Chapel of the langue of Auvergne

Chapel of the langue of Auvergne

Is dedicated to St.Sebestian and together with the Chapel of the langue of Provence they share the oldest known altars in St John’s Cathedral.

The chapel received it’s first adornment of the altar facade in the mid 17th century. The walls were richly carved in stone in 1666 and gilded in 24 carat gold leaf. Two twisted columns, which became fashionable after Bernini’s baldacchino of the Vatican basilica in 1624 were added.

The main alter piece is dedicated to St.Sebastian, and most probably attributed to Silvestro Querio (1610-1672), a painter who had settled in Malta in 1620’s. He was better known as ‘Il Romano’. Recently , the alter piece was attributed as well to Lucas Garnier. The style of the alterpiece is an interesting work of art caught between Mannerism and Caravaggism, which the artist was presumably influenced. St Sebestian is seen, as most commonly depicted in art and literature in the catholic world, tied to a post or tree and shot with various arrows that pierced his body.

One of the most active painters in Malta in the 17th century, Giuseppe D’Arena (1647-1719) executed the two lunettes inside the two lateral arches. The two lunettes depict scenes from the life of St.Sebestian, ‘Pope Caius blessing the Saint on his way to Martyrdom’ and ‘The Martyrdom of the Saint’. Both lunettes are influenced by Preti’s art, explainable by the fact that Giuseppe D’Arena painted them around 1667 when Preti had almost completed the decoration of the vault which depicts the life of St John the baptist.

Inside the chapel one finds only one mausoleum, dedicated to the Grand Master Annet Clement de Chattes-Gessan, who ruled briefly between 9th February and 2nd June 1660. The floor of the chapel consists of tomb stones of Knights from Auvernge.

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