St John’s was the conventual church of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, a.k.a. the Order of Malta, at Valletta, Malta. At present the church is called St John’s Co-Cathedral, playing an important role in modern malta as a church, museum, place of cultural heritage and tourism. Besides being a church and fulfilling all roles one can expect in and from a church, it also functioned as the Order’s aula heroum, hall of fame and place of memoria, where the Order could remember its deceased, heroic knights and martyrs.
The church, the first stone laid in 1571, grew from humble Mannerist beginnings into a showcase of the High Baroque era in Malta. The church has gone through consecutive stages of major artistic developments, of which Mannerism and Baroque tastes have left the greatest impact.
The present St John’s Co-Cathedral has this marvellous church floor, made up of polychrome marble intarsia sepulchral slabs. Many regard this floor as the floor of floors, where some 407 sepulchral slabs and 23 sepulchral monuments reveal the importance of being commemorated as an outstanding member of the Order of St John.
This floor owes its existence and dynamism to the Order of St John and like many other church floors, it has developed, prospered and suffered over many years, growing from nothing into something splendid.
The Order’s patronage of the arts, the church and its artefacts are very well documented, often studied and published. Its polychrome marble intarsia floor has been studied less intensively and much remains to be researched.