Floriana parish devotees will receive a helping hand from the government to rebuild the ceremonial St Publius arch, after it was destroyed in an arson attack last week.

Finance minister Edward Scicluna announced on Monday that the government would be donating between €20,000 and €50,000 from the National Lotteries Good Causes Fund for the 120-year old wooden arch to be rebuilt.

The minister said he had pushed the case for funding with urgency because the government saw the importance of protecting cultural heritage, and in light of the pain the loss of the arch had caused for the people of Floriana.

The precise amount of funding - which will cover up to two-thirds of the total cost -will be set once the parish establishes an estimate for the cost of the new arch.

The wooden arch, which dated back to 1899, was completely destroyed in a fire that raged for 90 minutes and extensively damaged four cars parked nearby, just one week before the town’s yearly feast for its patron saint.

Investigators have concluded that fuel was used to burn down the arch in a case of arson.

Floriana parish priest Charles Cini immediately outlined plans to rebuild: “We have the original plans, and we have the determination to do it. Hopefully, we will get the financial aid needed to make that possible,” he said at the time.

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