Traditional celebrations for St George’s Feast this weekend in Gozo
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The third Sunday in July is traditionally the day that St George’s Feast is celebrated in the city of Victoria, Gozo.
Feast celebrations have been taking place all week, organised by St George’s Basilica, with the festivities culminating this Sunday.
On the official day – April the 23rd – St George’s Day is commemorated all over the world, and his festive memory is kept in Gozo and Malta, as it is held in the homes and churches of the Christian East and West.
In April the day is exclusively devotional and mostly confined to the day’s internal church celebrations.
However the July feast is spread out over several days of external festivities, as well as those that take place within the church.
The programme of celebrations, both internal and external for Saturday and Sunday is shown below:
Saturday VIGIL OF THE SOLEMNITY
5.00pm: Vigil Mass.
6.00pm: The La Stella Band marches from Republic Street to Independence Square, from where it will it accompany the relic to St George’s Square.
6.30pm: SOLEMN TRANSLATION AND PONTIFICAL CELEBRATION OF THE FIRST VESPERS OF THE SOLEMNITY, PRESIDED BY H.L. MGR MARIO GRECH, BISHOP OF GOZO AND DEAN OF THE COLLEGIATE, ASSISTED BY A DELEGATION OF THE CATHEDRAL CHAPTER AND THE COLLEGIATE CHAPTER IN URBE, AND WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF THE SACRED, MILITARY AND CONSTANTINIAN ORDER OF ST GEORGE.
7.45pm: Eucharistic Benediction celebrated by Mgr Joseph Farrugia.
The Vespri per la Solennità di San Giorgio Martire (Mgr Giuseppe Farrugia, 1900) for soloists, choir a 4 voci pari and orchestra is performed. The two antiphons Beatus Georgius, composed by Mro Paolo Fiammingo (pre-1890) and Mgr Farrugia (1897), together with the Tantum Ergo in onore di San Giorgio Martire (Mgr Farrugia, 1901), are also performed.
8.00pm: Musical programme at St George’s Square executed by King’s Own Band (Valletta), under the direction of Mro Dr John Galea.
9.30pm: At St George’s Square, the La Stella Band, under the direction of Mro Sigmund Mifsud executes the immortal hymn A San Giorgio Martire (Prof. Luigi Billion – Mro Giuseppe Giardini Vella).
10.00pm: The La Stella and King’s Own (Valletta) Bands participate as a massed band in the triumphal and unique march along Republic Street.
Midnight: Grand pyrotechnic display at Republic Street.
Sunday: SOLEMNITY OF ST GEORGE
8.00am: The Collegiate Chapter and clergy of the basilica accompany H.L. Mgr Mario Grech from the Bishop’s Palace at Republic Street to the basilica. Celebration of Terce at the major sacristy of the basilica.
8.30am: PONTIFICAL CONCELEBRATION PRESIDED BY H.L. MGR MARIO GRECH, BISHOP OF GOZO AND DEAN OF THE COLLEGIATE, ASSISTED BY A DELEGATION OF THE CATHEDRAL CHAPTER, THE COLLEGIATE CHAPTER, THE CLERGY OF THE URBAN BASILICA, AND MEMBERS OF THE SECULAR AND RELIGIOUS CLERGY. Fr MARCELLO GHIRLANDO OFM, DELIVERS A HOMILY WITH WORDS OF PRAISE AND GLORY TO ST GEORGE, PATRON OF THE DIOCESE.
The Mass in D in honour of St George “Princeps Martyrum” (Joseph Vella, 1976) for soloists, choir a 4 voci dispari and orchestra are executed. Soloists Miriam Cauchi (soprano), Antonino Interisano (tenor) and Dario Russo (bass), and the Laudate Pueri Choir of the basilica take part.
11.00am: The San Gorg (Hal Qormi) and Sant’ Elena (Birkirkara) Bands lead the popular band march at the heart of Victoria. This will end with fireworks with paper canon to music.
6.00pm: Solemn celebration of the Second Vespers of the solemnity, presided by Mgr Joseph Sultana, Archpriest of the Cathedral.
It-Tieni Vespri tas-Solennità ta’ San Gorg, composed by Prof. Joseph Vella, will be performed by the Laudate Pueri Choir.
6.15pm: The La Stella Band marches from Republic Street to St George’s Square.
7.00pm: The La Stella Band of Victoria hails the appearance of the statue of the diocese’s heavenly protector at the bronze portals of the parish of Gozo, with the religious hymn Georgius natus est (Can. Joe Mejlak – Prof. Joseph Vella).
7.15pm: The Gozitans present in the square join the La Stella Band in saluting their patron saint with the execution of the immortal hymn A San Giorgio Martire (Prof. Luigi Billion – Mro Giuseppe Giardini Vella), with the participation of tenor Antonino Interisano (Italy), bass Louis Andrew Cassar (Malta) and the choir of the Philharmonic Society.
7.30pm: PONTIFICAL PROCESSION ALONG THE MAIN STREETS OF THE CITY, LED BY MGR. JOSEPH SULTANA, ARCHPRIEST OF THE CATHEDRAL, WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF THE COLLEGIATE CHAPTER, THE CLERGY OF THE URBAN BASILICA, MEMBERS OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS OF VICTORIA, SEMINARIANS OF THE DIOCESE AND THE CONFRATERNITIES OF THE PARISH. THE LA STELLA BAND ACCOMPANIES THE PROCESSION WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF RELIGIOUS HYMNS.
8.00pm: Band march by the St Gregory Band(Kercem), from St Francis Square to Independence Square, followed by a musical programme at the square by the same band, under the direction of Mro Mark Gauci.
8.15pm: Band march by the Mnarja (Nadur) Band, from Republic Street to St George’s Square, followed by a musical programme at the square by the same band, under the direction of Mro Joseph Grech.
10.30pm: The Maltese and Gozitan crowds present in Victoria greet the statue of St George at the square as the procession arrives at the basilica, with the singing of the popular hymn Lill-Kbir Martri ta’ Kristu (Rev. Accursio Xerri ofm – Mro Vincenzo Ciappara).
10.345pm: Triumphal entrance of the statue of St George at the basilica, followed by the execution of the Antiphon Beatus Georgius and Eucharistic Benediction, celebrated by Archpriest Mgr Joseph Curmi as a conclusion to Gozo’s feast in honour of its patron St George.
Photographs by Alain Salvary