The place of Paul’s shipwreck and rescue has long been marked by the People of Malta, who named the place, St Paul’s Bay. They also hold an unshakeable belief that the Apostle of the Gentiles brought Christianity to their island.
After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.
(Acts 27:39-44, 28:2)
With these few words, St Luke described how he and St Paul, a prisoner of the Romans and en route to Rome, landed in Malta.It was, therefore, with the intention of marking the 1,950th anniversary of Paul’s arrival in Malta that Pope Benedict chose to visit the island.Speaking to journalists on the plane from Rome, he declared,
‘…this is my opportunity to once again bring to light the great figure of the Apostle to the Gentiles, with his important message even [for] today. I think we can summarize the essence of his journey with the words with which he himself summarised it at the end of the letter to the Galatians: Faith working through love.
The Pope’s visit was brief: landing at 5pm local time on Saturday 17th April and leaving a mere 27 hours later, his was one of the very few planes flying in Europe during a weekend overshadowed by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland. Watch Video