The work on the antependum project in the Parish Church of St. Joseph in Kalkara, which was undertaken by the Assoċjazzjoni Wirt il-Kalkara, was divided into two phases which were carried out together. The work on it had been ongoing for the past four years, although the desire for it and also some other works took place in the last twenty-five years, now we can finally say that this project is complete.
The first phase was that of the restoration of an embroidered antependium which in the past served as the center of the artistic frame of the main altar of the previous Parish Church and which unfortunately was destroyed during the Second World War. This artistic antependium was ordered by the first Chaplain Don Ġużepp Cianguara and was made by the Italian firm Alessandro de Signi in 1898 and as the central figure we find the lamb, a symbol of the holy Eucharist, therefore as an antependium it had the purpose to be used not only for the titular feast of Saint Joseph, but also in the feasts of the Eucharist. The restoration works and professional cleaning on this antependium was completed during 2020 and was carried out by the firm Atelier del Restauro after a public call. The project was led by Dr. Maria Grazia Zenzani and Mrs. Valentina Lupo and was carried out with the financial assistance of the LEADER Program of the European Union and the NGO Co-Financing Fund within the Ministry for Inclusion and Quality of Life together with the Parliamentary Secretariat for Sport, Recreation and Voluntary Organizations and the Maltese Council for the Voluntary Sector. As part of the same project, a publication was published in Maltese and English that serves as documentation on the same restoration as well as historical background of the antependium . You can view the publication in digital format by clicking here.
The second phase unfolded around the artistic sculpted wooden frame that surrounds the embroidery antependium. The design for this masterpiece was carried out by the late Salvu Bugeja back in 1995 who based his thinking on the original one that was destroyed by the war. The project during the last four years consisted on the works of the wooden frame which was constructed by the Cassar brothers and carpenters of Cherry Homes Limited from Żebbuġ, the design to scale of the original design done by the sculptor Mario Mangion from Qormi who then sculpted with the greatest care and detail on all the sculpture of this frame, as well as its gilding done by the gilder Arthur Vassallo from Rabat.
In the meantime, the Association would like to publicly thank the hundreds of people who have donated during the last few years, as well as those who have donated in previous years. The sum required for this grand project was collected in full and everything was paid for.
During the solemn mass held in the Kalkara Parish Church on Monday 12 July 2021, which mass marked the opening of the solemn feast of Saint Joseph of that year, the Assoċjazzjoni Wirt il-Kalkara inaugurated this great project even though by that time unfortunately the gilding was not completely finished. While on Monday 11 July 2022 during the solemn mass of the taking out from the niche of the Titular Statue of St. Joseph of Kalkara, it was officially unveiled and inaugurated, as well as blessed by the Archbishop Mons. Charles J. Scicluna during the visit he made after the mass.