The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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Malta Airport Foundation unveils newly restored historical Via Sagra at Ta' Ġieżu church

Thursday, 21 March 2024, 15:52 Last update: about 24 days ago

The Malta Airport Foundation unveiled the newly restored set of 14 paintings depicting the Via Sagra inside the Church of Saint Mary of Jesus, also known as , in Valletta.

This restoration and conservation project not only marks the third investment undertaken by the Foundation in the capital city, but has also contributed to the preservation of the priceless heritage housed inside one of Valletta’s oldest churches, dating back to 1575.

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The Chairman of the Malta Airport Foundation, Joseph Formosa Gauci, explains that, “The religious tourism market is growing steadily, with an increasing number of tourists visiting our islands every year during festive periods to admire our religious heritage and experience first-hand the celebrations of our faith, particularly during Holy Week and Easter.”

Art restoration company Atelier del Restauro was entrusted by the Franciscan Friars Minor to revive the original beauty of the Via Sagra, or Stations of the Cross, reversing years of improper interventions. Conservator Valentina Lupo shed light on the project’s findings, affirming that “the primary aim of the project was to carry out restoration interventions that reestablish the paintings’ appearance as was originally intended by the artists.”

In fact, the 11-month restoration process unveiled previously unknown information about this particular Via Sagra, as the restorers identified the hands of two prominent Maltese artists, Francesco Zahra and Gian Nicola Buhagiar, in several of the paintings. It has also been confirmed that this is the second Via Sagra to be introduced in a Maltese church, with the first being found in another Franciscan church in Rabat. On the verso of two other paintings, an inscription detailing the name of the artist, Jacobbus Gini, and the name of the person who commissioned both of these works of art was discovered,” Lupo continued, stating that this is a rare feature for such paintings.

The gilded frames adorning the paintings, attributed to renowned Maltese artist Abram Gatt, were also restored, with 23,75k gold leaf being applied using the water gilding technique to the tarnished areas.

The Guardian of the Franciscan Community, Fr. Ramon Farrugia OFM, thanked the Malta Airport Foundation for its financial support while expressing his satisfaction with the outcome of the project, stating that, “the Via Sagra’s revived beauty will encourage people to continue to pray and meditate on the Lord’s passion, particularly during the coming days as our church becomes one of the most frequented on the islands.”

For more information about the Malta Airport Foundation's projects, please visit maltairport.com/foundation.

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