Parishes in Cottonera are celebrating the 75th anniversary when they welcomed back the titular statues after they were sheltered in other parishes during World War II. On the eve of a celebration in Cospicua of the pilgrimage that brought back the Immanculate Conception from Birkirkara, TVM spoke with Laurence Mizzi who recalled the events.
87-year old Laurence Mizzi remembers well the occurring events in Cottonera during World War II. He recounts the sufferings he witnessed, which led to the area’s titular statues to be taken for shelter in Birkirkara and Imdina. Mr Mizzi also remembers the great feasts that residents of Cospicua, Vittoriosa and Senglea organized when the statues returned to their parishes.
He described the event in Senglea on the 8th September 1943 when the Bambina statue was carried in procession from the city’s entrance to the St Philip church which lies over the Grand Harbour.
“There were thousands of people on that day; I was with them. As the Bambina statue arrived in the middle of the shoreline, a loudspeaker on a destroyer was heard saying that Italy had surrendered. War had ended as the crowd celebrated the Vitorja feast”.
Vittoriosa residents also organized great feasts when they welcomed back the statue of St Lawrence when he accompanies the pilgrimage as an altar boy.
“They took the statue of St Lawrence at the Immaculate Conception church and a pilgrimage was held in July from Cospicua to Vittoriosa as part of the feast. Vittoriosa was half destroyed, the church cupola and the sacrament chapel collapsed; many people died there”.
Mr Mizzi said he is still fascinated by the thanksgiving pilgrimage with the statue and titular painting of the Immaculate Conception from St Helen’s church in Birkirkara to Cospicua.
“They had a reason to thank God as the Cospicua church remained intact! I was with my uncle who was a feast enthusiast and when we arrived in Paola, we stopped walking and the pilgrimage took some eight hours or even more”.
The 75th anniversary of the event will be commemorated tomorrow with an audio-visual representation in Cospicua’s Dock No. 1 that will feature the history of the parish from its founding in 1584 till 1944.
The spectacle will include singing and dancing, synchronized fireworks, drama and a projection mapping on the facade of Cospicua church.