Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Antonius Grech-Delicata-Testaferrata

Clergy and aristocrats in Gozo

The Theatre of death in Malta

The theatre of death at
The Cathedral of The Assumption - Gozo
I was in Malta again recently and had some time in Gozo which is the smaller island off the coast of the main island of Malta. The island of Gozo is green and pleasant and less frantic than the larger island. The houses are further apart and have a rural atmosphere compared to the other place. Gozo is interesting if you have the time to visit the place. More often as not tourists spend a day on Gozo before hurrying back on the last ferry.

Gozo has a unique atmosphere and the the capital of Victoria or Rabat (you take your pick as with many other Maltese towns) is a place of small shops, sometimes bad tea and the Cathedral that sits on the heights above the market square. The walls of the citadel are intimidating and as intended. The masonry was always there to ensure that the locals knew who was in charge and that invaders were aware of the outcome of any attack. Even now the ascent to the citadel is difficult on foot and you have to stop and catch your breath in the last sun of the year when the sun was unseasonably strong.

The citadel (built on the site of a Roman temple)  was hot and dry and bathed in sun and yet the Cathedral frowned down upon anyone who made it into the square and shelled out the 6 Euros to go inside. I resent paying the Roman catholic Church anything at all. The congregations are often complicit in assaults carried out upon children and many of the clergy (although not all) are aware of child abusers and are aware of those who have 'got away with it'. The light, air and beauty of this hilltop covered in stone is damaged by the Cathedral which has a monumentally dark energy. The larger than life statues of Popes on the steps ensures that a feeling of power and monumentality is created. This is Roman Catholicism in large scale and in a sort of funny farm baroque way. The site is harmed by the building and it gets worse as you go inside.

Death as an object of fear and veneration
The interior of the Cathedral embodies the sort of melancholy I have mentioned on this blog previously. The darkness of the interior is evident as the tourist is drawn inside towards the tombs in what is a small and rather insignificant building. The floor is the first things that grips you as the graves are laid out like Baroque crazy paving. The clergy and aristocrats find their place under marble tombs and ornate marble work that fills the imagination. The colours are bright for this oppressive environment and the brightness of the materials makes up for the Christian tendency to fill Churches with the dead. The floor is filled with the dead and the so are the walls where we find tombs. Here we also find effigies of a Pope in a cabinet and this is where the Roman Catholics are the cult of the dead incarnate. Death has become something that it inevitable to become something that is actual desirable. Death is the thing that brings the Christian closer to God and the Christian forgets the joys of life in a rush to death.

The voices of tourists are hushed as they feel their way around in the darkness and Japanese tourists clearly have no idea what they're looking at and they seemed confused by the images and the apparently random placing of the dead and the living. That is nothing new as many Churches are little more that indoor burial sites where the great and the good await a place in the next life. They point to the image of a silver cross with an emaciated and tortured Christ and this is the centre of this faith.

The Church led by the dead!
I leave the Cathedral of Victoria / Rabat with relief and I quickly go round the back to find that the masonry walls enclose a garden and I touch the clean soil of the garden. This is clean dirt rather than the filth that fills the cathedral's substructure and the walls give a good view of the landscape. The wind at this height blows the cobwebs away and the sun destroys any feelings of negativity.

I like the idea of Churches as places of spirituality and hope in a troubled life and a difficult world although I increasingly encounter the idea of Christianity as a cult of the dead where we encounter suffering and darkness. The dead are destined for the Earth and for recycling although the Church proves to be a barrier to that cycle.

The Cathedral at Gozo