The milk distributor who allowed his sterilised van to be used to shelter the statue of the Risen Christ from the rain in Qormi on Easter Sunday said he acted instinctively to protect the treasured village icon.

At the end of the day, I put gold and silver into the van and not manure or dirt

“I am from Qormi, from the parish of St George... We Qormi people are ready to give our hearts to save a statue... We are a united village,” the Benna distributor, who preferred not to be named, said.

The Times yesterday published a photograph showing the papier mâché statue being taken out of a Benna van when the rain had stopped.

The photo raised eyebrows with people commenting that the van was sterilised as it was used to transport food and the statue should have never been placed there.

Malta Dairy Products said it was investigating the incident. It said distributors were duty bound to only use their vehicles for the delivery of company products unless they had written permission. In this case, no permission was granted.

Qormi mayor Rosianne Cutajar came to the distributor’s defence. She said the 18th century statute had huge historical value and was restored last year. It was made of papier mâché and it would have been irreparably damaged were it not for the people who protected it. She appreciated that MDP had an interest in safeguarding its professionalism and hygienic conditions but one had to act according to priorities.

The distributor pointed out that this was a one-off incident, adding that he did not have time to seek permission to transport the statue due to the emergency nature of the situation.

“Usually, we have open trucks to transport the statue. But in this case it started raining and I was the only one in the area who could provide a closed van. I didn’t think twice,” he said. “At the end of the day, I put gold and silver into the van and not manure or dirt,” he added.

The distributor explained that he had been working with the company for over a decade and had always thoroughly cleaned the van before loading it, in line with company procedure. He thanked MDP for understanding the unique circumstances of the case. He also thanked this fellow villagers and the mayor for their support.

“It was a one-time thing... hopefully it will not rain again during the Easter Sunday procession next year,” the feast enthusiast said.

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