To celebrate the Maltese faith and culture on 3 September a Malta day Mass was held at Westminster Cathedral. The Maltas Day Mass has been held in Westminster Cathedral for the past 15 years, focussed on veneration of ‘Il-Bambina’ Our Lady of Victories. The Maltese feel a particular closeness to Our Lady of Victories after their triumph over two historical sieges.
The Principal Celebrant was the Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta. The Mass began with a procession of banners into the cathedral including the national flags of the UK and Malta and the banner of the Ecumenical Order of St John of Jerusalem. These were followed by congregations of Maltese orders in the UK and members of the Order of Malta. Attending the Mass was Norman Hamilton, High Commissioner for Malta in the UK, Christopher Fearne MP, Maltese Minister for Health and Councillor Steve Summers, Lord Mayor of Westminster. Director of Music was Dame Marie Therese Vassallo, whose father wrote the Mass.
The majority of the Mass was in Maltese, but Archbishop Scicluna preached his homily in English beginning by explaining the two historical sieges that affected Malta. He went on to talk about the second reading, about how God knows us, call us, justifies us and with us he shares his glory. He also talked about the two names of Christ. Jesus meaning ‘the Lord Saves’ and Emmanual meaning ‘God is with us’.
At the end of the homily he thanked the Maltese for coming and talked about how the Island of Malta is a Holy land, filled with faith and love for Christ.
To finish the celebration of Maltese faith, Christopher Fearne MP addressed the congregation, noting that two of the most important things to Maltese people were faith and heritage, and how this Mass and the presence of the statue of Our Lady of Victories was an excellent representation of what it means to be Maltese. He also remarked on the closeness of the UK and Malta.
After Mass, the Statue of Our Lady was carried out into the piazza at the front of the cathedral.
Gathered in the piazza was a band, a choir as well as the banner bearers and the congregation. An amazing show of firecrackers then went off watched by the Archbishop to the sound of the Maltese singing Ave Maria. Following this there was a procession to the Sacred Heart Chapel of Ease in Horseferry Road.