ARCHIVES – AEG (ARCHIVUM EPISCOPALE GAUDISIENSE)

1. Description

The Archivum Episcopale Gaudisiense [AEG] — the Archives of the Bishop of Gozo — was the first record centre to be instituted and to open its doors on the island of Gozo (Malta).

This web-page is dedicated to Daniel Glavina S.J.(1902-1994), who was the first to tackle the mazes of paper at the AEG and embark on their cataloguing; and to Canon Louis Camilleri (1938-2001), without whom this web-page would have never materialized.

This short guide is divided into five parts. The first is a descriptive section drawn on the model set by the Conseil International des Archives. The second part enumerates the norms on diocesan archives laid down by the Code of Canon Law and by diocesan legislation. The third part is a historical outline of the religious history of Gozo. The archives developed against this background and this outline is imperative for a better understanding of all that follows. In the fourth part the actual formation of the AEG is described. This includes a description of the Curia set-up for the documentation in the AEG was received and redacted in relation to its activity. The fifth part contains the handlist proper. This is not a list of individual items, but only a hand-list for easy reference.

Name AEG - ARCHIVUM EPISCOPALE GAUDISIENSE

Address The Bishop’s Curia,
PO Box 1,Triq ir-Repubblika,
VCT 1000 Rabat-Gozo. MALTA.

E-mail: joseph.bezzina@gov.mt

Norms for research

a.    Interested persons are to forward a written petition addressed to the bishop stating the reason for their research.
b.    letter of recommendation from a competent authority is to be annexed.
c.    The permission granted is renewable every year.
d.    Documents are to be consulted in the appropriate reading room.
e.    Consultation is gratuitous.

Restrictions

a.    Volumes/files containing documents less than thirty years old on the previous 31 December are not available.
b.    The secret archives is ipso facto reserved.
c.    The Archivist reserves the right to withhold documents without stating the reason.

Services

a.    The AEG offers a photocopying service.
b.    Photography of documents is arranged for upon request.
c.    Scanning of documents is arranged for upon request.

Research aids

A printed guide book: The Bishop’s Archives – Gozo, a descriptive hand-list is available. There are also a few old repertories and inventories, which however have lost much of their value with the displacement and loss of volumes throughout the centuries. A protocol was never used.

A data-base, partly on cards, with a summary inventory of all volumes deposited in the archives is available. Also available is an analytical inventory on cards of several sections of the Archives. These inventories are in the process of being computerized.

Officials

The Archives is presently run by an Archivist.

Consistence

Shelving 200 metres
Number of volumes Curia Provicariale: 982+
Curia Episcopalis: 3914+
Microfilms Curia Provicariale: all volumes (except recent additions to sections four and fourteen)
Curia Episcopalis: select volumes
Oldest record 1554

Type

The AEG is

a.    historic for all documents prior to 1864 (Curia Provicariale) and for most records redacted up to 1967. It is besides a
b.    deposit for documents from the Curia Episcopalis are progressively transferred to it. It can also be considered
c.    current archives as a number of files especially in the parish and historical sections are updated annually.

2.  Norms

Canon Law

The term Canon Law refers to the body of ecclesiastical rules or laws concerning matters of faith, morals, and discipline. The current Codex Iuris Canonici or Code of Canon Law was promulgated on 25 January 1983. The archives is referred to in several sections.

The Chancellor

In every Curia, a chancellor is to be appointed whose principal task is, unless particular law determines otherwise, to see to it that the acts of the Curia are gathered, arranged, and safeguarded in the archives of the Curia (CIC 482/1).

The Archives

All diocesan and parochial documents must be protected with the greatest care (CIC 486/1).
In every Curia, there is to be established in a safe place a diocesan archives or store-room in which the instruments and writings which refer to both the spiritual and temporal affairs of the diocese, properly arranged and diligently secured, are to be safeguarded (CIC 486/2).
There is to be an inventory or catalogue of the documents contained in the archives, with a brief synopsis of the contents of each one (CIC 486/3).
It is necessary that the archives be locked and that only the bishop and the chancellor have a key to it; no one may licitly enter without the permission either of the bishop or of both the moderator of the curia and the chancellor (CIC 487/1).
It is a right of interested parties to obtain personally or through their proxy an authentic written copy or photocopy of documents which are public by nature and which pertain to the status of such persons (CIC 487/2).

Removal of documents

It is not permitted to remove documents from the archives except for a brief time only and with the consent either of the bishop or of both the moderator of the curia and the chancellor (CIC 488).

Secret archives

There is also to be a secret archives in the diocesan curia or at least a safe or file in the ordinary archives, completely closed and locked which cannot be removed from the place, and in which documents to be kept are to be protected most securely (CIC 489/1).
Every year documents of criminal cases are to be destroyed in matters of morals in which the criminal has died or in which ten years have passed since the condemnatory sentence; but a brief summary of the case with the text of the definitive sentence is to be retained (CIC 489/2).
The acts of the investigation [in penal procedure], the decrees of the ordinary by which the investigation was opened and closed, and all that preceded it are to be kept in the secret archive of the curia if they are not necessary for the penal process (CIC 1719).
Only the bishop may have the key to the secret archives (CIC 490/1).
When the See is vacant the secret archives or safe is not to be opened except in a case of true necessity by the diocesan administrator himself (CIC 490/2).
Documents are not to be removed from the secret archives or safe (CIC 490/3).

Historical archives

The diocesan bishop is also to see to it that there is a historical archives in the diocese in which documents having a historical value are diligently preserved and systematically arranged (CIC 491/2).

Cathedral, collegiate, parish and other church archives

The diocesan bishop is to see to it that the acts and documents of the archives of cathedral, collegiate, parochial and other churches in his territory are also diligently preserved; also, inventories or catalogues are to be made in duplicate, one of which is to be kept in the church’s own archives and the other in the diocesan archives (CIC 491/1).
In order to inspect or remove the acts and documents spoken of in the above, the norms established by the diocesan bishop are to be observed (CIC 491/3).

Obligations of administrators

Before administrators take office:
1st they must take an oath before the ordinary or his delegate that they will be efficient and faithful administrators;
2nd they are to prepare, sign, and subsequently renew an accurate and detailed inventory of immovable goods, movable goods, either precious or of significant cultural value, or other goods along with a description and appraisal of them;
3rd one copy of this inventory is to be kept in the archives of the administration; the other in the curial archives; any change whatever which the patrimony may undergo is to be noted on each copy (CIC 1283).
[All administrators must] duly arrange and keep in a suitable and safe archives the documents and deeds upon which are based the rights of the Church or the institution to its goods; deposit authentic copies of them in the archives of the Curia when it can be done conveniently (CIC 1284/2, 9th).

Foundations

A copy of the terms of the foundation is to be securely filed in the curial archives and another copy is to be securely filed in the archives of the juridic person to whom the foundation pertains (CIC 1306/2).

Diocesan legislation

Diocesan legislation regulating the archives compliments the norms of the Code of Canon Law. The latest are included in the Decrees of the Synod of Gozo (1992), promulgated 22 November 1992 (Confer Diocese of Gozo, Synodus 1992 - Decreta, paragraph 207).

a.    The bishop, in conformity to Canon 482, is to nominate one or more archivists whose principal task is to see to it that the acts of the Curia are gathered, arranged and safeguarded in the archives of the Curia.
b.    Original documents dispatched by the Holy See are to be kept safe in the archives of the Curia, and in conformity to Canon 487/2, interested parties have the right to obtain an authentic written copy or photocopy of documents which are public by nature.
c.    No documents or acts may be removed from the archives without the consent of the bishop; the norms on the consultation of the Archives should be observed.

Besides:

d.    Parish priests are obliged at the beginning of each year to deposit at the Curia archives a copy of all baptismal, confirmation, marriage, and death records entered in their respective parish registers during the previous year. A copy of the updated inventory (cf CIC 491/1 supra ) is to be deposited too.
e.    Cathedral, collegiate, parochial, and other churches and chapels are invited to forward to the Curia archives all printed matter originating within them.
f.    Cathedral, collegiate, parochial, and other churches and chapels are also invited to help in the enrichment of the historical section of the Curia archives (cf CIC 491/2 supra ) in every possible manner.

3. Historical Sketch

Gozo, the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago, is situated six kilometres northwest of Malta. It covers an area of just over 67 square kilometres and its present population is close to 30,000. Its capital city is Rabat also known as Victoria. Since time immemorial, the political and ecclesiastical affairs of Gozo were directed from Malta and this is a point of major importance in the development of the Curia archives.

The Gozitans probably received the religion of Jesus Christ when the great Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on Malta around the year AD 60. Malta and Gozo were then under the Romans (218 BC–AD 535) and the religion of the Empire was not foreign to Malta. Nonetheless Christian burials from the early third century bear witness that the new Christian religion was being practiced in Gozo from very early times, though very little is known on its flowering or otherwise during the Roman and successive Byzantine domination (535–870). In 870, the archipelago passed under the Arabs and it is difficult to ascertain to what extent was the Roman Catholic faith overcome by Islam during their rule (870–1127). From 1127 onwards, Malta and Gozo passed under successive European Catholic powers: the Normans (1127), the Swabians (1194), the Angevines (1266), and the Aragonese (1282). Christianity began gaining ground again; in fact according to a census of 1241, of 366 Gozitan families, 203 were Christians, 155 Muslims, and 8 Jews. In 1249, Muslims were expelled from Malta and Sicily by Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen and Christianity became the religion of the whole population again.

The earliest reference to a church in Gozo goes back to 1299. By 1435, this church situated within the Gozo Citadel was called the ecclesia matrice Sanctae Mariae. By the turn of the century there were three other parishes in Rabat. Two of these, however, ceased to function by the middle of the sixteenth century. No archaeological digs has ever been conducted beneath and around these churches — presumably the oldest on the island — in search of earlier edifices.

In 1530, Malta and Gozo passed under the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, a religious military order whose direct and indirect support to the religious establishment led to its further ramification. During their rule an Apostolic Delegate represented the Holy See in Malta. The Knights remained at the helm until 1798, and in 1800, after a short French intermezzo, the islands passed under British rule. The island’s ecclesiastical establishment continued to develop with the rising population. Six parishes were established during the seventeenth century and another one before 1864, the year that marks the beginning of a new era in the ecclesiastical history of Gozo.

The priests and the people of the island had long felt the necessity of a bishop closer home. On 29 October 1798, the Provicar of Gozo, the Archpriest of the Matrice Dun Saver Cassar, petitioned for a diocese. Yet it was not before 1855 that the question was seriously taken in hand. Dun Pietro Pace, a priest from Rabat, and Sir Adrian Dingli, the Gozitan Crown Advocate of Malta, did their best to see the wishes of their fellow islanders fulfilled. At long last, Pope Pius IX conceded to the wishes of the priests and the people of Gozo. On 16 September 1864 through the Bull Singulari Amore, he created Gozo and Comino a separate diocese directly subjected to the Holy See. An episcopal Curia was set up immediately.

Since then the diocese has had seven bishops and two apostolic administrators. Three more parishes were erected by the end of the nineteenth century and three more during the twentieth bringing their total to fifteen.

On 21 September 1964, Malta and Gozo became an independent nation and on 15 December 1965, an Apostolic Nunciature was opened on the island.

4. Development

An ecclesiastical archives must have first been set up in Gozo sometime in the fifteenth century. At that time, the church introduced the custom of dividing large dioceses into smaller ecclesiastical districts called provicariates so as to better the general administration. Their heads were styled with various names and their powers were generally determined by diocesan statutes, by custom, or by special mandate of the bishop.

The bishop of Malta, in line with the norms of the universal church, created the island of Gozo and Comino as a provicariate with its own Curia, the Curia Provicariale Insulae Gaudisii. The first known provicar is Don Pinus Saguna appointed by Bishop Jacobus Valguarnera in 1495. Forty six provicars are recorded until the establishment of the diocese in 1864.

The provicar headed the Chancery, a place that housed the Archives and the Provicarial Court. In court, the provicar had limited jurisdiction in civil law suits and the power to imprison. This court was formally suppressed on 10 April 1828. He was besides duty bound to invigilate the clergy and to visit parishes to see to the daily observance of sacramental discipline and episcopal decrees. The provicar was aided by a chancellor, in charge of pastoral matters, a fiscal agent, managing administrative affairs, and other minor officials. As a result of their activity an archives was soon set up and started growing from day to day.

The Chancery with its archives was situated within the Citadel, most probably in premises adjacent to the matrice. At that time, the majority of the people lived inside the Citadel and the office of provicar was many times occupied by the Archpriest of the matrice, who lived in a house close to the church. There are indications that it was sometime early in the eighteenth century that the Chancery was transferred to Rabat, the suburb of the Citadel, then quickly developing into a small town. By the middle of that century, the Curia Provicariale was housed in what is now the Cathedral Parish centre; in fact both the street in front of the Chancery and the one adjacent to it were known as Strada Provicario and they continued to be known by that name long after the suppression of that office. The adjacent street is now named after the last provicar of the eighteenth century, Archpriest Saver Cassar, who led the Gozitan rising against the French and was for twenty one months the Governor-General of Gozo.

The establishment of the diocese in 1864 brought about a change both in the direction of the Chancery and in the premises of the archives. On 17 October 1864, the bishop-elect Michael Francesco Buttigieg requested the last provicar, Don Michele Sammut, to transfer to his house, that was also to serve as a temporary Curia, tutte le scritture appartenenti alla nuova Diocesi, le quali fin oggi esistono nelle diverse Curie (cf AEG, Acta Episcoporum, 2, no 14). The archives was thus transferred to the bishop’s premises in Strada Sant’Andrea next to the parish church of Saint George.

It must be pointed out at this point that until 1864, notwithstanding the provicar, the main affairs of the islands of Gozo and Comino, were still directed by the bishop and his Chancery from Malta. Hence a lot of documentation related to the islands was kept there. Conscious of this, the redactors of the Bull Singulari Amore decreed in clear terms that all papers related to the newly founded church of Gozo were to be transferred from the archives of the Valletta (Malta) Curia to the archives of the new diocese. It laid down that e Melitensi Cancelleria diligenter exquisita, extrahenda, transferri mandamus omnia instrumenta libros et quaevis scripta quae novam hanc Gaudisiensem Dioecesim respiciunt, nempe incolas et Ecclesiastica bona instituta pia res, iura, privilegia, favores, indulta quaecumque et quidquid quomodolibet Gaudisiensem populum respiciebat vel respicere potest (cf Pope Pius IX, Bull Singulari Amore, 16 Sep 1864, 5v-6r, copy in AEG, Miscellanea Diocesana, 1). However the Chancellor of the Valletta Curia was reluctant to convey the relative documents to Gozo. Under a host of pretexts, he disregarded the pontifical dispositions laid down in the Bull and inflated difficulties to hinder their transfer. An appeal to Rome from Gozo was to no avail and only a handful of papers were delivered (cf, for the relative correspondence, Vatican City, Archivio della Congregazione degli Affari Ecclesiastici Straordinari, MIII, Malta, Positio 94, Fasc. 63). For this reason most of the research related to the Church in Gozo before 1864 has to be carried out at the AAM — Archivum Archiepiscopale Melitense, the Archiepiscopal Archives of Malta, Floriana.

The new Bishop’s Curia, the Curia Episcopalis Gaudisiensis, began to function on 24 October 1864. In the management of the day to day affairs, the bishop was assisted by the Vicar General and the Chancellor.

The Chancellor, helped by the bishop’s secretary and other officials, dealt with the correspondence that passed between the Curia and the Holy See, the Government, the Cathedral Chapter, and other persons in all matters excepting those financial. The Chancery also received applications for vacant ecclesiastical offices and carried out the proceedings before the conferment of benefices. The office also concluded all practices related to the conferment of the sacraments of Holy Order and Matrimony.
The Vicar General dealt with the administration of the diocese. All matters related directly or indirectly to financial affairs fell under his competence. He proceeded with the work formerly carried out by the fiscal agent. The Vicar General was assisted by an assessor, a sort of director, a fiscal lawyer, and the poor’s advocate, all of which worked on a part-time basis.

The competence of these two principal officials sometimes overlapped. On occasions both sections were, at least nominally, headed by the same person. Otherwise very little changes took place during the following hundred years. The first Synod of Gozo (1903) hardly mentions the Curia and this means that no changes were effected at the time. The Code of Canon Law (1917) deals both with the diocesan Curia and its archives but none of its norms led to any significant changes. The Regional Council of Malta and Gozo (1935) suggested modifications in the Curia’s administrative section but the changes are hardly reflected in the archives.

In 1881, the archives were transferred from the premises in Strada Sant’Andrea to the new Bishop’s residence — a palace acquired on 2 March 1880 by the third bishop of Gozo, His Lordship Monsignor Pietro Pace. The palace, that was also to house the Curia, was ideally situated in the middle of the town on the island’s main thoroughfare. Documents were initially stacked in the Chancellor’s office in airless wooden cupboards. By the passage of years the place proved itself too small and a large quantity of them were moved to a small damp room. Quite a number were irreparably damaged. Since 1970, all documents were transferred to a another wing of the Curia and placed on modern shelving.

Meanwhile the second Vatican Council (1962-65) as well as a change in the administration of the diocese in March 1967, brought about a complete reform in the running of the Curia. This was first announced by the bishop in a decree of 29 December 1967 and further specified in a circular of 11 July 1978. Old offices were given more specific tasks and several new ones were established. An allowance for the documentation produced and received by the newly established offices has been made in the following cataloguing which will thus remain valid and unaltered for many years to come.

5. Handlist

Curia Provicariale – Provicarial Curia
01    AO    Acta Originalia     1561-1864    156
02    BA    Bastardella    1751-1864      5
03    SU    Supplicationes    1601-1822    1
04    CO    Conti Originali      1617+    485
05    MA    Mandati     1777-1830    72

06    RA    Registrum Actorum Civilium      1591-1825    23
07     RB      Registrum Actorum Criminalium     1773-1789    2
08     RC     Registrum Caedularum Depositorum    1635-1825    53
09     RD    Registrum Supplicationum     1762-1855    2
10    RE    Registrum Sententiarum     1791-1824     3
11    RF     Registrum Decisionum     1822-1827    5
12     RG    Registrum Citationum    1815-1824    1
13     RH     Registrum Subastationum      1820-1824    1
14    RI    Registrum Calendationum Missarum     1741+    163

15    RJ    Repertoria    1758-1827    10

• Sections one to five consist of documents related to the provicariate and the diocese in general.

1. Acta Originalia The Acta Originalia, beginning 3 January 1561, is by far the most important section of the Archives. Until 1970, they were a mass of unsorted papers stacked in various cupboards. Some were bound chronologically, others carried an indication of the subject on the back but were unsorted, most were an unsorted mass of loose sheets. Quite an amount were in a poor state of preservation and not a small number of fascicles were a complete loss. They were arranged chronologically in 145 volumes plus eleven others with documents that surfaced when the classification was already in an advanced stage. Each volume contains an average of 450 folios, with a total of some 70,000 folios. There are in all 5,080 documents, ranging from a single folio to fascicles with 48 folios.

The contents of the documents are very extensive. The following list of sixty six Latin titles compiled to a large extent from the documents themselves, gives an indication of the vastness of the section and its immense social importance. This list is arranged in alphabetical order:

Apocha, Bannum, Beneficium, Carceratio, Cedula declaratoria, Cedula depositi, Cedula laudatoria, Cessatio, Cessio bonorum, Citatio, Citatio cum inhibitione, Compromissum, Concursus, Consensus, Consignatio, Contumacia, Conventio, Declaratio, Deliberatio, Delictum, Depositum, Dictum, Donatio, Donatio iuris presentandi, Electio, Electio puellae ad consequendum legatum matrimonii, Elevatio, Executio, Exhibitio, Fidei iussio, Informationes, Iniunctio, Inventarium, Liberatio, Locatio, Mandatum, Nota, Nota Benedictionis Ecclesiae, Nota declaratoria, Nota obligationis, Obligatio, Patrimonium, Presentatio beneficiati, Privilegium, Privilegium indulgentiarum, Processus, Procesus civilis, Processus criminalis, Procuratio, Professio fidei, Reclamum, Recognitio dominii, Registratio supplicis libelli, Relatio, Relatio periti, Renunciatio, Repertorium, Revelatio, Revenditio, Rubrica, Sequestrum, Solutio, Subrogatio, Supplicatio, Taxa, Terminus ad solvendum.

2. Bastardella This section, also known as Protocollo Actorum Originalium, contains the notes or minutes of Curia officials eventually elaborated in a full document, some of which are to be found in the Acta Originalia section. The first record is of 19 August 1751: before that date the minutes were not preserved in view of the finished document. Only minutes of important matters are recorded.

3. Supplicationes The single volume in this section contains original petitions presented to the provicar. The first is dated 9 April 1601. For several reason these were not passed on to the bishop in Malta and remained in Gozo. Other petitions from Gozo are bound together with those of Malta at the AAM in the voluminous Suppliche section.

4. Conti Originali The section is made up of volumes with full and detailed accounts of the administration of the various churches, rural chapels, confraternities, and other ecclesiastical institutions falling under the provicar’s jurisdiction. They shed important light on the religious, artistic, social and economic history of Gozo.

The establishment of the diocese in 1864 brought no significant changes in this section, It was thus decided not to break the series. It was only in the early 1970s that the administration of the Curia and other ecclesiastical entities began to be carried out on modern lines. All administration registers prior to 1970 were placed in this section.

Due to the vastness of the section, as well as to the large size of some registers, and to the fact that registers were deposited in the archives haphazardly, they could not be arranged in one chronological order. Registers 1 to 300 run from 4 August 1617 to 1980; 301 to 450 are fascicles and other registers from 1666 onwards; 451 to 470 are the oversized registers beginning in 1861; 471 plus are registers deposited after the general cataloguing was ready. An alphabetical index to this interesting series is available.

5. Mandati This section contains decrees issued by the Provicar at the request of procurators of ecclesiastical entities authorizing payments. The first is dated 20 October 1777. Previous Mandati della Curia Provicariale were filed with the Acta Originalia.

• Sections six to fourteen are made up of registers. These contain full transcripts, important excerpts, or brief summaries of the original documents preserved in the Acta proper.

6. Registrum Actorum Civilium The first series of registers contains a list of provisions taken by Curia officials in the execution of their office. The first is dated 9 September 1591. The registers include decrees, pious foundations, ecclesiastical appointments, authorizations and so forth.

7. Registrum Actorum Criminalium The two registers of this series contain summaries of law suits brought in front of the Provicar and decided by him. There are also several documents related to law suits decided by the civil Courts. The first is of 24 September 1773.

8. Registrum Caedularum Depositorum Recorded in this section are all forms of money transactions that took place at the provicarial court. The first is of 27 November 1635.

9. Registrum Supplicationum The two registers in this series contain transcripts of petitions made by the provicar before forwarding the originals to the bishop at Malta. The first is of 1 March 1762. Copies were made when matters petitioned fell partly within his sphere of jurisdiction, and partly outside it.

10. Registrum Sententiarum These registers contain the proceedings together with the sentence delivered by the provicar in court to persons that fell within his sphere of jurisdiction. All sorts of matters were judged: from the theft of a donkey, to a fight in a vestry, to swearing in public and so on and so forth. The first judgement is of 6 June 1791.

11. Registrum Decisionum These are decisions taken in their majority, but not exclusively, by the provicar in matters pertaining to rents, emphyteusis, debts, mass legacies, and other problems of a financial nature. The series initiates on 12 January 1822. Previous decisions of the same nature are filed with the Acta originalia. Other registers are probably missing.

12. Registrum Citationum The single register, beginning 14 June 1815, contains copies of summons issued by the bishop or provicar obliging the parties to an action to appear before the Provicarial court. It seems that copies or summons issued previous to 1815 were either not kept or have gone lost.

13. Registrum Subastationum This single register, initiating on 28 November 1820, is made up of decrees issued by the provicar authorizing persons falling under his jurisdiction to sell all sorts of articles by auction so as to raise money to pay debts or to carry out urgent works.

14. Registrum Calendationum Missarum This section consists of registers carrying signatures of priests saying masses in fulfillment of obligations laid down in legacies, as well as some private registers of bishops and priests that were for some reason handed over to the Curia. The first page or two of several of these registers carries a detailed description of the foundation of the relative legacy. Registers are still being added to this section, beginning 27 July 1741.

• Section fifteen is a collection of repertories or indexes.

15. Repertoria These ten volumes of incomplete indexes to some sections of the Curia Provicariale were the only indication of the contents of the documents just described. However, due to the dispersion and displacement of volumes throughout the centuries, these repertories have lost most of their value. Nonetheless, during research, their indications should not be overlooked.

Curia Episcopalis – Bishop’s Curia
16     RS    Rescripta Sanctae Sedis     1864-1930     56
17     ES    Epistulae Secretariae     1863+    33
18     VP    Visitationes Pastorales     1575+    50
19     SD    Sinodus Dioecesani     1903+    20
20    AE    Acta Episcoporum    1864+    14
21     DE    Decreta Episcoporum     1864+    10
22    SS     Recursus ad Sanctam Sedem    1864-1950    13
23    RR    Recursus    1864+    101
24    CC    Concursus    1864-1965    48
25    NN     Nominationes     1956+    2
26    BB     Beneficia    1855-1959    383
27    BT    Bona Temporalia     1864+     500
28    MD    Miscellanea Dioecesana    1864+    125
29    MH    Miscellanea Historica     1759+      110
30    ED    Edita Dioecesana    1864+    100

31       Confirmationes     1699+    22
32       Acta Ordinationum      1864+     1368
33       Patrimonia    1864-1967    93
34       Regesta Ordinationum    1863+     7
35       Acta Matrimonialia        1843+     130
36       Dispensationes Matrimoniales    1864+    98
37       Processus Matrimoniales     1864+     *
38       Legatus Matrimoniales      1864+    110

39       Revisione dei Conti      1861+    126
40       Casse Pie Amministrazioni          1864+     *

41        Capitulum Cathedralis    1623+    68
42        Acta Paroecialia-Baptisma    1918+     85
43        Matrimonia     1918+     52
44        Defuncti     1918+    62
45        Status Animarum     1902+     15
46         Consilium Pastorale     1967+    15
47         Miscellanea    1623+       15
48         Edita    1900+     15

49         Cappellae    1575+    36
50         Confraternitates    1575+    32

[+] indicates that volumes are still being added to the section.
[*] indicates that section is still in process of cataloguing.

Sections sixteen to thirty consist of documents related to the diocese in general.

16. Rescripta Sanctae Sedis A rescript is an administrative act issued in writing by a competent authority, by which a privilege, dispensation, or other favour is granted at someone’s request. The series comprises copies of such requests and the eventual formal, written reply by a Sacred Congregation of the Roman Curia granted to ecclesiastical entities and individuals in Gozo from the establishment of the diocese onwards. The first is of 25 November 1864. After 1930, these rescripts were included in the following section 17.

17. Epistulae Secretariae The series, starting 1863 but with a few papers from the previous twelve years, includes the correspondence from and to bishops, irrespective of destination and origin; the exception being the rescripts filed in section sixteen. Most correspondence is in a chronological order; however a volume at the end of each bishopric gathers together the correspondence that for some reason was not filed in its chronological order. It is clear that a lot of correspondence went missing.

18. Visitationes Pastorales The bishop is bound to visit his diocese in whole or in part each year, so that at least every five years he will have visited the whole diocese, either personally or, if he is lawfully impeded, through a coadjutor. The series contains reports drawn by bishops during such pastoral visitations since 1575. The first is, as a matter of fact, a copy of the well known Apostolic Visitation by the Apostolic Delegate Pietro Dusina, initiated in Gozo on 13 February 1575. This visit served as a model for the following. The reports of visits between 1687 and 1864 are missing at the AEG, but they can be consulted at the relative section at the AAM.

19. Synodus Dioecesani The diocesan synod is an assembly of selected priests and other members of Christ’s faithful of a particular Church which, for the good of the whole diocesan community, assists the diocesan Bishop in the preparation of declarations and decrees to be implemented in the diocese. The series contains files with manuscript and printed documents relative to the Gozo synods of 1903 and 1992, as well as to the particular Council, a synod held in conjunction with the diocese of Malta, of 1935.

20. Acta Episcoporum This series is a collection of the bishops’ official edicts, circulars, and pastoral letters to all members of his diocese. They are of a religious, devotional, liturgical, social, and disciplinary character. The series starts in 1864 but is incomplete. There are also some sporadic papers from previous years.

21. Decreta Episcoporum The series comprises decrees of a multiform nature issued by the Gozo Curia to ecclesiastical entities and persons in Gozo or to others but related to matters pertaining to the diocese. The first is of 20 October 1864.

22. Recursus ad Sanctam Sedem The series contains copies of petitions forwarded from Gozo to the Secretariat of State, the Council for the public affairs of the Church, the Congregations, the Tribunals, and other Institutes of the Roman Curia. The reply is many times attached. The series begins in 1864 but there are some sporadic papers from 1824 to that year. After 1950, these petitions were filed in section 17.

23. Recursus The series, beginning 1864, consists of bound volumes of petitions — more or less one for every year — forwarded to the bishop of Gozo for the most varied reasons, such as: applications to fill vacant ecclesiastical posts; the buying and selling of Church property; the building and enlargement of churches and ecclesiastical buildings; the redemption or reduction of burdens on property; the correction of official records; the purchasing of tombs in church cemeteries; and so on and so forth. The first volume contains sporadic papers from 1836 to 1864.

24. Concursus An incomplete series with the results of written and oral examinations held to confer certain ecclesiastical offices, such as parishes and canonical prebends. Other information, such as a curriculum vitae is sometimes attached. The first is of 29 November 1864. The holding of these examinations has been discontinued and the series is thus closed. Documents related to the conferment of ecclesiastical offices are henceforth in the following section.

25. Nominations The is another incomplete series of the bishops’ decrees nominating persons to all sorts of ecclesiastical offices in Gozo. The series is probably incomplete as a copy of the decree forwarded to the nominee was not always made.

26. Beneficia A benefice is a church office endowed with funds or property. The series consists of files with the documentation necessary for the attainment of the benefice. The series also includes documents relative to the establishment of parishes after 1864. The conferment of benefices related to Gozo prior to 1864 are in the relative section at the AAM. The series is now closed as the income and in many cases the capital itself of benefices have been transferred to a special fund which collects offerings and temporal goods for the purpose of providing for the support of the clergy who serve the diocese.

27. Bona Temporalia The series is made up hundreds of files with documentation relative to ecclesiastical property. These papers were produced over the years by various offices of the administrative section of the Curia. Most papers belonged to the Ufficio Beni Temporali whose task was to acquire, retain, administer, and alienate temporal goods, in pursuit of the proper objectives of the diocese. Plans and maps are included in many files. An index of the property referred to in each document is available.

28. Miscellanea Dioecesana The series is made up of files containing documents of a varied nature that do not fall in any of the previous or following sections. Files relative to the establishment of the diocese are included in the series. So also are files relative to special diocesan or religious events such as the visit of Pope John Paul II to Gozo. Files relative to several Curia offices, such as that for Social Care, Social Communications, for Catechism, for Liturgy, as well as those of diocesan institutions, such as the Seminary, the Children’s Homes, and several others, are being included in this series under separate sub-sections when part of their documentation is transferred to the Curia Archives.

29. Miscellanea Historica This series, like the previous, is made up of files with a wide variety of documents relative to local important events that are not strictly ecclesiastical. A chronological index is available both to this and to the previous section.

30. Edita Dioecesana This is a collection of all serial publications issued either by the diocese of Gozo or by diocesan institutions, but not by the parish establishment. These include the Acts of the curia, the diocesan monthly magazine, the annual Order for liturgical celebrations and the Pastoral calendar, the Directory of the Diocese, the Directory of the Sacred Heart Seminary, the Almanac issued by the Children’s Homes and others.

• Sections thirty one to thirty eight consist of records or documents related to the administration of various sacraments.

31. Confirmationes Since hundreds of years, the church made it a point to record the names of those receiving certain sacraments. In the case of the sacrament of confirmation, one normally finds the names of the minister, the parents, the sponsors, and the place and date of confirmation. The confirmation registers initiate in 1699. Some previous confirmations are recorded in the first Baptism register (cf number 42 infra ). It must be further noted that nowadays the parish priest of the church where the confirmation took place must notify the parish priest of the place of baptism of the person being confirmed so that the confirmation is also recorded in the baptism register.

32. Acta Ordinationum Several documents are required by a person to be accepted in the seminary and, eventually, to be promoted to sacred orders. These include certificates of the reception of baptism, of confirmation, of the ministries of lector and acolyte (and previously also those of exorcist and porter, known as minor orders, as well as that of the sub-diaconate, known as the first major order), a certificate of studies duly completed, a certificate by the rector of the seminary or of the house of formation concerning the qualities required in the candidate for the reception of the order, a certificate of the candidate’s physical and psychological health, a declaration attesting that the candidate is spontaneously and freely receiving the sacred Order, and, for those to be ordained to the priesthood, a certificate of the reception of the diaconate. The series groups hundreds of files with such documents from the establishment of the diocese onwards. A name index is available.

33. Patrimonia The patrimony is an endowment previously requested by the church prior to the conferment of the tonsure, an initial rite to prepare candidates for the reception of holy Orders. The series, now closed, contains the documentation relative to the foundation and/or acquisition of sacred patrimonies by candidates to the priesthood.

34. Regesta Ordinationum After an ordination, the names of individuals ordained, the name of the ordaining minister, and the place and date of ordination are to be entered in a special register. The series comprises such records, including the conferment of minor and major orders as well as of ministries conferred by the bishops of Gozo; included also are those who, with dimissorial letters, were promoted to the orders by a bishop outside the diocese. Other documents relative to priests in general created in the Office for Clergy are being included in this series.

35. Acta Matrimonialia Before contracting a marriage, provision is to be made for all those matters which the law prescribes to establish the freedom to marry. This series, with a file for every year since the establishment of the diocese, is made up of such certificates of freedom to marry and relative documentation. Most interesting are the testimonials of the freedom to marry produced by Gozitans who had lived abroad for some years.

36. Dispensationes Matrimoniales This is another series with a file for every year with documents relative to the relaxation of canonical impediments to marriage.

37. Processus Matrimoniales Matrimonial processes of the baptised belong by their own right to the ecclesiastical judge. This series is made up of files of such processes of the diocesan Tribunal and includes cases concerning: the declaration of nullity of marriage; the separation of spouses; the dispensation from a ratified and non-consummated marriage; and the presumed death of a spouse. This series is reserved and not available for consultation.

38. Legatus Matrimoniales The marriage legacy is a foundation that renders an annual income destined for a dowry so that poor couples could be provided with the means to marry. The series groups the petitions and attestations presented by couples seeking marriage legacies administered by the church together with the eventual proceedings.

• Sections thirty nine and forty group records related to the financial administration.

39. Revisione dei Conti The series is made up of records of the office of Audit, formerly known as Revisione dei Conti. Its task is to examine, adjust, and certify accounts of all ecclesiastical entities.

40. Casse Pie Amministrazioni The Casse Pie Amministrazioni was a sort of Church bank in which funds pertaining to churches and ecclesiastical bodies were deposited with interest for safe custody. The Cassa was also obliged to see to the fulfillment of obligations binding the deposits. It also administered devolved and vacant benefices. The section will also include the records the office known as Ufficio Amministrazione delle Sante Messe, whose task was just the administration of mass intentions. Most of the records pertaining to such administration are still held in the office of Pious Legacies.

• Sections forty one to forty eight consist of records or documents relative to the Cathedral Chapter and the parishes and in most cases originating within them. In every parish series (forty two to forty eight) there is a separate sub-section for every parish that follow each other alphabetically.

41. Capitulum Cathedralis This is a collection of documents relative to the Collegiate Chapter of the Gozo Matrice, now the Cathedral Church. The Chapter began to function on 6 June 1623 and was formally established by Pope Alexander VII on 20 October 1663. Competitive examinations (concursi) for the attainment of several canonical prebends and related litigations are in this section.

42. Acta Paroecialia — Baptisma After the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, parish priests were obliged at the beginning of every year to forward to the curia a copy of the parochial records of the preceding year. This is how this and the following sections developed. Most parish priests fulfilled their duty, though the series is not fully complete.

This first series consists of a copy of the baptism records. The parish priest of the place in which the baptism is conferred must carefully record in the appropriate register the names of the baptised, the minister, the parents, the sponsors and, if there were such, the witnesses, and the place and date of baptism. He must also enter the place and date of birth.

According to current Canon Law (canon 877/2), in the case of a child of an unmarried mother, the mother’s name is to be entered if her maternity is publicly known or if, either in writing or before two witnesses, she freely asks that this be done. Similarly, the name of the father is to be entered, if his paternity is established either by some public document or by his own declaration in the presence of the parish priest and two witnesses. In all other cases, the name of the baptised person is to be registered, without any indication of the name of the father or of the parents.

A further note must be added on the first register in this series, a register with several records that formerly belonged to the Gozo Matrice. It is probably the first to have been kept in Gozo, certainly the oldest to be preserved. The first registration is a baptism on 27 September 1554; the first marriage is registered on 25 December 1556; the first confirmation on 2 July 1579; while the first death is recorded on 11 December 1591. This is also the oldest register preserved at the AEG.

43. Acta Paroecialia — Matrimonia The series contains marriage records from all Gozo parishes from 1918 to date. The parish priest of the place of celebration or whoever takes his place is to record the names of the spouses, of their parents, of the person who assisted, and of the witnesses; as well as the place and date of the celebration of the marriage.

44. Acta Paroecialia — Defuncti This series contains death records from 1918 to date. More or less every record contains the name of the dead; the time and date on which the death occurred; the names of the parents, whether dead or alive; the present state, that is whether single, married, or widower/widow; the place of the last residence; the age on last birthday; the place where death occurred; whether the person was in communion with the church; whether the dead was confessed, received the Viaticum, and the sacrament of the Anointing of the sick; the place where the funeral was held; and, finally, the place of burial.

45. Acta Paroecialia — Status Animarum The Status Animarum, literally the state of the souls, refers to the periodical census taken by the parish priest of his territory. The series contains several such censuses which sometimes were taken door to door and are thus very reliable. Records are normally classified by street and house number, and each one contains the names and surnames of all the household; the name of their parents; their present state, whether single or married; their nickname, sometimes; their age on their last birthday; whether they received the first communion; whether they have been confirmed; whether they are practicing catholics; and other observations of a general nature, thus it is noted when someone’s husband is living abroad. The earliest one preserved is that taken in Rabat in 1902. Previous Status Animarum are preserved in the relative section at the AAM.

46. Acta Paroecialia — Consilium Pastorale The series, with a section for every parish, consists of the reports of minutes forwarded periodically by the parish councils. This council is presided over by the pastor, and through it the Christian faithful along with those who share in the pastoral care of the parish in virtue of their office give their help in fostering pastoral activity.

47. Acta Paroecialia — Miscellanea The series consists of documents of a varied nature related to the parishes of Gozo. Included are inventories of movable property housed in the parish church; these are updated from time to time.

48. Acta Paroecialia — Edita When forwarded, the various publications originating within the parishes, such as the weekly bulletin, parochial magazines, almanacs, programmes of feasts and the like, are filed chronologically in this section.

• Sections Forty nine and fifty group records and documents related to the chapels and confraternities of the diocese.

49. Cappellae In this series there is a file for each church and chapel in the diocese which is not a parish church, as well as several files of chapels that not longer stand today. Records relative to the church on the island of Comino, part of the diocese of Gozo, are included in this section.

50. Confraternitates The term confraternity or sodality refers to a religious association in the Roman Catholic Church, usually of laymen, united for some devotional, charitable, or educational object. It is called archconfraternity when composed of affiliated bodies. The series groups files with information on past and present confraternities of the diocese of Gozo.