Restoration works carried out on St. Helen’s Basilica in Birkirkara
Just a month away from the liturgical feast of St. Helen, the basilica of Birkirkara have inaugurated the conservation and restoration of eight paintings on the dome. A large part of Virginio Monti’s paintings were in poor condition – with parts even lost – mainly due to moisture and rainwater coming from the dome. The parish has undertaken the care and restoration of the dome from the outside to ensure that no further damage is done.
An investment of € 162,000 – a large part of which is coming from European Union funds – resulted in the conservation and restoration of the eight paintings on the dome of St. Helen’s Basilica in Birkirkara.
The paintings, which are over a hundred years old, are the work of Italian artist Virginio Monti. Over time, parts of the painting had begun to disappear due to the elements, particularly because of moisture and water so much so that the restorer, Valentina Lupo explained that the painting was in an advanced state of deterioration. She said that more than 30% had started to fall off the wall and was lost.
Over the years several interventions were made. The first one was made thirty years after Monti had finished the paintings – and the last one was made in the 1980s. Work began in August two years ago and included, among others, a lengthy consolidation intervention.
The work was inaugurated by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.
Bishop Galea-Curmi said that the Church in Malta has a constant commitment to protect its artistic and religious heritage.
“Our intention is that through this collaboration which is manifesting itself through various projects, we will continue to preserve our Catholic heritage both because it is something very precious which we have received from our predecessors and even for future generations. ”
Parliamentary Secretary Zrinzo Azzopardi said that this restoration formed part of a much larger project that includes a number of localities in Malta and Gozo aimed at conserving, protecting and promoting the religious cultural heritage. Restoration was also carried out on part of the lantern where the windows of the dome are found.
The paintings depict the triumph of the Holy Cross in the Universal Judgment and different scenes from the life of Saint Helen and her son the Emperor Constantine the Great.