Chapel of the langue of Italy

The chapel of the langue of Italy

Was jointly dedicated to the ‘Immaculate conception’ and ‘St Catherine of Alexandria’, the patron saint of the Italian Knights. The old titular paintings have been replaced by Mattia Preti’s alterpiece ‘The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine’ executed c.1670. The two lunettes, executed by an anonymous hand, represents scenes from the life of St Catherine –  ‘St Catherine disputing the philosophers’ and ‘The Martyrdom of St Catherine’.  The chapel of the langue of Italy has also two paintings above the two gangways, which are dedicated to ‘Mary Magdalene mourning at the tomb’- anonymous and ‘St Jerome’ of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.The original painting of the latter, today is housed inside the oratory.  Both paintings have the coat of arms of an Italian Knight Malaspina, one of the Order’s top dignitiries who was in command of the Order’s fleet battling the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. His tomb stone is situated at the centre of the chapel.The old baroque altar was replaced in 1733 and designed by Romano Carapecchia, one of the finest roman baroque architects to work in Malta.

The walls of the chapel of the langue of Italy were painted in a pale blue background with symbols of the eight pointed cross of the Order of St John, double headed eagle as a symbol of the Holy Roman Empire and the initials RC. These initials are of Grand Master Rafel Cottoner that together with his brother, Grand Master Nicolas Cottoner, initiated the re-decoration of St John’s Church.

A unique mausoleum is found inside the chapel of the langue of Italy which belongs to Italian Grand Master Gregorio Caraffa. The mausoleum consists of a marble base which rises his personal bust flanked by two small angels done in white marble. Behind the bust, done in marble-inlay, there is a representation of the Orders’ and Venices’ galleys which fought in the Battle of Dardanelles, which resulted in the defeat of the Ottoman fleet. Fra Gregorio Caraffa was in command of the Orders’ fleet and subsequenty was elected as Grand Master of the Order.

The chapel of the langue of Italy represents a fine example of Baroque harmony were architecture, paintings and sculptur blend together.

The chapel of the langue of Italy can be visited at St John’s Co Cathedral in Valletta

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