Beloved Our Lady of Mount Carmel painting at Valletta’s Basilica Sanctuary has been restored
Those who are devoted to Our Lady of Mount Carmel can now see the crowned painting of Our Lady back in its place at the Basilica Sanctuary in Valletta. For the last year and a half, this painting has been undergoing restoration and conservation.
The Priory, Fr Alex Scerri, explained that it is believed this painting was brought over by the Carmelites when they arrived from Sicily 600 years ago. No one knows who the painter of this cherished painting was. It depicts the 1251 inscription to the Carmelite saint, St Simon Stock and the souls in purgatory since Our Lady of Mt Carmel is the patron saint of purgatory, the place where Catholics believe that souls are purged before they enter eternal life with God.
Fr Scerri added that this painting marks the beginning of the devotion to Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Malta as well as the first painting to be crowned. The coronation took place in 1881 by Archbishop Carmelo Scicluna following a decree issued by the Vatican in the era of Pope Lion XIII.
“So many people come to pray before this painting, which is also described as miraculous because Our Lady grants a lot of votive prayers. Obviously, it is not the painting itself which does this, but the image of Mary, Our Lady who is in heaven and who uses statues and paintings to convey the graces bestowed upon us by her son Jesus. ”
The restoration was carried out by ReCoop. Fr Scerri said that before the conservation started, they often feared the historic painting would be lost.
Paul Muscat from ReCoop, told TVM that the restoration of the crowned painting of Our Lady of Mt Carmel presented a great challenge because the canvas had started to warp due to an intervention carried out in the 1970s when a technique which included glue and plaster was used which had caused a lot of damage to the image.
ReCoop cleaned the painting of this intervention and a new structure was given to the painting apart from the necessary retouching of the paint. The company also created a new frame on which to stretch the canvas which does not allow the environment to affect the fabric of the canvas.