€12,000 bid wins honour of carrying Mgarr statue

Traditional Mgarr feast auction raises €12,000

The traditional auction at Mgarr which sees teams battle it out to win the ‘honour’ to carry the statue of the Assumption of Our Lady during the village’s procession feast raised a tidy sum of €12,000 - €7,000 more than last year’s total.

The winning group will be led by restaurant owner Wistin Vella, a longstanding participant in the auction who won the auction two years ago, albeit for €500 less.

Together with neighbouring Dingli and Zebbug, Gozo, the tiny village of Mgarr today celebrated the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady – a week after seven other parishes across Malta and Gozo celebrated the feast.

The auction, which was led by Parish Priest Fr Kalcidon Vassallo, was witnessed by several hundred people who gathered in the shadow of Mgarr’s imposing church.

When the church bells tolled noon, Fr Vassallo took the microphone and started proceedings by reciting the Angelus prayer, and calling the teams interested to come forward. A few moments later, the bids started increasing until a final bid of €12,000 by Vella won the privilege of carrying the beloved statute. The bidding took less than 10 seconds, with only three bids being made. The first bid was that of €10,000, the second bid was €200 higher, while the third - and final bid - was €12,000.

The winning team is no stranger to winning Mgarr’s popular – and contentious – auction, as it won the ‘honour’ to carry the statute in 2013 for €11,500 and for €10,500 in 2011.

Last year, the auction raised €5,000.

This year’s amount was the highest since the adoption of the euro in 2008.

The tradition dates back to 1923, a year after the statue was brought to the village. Traditionally, the auction was held after the parish was overwhelmed the requests to carry it during the procession, and consequently, it was decided that the team with the highest donation will earn the privilege to carry the statute. Only people who live in Mgarr can take part.

All of the proceeds go towards the parish’s costs, but this year, a quarter of the money raised, or €3,000, will be donated to the Hospice Movement.