Important Churches in Valletta

Valletta, Malta’s capital city, is a real testament to Malta’s Catholic faith. Built by the Order of the Knights of Saint John, which was a Catholic Military Order, the city became the capital one year after its construction was completed, that is, in 1571. A jewel of historic architecture, Valletta boasts more than 25 churches and chapels, most of which were originally first built during the 16th and 17th centuries, and which contain innumerable and priceless works of art.

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First and foremost among these, one must surely mention Saint John’s Co-Cathedral. Found in Saint John Square and built in the 1570s, this co-cathedral is a distinct architectural treasure designed by the famed Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar, and decorated internally by the well-known Italian Baroque artist Mattia Preti. Although its intricately ornate interior is Baroque in style, the co-cathedral’s exterior is of the Mannerist style. It contains nine rich chapels, as well as notable works of art attributed to such painters as Caravaggio, as well as a number of medieval artifacts and tapestries. The floor is covered with inlaid marble tombstones, commemorating the more illustrious knights of the Order of Saint John, as well as a number of Grand Masters.

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The Church of Our Lady of the Victories, situated in South Street, is not just the oldest Church in Valletta, but actually the first building to be completed in the city. Built to commemorate the victory of the Maltese and the Knights of the Order over the Ottoman invaders in the Great Siege of 1565, it was chosen by the Knights as their Parish Church at the time.

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When one looks at Valletta’s imposing silhouette, one of the most visible features is surely the large round dome belonging to the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, this church was given to the order of the Carmelites in the 17th century, after which it received its present patronage. The original structure was seriously damaged during the Second World War, leading to the facade being re-designed.

Although almost all churches in Valletta are Roman Catholic, one cannot fail to mention Saint Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, to be found in Independence Square. This Anglican Cathedral, commissioned in the 19th century, is one of three such Cathedrals within the Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. Its 60 meter-long steeple is a landmark in Valletta, and it is predominantly neo-classical in style.

This article of mine was published on LivinginMalta.com – to read the rest of it, go here.

Easter Celebrations in Malta

Malta is a predominantly Catholic country, this means that most Maltese follow and adhere to a yearly religious calendar which gives importance to a number of recurring feasts and traditions. Among these, Easter is one of the most prominent periods, since it not only has a specific religious meaning, symbolizing the rising of Christ, but also coincides with the beginning of Spring, which also serves to bring new life in nature, better weather, a flourishing of crops, and add energy and verve to the life of each individual in general.

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During this time, numerous processions, plays, marches and celebrations take place throughout the islands of Malta and Gozo, since here, Easter celebration can be said to be at a par with Christmas. As in most Mediterranean countries, Malta starts to officially celebrate the Easter period with Palm Sunday, which this year will be on Sunday 9th April. Many activities take place even before that, during Holy Week, which technically commences on the Friday preceding Good Friday, when the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows is carried in a procession through the streets of Valletta and many other towns and villages. This is a historic and traditional demonstration, where penitents who have made certain vows or asked for intercession from above, walk barefoot through the streets behind the procession, with chains and shackles tied to their feet as a symbol of their guilt and willingness to atone for their sins.

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Prior to Good Friday, many believers also celebrate Maundy Thursday or, as it is known in Maltese, ‘Ħamis ix-Xirka’, whereby most churches are decorated with flowers, models of the last supper, pennons and other specific decorations. During Maundy Thursday, it is traditional for the devout to perform ‘The Seven Visits’, or ‘Is-Sebgħa Visti’, which entails visiting and praying at seven different churches. Maundy Thursday is also referred to as Holy Thursday or the Mass of the Chrism, since on this day, the Archbishop of Malta blesses the Holy Oils during a ceremony at St. John’s Cathedral in Valletta.

Good Friday, which is a National Public Holiday in Malta, is considered to be a serious and solemn occasion. Churches are adorned with dark colors, and several processions occur throughout most towns and villages in Malta and Gozo, where priests or devout carry different statues symbolizing the Passion of Christ. Most villages also prepare short dramas or plays, enacted by devout dressed as characters from the Bible. Processions are almost always accompanied by marching bands, playing funeral marches or religious songs.

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The mood of the celebrations starts to change on Saturday evening. This is known as Holy Saturday and while starting in a somber manner, culminates with a celebration whereby all churches are illuminated with candles, lights, song and the tolling of the bells.

Easter Sunday, starts with a procession which commemorates the Risen Christ. The most famous of all such processions which take place around the island is surely the one which takes place in Valletta, and which is organised by the Confraternity of the Risen Christ, which traces its origins to the 17th century. The procession is a festive one, accompanied by beautiful traditional tunes and statues. Children also form an important part of the procession, carrying traditional foods and sweets, of which the most important is surely the ‘figolla’. This is a Maltese sugar and almond pastry which can only be found served in Maltese bakeries and confectioneries during the period of Easter, since it is synonymous with this feast.

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© DDM

This article was published on LivingInMalta.com – to view the complete article go here.

Are ppl natural Assholes or is it just Instinct?

What’s the difference between someone who cares for you and someone who’s only using you for his self-serving needs?

Have you ever realized that some of your so-called friends only invite you to go out with them when they have no one else? Or perhaps, that certain people only remember to ask you if you want to meet up when they don’t have a lift? I bet this has happened to anyone.

As I have grown older, I have come to realize more and more how people in general use others. It might be that they are not even aware of it. Maybe they are doing it subconsciously. And yet, magically, as soon as they break up or as soon as their best friend is in a new relationship – there they are again, messaging you to ask what you’re doing during the weekend, or asking whether you’d like to come over for a glass of wine. Sounds familiar?

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And so I ask myself – is everyone really that self-serving? How can one know whether a particular person likes you for YOU, because they enjoy your company – or whether they just need someone, anyone, just to assuage their loneliness or feelings of low self-esteem? Maybe they just want an audience.

And then, suddenly, perhaps it’s you who needs them once in a while – perhaps you are sick, or just down – and what happens? They don’t even bother to ask you what’s wrong, let alone actually care. The only thing they notice is that you’re not there to listen to them anymore, without ever wondering if, for once, it’s you who needs a listening ear or a helping hand. Talk about one-sided.

Or maybe, you might be thinking, I might be too cynical… maybe I just know all the wrong people… right? Thing is, have I known all the wrong people for all the years of my life?

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Maybe it’s just survival instinct. In the end – people are mammals. Our key instinct is to reproduce in order to propagate our genes. And no this has nothing to do with maternal or paternal instinct – of which I have none. It’s simple genetic programming which is found in everyone. Our genes and bodies want to copulate in order for them to propagate. On the other hand, it is our brains which govern our actions. Therefore in my case, I have decided I DO NOT want children. I never wanted children, not even when I was a child myself. Lol so much for maternal instinct.

Anyways, as I was saying, our bodies and genes are programmed to procreate – meaning that they are programmed to feel the need for a mate. That need is what, willy nilly, spurns us on to go out, meet new people, and see if we can click with any of them. It is this sense of survival perhaps, which kicks in when people start using others, in order to get a lift, or to have company, or to hang on to.

Or is it?

Have I lost my faith in humanity, or am I merely trying to find an excuse for these ppl? And if so, why on earth should I?

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