St. Paul’s Square, Mdina, Malta
The Cathedral also know as St. Paul’s Cathedral is the architectural crown of the elegant, walled city of Mdina. A late 17th century masterpiece of Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafà, it lies on the site of a much earlier Norman church that was destroyed by the violent earthquake of 1693.
According to tradition, the earlier church had been built on the site of the house of Publius, the Roman’s chief man on the Islands, who was converted to Christianity by St. Paul in A.D. 60. The Cathedral’s imposing facade greets you abruptly as you emerge from Mdina’s narrow streets. The building is topped by a magnificent dome, possibly one of Gafà’s greatest achievements. the dome has though had a chequered history: a succession of painters have tried to embellish its interior.
Today’s dome interior dates from the 1950s. In the Mdina cathedral, you find works by the Calabrian artist and Knight, Mattia Preti. The pavement of marble-inlaid tombstones carries the coats of arms and inscriptions of the bishops of Mdina and other members of the Cathedral chapter. In the choir behind the main altar is Preti’s monumental depiction of The Conversion of St. Paul. It was part of the original Norman church, and survived the earthquake.
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