50 years after the death of Franġisku Saverju Mercieca, known as Frenċ tal-Għarb, people who knew him describe the man as a saint. They recount various episodes of people who visited him and were cured. These people share the view that the Church should consider to study intensively his life and actions so that a case of his beatification may be opened.
TVM spoke with two persons who knew Frenċ tal-Għarb well, including one of his nieces.
Franġisku Saverju Mercieca was born in 1892, one of twelve children to Salvu and Beneditta Mercieca. Following a day’s work at the fields, Frenċ used to have people waiting for him and spent hours till early morning at his shed providing advice and curing people.
Frenċ tal-Għarb niece, Rita Mercieca, said “This road was always packed with people, Maltese – Gozitans, everyone”.
Frenċ tal-Għarb was a father to his niece, who says that her uncle never requested or took money from people. “My mother, for example, had many children; we faced illnesses. Go to Frenċ first, tell Frenċ”.
Sunta Apap says that Frenċ tal-Għarb had golden hands and cured her lichen on her face. “It was this big; he told me smell this and he cured it. Maybe at hospital they would have skinned your face”.
Rita Mercieca recounted an experience of a youth from Għarb who is said was cured through Frenċ interception. He was involved in a grave motorcycle accident and spent six weeks in a coma.
“A written document in a frame at Frenċ house says that doctors at St Luke’s said that he was the Miracle Boy when nurses noticed he was moving his fingers and recovered well. He still lives at Għarb”.
Sunta was beside Frenċ death bed at his last moments of his life. He died at the home he was born in at the age of 75. “He suffered from asthma, with loss of breath. He used to tell me: I will died as a bird, shortly”.
Frenċ was a great devotee of il-Madonna ta’ Pinu – his followers believe he was chosen by Our Lady. “I think he was the chosen one, because other men were not like him. He used to say do you have faith in Our Lady? They you will be cured”.
The devotion for Frenċ tal-Għarb is still strong. The house he lived in is now a museum while the shed where people visited him is open to the public and tourists….as a plaque on the house facade shows.