Long weekend of celebrations for Santa Marija feast in Victoria
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This coming week in Gozo will be one of the busiest times of the summer tourist season – it starts with a long weekend for the celebrations of the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, also known as Santa Marija,
It won’t be just Gozitans celebrating the feast in Victoria, it also attracts many Maltese and tourists to Gozo, with thousands expected to visit the island to enjoy the festa celebrations.
Local businesses as well as tourist accommodation in Gozo, are all looking forward to the increase in business, with the promise of bumper bookings with the extra visitors.
The feast of Santa Marija on the 15th of August, is also being celebrated in seven villages in Malta: Attard, Dingli, Ghaxaq, Gudja, Mosta, Mqabba and Qrendi.
Tuesday also commemorates the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Santa Marija convoy, which saved Malta from surrender when the allied convoy of food and fuel reached the islands on the 15th of August 1942, despite the heavy bombardment inflicted by German and Italian planes and the sinking of many of the ships.
Santa Marija celebrations for Monday and Tuesday will be as follows:
Monday – External celebrations
11:00am Children’s Parade with the grand flag that flies on the Leone Band Club, which leaves from the Citadel to the Leone Band Club in Republic Street.
5:30pm Leone Band will march from Independence Square to the Citadel, this will be accompanied by a spectacle of daylight fireworks from Gelmus Hill.
9:30pm Grand triumphal march by the Leone Band and the St Sebastian Band. entertaining hundreds of revellers and supporters along Republic Street. Fireworks will open and close the evening.
Tuesday – Feast day of Santa Marija
9:00am Solemn high Mass presided by the Bishop of Gozo at the Cathedral with the participation of choir and orchestra
11:00am Traditional band march will get underway through the streets of Victoria, with the 12th May Band of Zebbug Malta and the St Joseph Band Hamrun.
2:30pm Horse racing in Republic Street.
The Grand Finale of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, also known as Santa Marija, will be celebrated in Victoria in the evening.
6:45pm Solemn procession with the Santa Marija statue (1896). The Leone Band performs the cantata in honour of Our Lady “Per La Festa Di Maria Assunta In Cielo” (1913) to start the procession, which makes its way through the old streets of the city’s historic centre, with the participation of the Gozo Cathedral Chapter, Parish Clergy, the Leone Band, and the Chorus Ecclesiae Cathedralis
Spectacular coloured fireworks are let off during the 4-hour procession.
9:00pm The Santa Marija statue is welcomed in lower Palm Street by the Franciscan Nuns who sing a cappella the Salve Regina in Gregorian plainchant from the terraces of their monastery.
There will be a grand fireworks display on Gelmus Hill at 10pm before the entry of the statue of Our Lady into the Cathedral, which will be welcomed back to the Cathedral Square and into the Cathedral en flambeaux.
Other events taking place to celebrate the feast are the Il-Wirja ta’ Santa Marija, at the Villa Rundle Gardens in Victoria.
Photograph by Alain Salvary