Grand Master’s Palace Restoration Works

The project will cost approximately €28 million, with the initial phase being cofinanced by the European Union as part of the European Fund for Regional Development for the sum of €10 million. The subsequent phase, at a cost of around €18 million, is being financed by the Maltese government. The initial phase is expected to be completed by the end of next year, with the entire project being ready by 2025.

The restoration of the palace’s corridors is part of the initial phase of this ambitious project which, once completed, will offer visitors a totally different experience of the palace to the one enjoyed previously.

 

Knights era reservoir found under Valletta ditch

A knights-era water reservoir has been discovered beneath the entrance to St Andrew’s Ditch in Valletta, a few metres down from the Hotel Excelsior.

An opening was discovered by accident on Sunday, and then another was found. Each has a depth of some 7.5m. The structure was found to be one of a number of reservoirs built by the knights for water storage in the fortified city. The structure, however, is in a sorry state with broken slabs and missing arches that have rendered it unsafe and unstable.

The gaping hole that turned out to be the entrance was discovered by architect Ruben Paul Borg who said it appeared dangerous since cars park in the area every day.

The reservoir, although forgotten, had been documented by the British. It had a capacity of 343,000 gallons

Subterranean Valletta has been the focus of recent public attention, with Heritage Malta opening a series of 500-year-old tunnels beneath the city for public viewing.

The tours include another reservoir, right beneath Great Siege Square, that dates back to the 16th century. At the time, owing to a shortage of water, the authorities in the city banned private gardens and required water reservoirs to be built under all houses.

The knights, showing great engineering skills, had built the aqueduct system to carry water from the Rabat area to Valletta, but the system was vulnerable to enemy attacks in uncertain times.

One small freshwater stream does flow into Valletta however. It emerges in the large basement of the Archbishop’s Palace.

Read the full article: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/knights-era-reservoir-found-under-valletta-ditch.922855

 

Grand Master to be buried in St John’s Co-Cathedral

For the first time in hundreds of years, a Grand Master will be buried in the crypt of St John’s Co-Cathedral, its foundation has said.

Fra’ Matthew Festing will be the 12th Grand Master to be laid to rest in the crypt – the burial place of L’Isle-Adam, who brought the Order of the Knights of St John to Malta in 1530, and La Valette, who won the 1565 Great Siege and founded the city of Valletta.

The 79th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Festing died, aged 71, after feeling ill in Malta and being hospitalised earlier this month, the Grand Magistry had announced.

He served as Grand Master from 2008 up to his resignation in 2017.

The last Grand Master to be buried in the crypt was Vasconcellos in 1623, although it is understood, despite a lack of documentation, that it is also the resting place, in an unmarked grave, of Ximenez, who died in 1775, said St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation CEO and curator, Cynthia de Giorgio.

The tradition was that the Grand Masters would be buried underground, but from 1623, their remains would be moved to the chapel of their langue in the co-cathedral after a year in the crypt for the “special indulgences it was endowed with”, she said.

Fra’ Festing would be buried in the crypt because he died in Malta, and since he was English, there was no English langue, de Giorgio explained.

“Where else can you bury a Grand Master in Malta?” de Giorgio asked, adding that the decision was taken in agreement with the knights, the archbishop and the prime minister.

A location in the Grand Masters’ Crypt has been found and his burial site prepared, with cultural and cathedral authorities acting fast to identify a space that could accommodate the very tall man.

The last Grand Master to die in Malta was de Rohan in 1797 and he is buried in the Chapel of Provence. Since then, no others have been buried in the co-cathedral, the Order of the Knights of St John having left Malta in 1798.

The last reigning Grand Master was Hompesch, but he had left Malta before he died and was, therefore, not buried here, de Giorgio said.

Fra’ Festing’s funeral will be held on December 3 and Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, Pope Francis’s special delegate to the Order of Malta, will celebrate the Requiem Mass, while Archbishop Charles Scicluna will concelebrate.

The co-cathedral’s crypt, which was reopened to the public last year, following a €500,000 restoration project that lasted 13 years, was carved out of the rock for underground burial in the 16th century.

It is located beneath the high altar and houses the remains of the 11 Grand Masters who led the Order from 1522 to 1623, including Jean de la Cassière, who commissioned the church that would become St John’s Co-Cathedral.

A descendant of Sir Adrian Fortescue, a Knight of Malta, who was martyred in 1539, Fra’ Festing he led humanitarian aid missions to Kosovo, Serbia and Croatia.

Article credits: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/grand-master-to-be-buried-in-st-johns-co-cathedral.917539?fbclid=IwAR09D-_F4wRIZg-8GcBJOcrCGAhBEakQSrK2baxwHa4uqwO558KX2gJVmPg
The Colours of Malta Timeless Journey – Week 5

Walking through the narrow winding roads of Mdina, one can stumble on the one of the oldest buildings in the city that has been run by the Vella Gatt family for over 35 years.. Old chambers, antique doors and a beautiful garden hidden in the bastion walls lays the setting for a fantastic culinary experience in this idyllic medieval city!

Caravaggio masterpieces in Malta

The most famous artist who worked in Malta has to be Caravaggio. His ‘Beheading of St. John the Baptist’, a work once described as ‘the painting of the 17th century’ was commissioned for, and is still on display in, the Oratory of the Co-Cathedral of St. John, Valletta. Another of his most famous works, St. Jerome, is also in the cathedral. Together, these works represent a key period in the development of this unorthodox artist. His style, with its powerful use of shadow and shafts of light (chiaroscuro), created an almost choreographed drama with the subject; a technique which broke with the tradition of religious painting. Caravaggio arrived in Malta in 1607 in rather dubious circumstances having fled Rome to avoid justice. He was wanted for murder. However, in Malta, under his new patrons, he was feted and admitted to the Order of St. John. But his freedom from justice lasted only just over a year. He was imprisoned in Fort St. Angelo and later escaped to Sicily, only to die two years later at the age of 38 still hounded by the forces of justice.

The Maltese cross

What is the Maltese cross?
The Maltese cross is a symbol that is most commonly associated with the Knights of Malta ,who ruled the Maltese islands between 1530 and 1798. The Maltese cross is nowadays widely used and associated with Malta as a country, used by the national airline Air Malta as part of its livery, and even featuring on the Maltese Euro coins, for example.

What does it look like?
The shape of the Maltese cross is star-like with four V-shaped arms that are joined together at the tips. It’s frequently used either in black and white or red and white and is symmetrical both vertically as well as horizontally

What’s the history behind the cross?
Although the Maltese cross is most famously associated with the Knights of Malta, as well as Malta itself as a country, it is thought the symbol evolved from a closely resembling cross found on coins minted in Amalfi (an Italian republic) during the 11th century.

What’s the meaning of the Maltese cross?
The Maltese Cross formally adopted by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John in 1126, stylistically owes its origins to the crosses used in the crusades, when it was identified as the symbol of the “Christian warrior”: Its eight points denote the eight obligations or aspirations of the knights, namely “to live in truth, have faith, repent one’s sins, give proof of humility, love justice, be merciful, be sincere and whole¬hearted, and to endure persecution”.
With time, the eight points also came to represent the eight langues (or “tongues”, but in effect national groupings) of the noblemen who were admitted to the famed order, namely those of Auvergne, Provence, France, Aragon, Castille and Portugal, Italy, Baviere (Germany), and England (with Scotland and Ireland).

The Maltese cross remains the symbol of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is still in existence (and active as an international organisation for medical and humanitarian aid) today. As part of its present-day teachings, the cross represents eight beatitudes (or ‘blessings’). A good first aider in service of the Order of St. John is Observant, Tactful, Resourceful, Dextrous, Explicit, Discriminating, Persevering and Sympathetic.

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