A 200-year-old niche in the rural outskirts of Mosta is in dire need of repair and restoration, an architect has warned, in an appeal to authorities to save the structure.

The shrine, which is flanked by fields on Triq Buqana, on the road to Mdina, features an enshrined statue of Our Lady of the Assumption, known locally as il-Madonna tar-Raggi.

The statue in the niche is a copy of the one that once stood there after the original, along with a stone from the structure beneath it, had been stolen at some point.

Perit Edward Said, who is the secretary of the NGO Friends of Villa Frere, yesterday appealed on social media for “authorities to intervene in saving this lovely shrine”.

Appeal to the authorities to intervene in saving this lovely shrine

The writing on the shrine names Bishop Vincenzo Labini, an Italian archbishop who served as Bishop of Malta between 1780 and 1807, dating the structure back to the 18th century, likely at the French interlude between the time of the Knights and the start of the British period.

“Although it is not listed, this is definitely a case of what defines our cultural heritage and merits protection,” Said told Times of Malta.

According to Said, the adjacent room on which the niche stands could also be of historic importance, as it shows a concentration of shrapnel marks likely suffered during World War II.

An application for the restoration of the niche was brought forward by the Rehabilitation Projects Office and approved in 2014.

However, the project never went ahead as the office was informed that the structures are privately owned, and the permit has since expired.

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