The Holy Family’s flight into Egypt or their way back to Nazareth?
Catholics are more traditionally inclined to commemorate Our Lady, St. Joseph and the infant baby Jesus fleeing to Egypt on a donkey. But the Byzantine Orthodox tradition recalls the Holy Family’s return to Nażarett with the central figures of Jesus as a youngster holding his mother Mary’s hand and behind them the figure of St.Joseph and the donkey. And it is this version that is found in a unique painting which hangs inside the chapel of Comino. The rector of the Chapel, says that on entering the chapel two years ago he noticed that the painting was damaged and needed restoring.
Mgr Joseph Attard: “I immediately saw that the painting was in a critical condition and I felt I had to do my best so that the only painting in this chapel which is part of our cultural heritage, is not lost forever”.
Although the artist is unknown, restorer Pierre Bugeja told us that at first glance it is likely to be early eighteenth century.
Pierre Bugeja: “it is rounded, but one can’t exclude that it could have been rectangular and it is not know whether this painting was brought from somewhere else.”
The painting had to be removed from its place and brought to Malta for restoration. It was not an easy job because the weather and the sea could have damaged it further.
Pierre Bugeja: “there is loose paint that is falling and if you come close, there is blistering which could have been caused by accident or as a result of lit-up candles nearby.”
Now that cleaning has started, the process will continue to try to shed light on the painting’s identity. The restoration project, which is being funded by BOV, is expected to be completed by May of next year.