|Died||1607 or 1609 (aged c.57-59)
|Buildings||various fortifications and churches|
Vittorio Cassar was a Maltese architect, engineer and knight in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. He is claimed to have designed several fortifications and churches, but very few documents supporting his involvement exist. Many details about his life, including his date of birth and death, are also disputed.
Vittorio Cassar was born around 1550 in the town of Birgu. His father was the architect Girolamo Cassar and his mother Mattea Cassar. In the 1570s, his family moved to Strada Pia (now Melita Street) in the newly built capital city Valletta, where his father had designed many buildings.
On 9 April 1587, Cassar joined the Order of Saint John. Since there was no langue for Maltese knights, he was admitted into the langue of Castile. On 18 May of that same year, he was created serjeant-at-arms at the Collegiate Parish Church of St Paul's Shipwreck in Valletta.
In 1594, the Order sent Cassar to various towns in Italy to study various buildings and fortifications and meet famous engineers. After he arrived back in Malta, Cassar was appointed resident engineer of the Order. He spent part of his career in Gozo, and was involved in the rebuilding of the Cittadella and the construction of Garzes Tower. However, he developed an uneasy relationship with Fra Ferdinando de Rosolmini, the Governor of Gozo, and was dismissed from attending to Gozo's defences by 1603.
Cassar was also involved in the construction of various churches.
The date and circumstances of Cassar's death are unkown. It is traditionally held that he died in 1607 on the island of Gozo. However, some sources say that he died in mid-June 1609. Cassar is buried in the chapel of Saint Barbara within the Walls in the Cittadella.
Vittorio Cassar was short tempered and was often involved in quarrels and criminal offences. He was imprisoned for six months in Fort St Angelo after beating a servant of another knight. In 1604, he and his brother Gabriele were involved in an 'armed scuffle' with some 'secular persons'. The exact circumstances are unknown, but it is believed that it was a serious offence.
Cassar had a relationship with Gioanna La Siracusana, a magician and prostitute. As a result, he was accused and sentenced by the Roman Inquisition for the practice of magic. It is now believed that his 'sins' were possession of banned manuscripts about magic which he obtained in Messina.
List of works
The following works have been attibuted to Cassar. In most cases, the attribution is disputed.
- Our Lady of Victories Parish Church, Senglea (1580)
- Church of St. George, Qormi (c.1584) - claim unverified
- Church of St. Philip of Agira, Żebbuġ (1599-1613)
- Modernization of the Cittadella (1599-1603) - documentary evidence about Cassar's involvement exists
- Garzes Tower, Mġarr, Gozo (1605) - documentary evidence about Cassar's involvement exists
- Wignacourt Tower, St. Paul's Bay (1609) - claim unverified and unlikely
- Saint Lucian Tower, Marsaxlokk (1610) - claim unverified and unlikely
- Church of St. Mary, Attard (c.1610)
- Saint Thomas Tower, Marsaskala (1614) - claim unverified and unlikely
- Assumption of Mary Parish Church, Birkirkara (1617-1655)
- Saint Mary's Tower, Comino (1618) - claimed by Giovanni Francesco Abela but unlikely
- Santa Maria delle Grazie Tower, Xgħajra (1620) - claim unverified and unlikely
- Church of St. Ubaldesca, Paola (1626-1630) - claim unverified and unlikely
- Mallia-Milanes, Victoria. "In Search of Vittorio Cassar - A Documentary Approach". melitensiawth.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2015.
- Schiavone, Michael J. (2009). Dictionary of Maltese Biographies Vol. 1 A-F. Pietà: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza. p. 534. ISBN 9789993291329.
- Spiteri, Stephen C. (2013). "In Defence of the Coast (I) - The Bastioned Towers". Arx - International Journal of Military Architecture and Fortification (3): 70–74. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- Scerri, John. "Rabat (Victoria)". malta-canada.com. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- Davies, Owen (2009). Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 9780199590049.
- "St. George, Qormi". Malta Environment and Planning Authority. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- Scerri, John. "Zebbug". malta-canada.com. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- Scerri, John. "Birkirkara". malta-canada.com. Retrieved 7 March 2014.