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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saint John's Co Cathedral

The Knights Hospitaller
Saint John's Co Cathedral in Malta acted as the church of the Knights Hospitaller in Malta during the 11th century, protecting pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. The Saint John's Co Cathedral was commissioned by Grand Master himself Jean de la Cassiere and the cathedral was designed by Gerolamo Cassar, the same architect that designed Grand Master's Palace.

After the Siege of Malta in 1565, the facade of Saint John's was created, which in no way portrays the incredible artistry the site actually embodies inside. The Baroque interior of Saint John's Co Cathedral was designed by 17th century Italian artist Mattia Pretti. Of course, St. John's stone walls and skillfully painted ceiling and altars depict scenes from the life of John the Baptist.

There are eight chapels dedicated to each section of the Knight's Hospitaller in the form of patron saints. The marble gravestones lining the nave of St. Johns Co Cathedral represent the knights of great importantance to the order. The lesser known are near the back, with the more recognizable and affluent located near the front of the cathedral.

The artwork at St. John's Co Cathedral is quite famous, the most notable being "The Beheading of St. John the Baptist" from 1608. If you remember, this particular piece of art is by legendary Baroque period painter Michelangelo Merisi da Carvaggio. The Beheading of St. John the Baptist was the only work Carvaggio actually signed, and it's of course, his most important work found in the oratory of the Saint John's Co Cathedral in Malta. St. Jeronimo II is also housed at the cathedral, one of Michelangelo Merisi da Carvaggio lesser known works.

Also check out the first installment:  Monday Ground Up: Grand Master's Palace in Valletta Malta

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