Cardinal Mario Grech led a concelebrated Mass at his home town parish, Kerċem, to inaugurate celebrations commemorating the 125 anniversary of the arrival of the titular statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Perpetual Succour in the locality.
Kerċem parish church was built in the middle of the 19th century and blessed in 1851. Kerċem was dismembered from the cathedral and established as a separate parish in 1885.
Dun Anton Debono, the second parish priest, encouraged Salvatore Grech, known to villagers as Ta’ Lunzjat, to fork out all costs for a new statue of Our Lady for the parish.
The titular statue, popularly known as Tas-Sokkors, was commissioned to the firm Galard et Fils Statuaire in Marseille, France. At that time, there were hundreds of Gozitans who had migrated to the port of Marseille.
The papier mâché statue arrived in Gozo in mid-1897. It was blessed by Gozo Bishop Giovanni Maria Camilleri, OSA on July 4, 1897, and on July 11, the statue was taken out in procession along the streets of Kerċem for the first time.
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