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Visitors are admitted to the church and museum from this entrance via Valletta’s principle thoroughfare, Republic Street. This is where the ticket office is located and staff are available to offer assistance.
The chapel assigned to the Anglo-Bavarian Langue was originally the shrine where the Order’s holy relics were kept. At some stage the relics had been moved to the sacristy on account of the humidity within this chapel. In the late 17th century the altar dedicated to St Charles was brought to this site from the passage in front of the oratory.
The Chapel of the Langue of Provence is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. The altar reredos belongs to the 1620s and is amongst the earliest installed in the church. The altar table in white marble was installed 1732. The altar painting representing the archangel St Michael follows the new iconography given to the Saint after the Catholic Reformation.
The chapel is dedicated to the conversion of the Great Apostle St Paul. In the assignment of the chapels to the langues it was given to the Langue of France which was third in order of seniority. This chapel first underwent decoration during the reign of the French Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1614 as the frieze under the cornice states.
The chapel of the Langue of Italy was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and St Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of the Italian Knights. The chapel is true to the Baroque concept of one aesthetic expression where architecture, sculpture and painting are conceived as a whole.
This passageway take visitors from the Republic Street entrance to the main nave.
The langue of Germany included the priories of Austria, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Alsace and the Netherlands. The decoration of this chapel commenced in 1664.
This passage leads to the Sacristy from the main nave.
The main sacristy of St Johns was originally built in 1598 and subsequently added to; its coffered vault gives one an idea of the original appearance of the vault of St Johns itself before the Preti transformation in 1661.
The interior of the Sacristy was renovated in 1758 under Grand Master Pinto (1741-1773).
The nave is 53 metres in length and 15 metres wide, with side chapels on either side. These chapels were assigned to the various langues according to seniority. The French, Italian and Aragonese langues being predominant were placed closest to the altar. The entire floor is covered with marble tombstones, beneath which, some of the most illustrious Knights of the Order are laid to rest.
This area is a sacred place and is the focal point of the church as it holds the High Altar. It has been enriched with several gifts from Grand Masters and Knights alike.
This chapel was one of the most important chapels for the Knights as this is where the icon of the Madonna of Philermos was kept. This icon drew great devotion as it was believed to be miraculous and had been in the possession of the Order since the Knights were in Jerusalem. Before battle this were the Knights prayed and when victorious the key of the fortresses captured would be presented to the Virgin where they still hang to this day. Amongst them are the keys of the castles of Lepanto and Patras.
The chapel of the Langue of Auvergne is dedicated to St Sebastian. The altar painting follows this dedication and has been attributed to Lucas Garnier, a 17th century artist whose style forms a blend between the fading mannerist tradition and the Caravaggist chiaroscuro.
The Chapel of the Langue of Aragon, including the priories of Catalunia and Navarre, is dedicated to St George. It is one of the most richly embellished chapels in the church. The altar painting within this chapel represents St George on Horseback and was executed by Mattia Preti as one of his first works for the church which was commissioned by Grand Master Martin de Redin in 1659.
More marble tombstones are found in the passage to the bookshop. Amongst the several personalities commemorated in this area lies Fra Jacques de Vivieu Puppettieres who died in 1608. His is the oldest marble tombstone in St John's.
The Chapel of the Langue of Castile, Leon and Portugal is dedicated to the patron saint of Spain, St James. The main altar painting is the work of Mattia Preti and depicts the ‘Apostle St James’. The restricted palette consisting mainly of earth colours and the exquisite draughtsmanship make it a masterpiece of baroque art.
This passage leads from the main nave to the oratory.
The Oratory was built between 1602 and 1605 as a place of devotion for the young novices. The reigning Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt was looking for an artist to embellish the conventual church and to produce a painting for the young novices to meditate on.
The entrance to the Museum is home to the monumental bronze sculpture of Christ the Saviour. It was commissioned from Alessandro Algardi, the famous Bolognese sculptor, working in Rome.
Some of the Flemish tapestries at St Johns Co-Cathedral, the largest complete series in the world, are on display in the Perellos Hall. More of these tapestries are exhibited in the Vestments Hall and the Ciro Ferri Hall.
The choral books are housed here in Ciro Ferri Hall. These illuminated manuscripts relate to the early part of the knights’ stay in Malta and are by far the most beautifully executed illuminated choral books on the island. There are three sets - all gifts of various Grand Masters.
This is where the sacred vestments, which various Grand Masters donated to their conventual church, are displayed. They are made out of silk satin and profusely embroidered with multicoloured silk yarns often using gold and silver threads. More of the Flemish tapestries are also displayed in this hall.
Various paintings are on display in the picture gallery, including one depicting St John baptising Christ by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio and a portrait of Grand Master Emmanuel Pinto de Fonseca by Antoine Favray.
The book shop stocks a wide variety of books related to St John’s Co-Cathedral, the history of Malta, the Knights of Malta and art as well as tourist guide books for St John’s and the Maltese islands in general. The shop also sells tourist related DVDs, postcards, souvenirs, posters, CDs of sacred music and maps.
This hall is only used at specific times during an exhibition. Look out for any coming exhibitions on our news and events section.