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,
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
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
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
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
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
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).