The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Restoring Malta's historic Jesuit Church

Owen Bonnici Friday, 22 September 2023, 08:10 Last update: about 3 months ago

The restoration work on the Onorati Oratory of the Church of the Jesuit in Valletta is nearly finished. The Onorati Oratory is the second and last Oratory to be restored.

Soon, we will start restoring the inside of church itself, investing around a further €1.25 million.

Currently, we are focusing on the Oratory's ceiling, and we expect to complete this by the end of the year.


In the coming months, we will start restoring the inside of the Church itself. This involves fixing the stonework, bringing wooden elements back to life, repairing church arches and domes, and sprucing up the woodwork.

We will also restore the altars and the ceiling art. These projects will take about three years to finish.

Earlier this year, we completed the restoration of the Immaculate Conception Oratory in the Church of the Jesuits, along with work on the Sacristy. We invested an additional €1,600,000 from national funds for this restoration. This investment also covers the restoration of the second Onorati Oratory.

It is crucial to restore these historical sites in Valletta.

Restoring this cultural heritage not only attracts visitors to our country, allowing them to experience religious and artistic history, but also ensures these artworks can be enjoyed by generations to come.

Altogether, we are investing a total of €4.5 million just for the interior of this remarkable heritage site in Valletta. This excludes the investments related to vast works that started in 2015 with the restoration of the Church of the Jesuits' portico, arches, upper chapel gables, and bell tower. The work continued with the restoration of the Church's facades on Merchants Street, Archbishop Street, and St. Paul Street, as well as the ongoing restoration we're discussing today.

We are delighted to see the visible progress in the conservation and restoration of the two Oratories and the Sacristy of this monumental complex. These restorations allow us to give back some beautiful Baroque spaces to the local community and create a new cultural centre in the city. As part of this effort, we'll soon inaugurate the second cultural season, aiming to showcase the artistic and musical talents of our youth, continuing the rich tradition associated with the Church of the Jesuits complex.

Standing before Malta's cherished Jesuit Church, I am transported through time, soaking in the rich history and remarkable architecture. This sacred place, located on Merchants Street in Valletta, is not just a church; it is a symbol of Malta's heritage.

The heart of our incredible journey lies in reviving and preserving the Jesuit Church—a vital piece of Maltese history. This extensive restoration project involves careful rejuvenation of the church and the adjacent oratories, allowing these places of worship to shine once again with their true historical and architectural beauty.

Our restoration adventure began with a crucial step—fixing the roof of the Honoured Oratory. The roof, weary from years of use, was a testament to the temple's endurance. The restoration involved reinforcing the roof's structure, breathing new life into the oratory.

As the year progressed, we focused on updating the church's mechanical and electrical systems. This phase extended to the sacristy and oratories of both the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception, and the Onorati Oratory. We carefully analysed the existing artwork to guide the restoration of paintings, ceilings, and wooden elements, bringing back their original glory. The restoration of the choir stalls, a true labour of love, revealed the artistry.

As we approach the final stages of restoring the ceiling of the esteemed Onorati Oratory, our focus shifts towards an even more substantial endeavour—the comprehensive restoration of the entire church. This upcoming phase promises an exhilarating journey, characterized by meticulous adjustments to paintings, a reinvigoration of wooden elements, and a precise restoration of invaluable historical artefacts housed within the church.

In essence, this restoration journey is a beautiful balance between honouring our heritage and embracing progress. With each restoration step, we are not only preserving a building but also uncovering a story of resilience, artistry, and spiritual devotion that echoes through the ages.


In an exciting development for maritime heritage, an ancient amphora discovered in international waters last year has been officially handed over to Malta, aligning with UNESCO's guidelines for the preservation of historical artefacts.

The discovery took place during an exploratory ROV (remotely operated vehicle) dive in the central Mediterranean, conducted by the research vessel OceanXplorer as part of the Young Explorers Programme—an educational initiative by OceanX. Initially aimed at teaching students the fundamentals of ROV operations, the expedition took an unexpected turn when an isolated amphora was spotted and recovered from the depths, lying at an impressive depth of 3,510 meters.

This remarkable find marks a significant step in the ongoing efforts to safeguard and study this invaluable artifact. Experts in Malta are looking forward to delving into the amphora's secrets, conducting in-depth research and analysis that will undoubtedly contribute to a deeper understanding of our rich maritime heritage.

The momentous discovery was reported as the OceanXplorer docked in its next port of call, Malta. Subsequently, a meticulous process was initiated to transfer the ancient amphora into the capable hands of local heritage authorities. Guided by Prof. Timmy Gambin, Associate Professor of Maritime Archaeology at the University of Malta and Head of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit at Heritage Malta, preservation methods were carefully devised.

The conservators from Heritage Malta played a vital role, providing expert advice on maintaining the amphora in seawater while gradually introducing freshwater each week to facilitate a careful desalination process.

This discovery is not only a testament to the rich historical tapestry of the Mediterranean but also exemplifies the importance of collaborative efforts in preserving our maritime legacy. The amphora's journey from the depths to the hands of experts in Malta is a promising step toward unravelling its ancient mysteries and enriching our knowledge of the past.

I thank the crew at OceanXplorer as well as Prof Timmy Gambin and the respective teams for the excellent work.

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