Exhibition celebrating 400th anniversary of Saint Ursula closes Sunday
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The Cathedral of Gozo will be celebrating the 400th anniversary on the 31st of October, since the arrival of the statue and relic of Saint Ursula in Gozo.
On the initiative of the Sacred Art Commission of the Diocese of Gozo an exhibition on the cult of this saint in Gozo has been set up at the Banca Giuratale in Victoria.
The exhibition includes a number of historic paintings of the saint amongst which a painting of Saint Ursula which was formerly hanging in the Banca Giuratale, the seat of the local administration of the island, the Universitas.
The main exhibit is the reliquary bust which has recently been restored by Heritage Malta on the initiative of the Ministry for Gozo.
Historically, this statue has been placed several times for public veneration at the same Banca Giuratale when the people of Gozo sought the intercession of the saint following the occurrence of earthquakes and other natural calamities.
The exhibition is open from Monday to Friday between 8.00am and 2.30pm and on Saturday and Sunday between 9.00am and noon. The exhibition is open to the public till tomorrow, Sunday, the 26th of October.
Saint Ursula, reputed to be a missionary princess from Roman Brittania, was martyred by the Huns near Cologne.
The bust of Saint Ursula was acquired by Eugenio-Romirez Maldonado, a knight of Malta from the langue of Léon and Castille, from his home city of Salamanca, Spain. When appointed Governor of Gozo on the 1st of September 1610, he brought the statue and relic with him to Gozo.
He would display the image on the feast day, the 21st of October, at his residence adjacent to the Matrice of Gozo. When recalled to Valletta in August 1613, he took the relic with him back to Malta.
However the Università or Regional Government and the people of Gozo begged Eugenio-Romirez Maldonado to return the statue to the island. He acceded to their wishes the following year and donated the bust to the Matrice, the present Cathedral of Gozo.
On the 6th of September 1620, Saint Ursula was declared Patron Saint of Gozo.
The saint was invoked against natural catastrophe and three votive processions, in which the civil authorities also took part, were held throughout the year. One took place on 21 October, her feastday that, until 1822, was a holy day and a national festivity in Gozo.
The procession wended its way from the Matrice to the Banca Giuratale, the seat of the local Government, where prayers were chanted to invoke her intercession upon Gozo.