The Malta Independent 19 March 2019, Tuesday

71 restoration projects underway, including church dedicated to St John the Baptist in Siggiewi

Saturday, 23 February 2019, 08:45 Last update: about 23 days ago

The Restoration Directorate, which falls within the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, currently has 71 ongoing projects, which are at various stages of implementation. This number does not include restoration projects which are being undertaken by other entities such as Heritage Malta.

Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici announced this during a site visit to one of these projects, taking place on the Church of St John the Baptist in Siġġiewi. “Thanks to these projects, we keep on protecting and strengthening our local heritage so that it is available for everyone, especially for future generations to cherish and appreciate our country’s history. Through restoration and conservation projects, we have now worked in 70% of localities, and thanks to more projects that are ongoing and others that are in the pipeline, we truly are reinforcing our culture sector, whilst providing more sustainability and professionalisation within the sector. Apart from all of this, we are also enhancing our local product as a cultural destination,” said Minister Bonnici.

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The church in question was built by Fra Antonio Cutajar and is dedicated to the beheading of St John the Baptist and the building dates back to 1730. The architect of the church is unknown, but its style is mainly Baroque. The interventions are being carried out on the main façade, which faces the northeast and is built with walls of ashlar limestone blocks.

The building is in a relatively good state of repair but shows signs of the effect of rising damp and the attempts to address it. The selected approach is to limit the amount of substitutions and employ the use of sacrificial materials to limit the irreversible interventions.

All unwanted metal fixtures, biological growth, and plaster is being removed. Pre-pointing is being carried out on all open mortar joints. Finally, all the external timber apertures are to be sanded down lightly, eased and re-painted. Given that it has remained in use maintenance works have been carried out over years to keep it in a relatively good state of repair. 

The church stands on the site of an older church, dedicated to the birth of St John the Baptist and belonged to the Order of St John as evidenced by the eight-pointed cross on the upper structure of the Church’s dome.

During the Second World War the church was used for the spiritual needs of the community of Siġġiewi.

The church is octagonal in plan, and has three stone altars. A number of pilasters lie underneath the semi-spherical dome. Behind the main altar is the titular painting depicting the martyrdom of St John the Baptist.

 

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