di-ve.com 31 March 2010
Din l-Art Helwa volunteers together with Birkirkara mayor Michael Fenech Adami, parish priest Anton Cassar and members of the local community recently inaugurated the restored statue of St Roque.

The early 19th Century polychrome statue, which stands in the niche on the eastern façade of this chapel in Birkirkara, is attributed to Vincenzo Dimech who was the leading architectural sculptor of his time in Malta, and professor of architecture and sculpture in the School of Design at the University of Malta.

Din l-Art Helwa organised the restoration on the invitation of John Tonna, administrator of the St Roque Chapel and the restoration was conducted by stone conservators Ingrid Ross and James Licari, the latter from Heritage Malta, with funding by the Birkirkara Local Council and members of the community who make use of the chapel.

The project was coordinated Stanley Farrugia Randon, council member of Din l-Art Helwa.

The statue is a traditional representation of St Roque dressed as a pilgrim, revealing the wounds from the plague on his lower limb, together with the dog who fed him.

Restoration removed layers of paint to reveal the beautiful marbled polychrome colours which the sculptor is known to have used.

St Roque survived the plague and assisted the sick throughout Europe in medieval times and it is thought the statue was erected in thanksgiving because the inhabitants of the area were spared of the disease.