International Day of the Order – Ta’ Pinu Pilgrimage
October 15 2022
The Maltese Association’s National Pilgrimage to the most revered Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu at Gharb, Gozo, was resuscitated on Saturday 15th October 2022 after a gap of just over 3 years caused by the terrible pandemic that was COVID-19 which just like with so many other activities had disrupted this cherished hospitaller event.
The Pilgrimage, which this year marked its 31st edition and coincided with the National Day of the Order of Malta, was held in glorious weather, and was led by the President of the Maltese Association, Marchesino Daniel de Petri Testaferrata.
This year’s event witnessed a record number of participants, both in terms of Our Lords the Sick who were our distinguished guests and numbered over 150, as well as in terms of Members and Volunteers. There appears to have been a general urge amongst all to make up for lost time.
Our Lords the Sick coming from Malta hailed from St. Vincent de Paule Residence, Dar tal-Providenza and Mt. Carmel Hospital, whilst those joining from Gozo hailed from the Gozo General Hospital and from Dar Arka.
Dar tal-Providenza once again utilised one of the Iveco tail lift vans which had donated to them by the Association pursuant to the Dar tal-Providenza Transport Project through special finding received from the Global Fund, proudly bearing the distinctive insignia of the Order.
In keeping with traditional dress code for the Pilgrimage, Knights were attired in grey trousers, blue shirts and tie of the Order, whilst Dames donned black skirts and white blouses. Volunteers from the Association’s various peripheral organisations being Members of the Volunteers of the Order, the Order of Malta Volunteers in Gozo, the Maltese Cross Corps and the Canine Search and Rescue Unit were kitted out in white T-Shirts and blue jeans.
This year’s event was also special in that a 20-strong contingent from the Ordine di Malta Corpo Italiano di Soccorso participated in the Pilgrimage under the leadership of Dott. Graziano Cascone, Capo Gruppo Ragusa, looking very distinguished in their red jackets and berets.
The contingent gathered at Cirkewwa at 8.15 a.m., boarding a special Gozo Channel ferry service at 9.00 a.m. Once berthed at Mgarr, the contingent proceeded to the Sanctuary grounds, where Our Lords the Sick were assisted in disembarking, entering the Shrine and settling down.
Holy Mass was then celebrated at 11.00 a.m. by Monsignor Paul Vella, who delivered a pointed homily on the absolute necessity to give true witness – from the Greek word μαρτύριο from which the word martyrdom is derived – to Our Lord Jesus Christ throughout our lives, no matter the circumstances. The Reading was delivered by our confrere Giovan Pace, whilst our confrere and President of the Order of Malta Volunteers in Gozo read the bidding prayers. The laudate pueri choir under the direction of Monsignor George Frendo lead the congregation in singing the various Church hymns which were sung throughout the Eucharistic celebration.
In a brief ceremony after Mass Dott. Cascone presented mementos of appreciation to the Hospitaller Dr. Kevin F. Dingli and to the President Daniel de Petri Testaferrata, and this was then followed by a group photograph taken outside on the Shrine’s beautiful parvis
Next was a 3 course lunch at Villa Fiorita Hall, where Members and Volunteers donned the Association’s smart red tabards and were of service to our special guests throughout. Guitarist Spiro Sillato provided the entertainment, at times accompanied vocally by members and volunteers and even some of our guests who joined in the singing.
All good things unfortunately come to an end, so that shortly after 3.00 p.m. Our Lords the Sick were assisted in boarding their respective transport vehicles which then headed back to Mgarr harbour in time for the dedicated 4.30 p.m. return ferry to Cirkewwa.
The Maltese Association wishes to thank the Members of the Ta’ Pinu Pilgrimage Committee and the Order of Malta Volunteers in Gozo for organising the event so successfully, all Members and Volunteers and in particular this year all members of the Ordine di Malta Corpo Italiano di Soccorso, members of the Maltese Cross Corps and members of the Canine Search and Rescue Unit who gave of their time to attend the pilgrimage, as well as Monsignor Paul Vella who celebrated Holy Mass, Fr Gerard Buhagiar Rector of Ta` Pinu Sanctuary, the Laudate Pueri Choir under the direction of Monsignor George Frendo, the personnel of the various hospitals and residences who accompanied our special guests, Mrs. Rose Bartolo and members of staff at Villa Fiorita who accommodated us at their venue and catered for the entire contingent, guitarist Spiro Sillato who provided the merriment at the lunch venue and the Gozo Channel Company for affording special boarding facilities at Cirkewwa and at Mgarr.
More photos are available at the gallery below: