Onslow is getting a bit fed up of churches and hates the number 65 bus with a venom so I got up early and left him in bed and went off to Mosta on my own. One of the lovely things about Malta is that I feel quite happy wandering around on my own, because everyone speaks English and they drive on the left it all seems very unthreatening. I regularly leave the flat at around 0745 to go to the supermarket and the lady who lives round the corner has started ambushing me for a chat so I built in time to talk to her on the way for the bus. She has three sons, all of them married to tarts apparently, who never visit her. Her grandchildren have not been properly brought up and she very seldom sees them either. Human nature eh? It is the same the world over. She is very nice to me (I am obviously not a tart and would make a fine daughter-in-law) and we regularly spend ten minutes sorting the world out. If I am accompanied by Onslow she never appears. I think she must look out of her side balcony window, spot me turning the corner and rush down to greet me.
Mosta - incredible. I was there for just before nine and the Dome (or Rotunda) was practically empty. There were a couple of men at their devotions so I simply put my scarf on and sat quietly at the back whilst I took in the full splendour of this beautiful church. It is huge, I think the only domed church I have been in which is larger is St Peter's in Rome. I counted the rows of chairs in front of me and then counted the number in each row and a bit of mental arithmetic revealed that there were at least 1400 seats so celebrations of Mass could take in most of the district. There are six side chapels and the altars would be needed to provide communion for so many at one service. The side chapels themselves are sort of half dome shaped and have three major paintings in each, and the parts of the church separating them have another three each. Then the main entrance with the glorious statues and the main altar with wonderful paintings and the fantastic painted Stations of the Cross means that there were about fifty major works of art to enjoy. And the domed ceiling with the gold bosses leading up to the blue and gold petal pattern was just awesome.
I am so glad that I went early, by about 0940 tourists by the bus load appeared and the beautiful peace was shattered. There were four tours of about thirty or forty people in each group in the church by the time I left, two German, one Italian and one British. All the leaders were lecturing their groups and it sounded like the Tower of Babel.
I know that I am a tourist too, but at least I am a quiet one.