Malta and St. Paul – A Powerful Partnership
It was St Paul who started it all in 60 AD when after being shipwrecked off the coast, he took shelter on the island and in return for the hospitality received, he gave Christianity to the Islanders and they have cherished it ever since.
St Paul is everywhere in Malta. The faithful revere him and throughout the islands his name is proudly linked to most churches and important buildings. Paul’s story is amazing and inspiring. From his early life as an Anti-Christ, killing and persecuting followers of Jesus, to one of the greatest evangelists of all time, he has come a long way. Having spent a lifetime teaching, preaching and suffering, he was eventually executed in Rome on June 29th 0067.
It was on that fateful journey to Rome to plead his case before Ceasar that Paul and 276 other seafarers became shipwrecked, and having waded ashore they discovered that their oases was the little island of Malta. The Maltese people welcomed the beleaguered travellers, fed and nourished them for three months until another ship was available, and in return for their kindness Paul cured their sick, gave them the Christian Faith and pledged to guide and protect them for all time. That was a good bargain and ever since both Paul and the Maltese have faithfully adhered to the terms.
The little church that has marked the spot where he first set foot on the island still stands like a beacon in the square of Saint Paul’s Bay, reminding all-comers of that momentous moment of history, the miracle rescue of an execution-bound, future renowned saint, and the miraculous conversion of an island people.
This ancient truth was so important that it was worthy of a chapter in no less a volume than the Holy Bible, and the Maltese are not shy in making the world aware of this unique distinction. The Bible reference is displayed in many languages on the perimeter walls of ‘Saint Paul’s Shipwreck Church.’
When in Malta I like attending Mass in that little church – so small that at the ‘sign of peace’ all of the congregation can clasp hands without moving out of their seats. It is certainly unique and I have to say that I always experience a strange spirituality there, uplifting my soul with an injection of something, a mysterious stimulant that stays with me long after I’ve gone home to Ireland. Saint Paul is now my hero too.