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500-year-old etching of Madonna discovered during restoration work

Our Lady of Ta' Pinu

Ghischeforever | Shutterstock

Daniel Esparza - published on 06/27/23

As Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu celebrates the 140th anniversary of the manifestation of the Blessed Virgin, an etching that was copied by the artist to paint the miraculous image of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was discovered.

An important discovery was made during restoration work on the titular painting at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu in Gozo (Malta). As the sanctuary celebrates the 140th anniversary of the manifestation of the Blessed Virgin, an etching that was copied by the artist to paint the miraculous image of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was discovered by Sandro Debono, the external art advisor for its restoration project.

As explained by Fiona Galea Debono’s article in the Times of Malta, “the 1574 engraving by Cornelis Cort replicates an original drawing by Federico Zuccari. This, in turn, was replicated ‘almost slavishly’ by the artist Bartolomeo Amadeo Perugino in his famous Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu painting in 1619.”

These etchings were commonly used as reference by artists. “The discovery of the original version that corresponds to the painting of the Assumption of the Virgin,” Galea explains, “showed the artist was using top-notch prints.”

Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu National Shrine, Gozo
The conservation company Atelier del Restauro had completed the restoration of the painting of historical and artistic importance in 2020.

Debono, the advisor responsible for the restoration project, was entrusted with the research project by conservation company Atelier del Restauro, which had completed the restoration of the painting of historical and artistic importance in 2020 – and has zealously preserved an important part of Malta’s Christian heritage.

Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu and the papal legacy

The Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu was consecrated and opened to the public on Dec. 13, 1931, and in 1932 it was raised to the status of Minor Basilica by Pope Pius XI.

On June 20, 1935, the Holy Image of Mary was crowned by the Pope’s Legate. On May 26, 1990, Pope St. John Paul II placed on it a halo consisting of five golden stars to testify to the Maltese people’s devotion to their Blessed Mother. On the April 18, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI adorned the venerated image with a golden rose. On this occasion, he said, “I am aware of the particular devotion of the Maltese people to the Mother of God, expressed with great fervor to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu, and so I am pleased to have the opportunity to pray before the image […] I am also delighted to present a Golden Rose to her, as a sign of our shared filial affection for the Mother of God. I ask you in particular to pray to her under the title Queen of the Family.”

POPE-FRANCIS-MALTA-Basilica-of-the-National-Shrine
When Pope Francis arrived at the shrine of Ta’ Pinu, built on the site of a small church where a peasant woman heard the voice of the Virgin Mary in 1883, he was welcomed by 3,000 people.

“A place that seemed lost and that today regenerates the faith and hope of the people of God.” With these words, Pope Francis introduced the shrine of Ta’ Pinu where he made the second public intervention of his first day in Malta, April 2, 2022. The Pontiff directed his meditation towards consolation, showing that the credibility of Christians’ faith rests on their concrete attention to the least of these.

When the Pope arrived at the shrine of Ta’ Pinu, built on the site of a small church where a peasant woman heard the voice of the Virgin Mary in 1883, he was welcomed by 3,000 people. There, he listened to three testimonies, among them that of a couple whose wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at only 23 years old.

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