18 September 2014

Where The Grand Master used to pray, the Speaker hosts a dinner

 - Sunday, 22 April 2012, 00:00

by Noel Grima

The DOI released a photo on Tuesday of an official dinner given by Speaker of the House of Representatives Dr Michael Frendo, in honour of the President of the German Bundestag, Prof. Dr Norbert Lammert and his delegation.

The caption, provided by the DOI, said this dinner took place in what was called The Paladini Hall.

Actually, this is a misnomer – the latest in a series of wrong names given to this room. Another one is on a plaque next to its entrance, which says it is “The Prince of Wales Room”, just because a Prince of Wales once spent a night in it.

Actually, the room used to be the private chapel of the Grand Master, whose bedroom was next door.

Its links with Filippo Paladini come from the wonderful frescoes this artist, who was active in Malta between 1590 and 1595, painted on the walls of the chapel – which have recently been restored by very dedicated work by the renowned Courtaulds Institute of London, on the initiative of the Valletta Rehabilitation Project.

This room is not included in the tour of the State Rooms in the Palace, and is sometimes used by Parliament for such purposes as meetings of the House Business Committee.

But any heat can damage the frescoes again and many art connoisseurs were aghast to learn that a formal dinner had been held there.

Some years ago, in the previous legislature, an even worse use was found for the room: that of accommodating coffee-making machines for a reception that was held in the corridor outside.

The sooner Parliament is able to use its new building at City gate, the sooner can the huge job of restoring the Palace begin and the damage to its fabric either severely limited or stopped completely.

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