Discovering Cultural & Religious Tourism in Gozo – ERDF 140

Introduction to the Project

Cultural and Religious Tourism is a niche market which Ta’ Pinu National Shrine feels that Malta should exploit better and further. With this in mind, the management of Ta’ Pinu has applied for, and has obtained 85% financing through the European Regional Development Fund under the Cohesion Policy for Malta 2007 - 2013, to carry out a project proposal targeting both the Cultural and the Religious aspects found at the Shrine. The residual 15% of the project is being raised from Ta’ Pinu’s own funds with the co-funding of the Ministry for Justice, Public Dialogue and the Family. We have thus embarked on a project to restore 12 works of fine art by Maltese artist Joseph Briffa and also restore and carry conversion works to the residence of Karmela Grima, the lady who first heard the voice of our Lady from the Shrine. Once these restoration works are completed the works of art will be exposed for public viewing at the museum of fine arts found within the Shrine’s complex whilst the residence of Karmela will be re-opened as a museum so those both will become assets of cultural and religious tourism importance.

Project Background

Ta’ Pinu National Shrine is a religious landmark and a national shrine of worship in Malta. From a small chapel on this same site a country lady (Karmela Grima) heard the Blessed Virgin call her. With a country with strong Roman Catholic traditions and beliefs, this could not be otherwise. Our ancestors, with a deep love to the Church in Malta, have enriched our local churches with a number of sacred relics, fine arts and other treasures, which nowadays form part of the nation’s patrimonial heritage.

The magnificent Ta’ Pinu church is decorated with prestigious contemporary works of art which add value to the visiting cultural oriented tourist. It hosts the titular painting of Amadeo Perugino and a lot of mosaic artistic works which were prepared and designed on original paintings by Emvin Cremona and others. Mr. Cremona’s paintings have been restored a few years ago through the sponsorship of Bank of Valletta, a local bank, and are now exhibited for public viewing at a recently refurbished museum at the Sanctuary. Similar paintings by Maltese artist Joseph Briffa were used also as the basis on which the mosaic works of art were prepared.

At Ta’ Pinu National Shrine, Joseph Briffa painted 12 episodes in the life of The Blessed Virgin. Like the Cremona paintings, Briffa’s works also needed urgent attention and restoration.

The residence of Karmni Grima used to be open as a museum but, for a number of years, remained closed for public viewing as a measure of safety in view of structural damages which occurred to the building. Restoration and conservation works were also urgently required as such a religious tourist attraction was in danger of further degradation, which if left without any intervention, would have become more expensive to repair. Considering this house’s links to the Ta’ Pinu National Shrine and its history, this museum could become a landmark for religious tourism and will compliment the Sanctuary. This residence still houses a number of religious artifacts used by the saintly country lady as well as other traditional tools and accessories pertaining to her period.

Project Objectives

This project aims at improving “the attractiveness of regions (island of Gozo) and cities in the Member States (Malta) by focusing on the opportunities which the island of Gozo can offer by enhancing its tourist product in the form of cultural and religious assets (not the environment but the works of art and religious assets).

Project Activities

The following activities are to be carried out:

1. Restoration of 12 paintings by Joseph Briffa
2. Publication of leaflets on the works of art of Joseph Briffa and Emvin Cremona and on the life of Karmela Grima
3. Upgrade of the Sanctuary web-site

Residence of Karmela Grima Museum:-
4. Restoration and conservation of the residence of Karmela Grima to turn it into a museum
5. Installation of security systems
6. Audio-visual presentation of the life of Karmela Grima and the message of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu
7. Installation of lift so that the museum becomes accessible to all
8. Installation of photovoltaic panels to improve energy efficiency

Project Cost: €404,821.00

Project Duration: 36 months