Silver Artifacts – Mdina Cathedral Museum Archives

Silver Artifacts

During several occasions, one might be lucky to come across a number of silver artifacts on display inside the cathedral. A fifteenth-century processional cross which survived from the old cathedral is one of the most significant items displayed. This intricately detailed piece of work might be that of Giuseppe Bonello, though no one is completely sure who to thank for this masterpiece. On Maundy Thursday one can find a particular tabernacle above the Altar of Repose. The delicate work put into this particular artifact is indeed intricate. The use of precious materials such as silver and silk gives an insight to the importance which religion has always held in Maltese society. One simply can’t help but notice the monstrance shrine, consisting of a concave niche which rotates to screen the monstrance.

Dating back to 1718, Antonio Famucelli’s masterpiece rests on six scroll feet and is crowned with red velvet and silver. 15 silver statues depicting the apostles, St. Paul, St. John the Baptist and thes Madonna done by Antonio Arrighi, a leading silversmith in Rome in the 1740s. Though these statues were stolen by Napoleon in 1798, the Cathedral negotiated their return in exchange for several other silver artifacts, the list of which is found in the Cathedral itself. Yet another notable work of silver is the processional cross resting on a staff longer than two metres. Two coats of arms were added to the cross at a later stage, a possible sign of patronage for later renovations. One legend holds that De Buillion, a Frankish knight who led the First Crusade into Jerusalem, used this very cross. Though this particular legend may not be a certainty, the cross undoubtedly has a connection to the Order of St. John as it depicts the effigy of St. John the Baptist.