Chapel of our Lady of Philermos

Chapel of our Lady of Philermos

The chapel used to house the image of Our Lady of Philermos, a much venerated Byzintine icon already recorded in the 14th century on the island of Rhodes which the Order of St John brought with them in 1530. The miraculous icon was greatly devoted especially before various battles that the Knights of St John fought. The Knights used to congregate and ask for the intercession if Our Lady of Philermos. When the Knights returned victorious the keys of the defeated castles would be presented to the Chapel. The keys of the castles of Lepanto, Hammamet, Passava and Patras still hang on it’s walls. When Napoleone Bonaparte, in 1798, expelled the Order of St John’s from Malta, Grand Master Ferdinand Hompesch took it with him and passed into the Russian Imperial collections after Tsar Paul I was elected as Grand Master.  Today, the icon is exhibited at Fine Arts Museum of Montenegro. The old image was replaced in 1868 by a painting of Pietro Gagliardi, now found inside the Mdina Cathedral museum in 1954. Today, after the wishes of pious Fra Gerolomo Caraffa, a 17th century  copy of Our Lady of Lanciano (Matera), better known as Our Lady of Carafa, which was removed from the Chapel of the langue of Italy, adorns the Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos.

The jurisdiction of the Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos was separate from the rest of St John’s Church. It enjoyed a independent financial endownment administered by the vice-prior of the church.

The Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos is adorned with an altar and facade of fine-inlay marble. The richly carved gilded ceiling contains paintings representing ‘The Annunciation, ‘The Virgin’s Assumption’ and ‘The Coronation of the Virgin’. In 1752, the chapel was provided with a Silver Gate paid by the Knights Guillame de Salle and Francesco Rovero de Guarena. Worth to note are other works of art , a fine late Renaissance painted monumental cross done by Polidoro Caldara and a ‘Madonna with Child’.

For opening times please click St John’s Cathedral.

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