Return from Żabbar Motorbike and Bicycle Pilgrimage
Thousands of motorcyclists and cyclists are set to make their way from Mosta and Rabat today in a pilgrimage dedicated to Our Lady of Graces in Żabbar, which dates back to the 1950s.
The pilgrimage resumes after a two-year hiatus caused by COVID-19 restrictions.
Among the participants will be Frans Gafà, who first took part in the pilgrimage 60 years ago when he was a teenager.
“Before starting the pilgrimage, I get emotional,” Gafà said. “I am a devotee of Our Lady of Graces and so proud of Żabbar for this unique event,” he said.
Michelle Attard Tonna, a resident of Żabbar, says she fell in love with the event since she was a child.
“I love the vibe it provides, and the most enjoyable part is walking into Żabbar and being greeted by the thousands of onlookers lining the streets,” she said.
Cultural researcher Alex Vella Gregory said there is a wonderful sense of community in the pilgrimage because cyclists tend to move at the same pace unlike the case of pilgrimages on foot.
Motorbikes are expected to depart from Mosta at 9 a.m. from Ġnien l-Għarusa tal-Mostawhile the cyclists will depart from Rabat, next to the playground outside the Mdina gate, transport being offered from Żabbar between 7 and 8 a.m., the president of Għaqda Pellegrinaġġ Muturi u Roti said Sandy Zammit. Pilgrims will follow a painting of Our Lady of Graces.
The motorcycle pilgrimage dates back to 1951, while cyclists were allowed to join the journey in 1955.
The original idea came about after two members of the MUSEUM (Christian Doctrine Society) heard of a motorcycle pilgrimage to honor Our Lady of Graces in Italy and came up with a similar event for what was to be a punctual, said researcher Michael Buhagiar. .
However, after a two-year hiatus, a year dedicated to Our Lady was announced by Pope Paul VI. The pilgrimage was reintroduced, this time to become an annual event.
The pilgrimage has been canceled or postponed four times. In 1976 an election resulted in the cancellation of all festivities in Żabbar, and in 1984 the event was postponed after an explosion on a patrol boat resulted in the deaths of five soldiers and two policemen. In 2020 and 2021, the event was canceled due to COVID-19.
In 2003, the Vatican announced that Our Lady of Graces in Żabbar would become the patroness of motorcyclists and cyclists.
In 2007, the children’s pilgrimage began.
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