Sunday 5 July Valetta, Malta
We did not visit them all on this Sunday but we did enjoy sung Communion at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral where they happened to have 40 visiting Swedish catechumen students and their priest who gave an excellent address on discipleship. In addition we were treated to choral support from the visiting choir of Pusey College Oxford. Twenty young men and women who sang with passion and faith accompanied by their own organist who played some amazing Bach before and after the service. It was a friendly and very British affair in a historic, quite plain neo-Classical church.
An extraordinary contrast is the St John’s Catholic Co-Cathedral …an ornately Baroque masterpiece with a painted barrel ceiling, amazing tiles on the floor covering the tombs of famous Knights Hospitalers, an extraordinarily ornate sanctuary area and eight chapels equally rich in ornamentation, one for each of the “langes” or areas from which the Hospitaler Knights came. In addition the oratory contains the huge Caravaggio painting of the beheading of John the Baptist ( no photography permitted) and the smaller Caravaggio painting of St Jerome writing. This is indeed one of the world’s most decorative Baroque cathedrals.
We were privileged also to participate in parts of devotional services in the Ethiopian community church (which began at 8.00am and was still raging at 10.45am! Also the much more quietly decorated Baroque Church of St Francis and the relative modern music of the Carmelite Monastery church.
The National archaeological museum contains megalithic pottery and figurine remains dating back to 2000- 5000 BC as well as considerably more pottery remains from the Phoenician period of about 1000 BC.
The Garden area overlooking the harbour contains sculpted tributes to many heroes of Malta including Churchill amongst many others. Valetta is to be the 2016 Cultural Capital of Europe and it is easy to see why with even new buildings still being built in the style of the existing architecture which is uniformly stunning. Valetta remains one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and certainly the city with the most consistently uniform style.
Monday 6th July:
Today was a travelling day flying Aegean Airlines to Rome over Sicily and the Italian coast. We found the train to the city from the airport and a cab to take us to the Pullitzer Hotel on the outskirts of Rome. We are looking forward to being in one place for a week.