The celebration of Holy Mass at St George’s basilica started very early this morning and goes on uninterrupted till late in the evening. Today is L-Għid ta’ l-Imwiet – All Souls’ Day and priests not only may but are encouraged to celebrate three requiem Masses. Although the official Mass schedule details Mass on the hour, in fact there will be Mass every half hour with the basilica staying open, uninterruptedly.
Today Catholic priests throughout the world may celebrate three requiem Masses: the first one with an intention that they are free to choose, a second one according to the intention of the Holy Father, and a third one for all the souls in purgatory. However they are allowed to receive an offering only for the first one. The celebration of Mass is the most popular and theologically appropriate prayer of suffrage for the deceased.
One of the altars at St George’s basilica is dedicated to Our Lady of Grace and the Souls of Purgatory. In fact, it is known simply as l-altar ta’ l-Erwieħ; literally, the altar of the souls. It is the most important altar after the main one, and it lies below a large canvas of the Blessed Virgin and Child receiving the Souls of Purgatory painted by the famous Mattia Preti. It is one of the two Preti’s at St George’s which are the only two altar pieces on the island of Gozo.
At 6.00pm, archpriest Mgr Joseph Curmi presides solemn concelebrated Mass.