Father  joseph


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Fr Joseph Diacono was born on 6th August 1847 in the city of Victoria, Gozo.

He studied in one of the private schools in Victoria and, having finished his secondary studies, entered the Seminary which had just opened in the Diocese of Gozo.

The most important day of his life was the 4th March 1871, when he was ordained priest. He was sent vice parish priest in the village of Ghasri and later of Marsalforn, Gozo.

In February 1876, he became vice parish priest of St George Martyr in the capital city, Victoria.

In 1878, the Archpriest of St George, Mons Felice Refalo, assigned him the duty of Director of the newly established Association of the Twelve Stars of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that the pious Miss Carmela Xerri had founded in Victoria, Gozo.

Fr Joseph taught the young girls regularly in Miss Xerri’s house.

The number of girls increased, and Father Joseph rented a house for them in Ghajn Qatet Street, Victoria.

The Association of the Twelve Stars attracted an increasing number of pious, willing young girls, so much so that a group of them expressed their desire to consecrate themselves to God totally, in religious life.

In the name of these girls, Fr Joseph asked the Bishop of Gozo, permission to found a religious Congregation. On 1st September 1880, Mons Peter Pace issued a decree, granting the desired permission.

In this way, the Congregation of the Franciscan Tertiaries was founded, with the principal aim of educating children coming from poor families.

On the 10th February 1881, Fr Joseph Diacono gave the religious habit to Virginia De Brincat, who subsequently took the name of Mother Margherita. She collaborated intensely with him for the benefit of the new Congregation.

On 22nd March 1881, Fr Joseph Diacono was nominated parish priest of the village of Qala. In spite of this, he still continued to show interest in the newly-founded Congregation, which still needed his direction and assistance.

In 1887, owing to a difficulty which had arisen regarding the Congregation, Fr Diacono was about to dissolve it, but it was saved through Mother Margherita’s unexpected intervention.

In 1891, Father Joseph Diacono was appointed Parish Priest of the village of Xaghra. Here, in a large, rented house, he initiated another beneficial social activity. He opened a school of embroidery and lace making for young girls, which he called “Casa Industriale” (Industrial House). Many girls came from every part of Gozo to learn and to work lace, which was later sold abroad at a profitable price.

In 1909, Father Diacono asked the Bishop to be freed from the responsibilities of the parish of Xaghra. Since he was a dynamic and tireless man, having been freed from the responsibility, he did not rest, but sought to create job opportunities for youth.

He set up another Industrial House in Racecourse Street, Victoria, where he even transferred the one in Xaghra. He did all he could to promote lace-making, so much so that Gozo lace was also exhibited in fairs in England.

Up to the end of his life, Father Joseph Diacono continued to spend most of his time at the “Casa Industriale”, preparing new sketches and improving those already finished by the girls, who worked in their homes, under his instructions.

He died on 22nd July 1924 surrounded by many people, particularly by the Franciscan Tertiaries and especially Mother Margherita De Brincat, who respected him till death, and always considered him the Father and Founder of the Congregation.


Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, Collection of Fr Joseph Diacono’s notes and other writings of the first community (Victoria, Gozo, 1994).

Joseph Bezzina, Dun Guzepp Diacono, Priest, Founder, Philanthropist 1847-1924 (Victoria, Gozo, 1998).



Fr J. D. Quotes


M. Margherita













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