The Mediterranean island of Malta is a very special place for Catholic Pilgrimage as it is home to very important and iconic religious shrines, as well as being the place associated with Saint Paul the Apostle and Saint Publius.
The island is also known for its rich history, such as the foundation of its capital, Valletta, by the Knights Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.
Today we will share with you some of the most historic and religious shrines in Malta that make this island such a special place of pilgrimage:
SAINT PAUL’S ISLAND
Saint Paul’s Island is a place of pilgrimage as it is the site where Saint Paul shipwrecked when he was traveling to Rome for political purposes in 60 AD. The island was named after Saint Paul with a statue built in the 19th century in his honour and to commemorate this episode of the life of the Apostle.
Pilgrims travel to Saint Paul’s Island to follow in the footsteps of the Apostle, who introduced Maltese people to Christianity during his stay in Malta. While on pilgrimage to Malta, visitors usually enjoy the views of the town of Bugibba and visit special shrines such as Saint Paul’s Bay, believed to have been the exact location of the shipwreck.
SAINT PAUL’S GROTTO
As well as Saint Paul’s Island, Malta is known for many other special shrines associated to the Apostle, including the cave where he had to find refuge after the shipwreck, which is known as Saint Paul’s Grotto in Rabat. Pilgrims usually visit Saint Paul’s Church, built on top of the Grotto around the 17th Century where a statue was also built on his name.
The saint stayed in the Grotto for three months, and it was here where Maltese people started to venerate him as a result of the cures that he performed, as well as the miracle where he survived a snakebite.
Saint Paul’s Grotto has been visited by Popes Benedict and John Paul II and is one of the places visited as part of our Pilgrimage to Malta.
SAINT PAUL’S CATHEDRAL, MEDINA
Built in honour of Saint Paul around the 17th century, Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina is also an important place of Catholic Pilgrimage as it is believed to be the site where Saint Paul converted the governor Publius to Christianity.
This baroque style cathedral was built by the architect Lorenzo Gafà on top of an old 4th century church and contains wonderful frescoes, with the cathedral facade overlooking Saint Paul’s Square.
SAINT PUBLIUS’ CHURCH
This magnificent church located in Floriana, Malta, is visited by many pilgrims each year, as it is associated with Saint Publius. Saint Publius, one of the mains Patron Saints of Malta and the first bishop of Malta, was converted to Christianity by Saint Paul. Both saints became friends, after Saint Paul cured Puglius’ father from fever.
Construction started in 1733 and the building had several reconstructions throughout the years, with a crypt added to the Church around 1766.
Valletta is an unmissable stop on a pilgrimage to Malta. Some of the must-visit places for pilgrims in Valletta include the impressive Saint John’s Co Cathedral, the Upper Barakka gardens offering amazing panoramic views over the grand harbour, and the Church of Saint Paul shipwreck that contains the relic of the wrist-bone of Saint Paul and part of the column where the saint was beheaded in Rome.
Saint John’s Co Cathedral by Jean de la Cassiere is one of the main shrines of the city. The cathedral’s construction finished in 1577 and is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet, admired in the Christian Church as a very important figure and the predecessor of Christ.
The church was built for the Order of the Knights of Saint John and is home to beautiful and exquisite frescoes, relics and statues, impressive ceilings by Mattia Preti and the famous painting ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’ by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF MELLIEHA
The village of Mellieha, on the Northern side of Malta, is famous for its Sanctuary of our Lady and another special place of pilgrimage. Here pilgrims can admire impressive views of Comino, Gozo and Mellieha Bay.
The sanctuary was built around the 19th century and situated on the top of a hill. The church is also home of the beautiful Fresco of the Virgin Mary holding Christ by Saint Luke.
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