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One long year of blood, toil, tears and sweat

Owen Bonnici – (Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts, and the Local Government.)

In the last days the international community, all of us, marked a very ugly and cruel anniversary: that of one year since the start of a completely reckless and equally illegal war which Vladimir Putin has decided to inflict upon Ukraine.

They have been twelve long months of blood, toil, tears and sweat for the Ukranian heroes who did not cease a single second from fighting with immense courage against the cruel might of one of the largest and most potent countries humankind has ever seen: Russia.

Ukranians have been giving their all, sacrificing their own lives, to combat the armed forces of a country which is 2,740% larger than their own.

In the meantime the attainment of peace seems to be very, very distant. Light years away.

Many writers and opinion makers have, while reflecting on what was and is going on in the streets of Ukraine, made direct and indirect reference to what the eventual victors in WWII had to go through, the huge pain they had to endure, until they got the upper hand and obliterated the tyrannical forces of the time.

“Hitler,” Sir Winston Churchill had said, “knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war.”

Similarly, Putin will have to break the Ukranians on their home soil or lose the war.

Ukranians, aided and abetted (and rightly so) by Europe and the rest of the free world, will go on to the end. They will fight with growing confidence and growing strength, in the air and on the ground, they will defend their country, whatever the cost may be.

They will fight in the fields, and in the streets, they will fight in the hills, they will never surrender.

Vladimir Putin will lose. The free world will, once again, be the guiding light of justice and hope.

Slava Ukraini! Glory to the heroes!

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The Jesuit Church in Valletta is a sacred place of historical and cultural significance. Dating back to the first half of the 17th century, the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception was built to provide a space for prayer for the Knights of Saint John's confraternity. Recently, the complex has undergone significant restoration work to preserve and protect its precious historical and artistic heritage.

The beautiful work is being done under the direction of Restoration Directorate. I am immensely proud of the effort put in. The restoration project, which began in the last months, has focused on the interior of the church, particularly the sacristy and oratories. AX Holdings Ltd. spearheaded the restoration of the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception and the Oratory of the Onorati, while Atelier del Restauro Ltd. conserved the choir stalls, and Prevarti Ltd. carried out the conservation of the paintings.

All this has been done with an investment of no less than €1,250,000 from national funds.

The restoration work on the sacristy and the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception is practically complete. The existing mechanical and electrical systems have been replaced, and a fire detection system introduced. The walls and ceiling have been studied, and the original color scheme has been reproduced. The masonry and windows have been repaired, and the sanitary facilities refurbished. The marble washbasin and flooring of the sacristy have also been repaired and repolished.

A new lighting system has been installed. The walls and ceiling have been cleaned, and the original color scheme has been restored. The balustrade over the oratory door and the windows have been repaired, and the altar, steps, and marble floor restored and repolished. The pictorial cycles of the Life of the Virgin, attributed to the famed Filippino Dingli and Stefano Erardi, are currently undergoing restoration. The floral panels, choir, and mural paintings of the Four Evangelists in the Apse have also been conserved.

The restoration of the sacristy and the oratories has guaranteed the survival of these works of art and ensured their enjoyment for present and future generations of visitors to the Jesuit complex. The importance of their pictorial cycles for the development of baroque art in Malta cannot be overstated. The location of the two oratories in the heart of Valletta makes them an important heritage site for visitors who wish to experience the religious and artistic heritage of the area.

The restoration project on the sacristy and oratories of the Jesuit Church in Valletta serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving historical and cultural sites. It is through these efforts that the legacy of our past is preserved and celebrated for generations to come.

Safeguarding and restoring cultural places is important because it helps us to preserve our history and cultural identity. Cultural places, such as historical landmarks, monuments, and museums, are reminders of our past and provide a window into our traditions and beliefs. By restoring these places, we can help to bring them back to their former glory and allow visitors to experience them in their original form.

Moreover, cultural places often attract tourists, boosting the local economy and creating job opportunities for the community. They also provide educational and research opportunities, allowing scholars and students to learn about our history and cultural heritage. Restoring and preserving cultural places also helps to protect our natural resources, including landscapes and ecosystems, that are often intertwined with these places.

It is also an opportunity to create a new cultural hub which is situated in the middle of Valletta. I look forward to seeing concerts and other events (of course in full respect to the religious nature of the temple) taking place in the various parts of the Jesuit Church, not unlike the events which from time to time take place in the St John’s co-Cathedral.

I am confident that this virtuous cycle will raise even more funds to be immediately channelled for continuous restoration and upkeep in the place.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the President of the Jesuit Church Foundation Dr David Camilleri and the rest of the members and most of all the hard working rector Rev Dr Nicholas Doublet who is truly outstanding in his dedication towards this beautiful piece of religious and cultural patrimony.


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