The President of Malta

Dr Mark Agius, Rector of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Councils

Members of Parliament, Auxiliary Bishop

Members of the Diplomatic Corp, Mayor of Valletta,

Distinguished guests,

We have just witnessed a beautiful performance, which is very fitting in the historic setting of the Casino Maltese. Well done to all the performers: Elin Manahan Thomas, renowned world-wide, as well as our very own talent, sopranos Hannah Bonnici and Michela Agius and pianist Maria Elena Farrugia. You have delighted us with an exquisite performance of some of the world’s most prominent pieces in classical music.

As we already had the opportunity to hear, today we came together to enjoy this concert with the purpose to raise funds for the restoration of the Oratory of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the first statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Malta.

As you all know, the devotion for Our Lady in Malta is very widespread and over the centuries it grew to an extent that the Maltese started dedicating various Churches and shrines as well as other works of art to celebrate Her. There are 51 villages that celebrate traditional festas in Her honour and around 200 Churches and Chapels dedicated to Her.

This devotion is tightly knit to that of our capital Valletta with the Church dedicated to the same being one of the most iconic buildings in the skyline of the city. The Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is a lay

organisation, played an important role in maintaining this devotion alive amongst the Maltese people.

The building of the Oratory and the Statue of our Lady that is housed within it, have become a point of reference for the devotees from all over Malta. Both the Oratory and the Statue however, should also be seen and considered as part of our national religious and cultural heritage. The preservation and restoration of this heritage for our young and future generations is an obligation on all of us.

A special note of thanks goes to the Confraternity who took it upon itself to carry out the works on such precious heritage. In this regard, we must acknowledge more, that the unsung work of such volunteers is contributing in large numbers to the well-being of our society. Your expertise, time and dedication are truly commendable.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with all of this in mind, that I encourage you to keep contributing this worthy cause in order to witness the completion of this project in the shortest time possible. <END>

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