The Malta Airport Foundation announced that it will be supporting 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 be executing 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 choice of the artist for the current project was followed by in-depth 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 will further embellish the Church of Saint Leonard and, on a more spiritual level, it will encourage reflection and spiritual growth.
“Kirkop is one of the airport’s neighbouring 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,” the Malta Airport Foundation Chairman Josef Formosa Gauci said.
Expressing satisfaction with the choice of the artist, Formosa Gauci said that between 2021 and 2022, the Malta Airport Foundation had worked with Anthony Spagnol, who is also a paintings conservator, on the conservation and restoration of a Mattia Preti painting found inside the Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Żurrieq.
“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 resonate 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,” Spagnol said.
The Administrative Secretary of the Archdiocese of Malta, Michael Pace Ross, and the Kirkop Parish Priest Fr Martin Cardona both expressed their gratitude towards the Malta Airport Foundation and the artist for their laudable contributions towards this enriching project for the Kirkop community, which is also expected to increase appreciation for sacred art.
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 certainly be a reminder of Saint Leonard’s great compassion towards these members of society.
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 will also be presented to the parishioners of Kirkop during the Solemn Mass for the feast of Saint Leonard which will be celebrated this Sunday at 9.30am.