Victoria and Qala are celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception this week, with the main feast day, a Public Holiday, on Friday.
Celebrations on Friday at the Franciscan Conventual Church in Victoria, will begin at 9.30am -when Mgr Joseph Cauchi will lead a concelebrated Mass with the participation of Laudate Pueri choir. Major Seminary Rector Fr Richard Farrugia will deliver a panegyric.
The procession with the statue of the Immaculate Conception, will leave the church at 5.45pm, accompanied by the La Stella Band of Victoria, with the performance of religious hymns, along the streets of Victoria.
There is a feast to the Immaculate Conception of Mary celebrated in Victoria every year on December the 8th. It dates back to 1663 when a Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception was founded in the Franciscan conventual church, to help in the organisation of the feast.
A wooden statue of Our Lady representing the Immaculate Conception was used in a procession in 1698.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception will also be celebrated in Qala on Friday. A concelebrated Mass led by Gozo Bishop Mgr Mario Grech, will start at 9.30am at the Immaculate Conception Sanctuary.
Then at 1.30pm, the traditional pilgrimage of motorcycles from Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary gets underway, when the motorcycles will be blessed and mementos distributed to the participants.
The procession aux flambeau, led by Mgr Anton Mizzi with the statue of the Virgin Mary, will leave the church at 5.00pm, accompanied by the Ite ad Joseph Band of Qala.
Qala’s parish church is officially not only dedicated to St. Joseph, but also to the Immaculate Conception.
All three churches of Qala are dedicated to this favoured appellation of Our Lady, for even the church of Tal-BIat carries the same title.
This unique curiosity emphasises the strong bond that the village has with the Immaculate Conception. This bond was first cast in the early 17th century at the Sanctuary, where the feast is still celebrated every December the 8th.