Parish Priest Carlo Manché
Welcome to this website dedicated to a Catholic priest who lived a holy life in the spirit of the Gospel, a life of complete service to God manifested in fellow human beings.
Born on 22 September 1905 in Valletta, the capital city of the small Mediterranean island of Malta, Reverend Carlo Manché was ordained priest on his 23rd birthday. He was the much loved Parish Priest of Gżira between 1935 and 1950, when his life was cut short at the tender age of 45 years after having suffered an attack of thrombosis some time before his death. He died in Gżira on 18 November 1950.
The impressive photo of his funeral (above) taken in front of the Gżira Parish Church shows some of the thousands of parishioners and people from all walks of life, who thronged the streets of Gżira for the funeral cortège to get a final glimpse of the open coffin. They were paying their last respects to a great man and expressing their deep love, respect and admiration for this unique servant of God who had touched their lives with such intensity.
In his recent book Europe And Empire: Culture, Politics and Identity in Malta and the Mediterranean (Midsea Books, 2012), Professor Henry Frendo wrote about the bravery of Fr Carlo Manché during the Second World War:
Parish Priest Manché helped his people not only with prayer, but with courageous action in aid of the victims and of his flock, who were fleeing from Gżira to various safer villages in the island. Fr Manché worked night and day, while like a true general he did not abandon the parish. He helped the homeless, the injured and sought food for the people, even serving in the commensal Victory Kitchens.
Other witnesses recalled an episode during the war when Parish Priest Manché was summoned to assist a family, whose house in Stuart Street, Gżira, had just been hit and destroyed by a bomb. One of the victims was a pregnant woman, who died in the explosion. Fr Manché tried to save the life of her baby in those extreme circumstances by performing a Caesarean with a knife. Unfortunately, the baby had also died with the woman.
In his book When Malta Stood Alone (1940-1943), Joseph Micallef noted the ‘hands on’ leading role that Fr Carlo Manché played in the construction of rock shelters to protect his parishioners from the enemy’s attacks. The demand for rock shelters in Malta had increased with the advent of German bombing raids in January 1941, particularly following the attack on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Volunteer organisations had sprung up everywhere: men, women and even children all gave a hand to construct shelters.
Probably the first organised group was at Gżira. On 20 January 1941 the Gżira-Msida District Committee got volunteers together. Men who had never done any work with pick and shovel, and working in relays, started digging into the rock to provide protection to the people of the district. The first neo-miners were the Rev. Manché, D.D. the Gżira Parish Priest, and Dr A.F. Colombo M.D.
In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the life and deeds of Fr Carlo Manché in the Parish of Gżira and elsewhere. In an article titled Fr Carlo Manché – Gżira’s saintly parish priest published on timesofmalta.com on 11 November 2012, a prominent Maltese priest who founded the Cana Movement in Malta in the mid-fifties, Mgr Charles Vella, wrote:
This is the life of a Good Shepherd, whom I always loved since my late teens. As I was born and baptised in Gżira I used to go to him to collect my birth certificate. He always welcomed me warmly (though I did not like the smell of the pipe). He once told me: “You are going to be the first priest from Gżira. Do come here when you are ordained.” God’s will led me elsewhere.
I think that Gżira, as it has done in the past, should revive the memory of Fr Carlo Manchè. Marble slabs alone do not tell the story, but we need to hear and pray more to Fr Carlo. Lately I met his nephews, Dr Loris Manchè and Judge Albert Manchè, and I again fell in love with this ‘giant’ of the Maltese clergy.
Had the Church carried out an in-depth study of the heroic virtues of this saintly priest soon after he died, he would by now have been declared a Servant of God.
The purpose of this website is to make the information known about Fr Carlo Manché available to anyone who may be interested in knowing more about him and his life and advancing the case for his sainthood.