Malta Holy Week pageant Ħtija Tiegħu?
In Malta on Palm Sunday I went to a Holy Week pageant called “Ħtija Tiegħu?” which means something like “His guilt?” It was held in Marsa, a few kilometers south of Sliema where we were staying.
The pageant has been held since 1970 and is normally done outside on the street, but rain was forecast for the day and by evening it was coming down pretty steadily, so they moved the pageant indoors to the church and started two hours late so they had time to adapt to a fully indoor setting.
It's a newish Catholic church, bright and colorful, and a bit in the suburbs and there were lots of families there.
While we were waiting during the delay, a man who spoke English, named Albert, introduced himself to me. He has been involved in the pageant for 30 years and is currently the treasurer and one of the participants, no longer Judas as he was for many years and got tired of portraying. 😂 In a building across the street they had a display of some neat handmade Christian artworks that I saw while waiting.
When it finally started, it was interesting. It was a bit like one of our bigger latter-day saint (LDS) pageants in some ways: good costumes, amplified recorded and live music, professional lighting and audio. It was all in the Maltese language so I understood only what I could recognize visually from the Gospels. The stories felt a little rushed at the beginning, for example the woman caught in adultery scene went by really quickly.
Once the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and then turned him over to the Romans, it got more intense. They whipped him and had fake wounds all over his back, blood there and on his chest, a crown of thorns on his head, they made him carry his cross, and that was moving as it happened right next to me as he walked down the aisle.
The actual crucifixion was less literal, probably not like they planned because of the change of venue, and the Jesus actor was standing at the front of the altar but not on a cross, as he suffered and eventually died. But being in front of the altar, and with a huge crucifix and Jesus statue up above him, seemed fitting.
The resurrection was interesting. The Jesus actor appeared wearing all white and walked down the aisle to triumphant music, holding out his hands with stigmata, and we all stood up and applauded. Certainly just sitting there wouldn't have been right.
There is a short teaser video from the organization where you can see me seated in the pews.