Tag Archives: Order of St John

The Palace Armoury | Valletta, Malta | 18 September 2014

The Palace Armoury is one of the world’s largest collections of arms and armour that is still housed in its original building. The Knights of St John were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks. From Malta, their island stronghold, these combatant aristocrats from the noblest houses of Europe, carried out their relentless crusade against the Ottoman Turks in defence of the Catholic faith. The Palace Armoury is certainly one of the most visible and tangible symbols of the past glories of the Sovereign Hospitaller Military Order of Malta.

Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt transferred the Order’s arsenal to the Magisterial Palace in 1604 where it was the pride of the Order. Apart from being lavishly adorned with elaborate trophies of arms, it held enough arms and armour to equip thousands of soldiers. It was housed in the magnificent hall at the rear of the building, right above its present location. At present, it is displayed inside two halls that were originally the stables of the palace.

Following the forced departure of the Order of St. John from Malta, the armoury somehow lost much of its original grandeur. However, it was restored and was officially opened as Malta’s first public museum in 1860. Although only a fraction of its original splendour remains, the Armoury still contains abundant material of Italian, German, French and Spanish origin from principal production centres. Also displayed is an exotic selection of Islamic and Ottoman arms and armour. Apart from the massed arms of the common soldiers in the collection, the enriched personal armours of the nobility still manage to make a statement.

Information from:
Web: http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/the-palace-armoury/

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

Helmets | The Palace Armoury | Valletta, Malta | 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

St. John’s Co-Cathedral | Valletta, Malta | 16 September 2014

St John’s Co-Cathedral is a gem of Baroque art and architecture. It was built as the conventual church for the Knights of St. John. The Grand Masters and several knights donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions to enrich it with only the best works of art. This church is till this very day an important shrine and a sacred place of worship. It is also a venue for cultural events.

Information from:
Web: http://stjohnscocathedral.com

Described as the first complete example of the high Baroque anywhere, St. John’s Cathedral epitomises the role of its original patrons, the Knights of St. John. The Cathedral is testimony to the talent of Maltese military architect Gerolamo Cassar, with Mattia Preti’s intricately carved stone wall designs, as well as the painted vaulted ceiling and side altars with scenes from the life of St. John. The Cathedral also houses one of Europe’s most impressive and famous art works – Caravaggio’s Beheading of St. John the Baptist. The Cathedral was a shrine to the Knights, as many sons of Europe’s noble families from the 16th to 18th centuries lie buried here. Their intricate, marble-inlaid tombstones form a magnificently crafted pavimento. Also a resting place to the founder of Valletta, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Vallette, his tomb lies in the crypt, a quiet sanctuary and place of contemplation away from the busy streets outside.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/stjohnscocathedralmuseum

© Tony Blood - Caravaggio's St. Jerome Writing, St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Caravaggio’s St. Jerome Writing, St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood - St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood - St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood - St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood - St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood - St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood - St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood - St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood - St. John's Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

© Tony Blood – St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta Malta, 16 July 2014

St. Ursula Monastery | Valletta, Malta | 25 August 2014

The monastery of Saint Ursula was first established at Vittoriosa, but in 1595 it was transferred to Valletta. The nuns follow the rule written by Blessed Raymond du Puy, first Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John. During the time of the Knights the monastery was subject to the Grandmaster, but since the departure of the Order from Malta, the monastery has been directly subject to the Bishop.

Information from:
Web: http://thechurchinmalta.org/en/posts/1672/st-ursulas-monastery

For more information on the history of The Monastery and Church of St. Ursula see link below:
Web: http://www.orderofmalta-malta.org.mt/stursula/

© Tony Blood - Nuns Rehearsing. St. Ursula Monastery. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Nuns Rehearsing. St. Ursula Monastery. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

National Museum of Fine Arts | Valletta, Malta | 12 August 2014

The National Museum of Fine Arts is located at the lower end of South Street (Valletta) within an area including other fine historical palaces dating from the time of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The area is also well known for its wine bars and cafés and offers little-known breathtaking views of the city’s grid-shaped streets which visitors usually explore on their way to the museum.

Set in a complementing historic building, the museum presents a multifaceted overview of art and artistic expression in Malta from the Late Medieval period to the contemporary. The building was originally one of the earliest to be built in Valletta and served as residence to successive knights of the Order of St John. It was later rebuilt during the 1760s by Fra Ramon de Sousa y Silva, a wealthy Portuguese knight of the Order of St John, and adopted as his private residence. During the early nineteenth century the palace was home to Louis-Charles of Orleans, Comte de Beaujolais during his brief stay on the island followed shortly by his demise. By the 1820′s the palace became known as Admiralty House and was the seat of the Commander-in Chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet. It also hosted high-ranking personalities both as residents and guests. These include Lord Mountbatten of Burma, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George V and Queen Elizabeth of Britain.

The palace was officially inaugurated as the National Museum of Fine Arts in 1974 and has since then been Malta’s most important museum for the arts. Highlights from the collection on display include paintings by leading local and internationally acclaimed artists, precious Maltese silverware, statuary in marble bronze and wood, fine furniture items and splendid maiolica pieces. The collection also includes works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632), Jusepe Ribera (1591-1652) and Guido Reni (1575-1642). The large piano nobile halls house works of art from the Early Renaissance to the High Baroque with a focus on the corpus of works by the Italian Baroque painter Mattia Preti. This is the biggest corpus of works by Mattia Preti on display in any public museum.

Information from:
Web: http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/national-museum-of-fine-arts/

© Tony Blood - National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

© Tony Blood – National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

© Tony Blood – National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

© Tony Blood - National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

© Tony Blood – National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

© Tony Blood - National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

© Tony Blood – National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

© Tony Blood - National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

© Tony Blood – National Museum of Fine Arts. Valletta Malta, 12 August 2014

Fort Manoel | Manoel Island, Malta | 1 August 2014

Fort Manoel is a fortification located on Manoel Island in Marsamxett Harbour to the north west of Valletta and commands the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour and the anchorage of Sliema Creek.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/fortmanoel

Fort Manoel is a fortification on the island of Malta. Fort Manoel is a star fort, with much of its ditches and walls formed from the native rock of Manoel Island. The fort was built by the Order of Saint John the patronage of Portuguese Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena. The first stone was laid by de Vilhena himself on 14 September 1723, and work progressed rapidly. The gateway was built by 1726 and the ditch had been excavated by 1732. The fort was complete by 1755, although by this time de Vilhena had died. The original design work for a fort on the island, then known as Isolotto, was the work of the French engineer René Jacob de Tigné. The final design also incorporated the work of Charles François de Mondion, at that time the Order’s resident military engineer in charge of works of fortification and defence. Mondion also supervised the construction and after his death, he was buried in the fort’s chapel. The fort was an active military establishment initially under the Knights and later under British Military control from its construction through until 1906 when the British military finally decommissioned the fort’s guns.Military re-enactment of the Second World War at Fort Manoel.During the Second World War, a battery of 3.7-inch heavy anti-aircraft guns was deployed in and around the fort. The guns were mounted in concrete gun emplacements and deployed in a semicircle around the fort. The fort suffered considerable damage to its ramparts, barracks and chapel as a result of aerial bombing during the war. After this it was left abandoned and it suffered more damage from disuse and vandalism.

The fort was left in a state of disrepair for many years due to the ravages of time and damage sustained during the Second World War. In August 2001, MIDI plc began restoration work on the fort. Large parts of the fort were completely rebuilt, including the chapel and the main gate. It was reopened to the public on 31 October 2009. The restoration of Fort Manoel together with that of the nearby Fort Tigné cost a total of €30 million. Fort Manoel is featured in the fiction book Il-Misteru tal-Forti Manoel (The Mystery of Fort Manoel) by Charles Zarb published in 2007. Since the restoration the fort served as a location for the shooting of the climactic scene of the ninth episode (“Baelor”) of the TV series Game of Thrones.

Information from:
Web: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Manoel

© Tony Blood - Fort Manoel, Manoel Island. Valletta Malta, 1 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Fort Manoel, Manoel Island. Valletta Malta, 1 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Fort Manoel, Manoel Island. Valletta Malta, 1 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Fort Manoel, Manoel Island. Valletta Malta, 1 August 2014

The National Library of Malta | Valletta, Malta | 19 July 2014

The idea of a public Library in Malta originated in 1555 with the issue of a decree by Fra’ Claude de la Sengle, Grand Master of the Order of St. John, whereby all books in the legacy of deceased knights were to pass to the Common Treasury of the Order. It was not until 1776, however, that the formal foundation of a Bibliotheca Publica was decreed at the Chapter General of the Order convened by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan. The main collections were those belonging to Fra’ Louis Guérin de Tencin, Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order who had died in 1766, and of Cardinal Joaquin Portocarrero, which de Tencin himself had purchased on the Cardinal’s death in 1760. The Library was for a time named Bibliotheca Tanseana in de Tencin’s honour. De Tencin is still today considered the founder of the Library. The books accruing to the Library, some very rare or with fine bindings, continued to be kept in cramped quarters in an edifice known as the Forfantone. De Rohan decreed the building of new premises to the designs of Stefano Ittar, a Polish-born architect residing in Italy. The building, situated in the heart of Malta’s capital city, Valletta, was completed in 1796 but two years later the Order of St. John was expelled from Malta by Napoleon and during the French 2-year period, the books remained at their former premises. It was only in 1812 – during the British administration – that the new premises were officially inaugurated by the British Civil Commissioner, Sir Hildebrand Oakes. From then on, the Malta Public Library, as it was then called, continued to flourish with a number of new acquisitions. In 1925, the Library acquired its “legal deposit” status by an Act of Parliament and 11 years later was granted the prefix “Royal” by King George V. The following year the Royal Malta Library took over the custody of the Archives of the Order of St. John which were transferred from the Public Registry premises. With the setting up of the new Public Library in Floriana in 1976, the Library in Valletta was officially designated as the “National Library of Malta” and became solely a research and reference Library.

In its capacity as National Library, the mission of the Bibliotheca, as it is more commonly known, is to acquire, catalogue and preserve manuscripts and all printed books, as well as periodicals and journals issued in Malta. Act no. II of 1925, and subsequently the Malta Libraries Act 2011, instituting the Legal Deposit imposed on all Maltese authors and editors publishing in Malta or abroad, the obligation to deposit two free copies of each of their publications, one at the National Library of Malta and the other at the Gozo Public Library. For this reason, the National Library has become the main source of Melitensia with the function of placing the written heritage of Malta at the disposal of researchers and general public.

Information from:
Web: http://education.gov.mt/en/education/malta-libraries/Pages/National%20Library/History.aspx

© Tony Blood - The National Library of Malta. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – The National Library of Malta. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014