Assumption of Our Lady


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Assumption of Our Lady (Santa Marija)

August 15
The Republic of Malta is a small country in the central Mediterranean that consists of seven islands. In 1814, Malta became a crown colony of the British empire. Under British rule, the Maltese Islands helped the Allies during World War I. Hundreds of Maltese served as soldiers in the British regiments, and Malta allowed the British to use its dockyard and hospitals. Thousands of sick and wounded soldiers were brought to Malta for treatment, thereby earning the country the title of the "Nurse of the Mediterranean."
Malta also played an important role during World War II. The bravery its people showed during the war led to the country being awarded the George Cross, which is now displayed on its flag
During World War II, Malta served as a military base for Great Britain's ships, submarines, and military airplanes. For two years, the Axis powers (Italy, Germany, and Japan) attacked Malta, trying to take over the country in an attempt to control the Mediterranean. As supply convoys approached, the Axis military would attack and destroy them. By the summer of 1942, supplies were so low that many Maltese were close to starvation, and the country would soon be forced to surrender.
Operation Pedestal was planned and executed by the British Royal Navy. Fourteen merchant ships carried badly needed supplies to Malta for both the military and civilian population. Those merchant ships were guarded and escorted by 64 warships. The Italian and German air forces were prepared for the convoy and attacked the ships as they approached. The SS Ohio, an American oil tanker, soon became a main target. The ship withstood two days of bombings and was severely crippled. However, the Allied warships were able to prop her up and escort her safely to Malta's Valletta Grand Harbour. Only five of the 14 merchant ships reached Malta. These ships and their crews were met with cheers of joy and appreciation. It gave the people hope that they were saved. Within months after Operation Pedestal, the Axis powers gave up on their attempts to take over Malta.
Today in Malta, the country celebrates the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, a national holiday that commemorates the success of Operation Pedestal. Many believe that it was through the intervention of Our Lady that Operation Pedestal was able to succeed. On this day, church services across the country start with a prayer of thanksgiving, and the names of the five surviving merchant ships are read.
Feast days, including the feast of Santa Marija, are a big part of life on the Islands. In Malta, this holiday and many of the other holidays are celebrated festa- style—with fireworks, decorated streets, and carts throughout the villages selling many different foods, including traditional sweets and delicacies such as Maltese nougat.
CONTACTS:
Malta Tourism Authority
Auberge D'Italie
Merchants St.
Valetta VLT 1170 Malta
www.visitmalta.com