This procession commemorating the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, is held annually on Good Friday after a commemorative service, attended by a large congregation, takes place in the afternoon in the parish church, from where the procession starts and then covers a distance of about two miles in three hours. This religious manifestation, organised by the Confraternity of the Crucifix, is first mentioned in the parish archives when Gerolamo Curmi was appointed rector of the Confraternity in the seventeenth century. The main attraction is the nine statues or statuary groups that are carried shoulder high along the whole route. They represent:
1. The Agony of Jesus at Gethsemane, a brilliantly executed papier-mâché statuary group by Carlo Darmanin (1878);
2. The Betrayal of Judas, a statue by Michael Camilleri Cauchi (1994) donated by Can. Joseph Bonello;
3. The Scourging of Jesus at the Pillar, work in wood by Pietro Paolo Azzopardi (1838);
4. The Crowning with Thorns (Ecce Homo), another wooden statue carved by the same sculptor (1839);
5. The Redeemer, again by Azzopardi (1858);
6. The Veronica, with the effigy of the face of Jesus transferred onto her veil, another very good example of papier-mâché work, this time by Cospicua-born Abram Gatt (1903);
7. The Crucifixion, a statuary group featuring Jesus on the Cross, (by Abram Gatt) together with the Virgin Mary, St. John the Evangelist and St. Mary Magdalene, another papier-mâché work by Carlo Darmanin (1876);
8. The Dead Christ, artist unidentified, lying under a golden canopy;
9. Our Lady of Sorrows, another work by Carlo Darmanin (1876).
Most of these statues have replaced earlier ones. In this religious pageant, each statue is carried on a bradella (portable dais), but in church each statue stands on a richly decorated platform manufactured in the late twentieth century at the time of procurator Can. Joseph Zammit. It will be noted that several decorative banners, as the Eagle Flag, emblem of the Roman might with the letters S.P.Q.R. (Senate and People of Rome) and several smaller banners representing Christ’s seven utterances on the Cross, accompany the statues. So also do a big number of participants featuring biblical personalities, as Abel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Melchisedech and others from the Old Testament, and the Apostles, Pontius Pilate, Annas, Herod Antipas and others from the New Testament. The Cospicua Scout Group of buglers and drummers walk in slow motion preceding the statue of the Redeemer, while the St. George’s local band plays funeral marches in front of the statuary group of the Crucifixion, which represents the climax of the pageant. The local clergy accompany the statue of the Dead Christ.
On the following Sunday, the church celebrates the Resurrection of the Lord. Early in the morning on this great day of rejoicing, the ringing of bells heralds this great festivity of Easter Sunday. Another procession is held, this time with the statue of the Risen Christ, said to be the work of an unknown Spanish sculptor. At various points through the processional route, young men with stamina run with it through the applauding throng, raising it triumphantly at the end of each run!
Thousands of Maltese and tourists flock to Cospicua to watch these colourful processions, which are meant to furnish information on the story of mankind’s salvation and to lead to a better understanding of Jesus, our Saviour.
Regarding the Good Friday events in Cospicua, we have printed a book that is available in various languages.
Good Friday in Cospicua (English)
Il-Ġimgha Mqaddsa f'Bormla (Maltese)