Traditional Feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot celebrated in Xaghra
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The traditional feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot is once again being celebrated in Xaghra, with a programme of social and religious activities reaching its climax on Sunday, the 19th of January 2014.
Saint Anthony enjoys great devotion in Xaghra. In fact, he was the first patron saint of Xaghra Parish between 1688 and 1692 before the construction of Xaghra Parish Church which was dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady.
Saint Anthony is an important figure in the Catholic Church and he is considered as the Father of Monasticism which started the solitary life in the desert for the service of God. He is the protector Saint of animals.
This year, Xaghra Parish is commemorating the 326th Anniversary of its foundation whilst the Church of Saint Anthony is commemorating the 26th Anniversary of its Consecration which happened on 28th April 1988 by H.L. Bishop Nicholas J. Cauchi, the then Bishop of Gozo.
The programme of activities for the feast day is as follows:
Sunday, the 19th of January – 6.00am, 7.00am, 11.00am, 12.00pm and 7.00pm:
Masses in the church of Saint Anthony the Abbot.
8.30am: Solemn Mass led by H.L. Bishop Mario Grech together with the Reverend Chapter and Clergy of Xaghra Parish. The Mass will be broadcast live on Radio RTK and Radju Bambina (98.3 FM).
9.30am: Festive Band Marches by the Victory Band from San Marzjal belvedere to the Church of Saint Anthony the Abbot.
10.00amThe Statue of St Anthony will exit the church and the Victory Band will salute the saint with the popular hymn. This will be followed by the traditional Blessing of Horses led by Archpriest Mgr Carmelo Refalo. There will be a defile’ of horses which accompany the statue of Saint Anthony to Xaghra Basilica.
11.00am: Dog Show organised by the Xaghra Local Council in Victory Square.
11.00am: Maltese Falconry Centre exhibiton, near to the Church of Saint Anthony the Abbot, organised in collaboration with the Xaghra Local Council.
1.00pm: Children’s races in Triq Sant’Anton.
3.30pm: At the Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady, Solemn Vespers led by Bishop Mario Grech.
4.00pm: Procession with the statue of Saint Anthony followed by the traditional blessing of pets in Saint Anthony’s Square. The procession ends in the church of Saint Anthony where the hymn ‘Te Deum’ is sung and Eucharistic Benediction is imparted.
No registration is needed for the horses’ blessing and the blessing of pets.
On Saturday, the eve of the Feast, there will be a Mass for children starting at 10.00am. This will be followed by a march with the ancient statue of Saint Anthony the Abbot. Children’s games, a party and pony rides will follow in the square.
Top photographs by Alain Salvary of the Feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot 2013.