A niche dedicated to St Paul in Rabat’s Saqqajja square is to be restored using funds from the sales of Maltese passports, in a €100,000 community project.

The restoration will see the 18th-century niche professionally cleaned and its structure restored, with deteriorated masonry replaced by restoration professionals, the parliamentary secretariat for citizenship said in a statement.

Restoration will focus on areas damaged through the use of cement, with commemorative plaques removed and areas coated in a black crust caused by dust particles cleaned. Missing or cracked plasterwork will be replaced and wrought iron grilles repaired.

Video: Parliamentary secretariat for citizenship

Commissioned in 1727 by Grandmaster de Vilhena, the niche became an important focal point for religious gatherings over the ensuing years. Built in the late Baroque style, it features a statue of St Paul covered with several layers of coloured paints and that is probably a replica of a baroque model recurring in Malta.

It was last restored in 2002.

The restoration project is the result of an agreement signed between the Community Malta Agency and Rabat local council. The agency was set up last November to administer and process all Maltese citizenship-related matters, as part of the revised passports scheme that superseded the Individual Investor Programme.

Agency CEO Jonathan Cardona said he was glad to see that funds from the citizenship scheme would be used to improve parts of Maltese heritage. Rabat mayor Sandro Craus said the restoration would bring pride to locals of the town.

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