Samuel Bugeja 1920-2004

The Silent Artist

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  | 

Naxxar Parish Church Organ Balcony

There are moments during one’s life that leave a mark on that person´s eventual successes, character, attitude and outlook throughout the rest of their life. For Samuel Bugeja, if ever there was an event that made him re-assess himself was the tragic death of his father Adam (himself a sculpture from Rabat) right in the middle of the World War II. During the first 3 months of 1941 there was a concerted effort by the enemy at the time to neutralize Malta´s strategic Mediterranean leverage during to the enemy´s Middle-east campaign.

It was during the month of March 1941 that Adam Bugeja, Samuel´s father, was sculpting on the belfry of the Annunciation Monastry Church of the Dominician Order at Birgu – right in the heart of the Grand Harbour. It was during one of these vicious air raids that Adam fortuitously escaped death when the church was bombed. However, he never recovered the shock and fear of that air raid as he passed away two weeks later on the 27th March 1941.

Samuel was still 21 years old when his father passed away and he had already proved to be a steady figure in the family in virtue of his productive contribution to his father´s wood carving family enterprise based in a workshop on Saqqajja Hill in the Rabat village. The ornamental work was well within Samuel´s capacity.

However, the artistic challenge of other large projects were in the balance with his father´s sudden demise. By far the most important on-going work of calibre was the Naxxar Parish Church organ balcony in wood that Adam Bugeja had just started. The original design was prepared by Samuel himself, included a figurative sample sculpture in wood, gave him a head start. Would the Naxxar ecclesiastical Chapter retain the services of young Samuel or opt for a mature artist to complete the works?

Luckily for Samuel, the Naxxar ecclesiastical Chapter elected to retain Samuel to complete the organ project. An even greater challenge was the completion date of the 8th September 1941 of that same year because it was on that date that the Saint Mary of Victories feast would be celebrated. Samuel, undeterred by the set-back of the death of his father, rose to the occasion and delivered a sculptured organ of the finest artistic quality well in time for the celebrations to take place. In recognition, the Archpriest E. Micallef and Capt Mizzi wrote a certificate that is a fine testimonial for Samuel´s endeavours. Samuel had the talent and stamina to turn a tragic loss into a life-time recognition during that same year – 1941.

This work of art can be viewed and appreciated at the Naxxar Parish Church whereby one can absorb the quality and skill of a very young artist on his way to greater success.



Angel's Head
The Head of an Angel carved in Rosewood by Samuel Bugeja at the very young age of 19 years old. This was submitted to the Naxxar Parish Church so that they could see how some of the sculptures would look like for the main organ commission that Samuel Bugeja carried out during these young years.