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History of a bust

I refer to the contribution by Peter Portelli (September 23) regarding the Pope Pius V Monument.

For the record, the bust of St Pius V was erected on City Gate on July 24, 1892. When the former City Gate was pulled down to make way for the current entrance to Valletta in the 1960s, the bronze bust of Pius V was removed and before it was laid to rest amid dust and ash for more than 25 years, the government had commissioned two cold-dip-bronze fibre copies, one of which was kept in storage and the other erected on the main doorway of the parish church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo and St Dominic, in Merchant Street.

Before local councils and Heritage Malta were even established, the original bronze bust was left partially abandoned. At one time it was amid broken partitions and rubble in Dar l-Annona, when the place was temporarily used as a store by the VRP in the early 1990s.

When the Valletta local council was established in 1993, one of its tasks was to recover this important monument from any damage, with the Museum of Fine Arts granting it on loan. The bust was placed in the council offices until a better indoor site is chosen by Heritage Malta to exhibit a fine collection of bronze statues and monuments.

After the recovery of the bust, the council committed itself to finding the best place to erect a column on which the replica of this historic monument would stand for public veneration.

Knowing that Valletta offers little space in the city centre, the current location was carefully chosen in complete support from Heritage Malta, Mepa, the Dominican Community in Valletta and the VRP. The council expresses its gratitude to Mario Tabone, Antonio Espinosa Rodriquez and Susanna Depasquale from Heritage Malta, Fr Paul Gatt and Fr Joe Bonnici, Provincial and Prior, respectively, of the Dominican Order, Fr Marius Zerafa OP and Tony Polidano.

In its current prime location, the bust of Pius V is steps away from the Carapecchia entrance of St John's Cathedral, overlooking Great Siege Square dominated by the bold and symbolic Antonio Sciortino Monument and close to the bronze relief of Pope John Paul II by Noel Galea Bason. The Pius V Bust forms part of triangular link between the Siege, the Church and the Pope, himself as a co-founder of Valletta.

Mr Portelli doubts whether a permit was granted for the monument.

A quick search on the Mepa website gives the answer. The St Pius V Monument, as erected on Republic Street, has a valid permit issued by Mepa in April 2005 (PA 7000/04).

As to the comments made by Mr Portelli about the marble column chosen for the bust, although one may respect the opinion on the basis of taste, being of a subjective nature, it is not correct to say that it is out of proportion.

The travertine base, commissioned to Architect Robert Musumeci, represents the dynamism and energy of Pope Pius V, co-founder of Valletta and interprets a rich Papal Vestment in its style.

It is a base most befitting for one of the first public monuments ever erected by the people of Malta.

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