St Paul's Pro-Cathedral, Valletta

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St Paul's Pro-Cathedral
The Pro-Cathedral and Collegiate Parish church of Saint Paul
Il-Pro-Katidral ta' San Pawl
Die St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral am Independence Square. - panoramio.jpg
St Paul's Pro-Cathedral, Valletta
35°54′1.2″N 14°30′41.5″E / 35.900333°N 14.511528°E / 35.900333; 14.511528
LocationInsigne Valettae.svg Valletta
Country Malta
DenominationChurch of England
ChurchmanshipHigh church
WebsiteCathedral Website
Founded20 March 1839
Founder(s)Queen Adelaide
DedicationSt Paul
Dedicated1 November 1844
Functional statusActive
Architect(s)Richard Lankesheer (later adjustments by William Scamp)[1]
Spire height200 ft (61 m)[1]
ProvinceArchbishop of Canterbury arms.svg Canterbury
DioceseDiocese in Europe
ArchdeaconryItaly and Malta
Bishop(s)Robert Innes
ChancellorSimon Godfrey
Organist(s)Hugo Agius Muscat
Philip Galea
Churchwarden(s)Clive Bennington
Bernice Caruana
COA of St Paul's Pro-Cathedral, Malta.jpg

St Paul's Pro-Cathedral (Malti: Il-Pro-Katridral ta' San Pawl), officially The Pro-Cathedral and Collegiate Church of Saint Paul, is an Anglican pro-cathedral of the Diocese in Europe situated in Independence Square, Valletta, Malta. A "pro-cathedral" is a church with cathedral status though not being the main cathedral. It is one of three cathedrals of the Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe.

Origin and construction[edit]

Interior of the cathedral

The cathedral was commissioned by the Dowager Queen Adelaide during a visit to Malta in the 19th Century when she found out that there was no place of Anglican worship on the island. Prior to this Anglican services were held in a room in the Grand Master’s Palace.[2] Built on the site of the Auberge d'Allemagne (the conventual home of the German Knights Hospitaller), the cathedral was designed by William Scamp and was built between 1839 and 1844. Queen Adelaide laid the foundation stone on 20 March 1839 and her banner hangs above the choir stalls. The original plans were designed by Richard Lankasheer; however, the building proved unstable, thus work had to resume on plans by Scamp in 1841. Scamp's designs located the altar on the west side of the church, but the Bishop of Gibraltar had a more conservative view, thus the designs were altered and Scamp designed an apse inside the great doors to hold the sanctuary on the east side.[3]

War period and repairs[edit]

During World War II the cathedral received minor damage and the roof collapsed, but most of the structure remained intact. During restoration works the original designs by Scump started to take shape. A quire and rood screen were built on the west side of the cathedral. A pulpit was also incorporated with the screen dedicated to Sir Winston Churchill. The new chancery was dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher on 2 December 1949 in the presence of Princess Elizabeth. The east side of the cathedral was then transformed into a baptistery. The under-croft, constructed from remains of the basement of the Auberge d'Allemagne was never used. In 1928, the Bishop of Gibraltar Nugent Hicks opened the under-croft as the new parish hall. In 1938, it was transformed into a gas-proof air raid shelter, which in the early days of the conflict was used by the chaplain, his wife and scores of Maltese citizens. In 2005 it was restored and upgraded.[4]


A Valletta landmark due to its spire rising over 60 metres, it is constructed with Maltese limestone in a neo-classical style.[1] The cathedral has columns with capitals of the Corinthian order while the capitals of the six columns of the portico are of the Ionic order.[5] The internal dimensions of the building are 33.5 metres x 20.4 metres. Behind the main altar is a painting titled Ecce Homo, the work of A E Chalon, donated in 2014.


Landmark tower

The cathedral's steeple is a landmark on its own being notably visible in the Marsamxett Harbour.[5][6] The church building is listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.[7] On 9 February 2017, the church council launched a project to restore the building and steeple with the aim of raising €3,000,000 to cover the costs.[8]


Above the entrance to the cathedral is located the organ that originated in Chester Cathedral in northwest England. The one-manual instrument was built in 1684 by Bernard Smith. There is a long-held tradition that it was played by George Frederick Handel when on his way to Dublin for the first public performance of the “Messiah”. It is believed he carried out some final rehearsals to fine-tune some of the choruses at Chester Cathedral in 1742 when the organ was housed in the Cathedral. However, it has been changed and rebuilt several times, most recently by Kenneth Jones of Dublin.

Association with British military forces[edit]

The oak panels around the High Altar are a memorial to the Allied units which took part in the defence of Malta between 1940 and 1943. Twelve flags hang in the aisles representing amongst others the Royal Air Force, the British Merchant Navy, and the Royal Navy.

Chancellors of the Cathedral[edit]

St Paul's Pro-Cathedral around 1856

As of 7 January 2018, the current Chancellor is Simon Godfrey (since 2009).[4]

  • John Cleugh (1844 – 1877)
  • Henry White (1877 – 1878)
  • Ambrose Hardy (1878 – 1895)
  • Arthur Babington Cartwright (1896 – 1901)
  • Franklyn de Winton Lushington (1901 – 1903)
  • Daniel Collyer (1903 – 1905)
  • Charles Samuel Gustavus Lutz (1905)
  • Charles George Gull (1906 – 1907)
  • Walter Naish (1907 – 1908)
  • William Evered (1908 – 1910)
  • Arthur Fowler Newton (1910 – 1912)
  • Frederick Davies Brock (1913 – 1919)
  • Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus (1919 – 1922)
  • Arthur Cyprian Moreton (1922 – 1926)
  • Noel Ambrose Marshall (1926 – 1931)
  • Reginald Morton Nicholls (1931 – 1944)
  • Francis William Hicks (1944 – 1954)
  • Charles Paton (1955 – 1958)
  • Henry Rupert Colton (1959 – 1963)
  • Robert William Pope (1964 – 1965)
  • Launcelot MacManaway (1965 – 1966)
  • Donald Young (1966 – 1967)
  • Henry George Warren MacDonald (1967 – 1969)
  • Gordon Hyslop (1969 – 1973)
  • Howard Cole (1973 – 1977)
  • David Inderwick Strangeways (1977 – 1981)
  • John Walter Evans (1981 – 1985)
  • Kenneth William Alfred Roberts (1986 – 1989)
  • Philip John Cousins (1989 – 1995)
  • Alan Geoffrey Woods (1996 – 2003)
  • Tom Mendel (2004 – 2008)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "One World - Protecting the most significant buildings, monuments and features of Valletta". Times of Malta. Birkirkara. 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  2. ^ Gaul, Simon (2007). Malta, Gozo and Comino. ISBN 9781860113659.
  3. ^ Mahoney, Leonardo (1996). 5,000 Years of Architecture in Malta. Valletta Publishing. pp. 214–215. ISBN 978-9990958157.
  4. ^ a b "St Paul's Pro-Cathedral Valletta". Anglican Church in Malta. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b Bugeja, Lino (3 January 2015). "Valletta – vibrant city of many styles". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  6. ^ Thake, Conrad (Spring 2017). "William Scamp: an appraisal of his architectural drawings and writings on St Paul's Pro-Cathedral, Valletta" (PDF). Treasures of Malta. XXIII (2): 12–24.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  7. ^ "St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  8. ^ Schembri, Gabriel (9 February 2017). "St Paul's Anglican Pro-Cathedral in dire need of restoration, appeal for financial assistance". The Malta Independent. Valletta. Retrieved 2 August 2020.