As we edge towards Easter, I thought I could well share another photo, this time from my native Malta. Today is marked rather solemnly in many parishes back home, with processions of Our Lady of Sorrows, which opens the way into Holy Week.
To me, it’s impossible to think Easter has arrived without the liturgies of Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. As I grew up, it was a family affair, with my dad (and his dad before him) as MC for the Triduum at the chapel of the Ursuline sisters in Sliema. Beyond the liturgies, Good Friday also means processions in Malta, ranging from the very devout (such as the one at Ta’ Ġieżu, Valletta) to some others, too gaudy and overdone for my tastes. These processions testify to Malta’s orbiting the cultural milieu of Sicily, southern Italy and Spain, where other such processions exist.
Today’s photo is from 2007, and the Good Friday procession in Qormi, Malta. The procession consists of a number of statuary groups, representing different moments of the Passion of Christ. The one here shows the Deposition of Christ: the now dead Jesus is brought down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, and lying in the arms of Mary, his mother, with John and Mary Magdalene at her sides. The scene is probably the darkest hour of the whole narrative as all hopes seem dashed, and the body of Jesus is prepared for burial. The Church still observes silence on Holy Saturday, but the apparent despair of Good Friday become expectant hope, as we prepare to celebrate Easter Vigil and the resurrection.
The Qormi procession itself is old vintage and documented at least as far back as 1764, when it was already well established. This particular statue is, I understand, a recent addition (1965) to the procession, and made by Salvatore Bruno of Bari, Italy.
Perhaps it is appropriate to accompany the photo with some appropriate music, a moving version of the Stabat Mater by Mons. Marco Frisina.
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