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St-Maria-web.jpgSanta Maria 1956 - A Day to Remember


29th April, 2006

By Anton F. Attard

April 29th, 2006 is a red-letter day for the Leone Philharmonic Society of Victoria. It is the Fiftieth Anniversary from the donation of the Statue of the Assumption of Our Lady to the Cathedral Church of Gozo. Great celebrations are expected to take place both on this date and during the festivities that are held in August of the same year.

On January 15th, 1956, an ad hoc delegation was set up headed by Dr. Francesco Masini, LL.D, Messrs Louis Abela and Joseph Vella Muskat as members, and negotiations with the Bishop Mgr. J. Pace started soon after. The first agreement was signed on April 4th, 1956, The main proposal was to donate the titular statue of the Assumption to the Cathedral Church. After protracted negotiations with Bishop Pace an agreement was finally reached. On April 20th, 1956, the Committee of Leone Band submitted a formal request to the Bishop to donate the statue of the Assumption to the Cathedral on condition that it would be taken out in procession every year on August 15th with the exclusive participation of the Leone Band. A procurator to organize the internal festivities was also to be nominated by the Bishop himself. In addition to this the Cathedral was to start functioning again as a Parish Church on a larger scale.

The role of a Parish Church revived

In this regard, it is to be noted that the Cathedral never stopped functioning as a Parish Church. However, since its Archpriest performed his parochial duties from St. George’s Parish Church, in this respect its role as a Parish Church was very much diminished. With the new arrangements reached with the Bishop, a new brighter era for the Cathedral Church was about to begin. The role of the Cathedral as a Parish Church was to be revived for the benefit of all its parishioners. Then, Bishop Pace formally accepted the Leone Committee’s request on April 27th.

The public ceremony of the donation of the statue to the Cathedral Church was therefore scheduled for Sunday, April 29th, 1956,

Special Celebrations

April 28th,1956 the statute of Santa Maria was exhibited in the entrance hall of the Band Club than in Archpriest Cassar Street. It was adorned with a new girdle and an expensive necklace presented by the parishioners. Unfortunately Sunday morning of April 29th, 1956 happened to be a very windy day that almost ruined much of the street decorations that were prepared for the occasion. At 4.15 p.m. the Leone Band started playing band marches from Archpriest Cassar Street and moved slowly towards Sabina Square.

When the statue of the Assumption reached Sabina Square there were huge crowds that thronged the whole square. The police had a difficult task to make way for the procession that came down from the Cathedral Church. A little later his Lordship the Bishop of Gozo Mgr. Pace arrived and the Leone Band played the Anthem of His Holiness Pope.

When all participants were seated in their places, the President of the Organizing Committee, Mr Joseph Tabone, delivered as speech for the occasion. Immediately after the speech, His Lordship the Bishop of Gozo blessed the statue in the presence of the Right Rev. Mgr. Salvatore Attard, Prel. Dom., Spiritual Director of the Leone Band.

Following a fanfare played by the trumpets of Leone Band and the loud applause from all the people present, a huge fireworks display was let off from the ditch around the fortifications and the procession started wending its way up to the Citadel. The procession from Sabina Square to the Cathedral was led by the Archdeacon of the Cathedral, the Right Rev. Mgr. Paul Cauchi. Participating in this procession were all the religious communities of Victoria, the seminarians, the clergy and the Cathedral Chapter. In the middle of the procession was the statue of Santa Maria, and just in front of the statue there was the Leone Band who played religious music and hymns dedicated to Our Lady which were sung by a choir of young children.

Bishop Pace receives the statue

When the procession arrived at the Cathedral, the statue was greeted and received by the Bishop of Gozo, Mgr Joseph Pace, who waited at the main entrance to the Church.

When the statue of Santa Maria entered the Cathedral, the Ave Maris Stella and the Antiphon of the Assumption were sung followed by Benediction. The participating music was under the direction of the Right Rev. Mgr. Joseph Debrincat.


In commemoration of these celebrations, the Leone Philharmonic Society set up two inscriptions composed in Maltese, one by the Archdeacon of the Cathedral, the Right Rev. Mgr. Paul Cauchi, at Sabina Square, and the other by Mr George Attard at the main entrance leading to the Leone Band Club Premises. Another inscription in Latin was composed by the Right Rev. Mgr. Salvatore Attard and was affixed close to the main entrance to the Gozo Cathedral.

A Special Concert for the Occasion.

These festive celebrations were concluded by a musical and vocal concert at the Main Square It-Tokk; now Independence Square. The Leone Band was under the direction of Mro. Willie Attard. Mr Nazzareno Refalo (Tenor) and Miss Hilda Tabone (Soprano) took part.

During the following three days celebrations were held at the Cathedral church on the occasion of the First of the fifteen Wednesdays prior to the feast of the Assumption August 15th. The statue of Santa Maria remained exhibited in church for the veneration of the public. It was surrounded by a large quantity of flowers, and lighted candles, and two large bouquets presented by Paul Grech (Xewkija) and Lewis Borg (Sannat).

This year, 2006, the 50th Anniversary of this historical event, the Leone Philharmonic Society is holding special celebrations to mark the occasion. More pompous celebrations will also be organized for the Feast of Assumption, August 15th.

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Creation date : 01/05/2006 @ 14:20
Last update : 05/05/2006 @ 14:02
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