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Gozo ( ) is an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Seamarker. The island is part of the Southern European country of Maltamarker; after the island of Maltamarker itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago. Compared to its southeastern neighbour, Gozo is more rural and known for its scenic hills, which are featured on its coat of arms.

A popular nickname of Gozo is the Isle of Calypso, derived from the location of Ogygia in Greek mythological poem Homer's Odyssey. In the myth, the island was controlled by nymph Calypso who detained the hero of the story Odysseus there as prisoner of love for seven years; Gozo is thought to be modern day Ogygia.

The island itself has a population of around 31,000 people (all of Malta combined has 402,000), and its inhabitants are known as Gozitans ( ). It is rich in historical locations such as the Ġgantijamarker temples which, along with the Megalithic Temples of Malta, are the world's oldest free-standing structures and also the world's oldest religious structures.

For such a small island, Gozo has a high concentration of Churches (22 in all). The Xewkija church has a capacity of 3000, enough for the entire population of Xewkija village, its dome is larger than that of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The church bells are rung daily for the canonical hours Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None and vespers.

History

Gozo has been inhabited since 5000 BC, when farmers from nearby Sicily crossed the sea to the island. Due to similar pottery found in both places from the Għar Dalam phase, it has been suggested that the first colonists were specifically from the area of Agrigentomarker; however, it is currently indeterminate exactly which part of Sicily the farmers came from. They are thought to have first lived in caves on the outskirts of what is now known as Saint Lawrence.

Gozo was an important place for cultural evolution and during the neolithic period the Ġgantijamarker temples were built; they are the world's oldest free-standing structures, as well as the world's oldest religious structures. The temples' name is Maltese for "belonging to the giants", because legend in Maltese and Gozitan folklore says the temples were built by giants. Another important Maltese archaeological site in Gozo, which dates back to the neolithic period, is the Xagħra Stone Circlemarker. Also, native tradition and certain ancient Greek historians (notably Euhemerus and Callimachus) maintain that Gozo is in fact the island Homer described as Ogygia, home of the nymph Calypso.

In July 1551 Ottoman under Turgut Reis and Sinan Pasha invaded and ravaged Gozo and enslaved most of its inhabitants, about 5000, bringing them to Tarhuna Wa Msalata in Libyamarker, their departure port in Gozo was Mġarr ix-Xini. The island of Gozo was repopulated between 1565 and 1580 by people from mainland Malta, undertaken by the Knights of Malta.[29604]

The history of Gozo is strongly coupled with the history of Malta, since Gozo has been governed by Malta throughout history, with the brief exception of a period of autonomy granted to Gozo by Napoleon after his conquest of Malta, between 28 October 1798 and 5 September 1800.

Demography

In 2005, the island had a population of 31,053, of whom 6,414 live in its capital Victoriamarker, also known as Rabat. The crude birth rate was 7.93, considerably lower than that of 9.59 for Malta. The town with the highest birth rate is San Lawrenzmarker (15.93) and that with the lowest is Xewkijamarker (4.89).

Geography

Gozo is 67 km² in size, which is approximately the same size as Manhattanmarker. It lies approximately 6 km northwest of the nearest point of Malta, is of oval form, and is 14 km in length and 7.25 km in width.

Gozo is famed for its character and places of interest. Some of these include the Calypso cave and the Ġgantijamarker Neolithic temples which are among the oldest surviving man-made structures.

Gozo's finest beaches are San Blas and the stunning Ramla Baymarker, with brilliant orange-red sand and clear turquoise waters.


Connection to Malta Island

Gozitans have a very strong identity within Malta as a whole country and Gozo is the only region in Malta which has a Minister responsible for it. Generally speaking, Gozo is more socially conservative than the rest of the country. The perceived Maltese attitude towards Gozitans (stereotyping them as uneducated and 'primitive') is also changing, as more Gozitans move to Malta seeking higher education and better economic opportunities.

The construction of a bridge between mainland Maltamarker and Gozo was a subject of controversy for years. In the early 1970s the newly elected Socialist Administration started the building of a bridge between the two islands, but this was stopped after protests from the Gozitan part. There was previously a helicopter service which connected the two, but this ceased recently following privatisation.

Currently the island is reachable by ferry boat and by seaplane. Passenger and car ferries cross on a regular basis between the port of Mġarr on Gozo and Ċirkewwa on Malta. This service is used for goods, tourism and commuting (Gozitan students study at the University of Malta). Due to its frequent use, residents of Gozo are able to use the ferry at a subsidised rate, significantly lower than the standard fare. The sea plane operates from Valletta to Mgarr harbour.

Ecclesiastical history

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Gozo (in Latin Goulos-Gaudisiensis), comprises the Island of Gozo in the Mediterranean Sea (seventeen miles west of the harbour of Valletta, Malta) and islet of Cominomarker. On a central plateau the Citadel fortifications contain the cathedral church and several public buildings. To the south of the castle lies the island's main town whose origins go back to prehistoric times. The town contains several public buildings the most important of which is St George's basilica. This magnificent basilica lies on the site where the earliest evidence of Christianity was discovered.

Up to the year 1864, Gozo formed part of the Diocese of Malta, but Pius IX, acceding to the repeated prayer of the clergy and the people, erected it into a separate exempt diocese, i.e. immediately subject to the Holy See. On 16 March, 1863, Monsignor Francesco Michele Butigieg, a native of Gozo, was appointed titular Bishop of Lita and deputy auxiliary of the Archbishop-Bishop of Malta, for the Island of Gozo. He was consecrated at Rome on 3 May of the same year, on 22 September, 1864, was created first bishop of the new Diocese of Gozo, and on the 23rd day of the following month made his solemn entry into the new cathedral. Through the efforts of Mgr. Pietro Pace, who was then vicar-general of the diocese, a diocesan seminary was established on the site formerly occupied by the San Giuliano Hospital, the revenues of which were appropriated to the new institution. This seminary was inaugurated 3 November, 1866, and by the express desire of Pope Pius IX placed under the direction of the Jesuits.

On the death of Mgr. Butigieg, Father Micallef, Superior General of the Augustinian Order, was made Bishop of Città di Castello and appointed administrator of the Diocese of Gozo. He left Gozo in May, 1867, and in 1871 became Archbishop of Pisa. His successor to the administration of the diocese was Mgr. Antonio Grech Delicata, titular Bishop of Chalcedonmarker, a native of Malta, who in 1868 was appointed Bishop of Gozo, and as such assisted at the First Vatican Council. Mgr. Grech Delicata's charity towards the poor went so far that he divested himself of his own patrimony. This worthy prelate died on the last day of the year 1876.

On 12 March, 1877, Mgr. Canon Professor Pietro Pace, native of Gozo, was appointed to succeed Mgr. Grech Delicata, and was consecrated at Rome by Cardinal Howard. Under his administration the seminary was augmented by the installation of a meteorological observatory, which was inaugurated by the celebrated Padre Denza, Director of the Vatican Observatorymarker. During this administration an episcopal educational institute for girls was also established, under the care of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, to whom was also entrusted the direction of the annexed orphan asylum. The same bishop provided the diocese with a new episcopal palace and new monasteries, besides laying out large sums of money on the cathedral.

In 1889, Mgr. Pace was promoted Archbishop of Rhodesmarker and Bishop of Malta. His successor in the See of Gozo was the Reverend G. M. Camilleri, O.S.A., a native of Valettamarker (b. 15 March, 1842). Under Mgr. Camilleri's administration the first diocesan synod was celebrated, in October, 1903. This synod was of absolute necessity, as the diocese was still governed under the rules of the Synod of Malta of 1703, and consequently lacked a safe guide adapted to the times. Constitutions and decrees were also promulgated and published which gave new life to the working of the diocese.

The cathedral church of Gozo was built in 1697-1703, by Lorenzo Gafa. Its ground plan is in the form of a Latin cross. The Cathedral is also the annual pilgrimage site of the Grand Priory of the Mediterranean of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. Its interior is adorned with fine paintings. The "Massagiere di Maria", an Italian periodical, is recognized in the Diocese of Gozo as the official organ of the sanctuary of the Bl. Virgin ta Pinu.

Currently the Bishop of Gozo is Mgr. Mario Grech.

Notable features



References

  1. Gozo.gov
  2. IsGozo.ws
  3. Xaghra.com
  4. Old Temples Study Foundation (OTSF)
  5. IslandofGozo


External links




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