word tolo (Latin: tholus or tholum), meaning "a domed or gabled building" (8), is not without significance. Among the surviving early Knights' constructions in Fort St. Angelo, the one that comes closest to this description is the building with a fortified aspect and a circular internal space, just outside the precincts of the church of St. Anne, to the south.
   This building was originally independent and had a round-headed door with large voussoir-stones but, at an unknown period, this was partially walled up and recut into a square-headed shape. A slit-window in the blank face of the masonry above provided the only source of light and ventilation (9). The use and date of the building has long excited speculation. Themistocles Zammit, who investigated it in 1914, thought it was the tower of a windmill (10). Architecturally it belongs to a vernacular building typology that remained in use well into the seventeenth century.

Fort St. Angelo. Detail of the circular interior space of the presumed tolo, or strong room built by the Knights for the safekeeping of the Rhodes treasure. It now forms part of the quarters of the Knight Resident. Photo credit: The Marquis Cassar de Sayn.
It would therefore appear probable that, unlike the other early Hospitaller buildings within the precincts of the Fort, it was designed and built by Maltese masons. The building was at an unknown time incorporated into a barrack quarter and mutilated. It has now been restored and refurbished to serve as part of the quarters of the Knight Resident.
   A number of holy icons, including the miracle-working Madonna of Phileremos, and some, at least, of the liturgical furnishings, went to the church of San Lorenzo a Mare, on the Birgu waterfront (11), that the Knights used as a temporary conventual church. A fire, which gutted the church in 1532, destroyed most of these treasures but the Madonna of Phileremos escaped serious damage. The most tragic loss were tapestries in silk and wool belonging to a set commissioned in the Flanders, in 1493, by the Master Pierre d'Aubusson, for the palace chapel on Rhodes. They represented scenes from the lives of Sts Catherine of Alexandria and Mary Magdalene. There are hints that some of the tapestries were rescued and survived until around the end of the sixteenth century (12), but nothing definite is known.
   A set of poorly preserved, and much restored liturgical vestments in the collection of the Vittoriosa Collegiate Chapter, might have been among the valuable items saved from the fire. It consists of a chasuble, two dalmatics, and a cope, and, is usually associated with the Pierre d'Aubusson bequest. A shield charged with the arms of the donor quartered with the Cross of Religion, is prominently displayed on the cope but the poor state of preservation does not unfortunately allow a reading although the quartering seems to imply a Master of the Convent. The interest of the vestments lies in their embroidered images, in silk and gold and silver thread, of Passion scenes, episodes from the Life of the Virgin, and individual saints standing in scalloped Gothic niches. They are of good quality and suggest a fifteenth century French, or possibly Flemish, manufacture. A better-preserved gold-cloth and embroidered silk chasuble in the Museum of the
[8] Du Cange, Glossarium Medie ed Infimae Latinitatis, 1886, R-Z-, 7-8.
[9] It is possible, however, that the window was originally one of a pair (its companion having been destroyed as a result of stone replacement) which would explain why it is not centred with the door.
[10] National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta, Field Notes of Themistocles Zammit, Notebook 1, 93, 95.
[11] Birgu was honoured with the title of Città Vittoriosa after the Great Siege of 1565. The name Vittoriosa by which the town is now generally known, is here used for the post-1565 situation.
[12] A.T. Luttrell, op. cit., 14.
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