Chapel of the langue of Castile

The chapel of the langue of Castile

Is dedicated to St James the Less, the patron saint of Spain. The altar peice was executed by Mattia Preti and depicts ‘St James the Apostle’. The altar and it’s main facade in marble were re-done in 1792, a few years before the Order of St John was expelled from Malta by Napoleon Bonaparte, pertaining Mattia’s main altar painting. The two lunettes, which are also works of Mattia Preti depicts ‘St James assisting the spaniards in defeating the moors’ and ‘St James vision of our lady of pillar’. These both lunettes appear to date from the late years of Mattia Preti’s works, 1680s, when the artist returned to the earth-colour harmonies of his Neapolitan years. The wall carvings and gilding, which follows the same decorations of all the other chapels were done in 1661. The tabernacle door consists of an icon which was donated by christian slaves which were captured by the Turkish fleet. The ship was mutinied and the christian slaves succeeded to sail the ship back to Malta. This event is recounted on the back of the tabernacle door.

The Chapel of the langue of Castile also holds two magnificent mausolea, one is dedicated to Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena and the other of Grand Master Pinto. Grand Masters’ Manoel de Vilhena monument is considered as being one of the most spectacular mausoleum inside St John’s Co-Cathedral. It is a solid monument of marble and bronze, resulting in a most complete Rococo monument in the church. The monument was executed by Massimiliano Benzi, c.1740, and a bronze relief, at the heart of the mausoleum, depicts architects presenting  the plan of Fort Manoel, which was commissioned and named after  Grand Master Manoel deVilhena. During his reign, the gates of Vittoriosa were re-built, the new gate and the Vilhena Palace at Mdina and Manoel Theater in Valletta.

On the same side of the wall of the chapel of the langue of Castile is the mausoleum dedicated to Grand Master Pinto,  who reigned for 32 years. The monument is less spectacular than the Rococo style of Vilhena. It  represents the neo-classic style that followed the floral Rococo one. However is still adorned with precious stones and a mosaic self portrait of Grand Master Pinto, after french artist Antoine de Favray.

The chapel of the langue of Castile can be visited at St John’ Co-cathedral in Valletta.


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