Malta is one of the oldest Christian countries in the world since St Paul’s shipwreck in 60 AD. It has remained a Christian community ever since. Locals were very devoted in the past and you can notice their craftsmanship in the way churches and cathedrals are adorned and decorated. The younger generations are changing and churches are not as “popular” as they once were.
A Cathedral in St. Paul's Honor
The oldest Cathedral on the Island dates back to the 12th Century. It was built in Mdina, which is also known as the silent city. This Cathedral was erected to commemorate St Paul’s unexpected arrival on the Rock. It is thought that St Paul left such an influence on Publius who used to be the Governor that the Cathedral was built where they first met. The cathedral is called the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul's (Il-Katidral Metropolitan ta’ San Pawl).
St. Paul’s Cathedral, was severely damaged during an earthquake in Sicily in 1963. It was later rebuilt by the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa'. Until today it is known as his grand masterpiece. The only pieces that remained undamaged from the earthquake were the choir and the sacristy and they are still being used in the Cathedral today.
Interesting Fact: the ceiling of the cathedral is full of frescoes picturing the life of St Paul on the Rock whereas the floor consists of tombstones where several bishops and noble families are buried.
Co-Cathedral of St. John
Between 1572 and 1577 the Co-Cathedral of St John was built (ll- Kon-Katirdal ta San Gwann) by the Order of St John. It was dedicated to St John the Baptist. Initially, the idea behind this Cathedral was to host all the Knights of St John as a conventual church. This was similar to the one they had in Birgu which was called the St Lawrence Church (Il Knisja ta’ San Lawrenz).
The Order of St John had the idea and took on the project to build the cathedral in Valletta during the Grand Master La Vallette period (hence the name 🙂). Obviously they wanted a church they can attend to in the city.