Meticulous restoration work on the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Valletta has finally been completed.

The gilded plaster was slowly and carefully removed, the wood restored and every piece of plaster was trimmed to be laid and stuck back in place

Now the statue, painstakingly restored by Publius Magro, has been brought back to the church in all its splendour during a music-literary evening at the weekend, which kicked off this year’s feast celebrations.

The statue of the Madonna and baby Jesus dates back 230 years, when it made its first appearance for the procession of July 16, 1782. It was made by Valletta sculptor Vincenzo Dimech.

Antonio Gauci gilded the statue in 1880 in preparation for the events to mark the coronation of the painting dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel the following year.

Mr Magro had quite a difficult task restoring the statue. Its wood suffered considerably because of lack of ventilation in its niche.

The wood had shrunk, as a result of which the gesso (plaster) cracked and was pushed out.

The plaster was slowly and carefully removed, the wood restored and each piece of plaster trimmed to be laid and stuck back in place.

Next came the meticulous process of sanding down the plaster, prior to the painstaking gilding work. Over these eight months, work has also been carried out on the niche itself to curtail future damage to the statue.

Other restoration and cleaning work was carried out on the statue’s accompanying pedestal and platform.

The Valletta Ensemble Orchestra and the Kor Sancto Sepulcrum were among the participants at Saturday’s music-literary evening.