The Passion, the events surrounding the crucifixion, are a major event on the Catholic calendar and Malta, like other countries, gives the event fitting accord.
Many Maltese churches present processions to commemorate the events; of these one of the most well known takes place at Zebbug.
I was told this was a “must see” event and on Good Friday Afternoon we boarded a tour bus to take us to Zebbug. This turned out to be another educational experience.
The Bus Ride
Initially the driver seemed confused about who he was supposed to pick up. Time is spent while the driver runs around searching for people to collect. This seems to be a characteristic of some tour buses. You wait endlessly while they disappear, apparently hunting for their passengers. Perhaps they’re having a quick coffee? Whatever the reason you would have thought that by 2014 there would be a better solution – something like the system they use at restaurants where you’re given a pager when your table is ready. In the case of tours there could be an app that alerts you when the bus arrives and gives a map and directions to get to the bus. But I digress.
Eventually we take off and when we arrive the driver, when asked, points down the road and tells us our seats are down there. We wander down the road and find a lot of seats, but several attempts to sit were rebuffed and we were admonished that the seats were reserved for another party. It turns out we should have been met by a guide but that never happened. Eventually we unexpectedly met some friends, and after paying an additional fee for the seats, we sat with them.
And so we settled into our seats. It transpired that there were two processions, although both part of the same event. The first part involved in the main Roman Soldiers and Jewish civilians of the time walking down the main street to the church. The second part depicts the events surrounding the crucifixion and travels in the opposite direction. I haven’t discovered why the two processions travel in opposite directions. Perhaps it’s logistical, but I wondered if it was symbolic of the Jewish people coming to Palestine, then the Romans taking over, and finally the spread of the Catholic faith all emanating from the crucifixion. But I’m probably reading far too much into what happened.
In the following video you can see highlights from the first procession; look for part 2, coming in the next newsletter, for the Passion procession.