Basilica of Collemaggio, restoration of paintings started thanks to donation: they will return to its interior

After a long wait and various difficulties, the restoration of four paintings in the Basilica of Collemaggio has been started these days. They will return to their location.

After a long wait and technical and administrative difficulties, the restoration of four works in the Basilica of St. Mary of Collemaggio has begun: The Coronation of Celestine, Renunciation of the Papacy, Death of Celestine and Mary Receives Gifts from the Jewish People. The first three will be relocated to the Basilica where the remains of Pope Celestine V are also located; the fourth will undergo a phase of consolidation to begin its complete restoration and upon completion will be relocated to the Basilica.

The restoration work stems from an agreement between the MIC Regional Secretariat for Abruzzo and thePanta Rei Association of Social Promotion of L’Aquila, chaired by lawyer Maria Grazia Lopardi, a great connoisseur of Collemaggio and its many treasures. The Association, after the 2009 earthquake, promoted fundraisers to finance, at first, the recovery of a portion of the floor of the Celestine Basilica. After ENI intervened to support the restoration of the monument, the funds raised by Panta Rei were earmarked for the recovery of the works mentioned, and gradually the donation was implemented until it reached the amount of 47,200 euros.

The plan to restore the paintings had been followed at its inception by Dr. Bianca Maria Colasacco, art historian of the ABAP Superintendency for L’Aquila and the Crater. Unlocking the situation after her retirement was instead, in support of the Secretariat as the contracting station, a working group from the Soprintendenza, led by Carla Pancaldi, and composed of art historian Tancredi Farina and restorer Maria Fernanda Falcón Martínez, designers and directors of the work, restorer Giulia Cervi, support for the RUP, and finally the external professional, Maria Grazia Sambenedetto.

The restoration, entrusted to the company R.O.M.A. Consortium, will last 84 days.

“It was one of the first interventions I tackled, shortly after my appointment as Regional Secretary,” says Nicola Macrì.“And I was particularly impressed by the synergistic work of the territorial institutes of the Ministry, here in Abruzzo, in particular the Secretariat and the Superintendency of L’Aquila in bringing to a good conclusion a complex and fraught path, such as that of the post-earthquake recovery of the cultural heritage. And I would like to emphasize the generosity of the Panta Rei Association and the tenacity of its President, lawyer Maria Grazia Lopardi, whom I thank here again, publicly, for supporting the restoration of such important works. Likewise, I thank Dr. Maria Stella Margozzi, head of the Regional Museums Directorate, for her willingness in granting the spaces of the Paludi Museum in Celano, where the paintings are kept. The start of this long-awaited restoration is the result of the work and participation of so many, and we hope to return the works to the city soon, in the extraordinary setting of the Basilica of Collemaggio.”

“We are very pleased with the handover of the restoration work on these paintings,” said Antonio Di Stefano, Deputy Superintendent for L’Aquila and Crater by the Director General of Archaeology Fine Arts and Landscape. “Thanks to the generous contribution of the Panta Rei Association, the phase of the return of the movable works of the Basilica of Collemaggio is underway, without which the recovery of the sacred building cannot be said to be truly concluded. The officials of the Superintendence, in concert with the other MiC offices in the territory, have carried out the necessary reconnaissance and planning operations, following step by step all the complex steps that led to the completion of the tender; now, in parallel with the supervision, we will tackle the delicate issue of the refitting, keeping in mind the reasons of history, those of protection, and the enhancement of the Basilica and its works.”

“At last we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” added Maria Grazia Lopardi, president of the Panta rei Association of Social Promotion, "and satisfaction will be given to those who generously gave me confidence by sending me money from all over Italy and to the members who have done their best to raise funds, including with the printing of the book Narrami pietra degli antichi portali aquilani..., born from the free collaboration of Aquilani. It proves that our basilica is much loved, as I verify every time I speak of it. We have a treasure to enhance and proudly display that speaks of Celestine and the message he left us, a stone text of wisdom that after seven centuries tells us of an Aquila-Phoenix that always rises again."

Image: Nicola Malinconico, Mary receives gifts from the Jewish people.

Basilica of Collemaggio, restoration of paintings started thanks to donation: they will return to its interior
Basilica of Collemaggio, restoration of paintings started thanks to donation: they will return to its interior

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