A chapel formerly used by satanists after it fell into ruin has been restored by a contractor who bought the land on which it lies.

On Thursday, the 500-year-old Santa Marija Tal-Virtù chapel in Tal-Virtù, Rabat, hosted its first Mass and celebration in 70 years.

Although it had passed through the hands of many landowners, none of them had bothered much with it and it eventually became dilapidated.

It was also used for Black Masses. The original structure was extensively damaged when overturned crucifixes were carved in the walls and painted in black over the altar.

The parcel of land was bought by contractor Charles Mangion and his family about three years ago.

"When I saw the state it was in, I immediately decided to use my resources to restore it to its pristine state. After all, since I work in the field, I could not pass up the opportunity to work on a place with such fascintating architecture," he said. Nowadays, during special religious ceremonies, one can walk though the wooden doors, which have been restored, into a splendidly decorated chapel with soft sacred music playing in the background.

The gaping fissures snaking along the dome and walls have been sealed and painted over in light blue and beige.

The altar, which is the original one, was gilded and adorned with white lace and silverware.

Moreover, the crypt, which was used as a place of worship 2,000 years ago, was whitewashed with a mixture or lime and fibre to allow the stone to breath.

A tree which grew at the top of the dome was removed and in its place a copy of the original statue of Christ the King was mounted.

During Thursday's ceremony, Mr Mangion invited family and friends to a band procession, followed by a celebration and a lavish reception.

His next project, he said, was to restore the nearby Palazzo Tal-Virtù, which is about 100 years old and is situated on the same land. He is currently awaiting the go-ahead from the planning authority.


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