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Between heaven and earth

Part of celebrations marking the 400 years since the village of Qrendi was declared a parish include a week-long exhibition of a selection of ex-voto paintings in the Sanctuary Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy.

The chapel, currently closed awaiting restoration, will be opened specifically for this event between today and Sunday.

The ‘national shrine’ dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy, an architectural gem on its own, is one of the landmarks of Qrendi.

The painting on the main altar represents Our Lady of Mercy sitting on the moon and surrounded by angels, while in the lower part of the painting there are the figures of St Cajetan on the right hand side and two souls on the left. This work is attributed to the renowned Maltese painter Giuseppe D’Arena.

The chapel boasts other elaborate works of art, which represent different stages in the history of this sacred edifice as well as manifest a transept between the past and the present in the form of a legacy. This is most evident in the collection of ex-voto paintings which vividly acclamatise the environment of the time.

In fact, while not all of high artistic value, these paintings shed light on the life of the people who out of distress or illness turned to the Virgin Mary for help and received her intercession.

The different-sized paintings may easily be described as a colourful journal of events as they happened to people in different times such as the concerns of the family of an ill-stricken faithful, or the anguish experienced by the crew on board of a vessel in the midst of a storm. The paintings project life as life is. Their directness may be described as a pedagogic attempt to augment faith in the community, or as a widespread expression of gratitude to Our Lady.

The exhibition of ex-voto paintings at the chapel of Our Lady of Mercy will be inaugurated this evening. It will be open until Sunday from 6 to 8.30pm.

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