Juventutis Domus Sacra Familia is a society whose residence is a palace found in Saint Gregory Street, one of the main streets in Zejtun not far from the Parish Church. In fact many were the noble families who throughout the years built a stately home as a summer residence there. One of these was Bishop Ferdinand Mattei whose initials F. M. can be seen on the glass frame of the main door and on the door leading to the yard.
In 1911 Don Spiridione Grixti and Angelo Baldacchino asked Parish Priest Don Laurence Degabriele to let them set up a Domus a place for the teaching and recreation of youth following the teaching of Saint John Bosco. At first they rented a small house in St. Gregory Street but in 1920 they bought the present building for the sum of 578 Maltese Liri from the Sciriha family on 9th March 1920 signing the contract on 13th December of that year.
On entering the building in the spacious Hall there is a bust of the founder and there is an office. Beyond the hall there is a Bar where members meet to talk and have some refreshments. Upstairs there is the room where the committee meets. This is adorned with several photos and other memorabilia relating to the history of the place. There is also a chapel dedicated to the Sacred Family . The titular alterpiece was painted by Guiseppe Caruana. Under the stone altar are Holy Remains brought by Bishop Ferdinand Mattei. On the altar the Blessed Sacrament is always exposed for the adoration of the members and this makes the Domus as the only society in Malta where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed every day. The statue of the Holy Family was donated by Guiseppe Caruana known as “Kaljatu”. Its feast is celebrated in January. Throughout the year the Domus holds several activities and celebrates several feasts most important among them being Christmas, Holy Week and Easter. The Altar of Repose is set up in the Hall for the devotion of the people. Every Sunday morning a Mass is celebrated for children and animated by the children themselves.
Downstairs there is a big yard which used to be part of a very large orchard. The orange trees were removed and a theatre was built on the site. A theatrical company named after St John Bosco was founded. The Domus had a choir and an orchestra as well. The first theatrical work presented was “The Life of the Patron Saint of Zejtun Saint Catherine V.M.” in 1926 and written by Carmelo Baldacchino. Later on the theatre was closed down for renovation and opened again in 2005. From its institution the Domus had 6 directors namely: Fr Spiridione Grixti 1912- 1937, Mons Michele Spiteri 1937-1942, Fr Emanuel Camilleri 1942-1954, Fr Guiseppe Desira 1954-1997, Fr Aloysuis Zammit 1997-2007, and Parish Priest Fr Eric Overend from 2007.
Today the Domus from a palace as a summer residence of a maltese Bishop has become a centre for religious, cultural, social and theatrical activities. It is a meeting place for the Zejtun Boys Scouts and Girl Guides as well.
All these activities make the Juventutis Domus Sagra Familia a centre of Christian teaching and recreation.
Author: Paul Zammit
Translation by: Angela Spiteri