Vandals poured oil and gasoline on the parvis of the Romanian Orthodox church of St Roque's in Valletta overnight on Sunday, and police are now trying to establish who was behind the act.

Fr George-Alexandru Popescu, president of the Romanian Orthodox community in Malta, said a neighbour called him early on Sunday to inform him that oil had been spilled on the church parvis.

"Some of our chandeliers burn oil to light candles for our mass, so at first I thought some of that oil must have spilled overnight," Fr Popescu told Times of Malta.

"But when I arrived at the church I found it was in fact oil mixed with diesel, and I was shocked," he said.

Fr Popescu said this was an isolated incident and he has no suspects in mind.

"I was concerned because people sometimes do these acts of vandalism as a warning or a way to send you a message.

"But really, we have no divisions or disagreements, and our community has lived in harmony with everyone since it was established in Malta. We really have no reason to suspect anyone."

Times of Malta is informed police are gathering CCTV footage from nearby properties to try to establish what happened that night and identify the perpetrators.

Parishioners helped clean the flammable fuel on Sunday morning, right before mass was scheduled to start.

Around 2,500 people form part of community

The church of St Roque's is one of Valletta's Roman Catholic churches but the Curia has conceded it to the Romanian Orthodox community for 25 years, allowing alterations to make it suitable for the rites and rituals of the community.

An estimated 2,500 EU nationals form part of this community in Malta.

St Paul the Shipwreck parish priest, David Cilia, took to Facebook on Sunday expressing solidarity with the Romanian Orthodox Community.

Contacted for comment, Fr Cilia said he sees no reason why this happened.

"It is quite strange because they really have no enemies. My hope is that the perpetrators are caught so we can get to the bottom of it and avoid similar incidents in future."

Fr Popescu said he is impressed by the support the church received from the Maltese, referring to the verse in the scriptures that says that the Maltese people showed "unusual kindness" to St Paul. He was even contacted by President George Vella, he said.

"Even if we don't share the same culture or the same faith, it is so beautiful when we share hospitality with our neighbours," he said.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.