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Title: The historical background to the cult of St. Philip of Agira in Malta
Authors: Buhagiar, Mario
Keywords: Philip, of Agira, Saint, active 5th century
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: 12th May Band & Social Club
Citation: Buhagiar, Mario (2004). The historical background to the cult of St. Philip of Agira in Malta. In Toni Cortis (Ed.), San Filep u l-Kult Tiegħu : Atti tas-Simpożju, 13 u 14 ta' Novembru 2004, p. 1-6
Abstract: The cult of Philip of Agira reached Malta after the definitive Latin Christian conquest of the island by the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, in 1127, but owes its popularization to Siculo-Greek monasticism whose presence, although not yet proven by conclusive documentary evidence, is reliably indicated by a number of eloquent non-written sources that include iconographic, architectural, hagiographical, and toponomastic evidence." The significant fact that at least seven of the dedications of the first securely documented cappelle, or parish churches, were to saints who like Philip of Agira enjoyed a popular cult in the Greek-rite, or Basilian communities, of Norman Sicily, is another important consideration. Philip of Agira may, therefore, have been one of the first saints venerated in early post-Muslim Malta, and his church at Rahal Żebbug was possibly the centre for the diffusion of his cult. The legend of unknown antiquity that the church was founded and endowed in the late fourteenth century by a certain Filippo, a citizen of Catania, may be an early modern fabrication, but whatever its merits the indications are that the cult is in fact much older, and that it was diffused in various parts of the island. The thirteen able bodied men called Philippu, Lippu, Filib, or Luppu, recorded in the militia list of 1419, might all have been named after him rather than after Philip the Apostle or other saints of that name.
Appears in Collections:Melitensia Works - ERCWHMlt
Scholarly Works - FacArtHa

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