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Chapel restoration at St John's cathedral receives sponsorship

Three chapels within the cathedral undergoing restoration to clean up and counter damage by rainwater, damp

Staff Reporter
6 June 2014, 3:19pm
The Chapels dedicated to the Langues of France, Provence and Anglo-Bavaria at St John’s Co-Cathedral are currently undergoing extensive restoration, another initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation.

These are the final three chapels to be restored, a process that commenced in 2005.  The Chapels of the Langues of France and Provence are on the left side of the Co-Cathedral’s main altar. The Chapel of the Anglo-Bavarian Langue forms part of the Chapel of Provence.

The Cicada Foundation for Art and Education, recently established with the main scope of promoting and financing the restoration, conservation and preservation of the artistic heritage of the Maltese Islands, donated €97,786 to cover the costs of the restoration of the Chapel of the Langue of Provence.

The Cicada Foundation administrators, Suzanne Wolfe Martin, Caroline Miggiani and Mark A. Miggiani, together with Daniel Moquay, an art connoisseur and collector, attended the ceremony at the Co-Cathedral of St. John.  

The sponsorship agreement was signed on 30 May 2014, between Mark Miggiani and Suzanne Wolfe, representing the Cicada Foundation, and Paul A. Attard, President, and Mgr Carmel Zammit Council member of the St. John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation.  Other Council members were present for the occasion.

In presenting the donation, Miggiani explained that the restoration of this Chapel was the original motivation for the setting up of the Cicada Foundation.  

He explained that while serving as Ambassador of Malta to France, he and his wife Caroline realised that there were many French nationals, lovers of the art of Malta, willing to participate in the restoration of an artistic and architectural jewel so closely related to France. The donation was assembled through the assistance of Wolfe Martin, long-time friend of Malta, and Daniel Moquay.

Accepting the sponsorship, Attard deeply appreciated the very generous donation and augured that other Maltese and foreign institutions would follow this example in conserving St. John’s Co-Cathedral, a truly Maltese and European monument of international importance. 

This is not the first time that foreigners, both resident and non-resident, in Malta contributed towards good causes in Malta.  It is the intent of the Cicada Foundation to encourage new settlers in Malta to express interest in and support the cultural and artistic patrimony of Malta.

The chapel of Provence received its first baroque decorative embellishment in 1646 and it consisted of a new reredoss. It was amongst the first to undergo this form of decoration, which set a precedent others were to follow. 

The next decorative scheme took place during 1661 and 1664; the original benefactor of the chapel was the grand commander and prefect of the armoury, Fra Jean Jacques de Verdelin. His donation is celebrated by many carvings that recall motifs from his coat-of-arms especially on the walls and dome of this chapel.

The restoration of the chapel consisted of cleaning the dome and walls of dust, soot and wax deposits which settled over the years. Through the passage of time, the chapel suffered extensive deterioration due to rainwater filtering through the dome and the effects of rising damp. 

Through this restoration process, the gilding and the intricate wall carvings are being cleaned and losses restored. The altar painting depicting St Michael the Archangel and the lunette painting The Apparition of St Michael within the Chapel of Provence are also being restored.

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