Born in Valletta on 12 February 1880, George was the seventh child in a family of nine. His father, Vincent Preca, was first a merchant and then a sanitary inspector. His mother, Nathalie Ceravolo, was a teacher. George’s boyhood was nothing spectacular, but he did not lack the pursuit of adventure and courage which form the backbone of any leader. Feeling that he was called to be a priest, he moved from the Lyceum to the Seminary where as a young student he excelled in his studies, especially in Latin.
George was an inconspicuous young man, and yet, God’s path for him had already been traced, so that the unexpected began to happen. Three saintly men, Franciscan Br Diego Bonanno, Fr Ercole Mompalao and Fr Aloysius Galea, his spiritual director, seemed to have been inspired by God and foresaw what would happen in the not-so-distant future. Fr Mompalao’s words, especially, were to prove exact: “Preca” he said to the young man, “You will grow up and will be befriended by people who respect God. You will be blessed because of them, and they because of you…”
Had George’s father and doctor known about this prophecy they would surely have deemed it false, for George suffered from a damaged lung due to tuberculosis. There was a very serious doubt in the mind of his doctor, Dr E Meli’s whether the young cleric would live to celebrate his first Mass in December 1906 because of his respiratory complaint.