The barrel vaulted ceiling of the Co-Cathedral is covered in a series of oil-on-plaster paintings depicting 18 episodes of the life of St John the Baptist. You really could crane your neck taking in all the detail.
St John's Co-Cathedral, formerly the Conventual Church of the Order, is historically and artistically one of the most important monuments on the island. It was built between 1573 and 1577 to the design of Gerolamo Cassar chief engineer of the Order. The "Beheading of St John", Caravaggio's masterpiece, hangs in the Oratory. The museum houses a unique collection of Flemish tapestries, silver objects and church vestments.
This cathedral is one of the best and most beatiful ones that I've seen in my travels. Outside looks like a castle but when you cross its door you'll see the magic of The Knights of Malta. Don't forget this place...one of the best ones!!!!
What is most striking when visiting the cathedral – and more than just slightly morbid -, is the sheer amount of skulls and skeletons on display in nearly every painting of the cathedral. There must quite simply be thousands of those references, reminders of our own mortality and highlighting the threat of death that surrounded the Knights in their daily lives.
The history of the Knights of Malta goes back as far as the 11th century when they were founded during one of the crusades. They survive until the present day, though no longer “monks of war”, they are now mainly associated with relief and rescue operations. The order carries their own passports, exchanges ambassadors with more than 40 countries and even as recently as the 1950s there were talks to give them Ibiza. Imagine how the island would be like now if THAT had happened. ;-)
Italian painter Caravaggio is another person who is closely associated with the Cathedral. A Maltese Knight himself, he only lived a few months in Malta, but managed to produce some of his most famous work during that period. Several of his paintings (e.g. The Beheading of John the Baptist and St Jerome) can be seen in the Cathedral.
The picture shows Caravaggio’s ‘St Jerome’. Notice yet another skull. ;-)
St John’s Co-Cathedral is an absolute Must for every visitor. From the outside it is very unassuming. In the inside, however, it is an absolute onslaught on the eyes. Doubt I’ve ever been to a place that has more pieces of art per square metre.
The history of the cathedral is very closely associated with that of the Knights of Malta. Upon promotion each Knight had to donate at least one artefact to the cathedral.
Oh, yeah: Reason why it is called the “co”-Cathedral is because there is a second Cathedral in Malta, though this one is undoubtedly the main one.
All the pictures from the Cathedral are from postcards. Though you are allowed to take photos in there, you cannot use flash, so all my own pictures turned out too dark.
Mon-Fri: 09:30-12:30, 13:30-16:30, Sat: 09:00-14:00
The St John’s Co-Cathedral is without the doubt Malta’s most impressive church. It is designed by the architect Gerolamo Cassar and built in 1573-1578 as the conventual church of the Knights of St John. It took over from the Church of St Lawrence in Vittoriosa as the place where the Knights would gather for communal worship. Make sure that you notice Caravaccio´s masterpiece Beheading of St John.
ST JOHN'S CO-CATHEDRAL This Cathedral was built for the Knights in the 16th century. The outside is rather plain, but the interior is very ornate and beautiful. The floor consists of numerous tombstones made of multicolored marble which bear the names of the past members of the Order of St John. There are side chapels dedicated to the variuos langues of the Order also.
'The Beheading of St. John' by Caravaggio is here.
The floor of the cathedral is incredibly colourful with highly ornate and individual marble tombstones of the knights - skeletons featured in many of the designs though.
The Co-Cathedral houses Caravaggio's impressive masterpiece: The Decapitation of St. John the Baptist.
Now this is what I meant by abundant decoration inside the co-cathedral.
Mon-Fri 9.30-12.45 and 13.30-17.15
Sat 9.30-12.40 and 16.00-17.00
St.John's Church was consacrated in 1578. It's very famous for it's wall paintings and wonderful marble tomb-stone pavement. Worth to see.