The Diocesan Organising Committee for the Pope’s visit has published an artistic impression of the platform to be built on the Floriana Granaries, and on which Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on Sunday 3rd April at 10.15am. The platform has been designed by artistic director Carlo Schembri in collaboration with architect Joe Bondin who is handling its structure, as well as Mr Anton Attard who is handling logistics.
The platform design is inspired by the form of the crucifix, with the circle and rays emanating from it representing the Eucharist. The platform is 16 metres wide and 14 metres deep. Some 600 priests will be on the platform to concelebrate Mass with the Pope.
As the Pope’s visit will take place during Lent, the colour purple will dominate, it being the liturgical colour used during the 40 days of Lent. Instead of flowers, flora found in Malta and also mentioned in the Bible will surround the platform.
At the centre of the platform, there will be a crucifix made locally, probably towards the end of the 19th century, and known traditionally as ‘Kristu tal-Ġogi’. The crucifix is found in the chapel at the Archbishop’s Curia in Floriana and belongs to the church dedicated to St Nicholas (‘Tal-Erwieħ’) in Valletta. Similar crucifixes were used during the traditional three-hour sermon on Good Friday, as it was possible for the arms of Christ to be released from the cross and for the body to be lowered as though for burial, to be placed for public veneration.
An altar, ambo and wooden cathedra will be used during the Papal Mass. These had been made in the eighties by Maltese sculptor Ġanni Bonnici, originally for the Mosta church.
A 12th century icon of the Madonna of Damascus, known as ‘Ta’ Damaxxena’ and presently kept at the Greek Catholic Church in Valletta, will be placed at the side of the altar. The icon had been venerated in Damascus, Syria, from where it takes its name, and had been brought to Malta by its owner, Joanna Calamia, a distinguished Greek lady from Rhodes. Grandmaster de Valette was very devoted to this icon. When the Knights of St John and the Maltese defeated the Ottomans during the Great Siege of 1565, Grandmaster de Valette gave his hat and sword to the Madonna of Damascus as a votive offering.
There will be a reserved area during the Mass for wheelchair users and an area for the hearing impaired needing an interpreter in Maltese sign language.
Thousands of persons applied for seating on the Granaries during the first two days of registration. Those who registered will receive a ticket by email which has to be presented on the day. The Church is encouraging those attending to think ahead and to use public transport.
Anyone needing more information about the Mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis can email [email protected].