Since its foundation in the year 2003, the Għaqda Dilettanti Knisja ta’ Lapsi has worked to restore a number of works of art and liturgical objects that grace the Old Parish Church of St. Julian. During the last year, this NGO commissioned Mr Omar Camilleri to work on the restoration and re-gilding of an antique solemn exposition throne. This project was possible through the generous support of The Alfred Mizzi Foundation.
The throne, popularly known in Maltese as ‘ġilandra’ (derived from the Italian ‘girandola’, in a clear reference to the revolving door included in the structure which is opened to reveal the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance), is carved in wood and is a splendid example of a religious artifact in the Baroque tradition, dating back to the second half of the 19th Century. The throne is displayed on the main altar of the Old Parish Church of St. Julian on special occasions, particularly for the feast of Corpus Domini, the body and blood of Christ.
Although the wooden structure of this throne was found to be in very good state of conservation, the gilding suffered considerable damage due to deposits of dirt and many losses and gesso chippings, mainly due to wood movements caused by high level of humidity and incorrect handling in the past. During discussions on the method of treatment, it was agreed that whilst the wooden structure should be conserved and restored, the exposition throne was to be re-gilded in its entirety. This was deemed to be essential and justifiable on the grounds that this object is intended for use in liturgical rites and ceremonies.
The project commenced in the summer months of 2017, when layers of gesso were removed to reveal the wooden structure of the throne and sunburst rays. Following this process, the structure was re-consolidated. Some of the missing wooden sculpture was also replicated. 20 layers of gesso were later applied. Subsequently, the throne was re-gilded with silver and gold leaf, as it was originally, making use of the bole method. All original engravings were replicated to ensure absolute fidelity to the original.
Parish Priest Fr. Claude Portelli and members of the Għaqda Dilettanti Knisja ta’ Lapsi wish to thank the Board of Trustees of The Alfred Mizzi Foundation for their generous support. It is thanks to this foundation that this work of art has been returned to its pristine glory and preserved for future generations.