OUR LADY OF TA’ PINU PILGRIMAGE 2019
The President of the Maltese Association, Marchesino Daniel de Petri Testaferrata, led Members of the Association as well as of the Volunteers of the Order on the Association’s annual national pilgrimage to the very special Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu in Gozo, on Saturday 1st June 2019. Knights looked smart wearing the traditional grey trousers, blue shirts and tie of the Order, whilst Dames, donning black skirts and white blouses, appeared equally elegant. Members of VOTO were kitted out in their white VOTO T-Shirts and blue jeans.
Over 120 special guests, hailing from St. Vincent de Paule Residential Home for the Elderly, Mount Carmel Hospital, Sir Paul Boffa Hospital and Dar tal-Providenza in Malta as well as from Dar l-Arka Respite Centre and the Gozo General Hospital in Gozo, along with a number of their carers, were invited to participate in this year’s pilgrimage which was an extra special one, as it happened to mark the 30th anniversary of this important annual calendar event.
This was also the first time that Dar tal-Providenza participated. Having utilised the Iveco tail lift Vans donated to them by the Association pursuant to the Dar tal-Providenza Transport Project through special finding received from the Global Fund, their visibility was particularly distinctive.
The contingent from Malta, consisting of 9 transport vehicles, and a number of private motor cars, gathered in the early morning at the Cirkewwa terminal for special boarding on a dedicated ferry service on board the m.v. GAUDOS at 0900. The spirit of pilgrimage continued at Mgarr, where the group was greeted by a most effective police escort.
At the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, the group which travelled from Malta was joined by the Gozitan contingent arriving in another transport vehicle.
Thanks to the reserved parking which was once again allocated for the transport vehicles just outside the Sanctuary’s grounds, and good traffic control by the police officers detailed as our escorts for the day, disembarking of all Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly took place in a most tranquil and organised fashion.
Advantage was taken of still being ahead of schedule, in spite of a slightly delayed departure from Cirkewwa, as well as of the slightly overcast weather which accorded welcome shelter from the worst of the sun’s strong rays, to allow some time for our guests to be taken around the Sanctuary parvis to admire and reflect upon the beautiful mosaics depicting the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary which now adorn the large picturesque and car-free open parvis leading to the Shrine. The mosaics were commissioned to the Centro Aletti of Rome, under the guidance of Fr Marco Ivan Rupnik, SJ, of Slovenia. The Centro Aletti is a renowned sacred art studio. Works by the studio are to be found in around 150 churches worldwide.
The particular mosaic representing the 3rd Mystery of Light uniquely features St. George Preca, as it is generally known that Pope St. John Paul II took inspiration in proclaiming the Mysteries of Light from proposals made by this beloved Maltese saint.
Holy Mass was celebrated by His Lordship Mgr. Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo, who typically delivered an extremely meaningful homily, appealing to us all to allow our Holy Mother to visit us in our homes and in our hearts. The Principal Chaplain of the Maltese Association Mgr. Lawrence Gatt, the Rector of the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary the Rev. Fr. Gerard Buhagiar and his Assistant the Rev. Fr. Dominic Sultana concelebrated.
Dr. Alfred Caruana Galizia took to the podium for the reading, whilst Mr. Chris Galea later read the bidding prayers. Dr. David Cassar, Amy Bugeja Fontani, Victoire Borg Manche and VOTO President Simon Manduca, together with two of our special guests, took up the offerings and were each individually very warmly received by His Grace the Bishop of Gozo. .
Immediately prior to the Dismissal, the President lead the Members of the Association in the recital of the Prayer of the Order, whilst the Hospitaller thanked all for having responded so favourably to the Association’s invitation to participate in the pilgrimage and gave further information on what was to follow.
In fact after the blessing, the Members of the Association still in their Church robes along with the Members of the Clergy processed to the inner Chapel housing the venerated painting depicting the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady, accomplished by Maltese artist Amadeo Perugino way back in 1619. In that most holy inner sanctum a candle emblazoned with the Emblem of the Order was most venerably presented to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu by the President of the Association, in the presence of His Grace the Bishop of Gozo. This was a new feature inserted into the liturgical programme by the organising committee, which most fittingly crowned the liturgical programme especially on the occasion of this anniversary edition.
His Grace the Bishop of Gozo also blessed a basketful of special Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu wooden rosary beads placed in individual blue pouches which were presented by the Hospitaller and distributed by VOTO members to each one of Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly attending the pilgrimage.
The Association was also presented with a large wooden self-standing framed picture of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu by the Rectory. This will be appropriately displayed at the Association’s headquarters at Casa Lanfreducci .
The Laudate Pueri Choir, under the direction of Mgr. George Frendo, provided the music and singing throughout the liturgical celebration, culminating in the Regina Coeli.
A group photograph with the impressive Shrine as its backdrop was then taken outside on the parvis before boarding the transport vehicles.
Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly were then driven to the San Lawrenz Primary School, being the same venue which was first resorted to last year, and where ample parking facilities were available in the grounds for the various transport vehicles, allowing for easy disembarking and, when all was done, re-embarking.
There, cold drinks and a finger food lunch once again expertly prepared by George Borg awaited. These were served by Members and Volunteers, this time round in individual portions which ensured food was consumed at leisure and in a warm state. Care was also taken to cater for soft food as well as for liquidized food patients.
Once again a festive atmosphere presented itself, which also saw some of our guests sing a few numbers, notably some popular Maltese folklore songs, and even take to the dance floor thanks to the entertainment provided by the guitarist duo Spiro Sillato and Spiro Cauchi.
After lunch our guests from Malta were driven back to Mgarr harbour under the same Police escort, in time to board the 4.30 p.m. designated extra ferry service once again on the m.v. GAUDOS back to Cirkewwa.
The Maltese Association wishes to thank the Members of the Ta’ Pinu Pilgrimage Committee as well as the Order of Malta Volunteers in Gozo for organising the event so successfully, as well as His Grace the Bishop of Gozo, Fr Gerard Buhagiar Rector of Ta` Pinu Sanctuary, Fr. Dominic Sultana who assists him, all Members and Volunteers who gave of their time to attend the pilgrimage, the Laudate Pueri Choir under the direction of Mgr. George Frendo, the personnel of the various hospitals and residences who accompanied our special guests in particular Mr. Ron Zaffarese of St. Vincent de Paule Residence whose various wise suggestions were most appreciated, Mr. Noel Formosa Mayor of San Lawrenz Local Council and Mr. Saviour Tabone Head of the San Lawrenz Primary School who provided the lunch venue, Mr. George Borg who provided the catering, guitarist duo Spiro Sillato and Spiro Cauchi who provided the merriment at the lunch venue, the Gozo Channel Company for affording special boarding facilities and the Police Force for providing escort services throughout the day for the vehicles which conveyed Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly.
More photos of the event are available here.