The Main Nave – Mdina Cathedral Museum Archives

The Main Nave

Marble slabs cover the floor of the whole main nave and many other aisles. Some of these marble slabs are proper tombs, while others are simply commemorations of the canons of the Cathedral or simply laymen. Certain notable commemorations are those of two noble families, and of Francesco Azopardi (1748-1809), the Maestro di Cappella. Rich and colourful tomb slabs which act as a remembrance of  several bishops may be found in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament as well as in the two transepts; two of which are even found embedded near the side door which leads one to Archbishop Square. The remains of other bishops, as well as those of the five who were buried in the chancel may be found in the crypt. 

Close to the monumental staircase of the chapter hall, one finds a white marble stone which is affixed to the wall of the inner vestry. This tomb is the eldest surviving memorial found in the Cathedral, that of Bishop Tommaso Bosio (1538-1539) who was previously the Vice-Chancellor of the Knights of the Order of St. John. Though not identical to the lapidary found in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, that found in St. Paul’s Cathedral is still held to have great artistic value. In 1774, the Sicilian brothers Vincenzo, Antonio, and Francesco Manno from Sicily finished the fresco on the ceiling of the Cathedral depicting moments from the life of St. Paul.

An earthquake in 1856 destroyed the brothers’ works on the dome of the Cathedral, though the dome itself survived thanks to the mason Bonavia. Since then, the dome has been repainted many times, the last time by the Italian artist Mario Caffaro Rore in 1954. The coat of arms of Clement XI, the presiding pope during the building of the new Cathedral may be found on the main arch facing the high altar. A plethora of other marvellous features may be found throughout the nave such as the stained glass windows which illuminate it, and the several statues found throughout it.