On Saturday 23nd November, visit Saint Lawrence Conventual and Collegiate Church, Vittoriosa, its Chapter Hall and the Oratory Museum.
Reverend Canon Stephen Attard, BA Sacred Theology, will share his love of the artistic heritage of Birgu’s churches in a cultural tour being organised for FAA members.
Tradition has it that the Parish of Birgu was instituted by Pope Urban II in 1090, making it the oldest parish in Malta after Mdina Cathedral. With the arrival of the Order of Saint John in 1530, the Church of Saint Lawrence was used as the Order’s first Conventual church till the year 1571. The present Church was completed in 1697 and in 1820 Saint Lawrence Church was elevated to a Collegiate with a Chapter of Canons.
The Collegiate Church of Saint Lawrence houses a great number of artistic treasures, including the recently restored titular painting by Mattia Preti, depicting the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence. The statue of Saint Joseph, the work of the celebrated sculptor Melchiorre Cafa` who was born in Vittoriosa and rose to fame in Rome, can be seen in the Oratory of Saint Joseph next to the Collegiate Church. The Oratory also serves as a Museum where the sword and hat of Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette are conserved.
The Chapter Hall in which the Chapter of Canons meet and which is not normally open to the public, conserves numerous documents of the Inquisition, history of Malta and other Melitensia, as well as the gold embroidered feast-day robes of the statue of Saint Lawrence. Two curious artifacts housed in the Chapter Hall are the desk and the bookcase which belonged to the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, bought by a Maltese businessman from an auction in Rome after WWII and donated to the Collegiate Chapter to replace the ones destroyed during wartime bombardments.
MEETING POINT: Main door of St Lawrence Church, Vittoriosa (facing the monument and the sea).
DATE/TIME: Saturday 23rd November, registration 1.45pm to leave at 2pm.