Published on: 25 April 2017

Speech of Minister Bushati at the presentation of the restored “Lady of Shkodra” painting

Goodmorning everyone,

Eminenca Rodè,

Monsignor Massafra,

Dear Mirela, Dear Dom Artur,

Mrs. Lucia,

Dear friends,

Hello everyone,

This 550th anniversary displacement of Our Lady of Good Counsel from Shkodra to Genazzano is paradoxically a moment on celebrating her return.

On one hand, we recall a mystical history which still continuous to intrigue us, a perfect parabola of our nation's history.

On the other hand, we can be glad today for the restoration of this later painting of our Lady, which wonderfully survived as a cracked mirror but still remained unbroken of the century-old fresco, walled beyond the sea, but called back here again.

Tradition says the painting of our Lady was ordered in Venice from Father Serreqi, the co-founder Father of the “Bashkimi” association. She defended Shkodra from the northern occupiers and left deep traces on this land.

I believe, that it is not a coincidence that those who, in the XIX century, like Father Jak Serreqi, made our Lady the center of the spiritual activity of Albanian Catholics, also did not stop contributing in the state-building of our country.

The very fact that the painting was ordered in Venice has its own meaning, not only as an artistic effort but also archeological, giving back to Albania a tradition that was kept alive abroad.

Dom Artur likes to refer to Our Lady of Good Counsel as a prime-Lady, prime-leader. And he has a reason, because Our Lady of Good Counsel was also the Lady of Albanians in Venice, the dislodged Lady was naturally the Lady of the fugitives, the Lady of diaspora, the Lady of the migration.

Dear friends,

In today’s speeches we heard much about the restoration. But today I wish to say a few words on the damage created. There can be no return to identity without making peace with ourselves. As there can be no restoration without fully understanding what the damage is. Damaging a piece of art is in fact equivalent to censorship. This piece of art that has gathered us today here has been damaged, not only by time and poor maintenance conditions during the past gloomy years but also by the censorship insanity pressure.

The same censorship insanity that damaged slowly and quietly the picture, threw away violently and shamelessly the bones of Father Serreqi.

A madness and violence where there stood no chance neither for a miracle nor a state-building.

But certainly folly seemed to the citizens of Shkodra when Pjerin Sheldija told them that he had hidden the painting of Our Lady, to rescue it from another madness.

Later, by confronting both insanity, harm and maintenance, it would clearly seem to see, as Saint Mark says and what today is celebrated among Catholics, which of them "God worked with to give testimony of the Word".


Dear friends,

In this room, we represent different religions.

However, I believe that it is quite easy for us to feel that the joint work of the Ministry of Culture and Palazzo Spinelli on the restoration of our Lady, has given us the good chance to see again the collective memory of the Lady Patron that brought us closer together in the Dioqezian Museum.

Likewise our country needs the state-building collective memory. Unfortunately our society today still experiences the symptoms of the folly of harm, which today does not have the form of censorship but of fear, insecurity and opposition to the public interest.

Only by recapturing the moments of hope and by restoring within ourselves the state-building fragments, we will ultimately escape from the insanity of harm, complacency and hate.

Thank you!


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