A campaign to raise €3 million to save St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral in Valletta from severe structural damage is appealing to the public to recognise the building’s important place in Maltese history and culture.
Built in 1844, the church is one of the most universally recognised features of the Valletta skyline, but expert inspections have recently identified serious architectural problems, with parts of the building officially described as unstable.
The cathedral has just launched an urgent appeal to raise the funds needed for vital restoration work. It receives no support from the government or the Church of England and covers annual running and maintenance costs entirely from donations by the congregation.
Deep cracks and fallen chunks of stone are already visible on several parts of the church and bell-tower, and architects warned yesterday that the damage could increase exponentially as water seeped into the stonework.
The appeal committee, headed by Martin Scicluna and expatriate Martin Laing, is hoping to raise the funds by November 2019, the 175th anniversary of the cathedral’s construction.
“We would take issue with anyone describing this as solely a British concern,” Mr Scicluna said yesterday. “To imagine Valletta’s skyline without the tower of the Pro-Cathedral is just as inconceivable as imagining St Mark’s Square in Venice, another World Heritage City, without its historic campanile.”
Sir Martin told the Times of Malta that despite the building’s British heritage, it had now come to represent two centuries of shared relationships and history between the two countries.
“We’re hoping that Maltese people will recognise that what we’re trying to do isn’t about religion as much as it is about culture and heritage,” he said.
“The building itself is not just an Anglican cathedral; it is a Grade 1 building in a very unusual architectural style, and its place in Maltese society has grown over the years. We think it is absolutely vital that people in Malta continue to be able to enjoy it.”
The Maltese Culture Ministry, Heritage Malta, and other cultural heritage organisations have already pledged their support to the fundraising appeal for the cathedral, which is also one of the major venues of the Valletta Baroque Festival and hosts a wide variety of concerts and recitals.
The committee said it was confident all elements were in place for a successful restoration once funding is secured, with renowned architectural firm Architecture Project (AP) ready to proceed with a final study and recommendations for the urgent work.