After more than one year of scaffolding around the dome, last week it was finally removed. It has been a hectic year with works concentrated around Conti’s paintings and its decorative stucco. Atelier del Restuaro were entrusted to carry out the works, following a public call.
The first big task was that related to the setting up of the scaffolding around the dome. It started on the 8 of November 2018 with the laying of the first beams around the domes’ circumference. The placing of the first beams were aided by a supporting structure erected on the presbytery. In fact, some of the daily masses were transferred to the sacristy for safety reasons. It was an unusual sight at our basilica, seeing all the scaffolding around our tribuna. Eventually, all the beams were securely placed, the scaffolding on the presbytery removed, while new scaffolding was placed around the dome’s interior so that restoration works could start. It took some days to eventually cover the whole dome as it required laborious work and patience.
Once structures were securely placed, Conti’s paintings started to be cleaned and duly restored from all the debris and dirt that accumulated along the years. Works also included the restoration of decorative pasta and other elements which adorn the cupola, including the gilding of various areas of the dome. Along the past months a number of dedicated persons started the delicate process to go section by section through the cupola and complete a laborious work to clean and correct any damages and in both the paintings and decorative pasta. Other conservation and embellishment works were done in the last weeks of the project. These works included the repainting of all the cupola and other decorative works which were needed and long awaited. Stained glass was also conserved. Works were twinned with the restoration project of Zahra’s paintings. Scaffolding started to be removed on the 18 of November 2019.
As from Tuesday afternoon, all scaffolding disappeared and our dome is now back to its full glory, shining and glaring more than ever, showing in full force Conti’s work. We are truly happy to have back our dome restored after more than a year. And no wonder why we say that our church is ‘The Golden Basilica’!
We thank our parishioners who throughout the months have supported in so many ways – not only financially – the completion of this restoration project. Funding for this project was part financed by the European Union.
Photos: JJP Zammit