Feast of Saint Ursula – Patron Saint of Gozo, being celebrated on Sunday
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The Feast of Saint Ursula – the Patron Saint of Gozo – is being celebrated this Sunday, the 21st of October, with a programme of events of music, in both votive liturgy and festive celebration, organised by the Leone Philharmonic Society.
This Sunday, a procession with the bust of Saint Ursula will be taking place in Gozo after an absence of 51 years. The reliquary bust was restored by Heritage Malta in 2014 on the initiative of the Ministry for Gozo.
Music takes prominence in the festivities of Gozo’s patron saint, a day that was once also a Public Holiday.
There will be a historical talk by historian and Asst. National Archivist of Malta, Mgr. Dr Joseph Bezzina, at 9.30am on the cult of St Ursula in Gozo, which dates back at least 400 years.
This will be followed by a solemn High Mass at the Cathedral at 10.30am, and will feature some of the oldest choral and orchestral music found in the music archives of the Cathedral.
The cappella choir of the Cathedral and orchestra will revive some manuscripts that have never before been performed.
This special day of celebration will continue with a folk fest in the old streets of the Gozo Cittadella as the statue of St Ursula is carried in procession.
Folk dancers and street performers will animate the surroundings with music and other performances.
This free of charge day of events is being held as part of the Opera in Gozo programme coordinated by the Ministry for Gozo
The Saint who, according to tradition, was a princess-missionary from Britannia, was martyred by the Huns near Cologne, Germany. She was declared patron saint of Gozo on the 6th of October 1620.
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.
Gozitans started to pray for the intervention of Saint Ursula in cases of widespread deadly diseases, earthquakes and drought.