Daily Archive for February 10th, 2016

Saint Paul in Malta

Christianity has almost 2000 years of history in Malta. According to tradition, it was brought to the Islands by the Apostle Paul himself in around A.D. 60. Paul was being taken to Rome to be tried as a political rebel, but the ship carrying him and some 276 others was caught in a violent storm only to be wrecked two weeks later on the Maltese coast. All aboard swam safely to land. The site of the wreck is traditionally known as St. Paul’s Island, and is marked by a statue commemorating the event. The welcome given to the survivors is described in chapter 28 of the Acts of the Apostles by St. Luke:
“And later we learned that the island was called Malta.
And the people who lived there showed us great kindness,
and they made a fire and called us all to warm ourselves… “


As the fire was lit, Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake but nothing harmful happened to him. The islanders took this as a sign that he was a special man. This scene is depicted in many religious works of art on the Islands.

XXX

According to tradition, the Apostle lived in a cave, now known as St. Paul’s Grotto in Rabat. During his winter stay, he was invited to the house of Publius, the Romans’ chief man on the Islands. It was here, according to tradition, that Paul cured Publius’ father of a serious fever. Publius is then said to have converted to Christianity and was made the first Bishop of Malta. The Cathedral of Mdina is said to stand on the site of Publius’ house.

The feastday of Saint Publius is celebrated on the 22nd of January all over Malta, especially in Floriana.  The feastday of Saint Paul’s shipwreck is celebrated on the 10th of February.