Experience Holy Week in Gozo featuring Art, Faith & Tradition
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Holy Week in Gozo is a very special place to be, with many religious events, including exhibitions taking place in villages across the island:
Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar since it commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, a festival celebrating the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and includes various events of religious and traditional activities, such as processions, pageants, exhibitions and folklore.
On Thursday evening and Friday morning, churches have their paintings draped over in purple or black velvet. The Gozitans turn out to visit and pray in seven different churches as traditionally observed, with many visitors also coming from Malta to visit the churches.
On Good Friday, late afternoon, towns and villages commemorate the Passion of the Christ by an organised and very solemn procession of statues. Each of these statues represents a particular episode in the Passion of the Christ and is carried by pallbearers.
Between one statue and another (some ten in all) participants are dressed as biblical characters who take part in the procession in a dignified manner.
Many processions include men in penitence bearing a cross and sometimes dragging chains as well tied to their bare feet as penitence.
Starting on Easter Saturday or Easter Vigil, the parishes of Gozo, as in Malta, will gather the faithful in their churches for a solemn religious service and the traditional rituals of the blessing of water and fire.
The church lights are turned off, and each of the congregation will light a candle from the Pascal Candle, resulting in the whole church being bathed in the glow of flickering candles
Bells ring out across the island and the scriptures are read and sermons delivered before the celebrant blesses the holy water that is used for baptisms and the whole congregation confirms their faith by reciting the baptismal vows.
After the service the congregation may linger for a while in the church for a drink, or to take a piece of the traditional Figolla (Maltese almond Easter cake).
Easter Sunday is welcomed with bells ringing out across the islands, a traditional march with the statue of the risen Christ will take place in some parishes following the service. These traditional marches are usually accompanied by local bands and their popularity has remained undimmed through several centuries.
The full programme of events for the Easter weekend can be found on the Easter in Gozo Facebook Page.
Photo: The Good Friday Procession/Pageant in Xaghra 2015 by Alain Salvary