Caravaggio docudrama at St. John’s Co-Cathedral

This week saw the inauguration of the opening of the Caravaggio wing at St. John’s Co Cathedral where extensive restoration is also being carried out. Both projects were carried out by the St. John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation and the Caravaggio Wing project is part-financed by the European Union.

At the Caravaggio Wing, visitors can appreciate the painting of St. George and watch a docu-drama by the Italian artist who spent a year living in Malta in the seventeenth century; a year in which he began as a novice of the Order, then went on to be a knight until his final dramatic escape from St. Angelo, where he was a prisoner.

The oratory of St. John’s Co-Cathedral, built during the time of Grand Master Wignacourt in the seventeenth century, was restored during an extensive project that took almost eleven months.

The Chief Executive and Curator of the Co-Cathedral, Cynthia Degiorgio, said the restoration is significant because thirteen paintings by Mattia Preti have been restored along with the gilding of the wooden roof.

“These are the last batch Mattia Preti painted before he died, he was already older and they show that even though he was a certain age, he still had the ability to draw immensely beautiful paintings.”

Ms Degiorgio added that Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s painting ‘The Beheading of St. John the Baptist’ was illuminated with a new LED lighting system, which will eliminate heat-induced damage and rays of light that were cast on the painting.

In another section, called the Caravaggio Wing, where the painting of St Jerome Writing is also exhibited, new life has been injected with an investment of two and a half million Euros.

“That painting deserved space as was in fact the purpose for which it was painted given that it was hung in a studio by Ipoleto Manespina, and was certainly not to be on display with many other paintings, and a work by Caravaggio ought not to be confused with other paintings. ”

Also at the Caravaggio Wing, in addition to St. Jermome’s Hall, visitors can watch ‘Meet Caravaggio’: a short docu-drama about the artist’s life in Malta in 1607. In the year that Caravaggio spent in Malta two of his masterpieces were earmarked for St. John’s Co-Cathedral; his largest painting is that of the beheading of St. John the Baptist and also the painting of St. Jerome.

“There will also be a feature called ‘Meet Caravaggio’. Everyone visiting St John’s Cathedral will be enriched after learning about Caravaggio’s story which is a dramatic one particularly when he left Rome until he came to Malta. It is something that no visitor will forget. ”

The Caravaggio Wing project was partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund, eighty percent funded by the European Union, and twenty percent by the Foundation of St. John’s Co-Cathedral.