Good Friday in Malta is celebrated in a sombre ceremonial. On Thursday evening, known as Maundy Thursday and Friday morning, churches have their paintings draped over in purple or black velvet. The Maltese people turn out in their thousands to visit and pray in seven different churches, traditionally called the seven visits. On Maundy Thursday the Last Supper of Jesus Christ is commemorated. Also known as Holy Thursday, there is also a special mass service whereby the priest symbolically washes the feet of twelve men. The priest represents Jesus Christ and the twelve men represent the apostles, probably the most touching part , depicting the humility of the Christ. The Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession to the altar of repose where it remains until Friday afternoon. Parishes seriously compete in order to make the best flower arrangements in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Most of these flower arrangements are truly breath-taking! In some parishes they prepare a mixture of herbs in a pot (on low heat), in order to have a pleasant smell in the church building.
By late afternoon, some 17 different towns and villages commemorate the Passion of Jesus Christ with a very solemn procession of statues. These statues are usually extremely heavy as they are life-size and draped in real vestments, each representing a particular episode in the Passion of Jesus Christ and carried by a number of men who are honoured to do this. The statues, usually around 10, are accompanied by participants dressed as biblical characters that were involved with the Passion of Jesus. Many processions include men in penitence bearing a cross and sometimes dragging chains as well tied to their bare feet as penitence. Women also walk the procession bare foot. Sometimes the procession has nearly the whole biblical story and may include Adam and Eve too. The local bands participate as well in these processions by playing funeral music. On Good Friday, no church bells are rung. Some churches also create a replica of the Last Supper, in most cases life size and scrupulously detailed according to the Jewish tradition. In many parishes and houses there will be on display a show of small statues depicting the most important aspects of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. The dedication and enthusiasm of these Maltese people who participate in these solemn preparations voluntarily goes way beyond the norm – to be admired, truly!
Join us this Friday on the Good Friday Procession Tour so you too can witness this remarkable event – one of the biggest traditions on the Maltese Islands. For more details and bookings please come to the EC Reception.