An introduction on i-TAU

I-TAU is a new website being launched by a group of Franciscan Friars Minor from Malta. The idea is that of continuing to build upon the effort started by the same friars back in 1997, when the Franciscan Province of Malta was among the first in the Order of Friars Minor to have its own website, as a result of the expertise of John Abela ofm, who has been webmaster at the General Curia of the Order of Friars Minor during these last 12 years.

The name i-TAU reflects the current trend of labelling popular software and hardware with the I-. Apart from this, the Tau is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is mentioned in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel 9:4. For Christians it is a Biblical symbol, representing the cross of Jesus Christ. Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) used the Tau as his particular mark and signature. This is therefore a Franciscan adoption of the green technology which aims to eliminate the use of paper for its news and publications.

In 1982, during the 800th anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis, the Maltese Franciscans launched “Edizzjoni Tau” (Tau Edition), in order to publish books and reviews dealing with Holy Scripture and the Holy Land Custody, as well as with Franciscan Studies. The founder of “Edizzjoni Tau” was Raymond Camilleri ofm.

Among various publications, the Franciscans have been regularly publishing two Reviews. “L-Art Imqaddsa” (The Holy Land) is published by the Commissariat of the Holy Land, with the aim of providing articles on biblical themes linked with the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land. “Spirtu u Hajja” (Spirit and Life) is a Review on Franciscan culture, published by Noel Muscat ofm. As from January 2008 “Spirtu u Hajja” has been published in English, and posted regularly for free downloading and printing on the website of the Maltese Franciscan Province.

This first step at providing the issue of the Franciscan Review online has encouraged us in our idea of eventually creating a website in which both “L-Art Imqaddsa” and “Spirtu u Hajja”, as well as other Franciscan publications, can be posted online.

This website will feature various sections. The section on Franciscan Studies, which falls under the direct responsibility of Noel Muscat ofm, features papers, notes, and publications linked with Franciscan spirituality, theology and history, with the aim of providing material for teaching and reflection. In this section one can also download the quarterly Review of Franciscan Culture “Spirtu u Hajja”.

“Lookout Post” is a section by Raymond Camilleri ofm, in which this Franciscan friar presents his personal reflections upon various themes linked with Franciscan life and with Christian living in general. His reflections are the result of his own life experience, which he shares with all those who would like to enter into a lively discussion on the topics presented.

The section on the Commissariat of the Holy Land in Malta is dedicated to the work of the Franciscans in this mission, which is of prime importance to their calling. It is the official website of the Holy Land Commissariat in Malta and falls under the responsibility of Anthony Chircop ofm, Commissary. It includes a mission statement and a short history of the Holy Land Commissariat, sections dealing with pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Biblical courses organized by the Commissariat. Updated news from the Holy Land will be posted every week in order to keep our readers updated with religious, political and social events in the region of Israel and Palestine. The Biblical Review “L-Art Imqaddsa” will now be posted online in this section, and can be downloaded as an electronic issue with an annual subscription. The Maltese version will be posted as one complete publication, whereas parts of the Review will also be available for viewing in English. Other publications linked with the Holy Land and Biblical themes will be available for buying and downloading on this site.

The section on Franciscan Publications will feature a complete list of the publications of Edizzjoni TAU and of any new publications dealing with the two main spheres of specialization of the Franciscan Friars in Malta, namely publications on Holy Scripture and the Holy Land, and publications on Franciscan spirituality and history. The idea is that of posting whole books which have been published, or which will be published in the future, for easy reference and eventually for buying and downloading.

The site includes a section dedicated to Archives, featuring past publications and postings on older sites, plus links to the official website of the Order of Friars Minor (ofm.org), to the website of the Maltese Franciscan Province (ofm.org.mt), as well as to other Franciscan websites.

I-TAU is being offered as a contribution to the online spreading of the Franciscan message on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the Gospel calling of St. Francis of Assisi, with the approval of the first Franciscan Form of Life by Pope Innocent III in 1209.

The Franciscans who construct, administer and coordinate this website:
John Abela ofm, Webmaster.
Raymond Camilleri ofm, Lookout Post, Executive Editor.
Anthony Chircop ofm, Commissariat of the Holy Land.
Noel Muscat ofm, Franciscan Studies and Franciscan Publications.