Valletta Dominican church to host saint’s skull relic

A reliquary containing a piece of the skull of St Dominic is today being brought to Malta from Rome by the Dominican community of Vittoriosa to mark the 800th anniversary of the death of St Dominic.

As part of the celebrations marking this event, Vittoriosa Dominican prior Fr Aaron Zahra, OP, together with the Dominican community of Vittoriosa, will on Monday, August 23, transfer the reliquary from Vittoriosa to St Dominic parish church, Valletta, for the veneration of the public.

The reliquary, found at the church of Santa Maria del Rosario, part of a Dominican monastery located on Monte Mario, the tallest hill of Rome, will arrive in Valletta at noon after it would have toured other Dominican convents in Rabat, Sliema and Guardamangia. In Valletta, the reliquary will be exposed for the public at St Dominici’s church, which will remain open in the afternoon. Every half hour, there will be the recitation of the rosary, the litany of St Dominic and other prayers.

A meditated rosary will be said at 4pm, followed by a concelebrated mass at 4.30pm. Solemn vespers will then be led by the Master of the Order of Preachers, Gerard Timoner III OP, together with Dominican friars and other priests. After vespers, the relic will be taken back to Vittoriosa church for the feast of St Dominic to be celebrated on August 29.

The body of St Dominic is enshrined in a marble sarcophagus at St Dominic’s chapel in the basilica of San Domenico in Bologna. Exposed for veneration behind the sarcophagus is the reliquary of St Dominic’s whole skull.

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