A Slovenian connection to Malta

On the 2 May 2004, a curious ceremony sponsored by the Association of Slovenian Apiculturists took place at the Church of St. Joseph in Lansprez, Slovenia. Fifteen hundred members and friends sang hymns and prayed thanks for finally taking possession of their ‘new’ church. Asked why they chose this and not any other, the attendees explained that an 18th century priest, Peter Pavel Glavar, was buried here.

 Glavar was a renowned and highly successful apiarist who even established the first private school of apiculture in Imperial Austria.

 Beekeepers in Italy and Slovenia celebrate Glavar’s memory because he had Italian and Slovenian blood. (“quanto nelle sue vene scorreva sangue sloveno e italiano”)

 Glavar was born circa 1721 in Komenda. He is said to be the illegitimate son of a Knight of Saint John. Recent publications name his parents as the Maltese baron Pietro Giacomo Testaferrata, and an unknown Slovenian woman. (“Oggi s’ipotizza che questi fosse il figlio naturale del barone Testaferrata, però non si sa chi fosse stata sua madre (sicuramente una donna slovena”).

 Pietro Giacomo Testaferrata was a professed member of the Order and a Monsignor. His father Paolo was a descendant of an old Roman patrician family, that of Capo di Ferro which settled in Malta in 1475.

 Both ‘Testaferrata’ and ‘Capo di Ferro’ translate into ‘head of Iron’.

 Testaferrata held ecclesiastical offices in Ravenna and Ascoli and in 1738 he was appointed Secretary to the Congregation of the Bishops in Rome.

Testaferrata’s connection with Slovenia is that between 1715 and 1734 he held the Order’s commandery of St. Peter (Komenda). Testaferrata had the village restructured considerably, notably the old church dating to 1147 was pulled down in 1726 to make way for the new building. The surroundings were redesigned according to plans by the architect Jože Ple?nik.

 Glavar’s specious paternity claim appears to be derived from the fact that on the 2 May 1721 that the newborn baby was found at the doorstep with a note saying “This child has been baptized with the name Peter Pavel Glavar.” 

 Glavar’ in Slovenian means ‘head’.

 The child was adopted by the Basai family. The boy excelled in his studies. By the time he was just 23 he had already received a doctorate in Theology and Philosophy.

 Thinking that the baron was his natural father, Glavar went on foot from Komenda to Fiume and from that point by ship to Ascoli where Testaferrata was Governor. Glavar was received by the baron but he never acknowledged him as his son.

 Testaferrata helped Glavar enter the priesthood by obtaining for him a dispensation for his illegitimate birth. Glavar was made priest in 1744 in Fiume. With Testaferrata’s influence, Glavar was given letters patent to hold the Order’s commandery of Komenda.

 Peter Pavel held Komenda until 1763 but it was not renewed after Pier Giacomo’s death.

 Glaver then purchased the Lansprez estate where he devoted all his energies to agriculture and beekeeping.