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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - The Cathedral Museum

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 The Cathedral Museum

Address: Archbishop Square, Mdina, Tel: (+356) 21454697

Open: Mon-Fri 9:00-16:30, Sat 9:00-15:30

Tickets: Adults €5.00, Children €3.50 

The Museum traces its origins to 1896 when the Cathedral acquired a handsome collection of paintings and other artwork bequeathed to it by Count Saverio Marchese. The collection underwent a major reorganization in the years following World War II, and it finally became accessible to the public in 1952. On the initiative of Mgr. Edoardo Coleiro, the collection was relocated to the Old Seminary building. This operation was coordinated by Raffaello Causa with assistance from John Cauchi. The museum in its current form was launched on 5th January 1969.

The collection is spread over the building's two floors. On the ground floor are located miscellanea that include collections of furniture, silverware, medals, Roman remains and artifacts from the old Cathderal. The collection on the first floor is more homogenous as it contains items that may be broadly classified into (i) liturgical vestments and accessories and (ii) paintings, the latter category taking the lion's share.

The purpose of the annotations below is to give a broad perspective of the Museum's collection whilst suggesting highlights to look out for during your visit. The lettered items correspond to the lettering on the accompanying ground floor and first floor plans.

 

The Museum's Collections

 

A) The fifteen silver silver statues are dated 1740-3 and were orginally created by Arrighi for St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta. In addition to the twelve Apostles, this collection includes statues of the Virgin Mary, St. Paul and St. John the Baptist.

B) Silver objects from the Solidality of All Souls in Valletta. The various objects here bear motifs related to the general themes of Death and Purgatory. Amognst the items on display here are chalices, monstrances and a lecturn. Prominent in this collection is a large gilandra from the time of Grand Master de Rohan. This device essentially served as a mobile tabernacle with a rotating door, in which the sacrament (i.e. the consecrated host that Catholics revere as the true body of Christ) is carried and displayed during the solemn occasion of Corpus Christi and other liturgical celebrations.

C)A large Petronilla Bell is the major item here by Victor and Nicolaus, from Venice. An image of St. Paul is embossed on one side whilst on each of the other three sides is a heraldic lion.

D) Further liturgical paraphernalia including chalices, silver binding for book and gold monstrances.

E) Items donated by Dr. Jimmy Farrugia and Mrs. Doris Farrugia: a collection of water colour paintings, a screen, a collection of Maltese furniture, paintings with a maritme theme and a Maltese wall clock

F) More items donated by Dr. Jimmy Farrugia and Mrs. Doris Farrugia: this collection comprises Maltese silverware from the 17th to the 19th century and includes such items as pots, lamps, chalices and dishes. A small section on far end of this room comprises items donated by Joseph and Iris Ellul Mattei.

G) This sections includes a set of commemorative medals issued during pontificate of John Paul II.There is also a horse drawn coach. The inscription on the emblem here reads: Ilkoll ahwa fi Kristu, meaning: We are all brothers in Christ.

H) Amongst the notarial documents here are: a declaration of the cession of Malta to Antonio de Cardona, signed 11 February, 1421; and a document confirming the end of feudal rule in Malta, dated 6th January, 1440. The elaborate Coat of Arms of Charles V of Spain was recovered from the apse of the old Cathedral.

I) Courtyard contains some old implements such as a stone olive press.

J) Exhibition of items belonging to Dun Karm Psaila, the National Poet of Malta and the author of the National Anthem. Amongst his personal effects that may be found here are a piano, a pen with which he wrote many of his earlier poems, typewriter, passport, and everal manuscripts.

K) Roman Remains

L) Artefacts from Old Cathedral, including Fragments of Frescos.

M) Further vestments, including a collection of antependia. Illuminated choral books.

N) Chapel with altar, on the gospel side of which is a marble plaque under which is buried Bishop de Bussan's heart

O) Large collection of paintings, including works by Mattia Preti, such as the Mocking of Christ. Also in this collection are works by de Favray and Francesco Zahra. A large section is devoted to scenery and landscapes.

P) At the entrance of this hall is the Annunciation, a large painting from the bottega of Mattia Preti. On other end of the hall is a 16th century polyptych from the Circle of Luis Borrassa showing salient episodes from the life of St. Paul.

Q) Picture gallery comprising works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Notable paintings here include views of the grand harbour by Giovanni Schranz, and St. John the Evangelist by Giuseppe Cali. St. Lawrence is depicted pleading for Malta's Victory in a painting by Ignazio Cortis.

R)Works by Albrecht Dürer. Including 33 works comprising The Small Passion and a further 20 works illustrating the Life of the Virgin.

S) A large collection of paintings and other art forms. There is a collection of portraits and scence from ancient Greek mythologicical accounts, whilst many paintings depict Christian themes. There is also a small wax sculpture of St. Paul, Attributed to Melchiorre Gafa'. Near the exit is a bust in honour of John Cauchi, former curator of the National Museum of Fine Arts.

T) Scluptures in olive wood by Antonio Agius.