“This boy will do something big” – Frenċ tal-Għarb on Alfred Camilleri Cauchi
The ‘Via Sagra’ (Way of the Cross) represents Christ’s final hours commemorated by the Catholic Church, particularly during the Holy Week, that represent 14 different moments of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.
Similar to representations found in big Marian sanctuaries, such as Lourdes, a Via Sagra is found outside the Ta’ Pinu sanctuary in Gozo, which boasts of a high artistic value although it is not widely appreciated.
Known as ‘Ta’ Għammar’, the Gozitan hill between Għarb and Għasri, facing the Our Lady Ta’ Pinu sanctuary, is an ideal place for the devotion to the Way of the Cross….a walk along the Cross with an emphasis on various moments of Christ’s passion and ends at the upper end of the hill with Christ’s resurrection.
The idea behind the Għolja ta’ Għammar Via Sagra came from Frenċ ta’ l-Gharb who frequently prayed on the hill, with Gozitans nicknaming it ‘il-muntanja ta’ Frenċ’. The Via Sagra stations are represented in statues, designed by artist Alfred Camilleri Cauchi. Camilleri Cauchi recalls that when he was young his mother took him to visit Frenċ tal-Għarb who predicted that his wish will be carried out by him.
“I went with her as she needed to visit him; and he told her this boy will do something big. Meanwhile I used to think about his words and realized afterwards that I had to sculpture this Via Sagra”.
Work stated in 1969 and Camilleri Cauchi took 10 years to complete the work. The statues were manufactured in marble at Pietra Santa and Carrara in Italy where Alfred used to go frequently to follow the work in progress.
The stations at the Għolja ta’ Għammar are only based on the Scripture writings and moments such as Jesus meeting the Veronika and one statue, instead of three, when Jesus fell under the Cross.
In his design, artist Camilleri Cauchi introduced innovative ideas for the time, such as the angel’s face in the station of Jesus at Getsemani, which resembles his wife’s face; Judas betrayal station where a devil appears emerging from a stone and the Cross in the form of a tree branch.
“I am very happy with the result; even as this was Frenċ tal-Għarb’s dream”.
The Via Sagra function from the Għolja ta’ Ghammar will be transmitted on TVM2, with a production of CVC Media, on Wednesday at 6.30pm. It includes writings by Pope Francis on the Joy of the Scripture and reflections by Bishop Mario Grech.