A unique structure and key part of Malta’s architectural heritage may yet rise again, with the help of the community via a crowdfunding campaign on local platform, Zaar.
The recently launched Reconstructing the St Publius Triumphal Arch – Floriana campaign hopes to raise the funds required to rebuild the 120-year-old St Publius Triumphal Arch in Floriana, a much-loved piece of Maltese architecture lost to an arson attack in April 2019.
A wooden structure designed by Giorgio Cassar and inaugurated in April 1899, the Arch – built to commemorate St Publius, the saint who welcomed St Paul to Malta after he was shipwrecked – was one of the oldest and largest street decorations in Malta and an important part of the annual celebrations of the Feast of St Publius in Floriana.
While the nation rebuilt after the heavy losses of World War II, including Floriana’s parish church, the Arch’s 79 pieces went into storage in the church crypt. It was only in 1997 that a team of enthusiasts restored it to its former glory, with the Arch inaugurated once again during the St Publius feast in 1999, on its 100th anniversary.
“Few could have imagined that 20 years on, on 27 April 2019, the structure would be targeted and vandalised to the point that it was completely destroyed and turned into ashes due to an arson attack,” says parish priest and crowdfunding campaign owner, Fr Charles Cini. “The sense of loss was widespread, not just in Floriana, but across the nation. The general consensus was that this immaculate structure should be rebuilt. Donations started flowing in, but following an in-depth analysis, it was quantified that the Floriana community needed €140,000 to complete the project.”
However, while the parish church secured funds from Government entities to reach this goal, the combined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine means that further financial assistance is now required to cover the skyrocketing costs of raw materials, he goes on. “By crowdfunding on Zaar, we hope that the generosity of the community can help us raise the remaining €40,000 we need.”
While every backer will receive the satisfaction of being part of a project to restore an integral piece of national heritage lost to vandalism, some will also receive, according to the amount they donate, an Arch basso relief token or a numeric limited edition of Mark Schembri’s impressionist painting of the Arch.
For more information and to donate towards the Reconstructing the St Publius Triumphal Arch – Floriana campaign, visit www.zaar.com.mt before the campaign closes on 23 April.