The Great Siege Monument dominates the square in front of the Law Courts in Republic Street, Valletta. Founded at an important moment in the beginning of Malta's twentieth century political development and becoming, by time, a symbol of the cultural, social and political identity of the Maltese people. It was inaugurated on the 8th of May 1927.
The Great Siege Monument is the work of the celebrated Maltese sculptor Antonio Sciortino. Professor Antonio Sciortino was born in Ħaż-Żebbuġ on the 25th of January 1879 and died on the 10th of August 1947.
The Great Siege Monument has a marble base and commemorates the 1565 Great Siege of Malta. The allegorical classical figures represent Fortitude as a bold male, with a bare torso and the lower parts clad in armour as a god of war. On either side of Fortitude are two female figures. These female figures are wearing flowing dresses as well as a band in their hair. The female figure on the left represents Faith and carries a papal tiara in her outstretched hand, while the one on the right, which carries a mask of Minerva, represents Civilisation.
This monument was restored in the Summer of 2010 by the heritage NGO Din L-Art Ħelwa and was sponsored by FIMBank plc. The conservation works primarily addressed the effects of unfavourable atmospheric conditions, in particular the natural weathering process caused mainly by salt deposition, acidic bird droppings as well as past interventions.
Although Sciortino’s monument was primarily meant to represent the Maltese who fell at the defence of Malta, its people, and their faith during the Great Siege, it soon became a symbol of Malta’s First Constitution granted in 1921 - the beginning of a new era, with the Maltese people governing themselves. Sciortino’s monument also became the symbol of Malta ’s quest for Independence and a symbol of the re-integration into its roots of European Civilisation.
Author: Pierre Axiaq
Source: Din L-Art Ħelwa