Monday, February 10, 2014

National feast of Malta

A ceiling painting inside the church of St Paul, Valletta, Malta
February 10 has always and will always be a special day for me and for all Maltese Catholics - the day we celebrate the shipwreck of Saint Paul on the island of Malta, as it is recorded in chapter 28 of the Acts of the Apostles: “Once we had reached safety we learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary hospitality; they lit a fire and welcomed all of us because it had begun to rain and was cold. Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire when a viper, escaping from the heat, fastened on his hand. When the natives saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man must certainly be a murderer; though he escaped the sea, Justice has not let him remain alive.” But he shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no harm.........the rest of the sick on the island came to Paul and were cured. They paid us great honor and when we eventually set sail they brought us the provisions we needed.”
This reading is a great tribute to the Maltese, showing them welcoming, hospitable and generous.

Statue of Saint Paul by Melchiore Gafa
The feast is commemorated with a solemn procession in the streets of the capital city of Valletta, where the church of the Shipwreck of Saint Paul is situated. The beloved statue of Saint Paul was carved out of wood by Melchiore Gafa and is carried in procession today.

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