The Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a Roman Catholic church in the Maltese capital Valletta and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes the entire city of Valletta.
The first church was dedicated to the Annunciation. It was built around 1570 on the designs of Girolamo Cassar. In the 17th century it was given to the Carmelites and thus received its present patronage to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The façade was redesigned in 1852 by Giuseppe Bonavia. On May 14, 1895 by Pope Leo XIII elevated the church to the rank of Minor Basilica. The church was seriously damaged during the Second World War and it had to be rebuilt.
The new church was built from 1958 to 1981. It was consecrated in 1981. The 42 meter high oval dome dominates both the city skyline and Marsamxett Harbour. It is higher than the steeple of the immediately adjacent Anglican Cathedral in Valletta. The main attraction in the interior is a painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel dating from the early 17th century. The interior has been sculpted by the sculptor Joseph Damato over 19 years. Striking are the columns of red marble.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).