The liturgical feast of St Ursula, patron saint of the Gozo diocese, will be celebrated on Thursday.

The feast will be marked at the Gozo Cathedral on Sunday, starting with a triduum tomorrow.

A special prayer service and Mass with homily by Fr Joseph Attard will be held at 6pm. A prayer meeting will be held at the same time on Saturday, eve of the feast, led by archpriest Joseph Sultana.

On Sunday, Gozo Bishop Anton Teuma will lead a concelebrated Pontifical Mass, together with the Cathedral Chapter, at 8am. Sung Vespers will be held at 5.15pm, followed by Eucharist benediction.

Devotion to the saint in Gozo began in 1614, when Eugenio-Romirez Maldonado, a knight from Salamanca and Governor of Gozo, donated a bust of the saint with her arm-bone to the Matrice, today the Victoria Cathedral.

Devotion towards the saint grew immensely and on September 6, 1620, a diocesan synod, presided over by Bishop Baldassare Cagliares at the Mdina Cathedral, declared St Ursula patron saint of Gozo.

St Ursula’s intercession against natural catastrophes was always on the minds of Gozitans.

In the past, three votive processions, in which the civil authorities also took part, were held throughout the year in thanksgiving for deliverance from various calamities.

Two years ago, a short procession with the relic of St Ursula around the Citadel was introduced.

St Ursula, a legendary Romano-British Christian saint, died on October 21, 383.

There is little definite information about her and the anonymous group of holy virgins who accompanied her and on some uncertain date were killed at Cologne. St Ursula is reputed to be a missionary princess, who imbued with love of Christ, joined a peregrinatio pro Christo to help in the evangelisation of Northern Europe.

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