Pope’s message of condolence for death of Archbishop Joseph Mercieca

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Pope's message of condolence for death of Archbishop Joseph MerciecaThe funeral has taken place this afternoon of Archbishop Emeritus Mgr Joseph Mercieca, at St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta. Mass præsente cadavere was led by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna. The funeral cortege will leave from Valletta for a private burial at Mdina Cathedral.

At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Scicluna read out a message of condolence for the death of Archbishop Emeritus Mgr Joseph Mercieca, sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, on behalf of Pope Francis, which read:

"The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the death of the Most Reverend Joseph Mercieca, Archbishop Emeritus of Malta.

He sends condolences to you and to the clergy, men and women religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese as you gather to celebrate the funeral rites.

His Holiness offers prayers for the eternal rest of Archbishop Mercieca, and gives thanks to God for his long and devoted priestly service in the Church.

To the family and friends of the late Archbishop, and to all who mourn his passing, the Holy Father willingly imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and consolation in the Lord." Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.

Archbishop Emeritus Mgr Joseph Mercieca passed away on Monday morning at his residence in Zetjun.

In 2012 the Archbishop, who was born in Victoria, Gozo, celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

Mgr Mercieca was ordained by the then Bishop of Gozo Mgr Guzeppi Pace at St James' Church in Victoria on the 8th of March 1952, together with another priest from the parish, Dun Saver Calleja, today Primicerius of the Collegiate Chapter. He then celebrated his first Solemn High Mass at St George's; he was only twenty-three years old when he was ordained, thus needing a special dispensation from Rome for his ordination.

Guzeppi Mercieca was born at his parents' house in Providence Street, around the corner from St George's parish church, in Victoria, on the 11th of November 1928. He attended the Government's Primary School in Victoria and then entered the Diocesan Seminary where he began his studies which were to lead him to the priesthood.

He later served as rector of the Gozo Major Seminary between 1958 and 1969 and on the 20th of July 1974 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Malta and nominated Titular Bishop of Gemellæ in Numidia. On the 29th of November 1976 he was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta, succeeding Mgr Sir Michael Gonzi. The bishop-consecrators at his ordination for the episcopate were Mgr Michael Gonzi, Mgr Nicholas J. Cauchi and Bishop Francesco Ricceri. He headed the church until 2006..Pope's message read out at funeral of Archbishop Mgr Joseph Mercieca

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