Malta welcomed His Holiness Pope Francis during his Apostolic visit to the country from Saturday 2nd April to Sunday 3rd April of which on Saturday 2nd April he visited the sister island of Gozo.
The island of Gozo was wearing Holy Week dress and Vatican City Flags mounted on road roundabouts, balconies, roof flagpoles etc
After leaving the Apostolic Nunciature, Rabat , Malta the entourage proceeded to DWQ 5 to board the Virtu Ferries High Speed Craft MARIA DOLORES to cross the islands.
Once MARIA DOLORES left her quay she was saluted with water display from tugboats Fire Monitors and escorted by various law enforcement craft. The Church of Malta and the State appealed for the public to gather and welcome him near the port, at the Upper Barrakka Gardens and in the areas of Senglea and Vittoriosa. Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna – FWA (Malta Heritage Trust) fired a 21 gun salute from the Saluting Battery.
Meanwhile Mgarr Port Closure preparations were being done with all Short Sea Ferries picking up passengers from Mgarr Port to Comino one by one with I See Malta 34 metre passenger ship I SEE TWO –
Supreme Cruises 40 metre passenger ship JADE –
Luzzu Cruises 25 metre passenger ship KATALEYA –
And Hornblower Cruises 33 metre passenger ship KEPPEL –
Meanwhile the Gozo Channel Co Ltd were operating with 3 ships – 2001 built ropax GAUDOS –
The 2002 built ropax MALITA –
And the chartered 1987 built ropax NIKOLAOS of which during her last trip disembarking of Media Vehicles happened –
At 1600 hrs the 2000 built ropax TA’ PINU left Cirkewwa bound to Mgarr Harbour loaded with equipment and the Dodge Popemobile which was transported to Rabat, Gozo and with the Vatican City Flag hoisted while she was berthed.
As per Notice to Mariners No 028 of 2022 Mgarr Harbour was restricted from 1630 hrs until 1945 hrs with Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) Maritime Squadron Craft MELITA II and P 23 patrolling the entrance.
Meanwhile Civil Protection Department (CPD) placed 2 Fire Water tenders in each side of Mgarr Harbour –
At 1700 hrs the ropax GAUDOS left Cirkewwa passing through the Comino Channel & stopped off Comino to salute the catamaran MARIA DOLORES on her way to Mgarr Harbour.
Meanwhile the AW139 helicopter AS 1428 landed at Xewkija Heliport.
At 1751 hrs the High Speed Craft MARIA DOLORES escorted by the AFM ribs P 02, P 03, P 05 and P 06 together with the Protector Class Patrol Craft P 52 was seen reaching the Gozo Channel of which the Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC) P 23 escorted the convoy.
At 1800 hrs MARIA DOLORES entered Mgarr Harbour –
Upon berthing of MARIA DOLORES , her Port Side ramp opened and the entourage started disembarking with thousands of souls lined the route from the Harbour towards Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary to greet the first pope to visit the island in 32 years.
From Fortunato Mizzi Street, Victoria Pope Francis travelled in the Dodge Popemobile towards Ta’Pinu Sanctuary where the faithful waited to greet him.
After 1900 hrs the entourage left Ta’ Pinu sanctuary towards Mgarr Harbour, Gozo to cross the islands on the ropax TA’ PINU.
Papal visits throughout the years:
The first papal visit in Malta was that of John Paul II, which was held between the 25 and 27th May 1990. The historic visit was the Pope’s 48th Apostolic Trip outside Italy in the first 12 years of his Pontificate.
Pope John Paul II visited Malta once again between the 8 and 9th May 2001, as part of his Pauline pilgrimage. On the last day of his visit, the Pope beautified Dun Ġorġ Preca, Nazju Falzon and Adeodata Pisani.
The last papal visit in the Maltese Islands was that of Pope Benedict XVI, between the 17 and 18th April 2010. Pope Benedict XVI was invited by the Bishops of Malta and the President of the Republic to visit Malta on the occasion of the 1950th anniversary of St Paul’s shipwreck, which tradition says occurred in 60 A.D.
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Published – Thursday 7th April, 2022