Friday, February 10, 2012

Saint Paul, Patron of Malta

St Paul in Malta, painting by Stefano Erardi at Rabat church, Malta
 This is the day when the entire country of Malta stops in thanksgiving to the Lord for an event that turned our lives around. St Paul brought Christianity to Malta, and it has survived the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Spanish, the French and the British, all of whom had their own beliefs and influences. And yet the Maltese people remained strong in their adherence to their faith. Granted that materialism and consumerism as well as the invasion of social media have taken their toll on many countries in Europe, and Malta, though not unblemished, has withstood the waves that have driven Christianity off the agenda of so many Catholic European countries. I pray this year that Catholicism continues just as strong in the decades to come.

Many are the paintings depicting the shipwreck of Saint Paul on the shores of Malta. Quite a few churches and smaller chapels are dedicated to him and many paintings are visible in churches and Museums.
The cave where St Paul stayed during his 3 months in Malta
While stranded in Malta for three months, St Paul is said to have stayed in a rock-hewn cave, which is still visible and visited by many tourists, including Pope John Paul II in 1990 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
Statue of St Paul, sculpted out of solid wood by Melchiore Gafa
An artistic statue carved of wood by Melchiore Gafa is carried in procession through the streets of the capital city Valletta on the evening of February 10, and weather permitting, thousands of Maltese faithful will witness this manifestation of faith.
San Pawl Missier taghna, itlob ghalina (St Paul, our Father, pray for us)

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