A CAMPAIGN to raise £2.6 million to secure the future of the Anglican pro-cathedral in Malta is being backed by the President of Malta, the Archbishop of Malta, and the Bishop of Gozo.
A recent survey of St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, in Valletta, the capital of the predominantly Roman Catholic country, revealed that urgent work was needed to repair the ceiling, roof, spire, and external stonework. A restoration fund has been launched, Save Valletta’s Skyline, to raise the £2.6 million needed to safeguard the building for future generations.
Martin Scicluna, a Roman Catholic who is co-chairing the appeal, said on Tuesday that some big names had already lent their support, including the President, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, and the Archbishop, the Most Revd Charles Scicluna.
“The tower and the spire are the most vulnerable,” Mr Scicluna said. The 173-year-old structure has never been formally restored since it was built as the first Anglican church on the island.
Today, the congregation could just about give enough each month to pay staff salaries and continue maintenance, but would have no hope of raising the full £2.6 million.
Mr Scicluna hoped that the appeal will have met its target by November, to mark the 175th anniversary of the opening of the building. So far, the total raised is about €250,000 (£220,000). Several avenues are being explored to plug the gap — including a meeting this week with the Maltese minister in charge of distributing European Union funding.
The local authorities in the predominantly RC island understood that St Paul’s was an “essential part of Malta’s cultural heritage”, and a vital part of the famous Valletta skyline, Mr Scicluna said.
The Bishop of Gozo, the Rt Revd Mario Grech, had last Sunday instructed that his own cathedral’s collection be given entirely to the restoration fund.
Last week, another one of Malta’s famous landmarks, the rock formation known as the Azure Window, suddenly collapsed during a storm. Mr Scicluna said the loss of the world-famous site “brought home what happens if you don’t look after your heritage”.
Another avenue the appeal was exploring was the Royal Family’s connections to Malta. The Duke of Edinburgh was stationed there as a naval officer before the Queen took the throne, and is already the patron of the Friends of St Paul’s.
One of the members of the appeal is an acquaintance of the Prince of Wales, and has written to him hoping to enlist more star power in the effort to secure the future of the Pro-Cathedral.
For information about donating, visit www.savethecathedral.com.