The Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of a particular church is the most important liturgical celebration that can be celebrated within the church itself. Every church within Christianity is ‘dedicated’ to God. Another word that has replaced the word ‘dedication’ in the common language is the term ‘consecration’, which in this case means the same thing. Although in our common parlance we speak of a church dedicated to this or that particular saint, every church is first and foremost dedicated to God himself, the source and fount of all goodness. It is to God that our churches are dedicated.
The Basilica of St George was ‘dedicated’ on the 21st of September 1755 by Bishop Paul Alphéran de Bussan who was the Bishop of Malta and Gozo at that time. This is not to say that this was the first church on the spot; in 1450 the Parish of St George in Rabat was already mentioned in an ecclesiastical document, together with other churches, as benefitting from the Papal Jubilee of that year. However, the present edifice, built betweern 1672 and 1678, was consecrated for divine liturgy on the date mentioned above. Since then, it has never stopped being of service to the people of Victoria, and beyond.
When we celebrated the dedication of a church, we ought to remember what St Paul has to say about the same subject: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Cor 6: 19). Although we worship God in temples built of stone, it is “in spirit and truth” that we ought to turn to him first; may our beautiful churches be a means to this very end.