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-8GcBJOcrCGAhBEakQSrK2baxwHa4uqwO558KX2gJVmPg450 years since the birth of Caravaggio
Dawson Carr, curator of Caravaggio Retrospective at the National Gallery, London
St John’s co Cathedral will re-open its doors to the public on Wednesday 15th July.
Here’s a few important changes to take note of :
New timings – 10:30 hrs to 14:30 hrs (last entry at 14:00 hrs).
New Numbers – a total of 189 visitors will be allowed at any one time / groups shall be of no more than 25 persons.
New entry regulations –
- Visitors will need to wear a mask/visor
- Visitors’ temperature will be taken at the entrance
- Public toilets will be kept closed
New pricing – Adults: €15.00Caravaggio 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.