THE CHALLENGE AND PRIVILEGE OF SAVING OUR LADY OF VICTORY CHURCH, VALLETTA
a talk by Simone Mizzi
The Church of Our Lady of Victory is the oldest church and first building of Valletta and tradition has it that the foundation stone of the capital city lies within its precincts. Since 1998 the voluntary organisation Din l-Art Ħelwa campaigned with government to save it from the decay and abandon of centuries and to give due importance to its national historic, artistic and pastoral significance. In 2011 the Church was entrusted in Guardianship to Din l-Art Ħelwa by the government of Malta and the challenging task of restoring it to its former glory began. Simone Mizzi, then President of Din l-Art Ħelwa, was tasked with the multi – facetted conservation project.
A presentation is being held at the church on Friday April 29 at 7 p.m. during which Simone Mizzi will describe the historic events that led to the building of this first church when Valletta did not even exist except in the vision of the Order of Knights. She will describe the efforts of Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette, victor of the Great Siege, to realise his dream of the fortified city that was to take his name, and of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin to whom the church is dedicated. She will trace the artistic and historic development of the church throughout the centuries, the military and religious symbolism it holds, its artistic treasures, and its subsequent decay. Saving the monumental baroque ceiling paintings by the Maltese artist Alessio Erardi was the first major task and the most costly to date. Just concluded last month, the audience can now fully enjoy the beautiful sight of the newly illuminated ceiling, and also learn about the restoration programme that Din l-Art Ħelwa intends to bring to successful conclusion for Valletta’s 2018 Capital of Culture. A pair of binoculars would aid participants see the details on Erardi’s ceiling.
Of particular interest will be the demonstration, by conservator Silvia Orsi, of Giuseppe Mantella Restauri, who will demonstrate the painstaking technique used to reveal the original gold leaf and paint of the Altar of St John the Evangelist and its perimeter walls.
Maria Grazia Cassar, Executive President of Din l-Art Ħelwa will welcome participants and talk about participation in the organisation’s membership and volunteer programmes. The presentation will be held in English and refreshments will be offered after the talk. A €10 donation for participation will be appreciated which will be entirely devolved to the ongoing restoration of this important first church of Valletta. Those attending are asked to be seated by 18.50 and seating is not reserved.