Saturday, 10 January 2015

Saint John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta.



English: The Nave,
Saint John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta.
Français: Intérieur de la co-cathédrale St Jean à La Valette - Malte.
Photo: 7 May 2007.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)



EnglishThe Chapel of Italy,
Dedicated to Saint Catherinethe Patron Saint of the Italian Section.
Saint John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta.
Français: Une des chapelles de la cathédrale St Jean à La Valette - Malte.
Photo: 7 May 2007.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)


Saint John's Co-Cathedral (Maltese: Kon-Katidral ta’ San Ġwann), located in Valletta, Malta, was built by The Knights of Malta between 1573 and 1578, having been commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière as the Conventual Church of The Order of The Knights Hospitaller of Saint John, known as The Knights of Malta.

The Church was designed by the Maltese Military Architect, Glormu Cassar (Girolamo Cassar), who designed several of the more prominent buildings in Valletta. The Church is considered to be one of the finest examples of High Baroque Architecture in Europe and one of the world's great Cathedrals.



English: "Magnificent Church.
The most striking Interior I have ever seen."
(Sir Walter Scott, 1831).
[Author: Note the three Clocks on the Right-Hand Tower.]
Deutsch: St. John’s Co-Kathedrale, Valletta, Malta.
עברית: קתדרלת יוחנן הקדוש בולטה
Date: 11 January 2005 (original upload date).
Source: Transferred from en.wikipedia.
Author: Radoneme at en.wikipedia.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The severe Exterior of the Cathedral, built immediately after the ending of the Great Siege of 1565, is reminiscent of a Military Fort.

The Interior, in sharp contrast with the facade, is extremely ornate and decorated in the Baroque Style. The Interior was largely decorated by Mattia Preti, the Calabrian artist and Knight. Preti designed the intricate carved stone walls and painted the Vaulted Ceiling and Side Altars with scenes from the life of Saint John.

Interestingly, the figures painted on the Ceiling, next to each Column, initially appear to the viewer as three-dimensional statues, but, on closer inspection, we see that the artist cleverly created a three-dimensional illusion by his use of shadows and placement.



"Da Pacem Domine".
Chant of The Templars.
Available on YouTube at

Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Qui pugnet pro nobis
Nisi tu Deus noster.

1. Fiat pax in virtute tua: et abundantia in turribus tuis.
Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Qui pugnet pro nobis
Nisi tu Deus noster.

2. Propter fratres meos et proximos meos loquebar pacem de te:
Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Qui pugnet pro nobis
Nisi tu Deus noster.

3. Propter domum Domini Dei nostri quaesivi bona tibi.
Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Qui pugnet pro nobis
Nisi tu Deus noster.

4. Rogate quae ad pacem sunt Jerusalem: et abundantia diligentibus te. 
Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Qui pugnet pro nobis
Nisi tu Deus noster.

5. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto,
sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper,
et in saecula saeculorum.

Amen.

Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Qui pugnet pro nobis
Nisi tu Deus noster.


Also noteworthy is the fact that the carving was all undertaken in-place (in situ) rather than being carved independently and then attached to the walls (stucco). The Maltese Limestone, from which the Cathedral is built, lends itself particularly well to such intricate carving.

The whole marble floor is an entire series of tombs, housing about 375 Knights and Officers of The Order. There is also a Crypt, containing the tombs of Grandmasters, like Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Claude de la Sengle, Jean Parisot de Valette, and Alof de Wignacourt.



"Salve Regina".
Chant of The Templars.
Available on YouTube at


In 1666, a project for the High Altar, by Malta's greatest sculptor, Melchiorre Cafà, was approved and begun. Cafà intended a large sculpture group, in Bronze, depicting The Baptism of Christ. Following Cafà's tragic death, in 1667, in a foundry accident while working on this work in Rome, the plans were abandoned. Only in 1703, Giuseppe Mazzuoli, Cafà's only pupil, finished a Marble group of The Baptism of Christ, which might have been influenced by his Master's undocumented designs, but certainly is strongly dependent on a small Baptism group by Alessandro Algardi.

Near the main entrance, one finds the Monument of Grand Master Fra Marc'Antonio Zondadari of Siena. He was the Nephew of Pope Alexander VII.



Artist: Caravaggio (1573–1610).
Date: 1608.
Current location: Altarpiece in The Oratory,
St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta.
Commissioned in 1608 by Alof de Wignacourt, Grand Master,
for the Altar of Saint John's Co-Cathedral,
Valletta, Malta.
Source/Photographer: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002.
ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.
Permission: Wikide-I / 10.000 Gemälde für Commons.
(Wikimedia Commons)



Saint John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta, is a gem of Baroque art and architecture.
It was built as the Conventual Church for The Knights of St John. The Grand Masters,
and several Knights, donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions
to enrich it with only the best works of art. This Church is, till this very day,
an important Shrine and a Sacred Place of Worship.


The Cathedral contains seven Chapels, each of which was Dedicated to the Patron Saint of the eight "Langues" (or "Sections") of the Knights. On the Left Side of the Church, there are the following Chapels;

The Chapel of the Anglo-Bavarian Langue was formerly known as the Chapel of the Relic, where the Knights used to keep Relics that they had acquired through the Centuries;

The Chapel of Provence is Dedicated to Saint Michael;

The Chapel of France is Dedicated to the Conversion of Saint Paul. This Chapel was modified in the 19th-Century. The Monuments found in this Chapel are those of Grand Masters Fra Adrien de Wignacourt and Fra Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc;



The Nave,
Saint John's Co-Cathedral,
Valletta, Malta.
Photo: 29 January 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: MrPanyGoff.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Chapel of Italy, dedicated to Saint Catherine, the Patron Saint of the Italian Section;

The Chapel of Germany is dedicated to The Epiphany of Christ.

On the Right Side of the Church, there are the following Chapels;

The Chapel of The Blessed Sacrament was formerly known as The Chapel of Our Lady of Fileremos (Rhodes). The Titular Painting of this Chapel is Our Lady of Carafa, which is a Copy of Our Lady of Lanciano. Among the Knights, buried in this Chapel, there is Fra Gian Francesco Abela and Fra Flaminio Balbiano;



Note the three Clocks.
One of the two Church Bell-Towers
of Saint John's Co-Cathedral,
Valletta, Malta.
Photo: 4 December 2012.
from Shanghai, China.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Chapel of Auvergne is Dedicated to Saint Sebastian. The only Monument in this Chapel is that of Fra Annet de Clermont;

The Chapel of Aragon is dedicated to Saint George. The Titular Painting was painted by Mattia Preti and it is considered as one of his Masterpieces. In this Chapel, one can find the Monuments of the following Grand Masters: Fra Martin de Redin; Fra Raphael Cotoner; Fra Nicolas Cotoner; Fra Ramon Perellos;



The High Altar,
Saint John's Co-Cathedral,
Valletta, Malta.
[Author: Note the Liturgically-correct Lenten Purple Canopy,
hanging above the High Altar. Compare with the following photo,
which depicts the Liturgically-correct Post Pentecost Green Canopy]
Photo: 18 March 2013.
Source: St. Johns co-Cathedral.
Uploaded by russavia
Author: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Chapel of Castile, Leon, and Portugal, is Dedicated to James the Great. The Monuments in this Chapel are those of Grand Masters Fra Antonio Manoel de Vilhena and Fra Manuel Pinto da Fonseca.


The painting depicting The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608), by Caravaggio (1571–1610), is the most famous work of art in the Church. Considered one of Caravaggio's Masterpieces, and the only painting signed by the painter, the canvas is displayed in the Oratory, for which it was painted.



English: The High Altar,
Saint John's Co-Cathedral,
Valletta, Malta.
Français: Autel de la Co-cathédrale
Saint-Jean de La Valette,
by Giuseppe Mazzuoli.
Photo: October 2006.
Source: Own work.
Author: Strikehard.
(Wikimedia Commons)


Restored in the Late-1990s, in Florence, this painting is one of Caravaggio's most impressive uses of the chiaroscuro style, for which he is most famous, with a circle of light illuminating the scene of Saint John's beheading at the request of Salome. The Oratory also houses Caravaggio's picture of Saint Jerome III (1607–1608).

Another impressive feature of the Church is the collection of Marble tombstones in the Nave, in which were buried important Knights. The more important Knights were placed closer to the front of the Church. These tombstones, richly decorated with Inlaid Marble and with the Coats-of-Arms of the Knight buried below, as well as images relevant to that Knight often telling a story of triumph in battle, form a rich visual display.



The Nave and High Altar,
Saint John's Co-Cathedral,
Valletta, Malta.
Photo: 14 May 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: Szilas.
(Wikimedia Commons)



Interior of 
Saint John's Co-Cathedral,
Valletta, Malta.
Photo: 25 February 2012.
Source: St John's Co-Cathedral Interior 1Uploaded by tm
Author: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK.
(Wikimedia Commons)


Adjoining the Church is the Saint John's Co-Cathedral Museum, containing art objects. Among the contents of the Museum, there are: Tapestries of Grand Master Fra Ramon Perellos de Roccaful; paintings of the following Grand Masters: Fra Jean de la Cassiere; Fra Nicola Cottoner; and Fra Emanuel Pinto de Fonseca; painting which were formerly in the Side Chapels, such as "Saint George Killing The Dragon", by Francesco Potenzano.

Saint John's was the Conventual Church (that is to say, the Church of the Convent) of The Hospitallers (The Knights of Saint John). Over time, though, it grew to equal prominence with the Archbishop's Cathedral at Mdina.

In the 1820s, the Bishop of Malta, whose Seat was at Mdina, was allowed to use Saint John’s as an alternative See and it, thus, formally became a Co-Cathedral. The land, on which the Co-Cathedral was built, belongs to the Government of Malta, and the care of the Co-Cathedral and Museum has been entrusted to the Saint John's Co-Cathedral Foundation.

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting post, Zephyrine. I have been looking forward to seeing what you were going to include. I assume the church has been noted as a possible source of inspiration for the Minor Basilica (I could see it looking very imposing against a Margate sunset) :-)

    The Templar chants are magnificent - I would love to hear the 'Salve Regina' sung in this setting after Mass from time to time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Matthaeus, for your most welcome Comment.

    We can agree that Saint John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta, is a wonderful inspiration for any Minor Basilica.

    Delighted you, also, like the Chants. Stand by for another one, tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete

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