta’s Latin and European culture, and Constitutional rights.

In these first Maltese General Elections, the Unione Politica Maltese of Panzavecchia obtained the majority of seats. Being a priest, Panzavecchia renounced the post of prime minister and recommended John Howard to become Malta’s first Prime Minister. He sat in the Senate (1921-1925), advocating free compulsory education and promoting the introduction of evening classes.

Panzavecchia was ordained priest on 20 December 1879 and was put in charge of the hospice popularly known in Senglea, as ‘Dar Sant’Anna’. He was appointed canon of the Cathedral Chapter in 1902, Cavaliere Segreto to Pius X, and Protonotario Apostolico. In 1913 he was appointed conventual chaplain of the Sovereign Military Order of St John. In 1925 he sat as charity commissioner on the committee for charitable institutions.

Panzavecchia bequeathed to the Cathedral Church a rare numismatic collection of old coins of Malta. He is buried in the Cathedral at Mdina.        

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

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.