The Gilt Monstrance Throne (Gelandra) located at the St Dominic Church of the Annunciation in Birgu has been meticulously restored through the support of Bank of Valletta and the National Lotteries Good Causes Fund.
The Gelandra, dating back to 1894, is the work of Guzeppi Decelis. It had possibly been moved to Rabat during the turbulent years of the Second World War, when the church endured heavy bombing. It was also kept inside the Inquisitor’s Palace during the years following the war, until the new church was constructed. These various moves, and the handling required to set up and dismantle the Gelandra, all took their toll on the structure, thereby requiring extensive expert restorative works.
Karl Spiteri, Head PR and Marketing at Bank of Valletta, visited the church to view the restored Gelandra, meeting up with church prior Fr Aaron Zahra OP and Roderick Abela from Re-coop, The Restoration and Conservation Coop Ltd, who were entrusted with the restoration works.
“This Gelandra is probably the largest and most artistic of its kind on the island’” said Roderick Abela. “In carrying out the restoration, we took every care to conserve all the original parts, filling in only the missing areas and ageing the new gilding to blend in with the original.”
“Extensive photo and written documentation were used in the process to ensure that both the historical value and visual aspects of the Gelandra were maintained. All intervention was done using techniques and reversible materials to ensure minimal interference with the original’” continued Mr Abela.
“Although the Gelandra is set up on the main altar for a few days each year, plans are in place to have it permanently exhibited within the church,’ said Fr Zahra. ‘We gladly welcome back one of the few artistic items left after the church was completely destroyed during the war. We thank both Bank of Valletta and the Good Causes Fund for making this project possible.”
Karl Spiteri concluded by saying, “this project, among many others of its kind, forms part of our extensive Community Programme. At Bank of Valletta we appreciate our customers’ trust, and this project is our way of giving something back to the communities we serve.”