Parish Church of San Cajetan
The Parish church of Hamrun was built between 1869 and 1875, to designs by the Maltese architect George Schinas (1834-1894). An Oratory was added in 1895, while its magnificent dome was completed in 1955, to a design by the Maltese architect Andrea Vassallo (1856-1928), based on that of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice.
The facade, a masterpiece by Schinas, exhibit special interest for the combination of ideas deriving from the French Gothic of Loan Cathedral and the Venetian Baroque of S. Maria della Salute. This collage of styles is another manifestation of the Romantic movement of British architecture in Malta. The facade includes 3 bays with the central axis boldly projecting outwards. The central axis resembles the frontispiece of a temple of heightened proportions stretching up the entire church facade.
The magnificent dome is considered the finest on the island. Andrea Vassallo was a member of the Institution of British Civil Engineers. By 1907 he was recognised as an architect by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Vassallo executed his design in the 1920s. Works were carried out under the direction of architect Guzè D’Amato, while the master mason was Gianni Baldacchino. The dome soars majestically over the church’s surroundings giving a specific focus to a densely-built suburb. With his design, Vassallo successfully blends medieval and classical architectural elements. The dome blended well with the Maltese townscape, while it remained in harmony with Schinas facade.
The side-aisles are connected to the main nave through a series of high arched openings adorned with Corinthian half-columns. These columns embellish the sides of the nave and between the arches. Over the crossing rises the majestic dome comprising double windows in each of the octagonal sections of the high drum. This gives adequate light onto the chancel. The choir has an apsidal wall with a cap above it. This was originally adorned with the “Glory of St Gaetano” by Ramiro Calì in 1920. Calì’s painting was replaced in 1965 with another executed by Emvin Cremona.
The titular painting of San Gaetan was executed in 1882 by the Italian artist Pietro Gagliardi (1809-1890). The painting was commissioned by Bishop Pace Forno, directly from the artist’s studio in Rome. The titular is painted in the emotionless style of the Nazarener movement, which aspired to the sober style of the early Renaissance.
The titular portrays San Gaetan in a mystical vision as he receives the Baby Jesus from the arms of Our Lady. The saint was the co-founder of the Theatine Order in 1524, together with three other companions. In 1533 he founded a house in Naples, and later extended his work to Venice and Verona. San Gaetan aspired to a life based on that of St Francis of Assisi and gave up his riches to lead a life of Christian charity and piety.
The European Union co-funded project, focussed on conservation actions to ensure the long-term preservation of this historic church’s facade and sculptures. The interventions sought to reverse and mitigate deterioration sustained through weathering, and pollutant processes, on the masonry, timber and metalwork. This was leading to the loss of the aesthetic qualities of the building as well as putting at risk its structural integrity. These actions are ensuring the long-term protection and enjoyment of this historic building lying in the heart of the community.
VISITORS OPENING HOURS:
Refer to parrocci.knisja.mt/parrocca for full details.
HOW TO ARRIVE:
Refer to Malta Public Transport website: www.publictransport.com.mt