Roman soldiers Good friday Malta

Photos from the epic Good Friday procession in Malta

by Michael on March 29, 2013

The Good Friday procession in Malta is an epic event, with several parades around the Mediterranean island clocking in at two plus hours. We attended the Good Friday procession in the village of Zebbug (olives in Maltese). The town basically shuts down for the day as hundreds of its residents take part in the parade.
Malta church (575x431) The procession starts at the 17th-century St. Philip Church.

Malta good friday parade Ramses (575x461)

Although it is a Good Friday parade the cast of characters goes back to the Old Testament, as depicted here by the Pharaoh of Egypt.

Malta good friday parade women with trays (575x458)

Serving girls from the Pharaoh’s court.

jonah and the whale

Jonah and the Whale make an appearance at the Good Friday procession in Malta.
good friday procession in Malta drummers (575x488)Moving on to Roman times with the presence of a Roman marching band. One of the reasons the procession is so long is that all participants first march into the church, before marching out of it for the actual procession. The pre-Church parade is to the soundtrack of Gladiator which boomed out of large loudspeakers set up on the piazza.

Malta old roman centurion two (575x486)

The Gladiator theme makes sense because part of the movie was filmed on Malta where the Colosseum was recreated. Many locals served as extras in the film, the gentleman above looks like he came right from central casting.

Malta bar tv Jesus movie (575x468)

For those not watching the parade, the TV over the bar at the local tavern shows The Passion of the Christ on a continuous loop.

Malta drummers front of church (575x469)

Now that the parade has entered the church, they all turn around and match right out for the real parade.

good friday procession in malta

At first I was taken aback by these folks, but they are not what you think they are. They represent penitents who are repenting for their sins. They wear the hood to hide their identity.

good friday malta

Each village has a brass band that provides a soundtrack for the procession.

malta jesus next to cross (575x469)

Although there were 10 men carrying each statue, we could tell by their grunting that the statues were really heavy.

Il Mejda Ta l’Appostli: The Last Supper in semolina and rice

Members of the 12th May Band and Social Club spend the weeks leading up to Good Friday diligently creating artwork out of grains of semolina and rice. They must be extremely careful as one gust of wind will blow away all their efforts. Teenagers start on rice since it is somewhat easier, before graduating to semolina, which is finely ground wheat. The display is called “Il Mejda Ta’ l-Appostli” which is Maltese for Table of the Apostles.

Malta rice last supper painting

Here’s the colorful display at the 12th May Band and Social Club. It’s hard to believe these paintings are made with just grains. Since the grains are not glued, I was afraid to lean over too far to take the picture for fear of creating a breeze that would mess them up.

malta good friday rice mosaic

In this photo the individual grains of rice are visible.

Malta last supper rice drawings (575x419)

The artists who put these pictures together devote seven hours a day in the week leading up to Good Friday. This art is ephemeral, at the end of the day it is just swept away.

malta last supper rice drawings mejda ta l-appostli

Thank you to two of the artists, brothers Dylan and Ayrton, from the 12th May Band and Social Club explained the display to us.

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free newsletter with quarterly updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

John D March 29, 2013 at 10:30 am

Impactful posting for Good Friday

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas March 30, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Holy Week is a big deal in Southern Spain, and Seville is at the very epicenter of it all. I can’t take the crowds, the crying, the spike in prices, so I always travel – Malta looks like it could be fun and a bit more bearable!

Michael April 2, 2013 at 8:47 am

HI Cat,

While the parade was crowded I imagine it was not anything like Spain.

Stan April 24, 2013 at 10:12 am

I just love the face on the old Roman soldier. Such character.

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