Zahra, Philip (24.9.1908-15.4.1982)


Born at Senglea Joseph Zahra embraced the Order of the Conventual Franciscans in Assisi in 1925 and was given the name of Philip. As a Franciscan, he joined the Missionary Crusade. He was ordained priest at St Francis Basilica in Assisi in 1933.

In 1934 Zahra was one of the pioneers who left for Northern Rhodesia, now known as Zambia, where the Franciscans had just found­ed a new missionary station. He served in that mission for nearly 50 years, giving his support to many black natives who laboured in the copper mines.

Zahra also worked as a teacher and director of various missionary schools in precarious financial situations. He also volunteered to publish a journal in Cibemba, the native-lan­guage of Zambia.

Several Franciscan communities felt it hon­ourable for them to have him as their superior because he willinp-lv shared all hardships and looked after those who needed his help, white or black alike. Much loved for his meek, calm, and gentle character, he was elected superior of the whole mission (1951-54).

Zahra worked in the missions to the very end. Only when he was seriously ill, that he was transferred to Rome in 1982, where he died at the Blue Sisters Hospital. He was buried at Verano Cemetery.

Source: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century (1997), editors Michael J. Schiavone and Louis J. Scerri

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