Restoration and conservation work has been completed on the statue of Senglea’s Maria Bambina which has regained its 400-year old original appearance. It is now ready for next month’s feast at the locality.
“I am entrusting you with responsibility so that you will always remember these words: take care of the statue of Maria Bambina”. This was the message delivered by Senglea’s Archpriest, Fr Robin Camilleri to his community during the inauguration of the statue’s restoration, one of the oldest titular statues in the Maltese islands.
Restorer Valentina Lupo of Atelier Del Restauro, said that the statue is composed of a tree trunk from its head to the toes. A CT scan before restoration started showed that the wood is in a good state and that during the years at least four interventions were made that changed the appearance of the statue.
“It is interesting to note that we found that the Bambina had more clear hair, in fact we will see a great difference; it was more yellowish. A lot of interventions were made above her eyes and colours with plaster”, Lupo added. “Its hair was sculptured in wood, covered with plaster and we took a month to remove it and all the layers of restoration work in order to go back to the original.”
Conservation and restoration work was also carried out on the angels, which had around five layers of paint and plaster that were removed to highlight their characteristics. It is not known who was the sculptor of Maria Bambina statue.
“A manuscript found at the parish archives shows that the statue was found in the sea in 1618; apparently there was a ship that was damaged near the islands in the vicinity of anoher ship which picked the religious statue and on the ship there was a passenger from Senglea who requested the statue to donate it to the parish”, Lupo stated.
Between 1984 and 1996 the statue was covered with golden veneer. Restoration work was completed for the feast of Maria Bambina which is celebrated on the 8th of September.