These personalities have left their mark on Maltese culture, society and heritage. From actors and poets to doctors and presidents, here are eight much-loved Maltese personalities that will definitely go down in history, and some already have!
1. Ġemma Portelli
Ġemma Portelli was one of Malta's most renowned actresses and stage veterans. One of her most notable performances was her role as the protagonist in the hit radio series F’Baħar Wieħed, which was later picked up as a television series. In 2000 she received the Medal for Service to the Republic and died eight years later in February 2008 at 75 years of age, shocking the island.
John Rizzo / Facebook
2. Sir Anthony Mamo
Sir Anthony Mamo was the first President of Malta and the last Governor-General of the State of Malta under British rule. Mamo was never directly involved in Maltese politics but was appointed Chief Justice of Malta and later Governor-General. He spent two years in office as the President of Malta, and received various honours such as the KUOM, OBE and QC by the Queen herself! Sir Anthony Mamo died at the age of 99 in May 2008.
The King's Own Malta Regiment Association / Facebook
3. Saint George Preca
Saint George Preca, or more lovingly known by the Maltese as Dun Ġorġ Preca, was an important member of the Church and the founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine. Preca’s activism earned him praise and in 1952, Pope Pius XII nominated him as Papal Secret Chamberlain. Wait, it gets better! In 2001 he was beatified in Malta by Pope John Paul II and in 2007, he was canonized in the Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI. Saint George Preca was 82 years of age when he died in 1962.
Saint George Preca / Facebook
4. Pino Scicluna
Considered to be one of the finest Maltese actors of his generation, Pino Scicluna died in January of 2017 at 60 years of age. Scicluna had ventured on to Italy where he performed as a professional actor for over 20 years. He played the title role in Francis Ebejer’s acclaimed Il-Gahan ta’ Bingemma, which the playwright specifically devised for him. Before his death, he was also working on a project as part of the Valletta 2018 activities.
Charles Xuereb / Facebook
5. Dr Cecil Paris
Dr Cecil Paris died aged 83 in the summer of 2017. He was an icon among the Sliema locality having practised family medicine for nearly six decades. He was loved by the community and was eternally dedicated to his patients, so much so that he continued to see them until his last days.
Niki Tabone / Facebook
6. Rużar Briffa
Rużar Briffa was a notable poet, and interestingly, also a dermatologist. He wrote various poems that were studied as part of compulsory Maltese literature at school. I can still hear Jum ir-Rebħ in my head! He is considered to be a major figure in Maltese literature, so much so that people can recite his poems by heart.
Ruzar Briffa / Facebook
7. Joseph Vella
Joseph Vella was a true all-rounder. He was a composer, conductor, university professor, researcher, editor and artistic director. He was the first resident conductor of the then National Orchestra of Malta and is considered to be the foremost composer of the 20th and 21st centuries. Vella also set up the first music school in Malta, the Johann Strauss School of Music. He died just last year in February at 76 years of age.
Joseph Vella / Facebook
8. Dun Karm Psaila
Dun Karm was a Maltese priest, writer and poet. He is most notably known for writing the lyrics to L-Innu Malti, the Maltese national anthem, and has been dubbed as ‘the bard of Malta’ - quite the title! He is considered to be the national poet due to his works depicting Maltese identity. The poet died in 1961, aged 89.
Dun Karm Psaila / Facebook