Malta Airport Foundation funds art for local church

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The Malta Airport Foundation has announced it will support an embellishment project inside the Parish Church of Saint Leonard in Kirkop, with an investment in works of art that have been commissioned for the south transept dedicated to the Holy Crucifix.

Local artist Anthony Spagnol will execute these works, which are envisaged to be an extension of the church’s existing decorative scheme with a contemporary twist. The existing paintings date back to the 1960s and are the work of Giuseppe Briffa, who is considered one of the Maltese Islands’ foremost exponents of sacred art.

The project is set to commence with works on the south transept once the bozzetti that have been prepared by the artist are approved by the Commission for Sacred Art within the Archbishop’s Curia. The bozzetti was also presented to the parishioners of Kirkop during the Solemn Mass for the feast of Saint Leonard, which was celebrated on August 20, 2023.

The choice of the artist for the current project was followed by studies and consultations with experts in sacred art, which led to the choice of a contemporary overarching theme for the project. On an artistic level, this is intended to further embellish the Church of Saint Leonard, and on a more spiritual level, encourage reflection and spiritual growth.

Between 2021 and 2022, the Malta Airport Foundation worked with Spagnol, who is also a paintings conservator, on the conservation and restoration of a Mattia Preti painting inside the Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Żurrieq.

Josef Formosa Gauci, chairman of the Malta Airport Foundation, said, “Kirkop is one of the airport’s neighboring villages, and we felt that our involvement in this project would be in line with the Malta Airport Foundation’s pledge to support nearby communities. The thoroughness with which the background work was conducted and the thought that went into the choice of the themes, two aspects that were also praised by the Commission for Sacred Art within the Archbishop’s Curia, provided us with the reassurance that the final product will further enrich our islands’ artistic heritage.”

Spagnol said, “This project presents me with an opportunity to create figurative sacred art. However, I am aware that my artistic expression must complement the style adopted by Giuseppe Briffa in the art that already adorns this church. Another important factor that comes into play is the need for themes and an execution that resonates with today’s churchgoers. Beyond artistic skill, this project requires solid literature-based research and the depiction of events and characters that are in tune with the times.”

In order for the works of art to serve as a reminder that the exemplary life led by Saint Leonard in the Middle Ages still bears relevance today, a number of contemporary saints and blesseds, including Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962) and Christian de Cherge (1937-1996), who lived by the teachings of the Church even when extraordinarily difficult decisions had to be made, will be portrayed in the ceiling pendants.

The lunette, on the other hand, will depict representations of the acts of mercy, where one transept will be dedicated to the seven spiritual acts and the other transept to the corporal acts. The corporal act ‘visit the imprisoned’ will be a reminder of Saint Leonard’s great compassion toward these members of society.

To find out more about Malta Airport’s latest developments, click here. 

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