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Title: The Church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo and the congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in Senglea : an architectural appraisal
Authors: Meli, Christina
Keywords: Monasticism and religious orders -- Malta
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: A considerable amount of art historical research published in Malta concerns the establishment of religious orders, such as the Jesuit Order, and their artistic patronage. Nonetheless, the research on the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in Malta, in particular in connection with art historical reflections, has been scarce. Secondary sources on the inception of the Oratorians of St Philip Neri in Malta have been published but emphasis is placed on the ecclesiastical and administrative aspects, rather than their artistic stamp and patronage. In instances in which this is mentioned, the treatment of the subject only skims the surface and serves only as a starting point to a more intense research. The main aim of this dissertation is to delve deeper in this subject in relation to the architecture of the church entrusted to the Oratorians at Senglea, known as the church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo, dedicated to the Visitation of the Virgin, and prevalently recognised today and since the intervention of the Oratorians as the Church of St Philip Neri. Contextual and background information on Senglea has been included in the introduction. Such knowledge is essential in appreciating the geological, geographical, and historical advantages and limitations which are linked to Senglea. The contextual milieu of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri is treated in Chapter One with reference to the establishment of the religious order in Malta, initially at Vittoriosa and subsequently at Senglea. The order’s association with the mother-house of the Congregation of the Oratory in Rome, Santa Maria in Vallicella, is explored to provide an international perspective. This socially and politically imbued context is the significant driving force behind the architectural activity executed on the church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo at Senglea. The construction of the first church is the focus of the beginning of Chapter Two and includes information which has been gathered from several pastoral visitation reports. This chapter also aims to provide a chronological account of the building of the new Church of Porto Salvo after it had been assigned to the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri. The architectural changes which have been introduced to the structure over time are incorporated. The main sources of information for this chapter were the Senglea Parish Archives which include the Archives of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri at Senglea, the Notarial Archives at Valletta, and the pastoral visitation reports at the Archbishop’s Curia at Floriana. Attempts at confirming the master masons involved in the design and construction of the new church are also made in Chapter Two. Chapter Three aims to deliver a detailed architectural appraisal of the church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo. The architectural appraisal is undertaken with a comparative approach in mind with the intention of placing the construction of the church within both the local and international context. Chapter Four is intended to explore the architectural aspect of both the Oratory and the convent both of which are attached to the church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo. Research carried out in the archives was an uphill struggle in terms of Latin translations and calligraphy difficult to read which, at times, limit the understanding of a particular notion or document. The challenge of finding specific information in such extensive archives containing multitudes of knowledge was sometimes overwhelming but each time I came across unexpected morsels of valuable information I was encouraged to persist. Above all, the promise of new discoveries about this neglected subject of the construction of the church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo and its social history in one of the island’s most strategic locations was the driving force behind the production of this dissertation.
Description: B.A.(HONS)HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2015

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