St Cajetan - Feast.html
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Feast of St.Cajetan.

This is one of the best-celebrated feasts on the islands. The actual festivities are held on the Sunday following the 6th August; the 7th being the actual date of St.Cajetan's death. For this occasion there are festivities both inside the parish church and outside in the streets.

The inside liturgy start a week before with the transition of the relics of St.Cajetan and his statue being moved from its niche to its stand on one side of the church. This is done with great joy and singing of a particular solemn antiphon. On the eve of the actual feast day, vespers are sung and the antiphon is heard once again. Solemn Mass is celebrated on the Sunday morning, and includes a homily about the life of St.Cajetan. There is a regular schedule for Masses during the preceding Sundays, dedicated to particular groups like the sick, emigrants and others. On the actual feast day around sunset, a procession with the statue leaves the church and takes a route around the main streets.

Up to the 1960s, the inside of the church used to be lavishly decorated with damask covering the massive pillars. Around the statue of the Saint used to stand votive bouquets of sempreviva long-lasting flowers woven in cone shaped steles and the base of the statue itself surrounded by more flowers. This decoration is more subdued nowadays in line with Vatican II norms. Most people should realize that the life of poverty led by St.Cajetan should have its mark even on the festivities themselves.

Outside in the streets it is a different story. The people of Hamrun, being what they are, hot-blooded Mediterranean types, celebrate the feast of St.Cajetan with pomp and joy. The streets are decorated with flags and banners, running across the streets and figures saints and of angels on stands holding bunches of electric lights. There are also strings of lights strung across the streets and on the facade of the Church and on the dome. Individuals also decorate balconies with lights and pictures of the Saint especially on the procession route. Before the advent of electricity, the lights on the facade of the church used to be small oil lamps that had to be lit one by one, and so were the ones on balconies. All the best flowerpots were also brought out to decorate doorsteps!

Karlu Darmanin who fashioned the titular statue was the author of other statues for Hamrun, which are used as part of the exterior decorations during the St.Cajetan feast. Among these is one with the young Cajetan accompanied by his mother. Another was the triumph of the Saint over the teachings of Martin Luther. This statue showed St.Cajetan in black raising a cross in his right hand and holding a book in the other. There is a story behind the latter. Originally it used to depict the triumph of San Gejtanu over the teachings of Martin Luther who, in the statue lay upside down shown like a devil under the feet of our Saint. With the post Vatican II teachings and the rapprochement between the Catholics and Lutherans, this depiction was now out of place. In the 1980's the antagonism between the two band clubs of Hamrun was at its peak. The pastor of that time thought it fit to adapt the statue and instead of the figure of Luther, the two banners of the clubs were placed at his feet. Again in the 1990s, the statue, which used to be carried by each band, (alternating every year) to a suitable stand near the square in the course of the festivities, was dropped and destroyed by fanatics. It is now replaced with one built in 2007, with the Saint standing upon a cloud and surrounded by cherubs. A beautiful new outside statue of St Cajetan in priestly garb was inaugurated for the 2012 feast. This was set up for the first time close to Blata l-Bajda right across from the entrance to the old Radio City theatre. Still another new one was built, this time with the different figures of our Saint, our Lady and the persons of the Blessed Trinity. This one is erected on a stand close to the square. Even Malta's new saint San Gorg Preca is represented in a new statue. He had lived most of his life in Hamrun and was so devout to San Gejtanu. In 2013 some angels were restored by Mariorick Mifsud.

Both Saturday evening and Sunday morning, the two bands play sets of specially composed marches through the streets of Hamrun each preceded by its young partisans waving banners of the colour of the particular band, blue for the St.Joseph Band Club and red for the St.Cajetan Band Club. On the Saturday evening before the celebration of the feast, the two bands start together in front of the church by first playing a popular hymn to St.Cajetan as one unit, then they go separate routes enlivening the streets of Hamrun with their music.

A procession with the statue of St Cajetan leaves the parish church at dusk on Sunday and winds its way through some of the main streets of Hamrun. It is already dark when it starts on its way back to the church. Since the St.Cajetan band club is further down the road from the church, as the procession arrives there first, the statue of the Saint stops for a few minutes in front of the decorated building before proceeding to the St.Joseph band club, which lies right in front of the church. With the statue waiting in front of each band club, petards are let off from each roof.

It takes the statue about half an hour to arrive from in front of one club to the other. The participants of the procession enter the church except for the statue with its carriers. This waits on the other side of the fairly narrow street. This is done because the statue is quite heavy and quite a few steps lead up the parvis to the main door of the church. So, at a signal, the carriers run up in a calculated rush carrying it up to the main door of the Church. All this happens amid fireworks going off from the nearby rooftops and the crowds cheering.

Beside the church on the space in front of the Oratory, a special stand is assembled. This takes a full band, a choir and soloists. From here, on Friday evening, a program is presented consisting of classical music and also a special hymn in honour of St.Cajetan. From here too, a band plays a popular hymn to the Saint as the statue is brought up to the door of the church at the end of the Sunday procession.

Another peculiarity about the celebrations is the throwing of confetti over the bands and even on the statue in the evening. This makes for a more joyous atmosphere though the mess has to be cleaned by someone the next day! After the statue is taken into the Church, the antiphon is sung for the last time and Benediction is given with the Blessed Sacrament.

Australia:

The urge to celebrate the feast of St.Cajetan has in fact spilled out of Malta. The people who emigrated in the 1960's from Hamrun to Australia, have formed Clubs in a few places and celebrate the feast of the Saint with replicas of the statue in processions. Lately, St.Cajetan has also been celebrated in Adelaide.

Victoria - Melbourne:
Ex-pats from Hamrun living around Melbourne have a St.Cajetan society and they celebrate the feast of the Saint for three days. The church functions are held in the St.Theresa church of Essendon while the outside festivities with a procession with a replica of the statue of Hamrun, give a hint as to how these emigrants used to celebrate in their native town of Hamrun. They also have marching bands and other festivities as they had back home.

New South Wales - Sydney:
Emigrants from Hamrun Malta to New South Wales took their devotion of St.Cajetan with them to such an extent as to celebrate his feast and a full procession with a scaled down replica of the Hamrun statue of the Saint. Festivities always end with fireworks like they used to back in Malta. The procession used to start from St.Patrick parish in Blacktown but nowadays the Maltese immigrants have gone one step further: They built a centre for Hamrun immigrants in the suburb of Marsden Park. A chapel dedicated to St.Cajetan has now also been built in the ample property and the celebrations are held here with the statue having a permanent place of its own.