Despite being a public holiday, yesterday was a busy day for many Holy Week aficionados, the life blood of Good Friday traditions, who took the opportunity to give a helping hand at preparing the statues for the Good Friday processions or to visit related exhibitions or pageants.
The Good Friday cult is big in Malta especially in those localities where a Good Friday procession is held.
Good Friday processions are held in Rabat, Valletta, Vittoriosa, Senglea, Cospicua, Zejtun, Zebbug, Naxxar, Qormi, Gharghur, Luqa, Ghaxaq, Mosta and Paola.
In Gozo, two are held in Victoria, (St George Basilica and St Maria Cathedral) and in Nadur, Xaghra, Zebbug, Xewkija and Qala.
In some localities such as Gharghur and at the Citadel the processions are held on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter).
The Good Friday procession statues are taken out of warehouses in which they are stored, and displayed on beautifully carved wooden platforms around two weeks before the procession is held. A few days before it is held, they are decorated with candles and flowers.
The Malta Independent visited the preparations for the Good Friday procession at Mosta, yesterday. The church was closed for visitors at around midday while scores of volunteers who will be carrying the statues tomorrow were dusting the statues and preparing the final touches.
Volunteers explained how each group of eight or 10 statue bearers assembled flower bouquets and chandeliers on to the statue bases. Others checked that the other procession costumes and props were in their best condition.
In previous years, this tradition, in preparation of the Good Friday procession in Mosta, usually takes place on Maundy Thursday. This year it took place yesterday since it was a public holiday.
The Mosta parish boasts of a set of nine statues featuring important moments of Christ’s passion. Well-known sculptor Carlo Darmanin made six of the statues while the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows was remade by one his assistants. Giloramo Dingli made the statue of Judas’s Betrayal while Wistin Camilleri made the monumental tomb for Christ’s body.
Apart from the statue bearers, children accompany the statues wearing costumes and carrying biblical symbols.
Along the years adults started to take part, wearing costumes of biblical characters, as Roman soldiers or as penitents dragging heavy chains barefoot as a sign of sacrifice. Others take care of the logistics, led by a committee which works all year round ensuring that the 500-person procession runs smoothly.
Today, all churches are stripped of all that adorns them and majestic altars of repose (Sepulkri) are set up, decorated with fresh white flowers. In the evening, believers traditionally visit seven altars of repose in difference churches. The ones in Cottonera and Valletta are the most popular since one need not drive far away from one altar to the other and they are also the best decorated.
Representations of the Last Supper table are put up in many towns and villages, and typically, the food used in these displays is distributed among the poor and needy of the parish.