It is traditionally accepted that the feast of St. Publius which is celebrated annually at Floriana, heralds in the Festa Season in the Maltese Islands.
The celebrations start on the Sunday preceding the feast day, when at 11:45 the artistic statue of St. Publius considered to be one of the finest titular statues in Malta, carved in wood in 1811, is taken out of its niche amidst a jubilant congregation that fills the whole church, and St. Publius church, within its walls, can accommodate quite a crowd.
The week long festivities continue the next day (Monday) in the evening when the 'Children's Feast' (il-Festa tat-Tfal) will see the children parading through the streets of Floriana, carrying a mini statue of St. Publius and accompanied by a small band. From Wednesday till Friday there will be religious services at the church in the evening (starting at 18:00) each culminating with a musical service.
On Thursday and Friday after the church service there will be band marches outside in the decorated streets.
On Saturday, the eve of the feast. at 18:00 the relic of St. Publius will be solemnly transported during a procession from the chapel of the Police Headquarters to the Parish church were Vespers will be sung. Band marches will follow as from 20:00. The evening will also include a vocal and band concert by the Vilhena Philharmonic Band. This concert will take place in front of the church.
At 22:00 another edition of The Malta Mechanised Fireworks Festival, organised by the Floriana Local Council will be held on St. Publius Square (the Granaries-il-Fosos).
The programme for Sunday starts at 09:00 with a Pontifical High Mass said by His Grace the the Archbishop Mons. Charles J. Scicluna. On 13:00 the traditional band march will commence to wind its way through the streets amongst hundreds of revellers prancing and jumping about trying to catch all sorts of items being thrown from balconies, windows and roofs.
At 19;00 the feast reaches its climax when the procession with the statue of St. Publius will exit the church to the sound of fireworks being let off, bells peeling, bands playing and confetti thrown from the cornice, high above in the facade of the church. After being shoulder borne through the streets, the statue will be returned to the church at 22:30. The imparting of the Benediction will bring this years festivities to an end.
A visit to Floriana's Parish Church dedicated to St. Publius, the first Bishop of Malta is a must during the week mentioned above. This spacious and highly decorated edifice is really something to behold with all its treasures of valuable artefacts comprising gold, silver, embroidery on velvet, etc. that can be viewed only during those few days.
For more on Religious Feasts in Malta and Gozo, click here.