Shireburn Software sponsors restoration of the Immaculate Conception titular painting at Sarria church

In commemoration of their 30th Anniversary, Shireburn Software has sponsored the restoration of Mattia Preti’s Sarria Immaculate Conception.

The project, managed by Din l-Art Helwa (DLH), is being carried out also on the occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the birth of Mattia Preti, the official artist of the Order of St John.

Shireburn's directors felt that it was fitting to mark the company's important 30th anniversary milestone by contributing to Malta's heritage and leaving behind a permanent masterpiece that will be enjoyed for years to come. This initiative forms part of Shireburn's CSR strategy to continue to invest back into the society in which it operates, more so this being their 30th year in operation.

Simone Mizzi speaking for DLH said the organisation was extremely grateful to Shireburn Software for recognising the enormous value of Sarria's Titular Immaculate Conception and for the generous support that has made its restoration possible.

The painting had suffered from neglect over time, and its canvas had separated from its stretcher frame. Acting with the support of the Superintendence of Cultural heritage, Dr Anthony Pace, Din l-Art Helwa was able to take emergency action and intervene thus saving it from collapsing. The restoration work was commissioned to Giuseppe Mantella Restauri. Dott Giuseppe Mantella has restored many other Mattia Preti's in Malta including the lunette in St John's Co Cathedral.

DLH plan to put the restored titular painting back into its place over Sarria's main altar in time for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th December, while work will continue on its massive stone carved frame in January 2014.

The Sarria Immaculate Conception is unique and rare in that it captures on canvas the symbolic victory over the plague in Malta, and of good over evil. The Virgin stands surrounded by angels over a background of boats that ferry the sick from Lazaretto over to Valletta. Above her figure, God the Father and the Divine Spirit, all look down at the triumph of good over evil. Archangels surround the virgin who, victorious, return their shields to their scabbards.