The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Ignatius Falzon

Blessed Nazju FalzonIn this place We must mention the cleric, Venerable Ignatius Falzon, son of a lawyer at La Valetta on the island of Malta. He was born on 1 July 1813. When a boy, he daily recited the entire Rosary and, even against the suggestions of his mother, he would never go to bed until he had finished all of the fifteen mysteries. To this he afterward added the office of the Blessed Virgin. Ignatius came of a family of lawyers and so at first he studied law. But Providence had reserved him for an entirely different vocation. He gave up profane studies, applied himself to theology and received minor orders. But, because of his humility, he could never be prevailed on to enter the sanctuary of the priesthood itself, notwithstanding the many entreaties of his friends. Nevertheless he considered the apostolate as the labor of his life. His elder brother was a canon in La Valetta, and Ignatius deligently assisted him in his parish work, instructing the children in catechism and preparing them for first communion. But he became in a special way the apostle of the English soldiers. He obtained permission to gather the Catholic soldiers together on certain evenings, gave them an interesting instruction and said the beads with them. These gatherings became very popular, and many Protestants joined them. In this way, not to mention the numbers of Catholic soldiers he rescued from evil ways, he effected the conversion of more than six hundred Protestants and three Jews, as may be seen in the extant register of La Valetta. The Crimean war, during which many troops were quartered at Malta, gave him a particular occasion for the exercise of his zeal. When the soldiers were again moved, he kept in touch with them by means of letters to prevent their fervor from relax- ing. He published an English prayer-book: “The Comfort of the Soul,” with a special appendix for soldiers, and translated another good book into English. The conversion of England was the constant intention of his prayers.

Falzon also deserved well of the Church in Malta by instructing talented boys who desired to become priests and by obtaining for them material support. Many of his pupils afterward achieved distinction. Thus the Servant of God spent his life within his family circle, entirely devoted to works of piety. Every one spoke of his great devotion before the Tabernacle and in the reception of the Holy Eucharist, which from his student days had been his daily food. He died after a protracted illness on his birthday, 1 July 1875. The cause of his beatification was introduced in 1904.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916