Gozo has a new priest: Fr Mario Mercieca from the Cathedral parish in Rabat. Bishop Mario Grech on Friday evening presided over the priesthood ordination which, due to Covid-19 circumstances, the Mass was held in the square outside the Madonna Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, which is celebrating the first centenary of its foundation stone ceremony.
Two deacons were also ordained during the Mass: Dun Andrew Grima from San Lawrenz and Fra Etienne Gilson, a Franciscan Conventional monk from Birkirkara.
The occasion was also held following the restoration of the highly revered Madonna Ta’ Pinu painting to its original colours. The painting is one of the most revered religious images in Malta and is currently celebrating its 400th anniversary.
The conservation and restoration of the painting has again brought to light the original colours of the painting, signed by Amadeo Perugino. Interventions on the painting carried out during years had changed some of its original characteristics.
The painting was in dark and yellowish colour, however following the restoration by the Atelier del Restauro company many of its lost details were recovered. “This yellowish layer on the painting showed, following many tests, that it wasn’t the original due to the fact that many layers of varnish had covered the painting”, restorer Valentina Lupo said.
Before restoration work started, the painting was studied for some three years. Ms Lupo said the painting had undergone various restoration work, many of them were not documented. The only documentation found was a restoration by Carmelo Bonello in 1933, before the coronation.
Amadeo Perugino painted the work on three canvases sewed on each other. The restorer remarked that there were areas where these joints opened up.
Bishop Mario Grech also remarked that the restored painting is the same one that Karmena Grima used to see and from which Our Lady’s voice was delivered.
“I augur that those show devotion in front of this painting will hear the words of consolation that this mother is familiar with”.
Art historian, Sandro Debono, said that from an artistic aspect this is a very particular painting because the artist hailed from the renowned world of arts and was painted more than 10 years after Caravaggio was in Malta.
“The painting speaks a somewhat different language. It is in the context of a Gozitan chapel near Għarb, that this man Pinu Gauci worked very hard for the restoration and support of this chapel and the painting is practically the last or one of the most prominent projects that decorate this church”.
10 years ago, during his visit in Malta, Pope Benedict XVI had called on the Maltese to pray to Our Lady and to call her Queen of the Family.