My name is Salvatore Portelli but, in the village of San Lawrenz, I am known as Dun Salv. I was born at Għarb on the 8th October, 1864. When still young, I felt the call for priesthood. I started attending the Gozo Seminary when the institution was run by Sicilian Jesuits. I was ordained priest on the 20th November, 1887.
I was made procurator of San Lawrenz Church in 1890, the same year when I became Theologian of the Collegiate Church of Gharb. In 1893 I became the first parish priest of San Lawrenz when the village became an independent parish. I retained this post for the rest of my life. I was highly respected by Bishop Giovanni Maria Camilleri and Bishop Mikiel Gonzi.
During my tenure as parish priest, I did my best to embellish the church, although the village was mainly agricultural and the population relatively poor. The church still boasts of artistic works by renowned artists like Giuseppe Calì, Attilio Piombi, Abram Gatt, Pio Cellini and Carlo Darmanin. These works of art left an indelible mark on the artistic vision and collective identity of San Lawrenz church. The beauty of these works of art can be admired the whole year round but is enhanced in a special way during the festa season of the village.
As parish priest for more than 40 years, my influence extended beyond the parochial church and reached urban changes that were affecting the village. I was also responsible for the writing of the only existing history of the parish and its artistic projects. I documented and preserved the collective memory of the members of our parish in the archives of the same parish.
This bust, designed by Mayor Noel Formosa, is the work of Alfred Camilleri Cauchi. It was unveiled by Hon. Giovanna Debono, Minister for Gozo, on 3rd June 1999.
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