Lorenzo Gafà

Lorenzo Gafà

Bust of Lorenzo Gafà, possibly by his brother Melchiorre
Born 1639
Birgu, Malta
Died 16 February 1703 (aged 64)
Nationality Maltese
Occupation Architect
Notable work St. Paul's Cathedral, Mdina and many other churches
Style Baroque
Religion Roman Catholicism
  • Marco Gafà (father)
  • Veronica Gafà (mother)
Relatives Melchiorre Cafà (brother)

Lorenzo Gafà (1639–1703) was a Maltese Baroque architect and sculptor. He designed many churches in the Maltese Islands, including St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina and the Cathedral of the Assumption in Victoria, Gozo. He was the younger brother of the sculptor Melchiorre Cafà.

Life and works

Gafà was born in 1639 in Birgu, to the stone carver Marco Gafà and his wife Veronica. He began his working life as a stone carver with his father and his older brother Melchiorre, who became a renowned sculptor. He might have studied architecture in Rome, although there is no documentary evidence that he ever left Malta.[1]

By the early 1660s he had developed a strong interest in architectural design and in 1661 is known to have been involved in the choir of the Church of St. Philip in Żebbuġ. Sometime before 1666, he worked on the reredos of the main altar in the church of Sta Scolastica and in the Dominican church of the Annunciation, both in his native town of Birgu. He is also known to have designed the altar of the Church of St. Nicholas in Valletta. He also designed or was involved in the construction of the following churches:[1]

St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina and the Cathedral of the Assumption in Victoria, Gozo, which were designed by Gafà in the late 17th and early 18th centuries

Some sources also state that Gafà was involved in the construction of the Church of St. Catherine in Żurrieq (1632–55), the Church of Our Saviour in Kalkara (1650), the Church of St. Mary in Żebbuġ (1683), the Church of the Holy Spirit in Żejtun (1688), the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mdina (1688), the choir of the Church of the Nativity of Mary in Naxxar (1691), the Church of the Annunciation in Tarxien (1692), the Church of St. Nicholas in Mdina (1692), the Church of St. Agatha in Mdina (1694) and the Church of St. Julian in Senglea (1696).[1]

In 1679, Gafà designed and oversaw the construction of the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina, and he later designed the Bishop's Palace. The cathedral was partially destroyed a few years later during the 1693 Sicily earthquake, although the newly built choir remained intact. The old cathedral was dismantled, and between 1696 and 1705 a new cathedral was built to Gafà's Baroque designs. The cathedral was consecrated on 8 October 1702, and it is regarded as Gafà's masterpiece.[2]

Gafà also designed some secular buildings, including Villa Bichi (1675), the palace of the General of the Galleys in Birgu (before 1695) and possibly the Ta' Saura hospital in Rabat (1655).[1]

Gafà died on 16 February 1703 at the age of 64.[3]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Schiavone, Michael J. (2009). Dictionary of Maltese Biographies Vol. II G-Z. Pietà: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza. pp. 851–852. ISBN 9789993291329.
  2. De Lucca, Denis (1979). "Mdina: the Cathedral area". Heritage: An encyclopedia of Maltese culture and civilization. Midsea Books Ltd. 1: 122.
  3. Deguara, Aloysius (2008). The Metropolitan Cathedral – Mdina. Santa Venera: Heritage Books (subsidiary of Midsea Books Ltd). p. 7. ISBN 9789993271727.
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