The Malta Independent 18 January 2020, Saturday

Restoration works on the Church of the Virgin of Mercy in Qrendi well underway

Thursday, 9 January 2020, 19:58 Last update: about 9 days ago

Following the start of works in March 2019 by the Restoration Directorate within the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, the restoration of the Church of the Virgin of Mercy in Qrendi is to be complete by the beginning of 2021.

Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici visited the works which are being carried out on this historic church, which dates back to the 1650s and stated that, "through such interventions we are able to  ensure that such historical gems are safeguarded and made available for future generations, whilst also working towards strengthening our local cultural product." Bonnici also lauded the work carried out by the Restoration Directorate, which is carrying out restoration works on various historical sites and locations for the further preservation of our local heritage.

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The restoration works on the church's external building fabric proceeded at a steady pace.  In fact, to date the restoration of the external fabric of the dome, the bell-cot and that of other structures at roof level has been completed.  Moreover, the North East façade of the church has also been restored.  These works have varied to include: the overall cleaning of the stone fabric from dirt and other deposits accumulated through the years; the retention and consolidation (through injection of detached sections) of the existing traditional deffun roofing screed covering the dome and the church roof; the limited localised replacement of mechanically damaged or extensively deteriorated stone blocks; the use of the plastic repair technique to repair stone blocks exhibiting alveolar deterioration; the restoration of timber window apertures on the North Eastern façade; the cleaning of water ducts and the installation of terracotta downpipes to prevent further water penetration into the church etc.

Following the mounting of scaffolding both along the South East - South West external facades as well as the mounting of scaffolding within the church interior, preliminary investigation and restoration works are proceeding concurrently in these areas. Most of the restoration interventions to be executed on the aforementioned external facades, will be similar to those already executed to date.  However, the stone fabric of the external buttress, thought to have been built at a second stage in the early 18th century to counteract local structural movement, exhibits delamination and will necessitate pinning and consolidation of the delaminated sections.  Actual works on the church interior have to date seen the removal of the thick cement plaster which covered considerably areas of internal walls.  Scientific investigations are also being carried out on the altar reredos, which investigations are giving interesting results attesting to the fact that the altar reredos and dome were given a polychrome treatment.  Following closure of this investigation stage a specific restoration methodology for this particular area will be drawn up and implemented.

Works are being carried out by the Restoration Directorate and are estimated to reach an investment of  €150,000.


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