The Collegiate Church of Cospicua will tomorrow host a musico-literary evening on the occasion of the completion of the restoration works on the titular painting of the Immaculate Conception.

This devout painting was commissioned by Canon Fr Ludovico Mifsud Tommasi (1796-1897) from artist Pietro Paolo Caruana (1793-1852) in 1828. Mifsud Tommasi was contracted to pay the artist 600 scudi.

Mifsud Tommasi wanted the painting to present the Immaculate Virgin dressed in white, with a blue sash around her waist – a far cry from the iconography common at the time, in which Mary was typically portrayed in red and blue garments.

Some 30 years after the completion of the altarpiece, Our Lady is said to have appeared to St Bernardette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, in the Lower Pyrenees of France, dressed in like manner.

In later years, the devotion grew not only among the locals of Cospicua but across the Maltese islands, and, in 1905, it was solemnly crowned by consent of Pope St Pius X.

The titular painting has undergone several interventions throughout the years. However, lately, it was felt that a more extensive process of restoration was necessary. Archpriest Anton Cassar, together with the members of the Collegiate Chapter, after seeking the necessary advice and information, decided to commission Pierre Bugeja of the restoration company PrevArt to take care of the  conservation and restoration.

Bugeja will explain the particular challenges of the restoration and the interventions that were necessary. President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici will deliver a reflection on the image portrayed on the altar-piece, while there will also be several musical interludes, including the singing of a number of antiphons in honour of the Immaculate Virgin Mary as performed by the Tota Pulchra choir.

The musico-literary evening, which is open to the public, starts at 7.30pm.


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