The North Transept – Mdina Cathedral Museum Archives

The North Transept

Dedicated to the Annunciation, the chapel in the left transept houses a marvellous altarpiece created by Domenico Bruschi (1840-1910) of Perugia in 1886. The Romantic styled painting replaces a previous painting of the Annunciation made by Preti’s bottega, which can presently be viewed in the museum. One of the works of Preti’s bottega may still be found in the transept, that of St. Paul conquering the Moors. This work was inspired by a famous Maltese legend, in which St. Paul is believed to have appeared on the bastions of Mdina atop a white steed during a Moor invasion in 1429. The lower part depicting the North African corsairs may even be evidence of limited participation from Preti. An organ commissioned for the new cathedral in 1774 and made by Antonio Rossi of Naples was later, in 2005, restored to its former glory by Robert Buhagiar.

In 1740, Archbishop Paolo Alpheran paid for the marble works of the Blessed Chapel of the Sacrament, as well as donated candlesticks made out of silver, the Carte Gloria, as well as the paliotto which was created by the silversmith Belli in Rome. Another of the gifts of Archbishop Alpheran are the silver tabernacle and monstrance shrine found on the altar. These gifts were most likely designed by Zahra. The tabernacle is thought to be one of the finest creations produced by Maltese silversmiths, and though the assay mark is that of ‘Argento dell’ombrellone’ (eighteenth century Rome), the maker’s mark is of Annetto Pullicino, dated 1723. Along with the altar, the total sum of money donated by the Archbishop Paolo Alpheran for the construction of the chapel totalled at an astounding 10,800 scudi. Three bishops are buried beneath the chapel. The ledger tomb slabs of  Giacomo Cannaves, Davide Cocco Palmieri, and Bartolomeo Rull were designed by Francesco Zahra and created by Cluadio Durante. The same artists then created a memorial to Archbishop Alpheran. An intricately carved wooden gate installed in 1757 encloses the chapel.