A Baldachin for Christ the King Parish in Paola, Malta

Recently one of our priestly readers in Malta, Canon Marc Andrè Camilleri, contacted LAJ to share another project that is taking place at his parish, Christ the King in Paola, Malta. I say 'another' because his particular parish has an ambitious artistic programme underway that recently saw a great deal of attention in the media and online related to its splendid new apse mosaic.

So what next? I am pleased to report that the next step in their programme is the installation of a ciborium magnum, or baldachin, over their high altar. Longtime readers of NLM and LAJ will know that I have long been an advocate for the ciborium, particularly for freestanding altars.  There are various reasons for this, ranging from theological to architectural; liturgical to historical.  Suffice it to say that the use of a ciborium gives an architectural prominence to that which is the centre of the church: the high altar.

Here, then, is a mock-up that superimposes the new ciborium design, superimposing it over an image of the existing altar and sanctuary:

A graphical representation of the future ciborium
As a point of comparison, here is the current sanctuary sans ciborium (and you will also see the beautiful new apse painting that I mentioned earlier):

A beautiful parish, however in its current form the high altar becomes almost secondary to the rest of the architecture around it. This is precisely one of the things that a baldachin has historically corrected and it will certainly do so here as well.

What's more, I have written before on the importance of the predella and the issues created by its absence in so many modern day projects, so I was pleased to see that this has not been neglected here. If you look, you will see that the predella and steps are already in place, as are the spots that will be the foundation for the new columns of the ciborium.

Here is a closer look at the detailed schematic of the ciborium which will give you some sense of its design and ornamentation:

According to Canon Camilleri, the new baldachin should be completed by Christmas of this year. We will certainly look forward to seeing that work completed and LAJ will certainly publish a followup piece on this once that has taken place.

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