He converted many Maltese to Christianity during his stay,
one of them being Publius. Publius was later appointed Bishop of Malta.
The conversion of the Maltese to Christianity was quite slow.
However, it is evident that by the 3rd Century A.D.,
Christianity became the accepted religion among the majority of the population.
ST. PAUL'S SHIPWRECK IN MALTA
A great deal of time had been lost, and navigation was already hazardous, since it was now well after the time
of the Fast. So Paul gave them a warning, "Friends, I can see this voyage will be dangerous and that we will run considerable risk of losing not only the cargo and the ship but also our lives as
well.' But the centurion took more notice of the captain and ship's owner than of what Paul was saying; and since the harbour was unsuitable for wintering, the majority were for putting out from
there in the hope of wintering at Phoenix - a harbour in Crete, facing south-west and north-west.
A southerly breeze sprang up and, thinking their objective as good as reached, they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close inshore. But it was not long before a hurricane, the north-easter' as the call it, burst on them from across the island. The ship was caught and could not keep head to wind, so we had t give way to the wind and let ourselves be driven. We ran under the lee of a small island called Cauda and managed with some difficulty to bring the ship's boat under control. Having hauled it up they used it to underdig the ship; then, afraid of running aground on the Syrtis banks, they floated out the sea-anchor and so let themselves drift. As we were thoroughly storm-bound, the next day they began to jettison the cargo, and the third day they threw the ship's gear overboard with their own hands. For a number of days both the sun and the stars were invisible and the storm raged unabated until at last we gave up all hope of surviving.
Then, when they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among the men. "Friends,' he said, 'you should have listened to me and not put out from Crete. You would have spared yourselves all this damage and loss. But now I ask you not to give way to despair. There will be no loss of life at all, only of the ship. Last night there appeared beside me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, and he said, "Do not be afraid, Paul. You are destined to appear before Caesar, and God grants you the safety of all who are sailing with you." So take courage, friends; I trust God that things will turn out just as I was told; but we are to be stranded on some island.'
On the fourteenth night we were being driven one way and the another in the Adriatic, when about midnight the crew sensed that land of some sort was near. They took soundings and found twenty fathoms; after a short interval they sounded again and found fifteen fathoms. Then, afraid that we might run aground somewhere on a reef, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. When the crew tried to escape from the ship and lowered the ship's boat into the sea as though they meant to lay out anchors from the bows, Paul said to the centurion and his men, 'Unless those men stay on board you cannot hope to be saved.' So the soldiers cut the boat's ropes and let it drop away.
Just before daybreak Paul urged them all to have something to eat. "for fourteen days', he said, 'you have been in suspense, going hungry and eating nothing, I urge you to have something to eat; your safety depends on it. Not a hair of any of your heads will be lost.' With these words he took some bread, gave thanks to God in view of them all, broke it and began to eat. They all plucked up courage and took something to eat themselves. In all we were two hundred and seventy-six souls on board that ship. When they had eaten what they wanted they lightened the ship by throwing the corn overboard into the sea.
When day came they did not recognize the land, but they could make out a bay with a beach; they planned to run the ship aground on this if they could. They slipped the anchors and let them fall into the sea, and at the same time loosened the lashings of the rudders; then, hoisting the foresail to the wind, they headed for the beach. But the cross-currents carried them into a shoal and the vessel ran aground. The bows were wedged in and stuck fast, while the stern began to break up with the pounding of the waves.
The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners for dear that any should swim off and escape. But the centurion was determined to bring Paul safely through and would not let them carry out their plan. He gave orders that those who could swim should jump overboard first and so get ashore, and the rest follow either on planks or on pieces of wreckage. In this way it happened that all came safe and sound to land.
Once we came safely through, we discovered that the island was called Malta. The inhabitants treated us with unusual kindness. They made us all welcome by lighting a huge fire because it had started to rain and the weather was cold. Paul collected a bundle of sticks and was putting them on the fire when a viper brought out by the heat attached itself to his hand. When the inhabitants saw the creature hanging from his hand they said to one another, 'That man must be a murdered; he may have escaped the sea, but divine justice would not let him live.' However, he shook the creature off into the fire and came to no harm, although they were expecting him at any moment to swell up or drop dead on the spot. After they had waited a long time without seeing anything out of the ordinary happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say he was a god.
In that neighbourhood there were estates belonging to the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius. He received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that Publius' father was in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him, and after a prayer he laid his hands on the man and healed him. When this happened, the other sick people on the island also came and were cured: they honoured us with many marks of respect, and when we sailed they put on board the provision we needed.
FEAST OF ST.PAUL IN VALLETTA
The Statue of St. Paul is the work of Lorenzo's
brother, Melchiorre Gafa.
The statue is carved out of wood, painted and guilded.
St. Paul Shipwreck
in St. Paul Street Valletta Malta
The church of St. Paul's Shipwreck was built by Girolamo Cassar, but was
re-designed by Lorenzo Gafa in 1629. In 1885 the facade was re-built to a design of Nikola Zammit, whilst the pillars inside were covered with marble.The ceiling frescoes depicting the life of St.
Paul were painted by the Roman artist Attiho Palombi in 1904 The titular showing the shipwreck of St. Paul is by Filippo Paladini, while the artistic wooden statue was carved by Melchiore
The church is richly endowed with silver altar fronts, candlesticks and lampholders donated over the centuries. Its treasures are unequalled in any other Maltese church. Two important relics housed in the church are St. Paul's arm-bone and part of the column on which the apostle was beheaded. Various honours were bestowed on the church over the years. It became a Collegiate with Canons in 1737. In the knights' time the Bishop of Malta used to officiate in this Church when in Valletta.
The shipwreck of St. Paul in 60 AD is recorded in some detail in the Acts of the Apostles, and a Pauline tradition of long standing supported by archeological excavations carried out at San Pawl Milqghi prove beyond doubt that his arrival in Malta is a historical fact and it is also a fact that during his three-month stay on the Island he sowed the first seeds of the Christian Religion to which Maltese people overwhelmingly belong, but inevitably, a number of legends have grown up over the centuries, some verging on the impossible, but others not without a grain of truth.
The Apostle Paul was, at this time, being conducted to Rome under arrest to be judged before Caesar as was his right as a Roman Citizen. Amongst the other prisoners was the physician St. Luke who recorded the account of that eventful journey.
The nearest habitation to the place of shipwreck was the villa of Publius, the Chief Man of the Island. All those who had been shipwrecked spent three days there and after they had regained their strength they moved on to Melita the chief town of rile island. In the city Paul cured Publius' father of a fever after which the Chief Man of the Island was converted to Christianity and later ordained Bishop by St. Paul. St. Publius was the first bishop of Malta. After three months, by which time, the sea was again reckoned to be safe for navigation, and loaded with gifts from his Maltese friends, Saint Paul sailed away to Rome and to his subsequent martyrdom. When the Roman Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity and made it the official religion of the Empire it may be assumed that Christian worship was better organized and that a number of places of assembly were built in various places in the islands. Tradition has it that one such church was built on the site of the palace of Publius, where St. Paul had cured the father of the Chief Man of the Island. Many times rebuilt, the site is now occupied by the Cathedral Church dedicated to Saint Paul at Mdina
The Conversion of the Maltese Population to Catholicism
St. Paul preached the Gospel during his three-month stay in Malta. He converted many Maltese to Christianity during his stay, one of them being Publius. Publius was later appointed Bishop of Malta. The conversion of the Maltese to Christianity was quite slow. However, it is evident that by the 3rd Century A.D., Christianity became the accepted religion among the majority of the population
Vatican archeologists believe that they have identified the tomb in Rome´s St Paul Outside the Walls basilica, following the discovery of a stone coffin during excavations carried out over the past three years.
Catholic World News reports that a sarcophagus - or stone coffin - which may contain the remains of St Paul has been identified in the basilica, according to Giorgio Filippi, a archeology specialist with the Vatican Museums.
"The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius (379- 395) saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle," Filippi reports.
The discovery was made by a team composed exclusively of experts from the Vatican Museum. They had undertaken their exploration in response to a request from the administrator of St. Paul´s basilica, Archbishop Francesco Gioia. During the Jubilee Year 2000, the archbishop noticed that thousands of pilgrims were inquiring about the location of St. Paul´s tomb. The excavation effort was guided by 19th-century plans for the basilica, which was largely rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1823.
An initial survey enabled archeologists to reconstruct the shape of the original basilica, built early in the 4th century. A second excavation, under the main altar of the basilica, brought the Vatican team to the sarcophagus, which was located on what would have been ground level for the original 4th-century building.
The Vatican archeologist said that Church officials would now have to decide whether to undertake further explorations around the tomb, to make the sarcophagus more visible.
In St. Peter´s Basilica, excavations that were begun in June 1939 finally uncovered the tomb of the first Pope in 1941. But it 35 more years before the Church officially attested to the authenticity of those remains, in a statement released by Pope Paul VI in June 1976. A similar span of years could elapse before the Church confirms that the tomb discovered in St. Paul´s Basilica is truly that of the apostle.
Sarcophagus could contain remains of apostle
Vatican archeologists are preparing to announced they have positively identified the tomb of St. Paul the apostle.
Giorgio Filippi, a specialist with the Vatican Museums, said a sarcophagus that might still contain the apostle's remains was identified in the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, reported
The independent Catholic news service said the sarcophagus was discovered during excavations in 2002 and 2003 around the basilica in south Rome.
Vatican experts soon will make a public announcement of their discovery, Catholic World News said.
"The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius [A.D. 379- 395] saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle," Filippi said.
The excavation was conducted after the administrator of St. Paul's basilica, Archbishop Francesco Gioia, received inquiries about the location of St. Paul's tomb from thousands of pilgrims visiting during the Jubilee Year of 2000.
An initial survey of the basilica enabled archeologists to reconstruct the 4th century building's original shape.
The Vatican team found the sarcophagus during a second excavation under the basilica's main altar.
Under the altar, a marble plaque is visible, dating to the 4th century, bearing the inscription "Apostle Paul, martyr."
Surprisingly, said Filippi, "nobody ever thought to look behind that plaque," where the Vatican team found the sarcophagus.
Filippi said the tomb should not be opened merely to satisfy curiosity as to whether Paul's remains still are there.
He has no doubt, however, Paul was buried on the site, "because this basilica was the object of pilgrimages by emperors; people from all around the world came to venerate him, having faith that he was present in this basilica."
Filippi said church officials must now decide whether to order further excavation to make the sarcophagus more visible.
The Bible does not state how Paul died. Many scholars believe he was beheaded in Rome in
about the A.D. mid-60s during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero.
St Paul's tomb found under altar
The tomb of St Paul the Apostle has been found under one of Rome's largest churches and the stone coffin will shortly be raised to the surface to allow pilgrims to see it.
The remains of St Paul, one of the Christian Church's most important leaders and the supposed author of much of the New
Testament, have been hidden under an altar at St Paul Outside-the-Walls for almost 200 years.
"I have no doubt that this is the tomb of St Paul, as revered by Christians in the fourth century," said Giorgio Filippi, the Vatican archaeologist who made the discovery.
Dr Filippi will present the results of his scientific tests on the remains of the saint on Monday at the Vatican. St Paul's sarcophagus was found after five years of extensive excavations at the church, which is second only in size to St Peter's in Rome. Dr Filippi began looking for the tomb at the request of Archbishop Francesco Gioia, within whose jurisdiction the church falls.
In 2000, the Archbishop was inundated with queries from pilgrims about the whereabouts of the saint. The same requests have persuaded the Vatican that there is enough demand from tourists to warrant raising the sarcophagus to the surface so that it can be viewed properly.
"We wanted to bring it to the light for devotional reasons so it can be venerated," said Dr Filippi.
St Paul Outside-the-Walls has been rebuilt several times since it was erected by the Emperor Constantine, most recently in 1823
following a fire.
The archaeologists had to descend into a series of tunnels and chambers that dated to the fourth century. There they found a marble plaque inscribed with "Paul the Apostle, Martyr".
St Paul's remains lay underneath a stone slab, in which three holes were originally punched to allow visitors to push pieces of material through and touch the saint's remains. The cloth would then be imbued with the sanctity within.
The sarcophagus is thought to date from AD390, when the Emperor Theodosius "saved" the remains and moved them to the site, near the Appian Way. St Paul, was born in Tarsus, a city that used to stand in the Mersin province of Turkey, shortly after Jesus.
Originally named Saul, and Jewish, he converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus. He was arrested in Jerusalem for being Christian and subsequently exercised his right as a Roman citizen to a trial in Rome.
According to the Bible, St Paul was imprisoned in Rome.
The traditional legend states that he was beheaded in the city around AD64. The head is not thought to be with the rest of the remains.
Instead, it is supposed to be located inside a silver bust at the St John Lateran church on the Celian hill. St Peter's head
is also thought to be there
St Paul's Shipwreck Church
When the Order of St. John of Jerusalem established itself in Malta in 1530, the capital of the island
was the old citadel of Mdina, referred to as Città Notabile by the Aragonese kings of Sicily. The Knights Hospitaller who had by then become an important sea-power, did not occupy
the old capital, which lies several kilometres inland; instead they fixed their abode in the little town of Il Borgo, known today as Vittoriosa, which nestled behind Fort St. Angelo,
the main castle of the Grand Harbour; it soon became their administrative headquarters since Mdina was considered to be too vulnerable.
The Knights of Jerusalem had been over thirty years in possession of the island, when in 1565 Suleyman, the mighty Turk who earned the title of "the magnificent" for his exploits and personal
qualities, sent a great army to seize Malta and to suppress the Order of St. John, which was becoming a serious obstacle to the Ottoman Empire. But the Knights, under the inspiring and brave
leadership of their Grandmaster Fra Jean de Ia Valette, a Provencal, heroically resisted the formidable attack of the Turkish army. The shattered and dispirited Ottomans finally left the
Island on 13 September, 1565 - a victory still commemorated by the Maltese.
Following the lifting of the siege, the defences of the island were in a very poor state. Members of the Order, fearing another Turkish attack, were in favour of relinquishing the island; La
Valette, however, was convinced that the Order should not leave. He was determined to build a new city in Malta, so strong as to defy the powers of the Infidels, and so beautitul as to be a
fit abode for the glorious and illustrious Order.
A city is born
La Valette immediately sought the help of Christian Princes and of Pope Pius V to assist him in building a new city. His request was fulfilled and aid came from a number of Christian Kings
and Princes in Europe. Pius V was particularly generous: He offered financial help and sent to Malta one of the leading military architects of the 16th century, Francesco Laparelli da Cortona
(1521-1571), who had already assisted Michelangelo in St. Peter's, and was the principal architect of Cosimo dei Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Assisted by Gerolomo Cassar, a
Maltese, Laparelli soon submitted the plans of the new city. The site chosen for the building of the new city was the rocky Xiberras peninsula, which commands the sheltered ports of
Marsamxett and Grand Harbour.
When rumours of another Turkish expedition against the island reached the Order, the Grandmaster immediately directed that the building of the City, together with the necessary repaim and
reinforcements to existing fortifications, ramparts and towers to resist and repel any eventual Turkish attack, should be taken in hand without delay.
On Thursday, 28 March, 1566, after an invocation to Almighty God, to the Virgin Mother and the Saints to grant that the work commenced would lead to the prosperity and the happiness of the
whole Christian community and bring benefits to the Order, the Grandmaster himself laid the foundation stone of the City, amidst the cheers of the Knights and the people assembled to watch
the magnificent spectacle. The Grandmaster wished the new City to be called by his name, and granted for its arms a golden lion on a red shield. Thus Humillima Civitas Vallettae was
Soon after the foundation stone was laid, the Xiberras hill became the scene of great activity. Thousands of hands were engaged in digging, building and transporting material. La Valette with
determination enlisted the help of all able-bodied workmen in Malta, as well as all available slave labour - local and imported. As the funds made available by the Christian Princes were not
enough for such a project, La Valette convinced members of the Order to come forward and help. The local population too, willingly submitted to a new taxation on imported wheat and wine, the
money accrued going towards the building of the new City. However, La Valette died in 1568, when the building of the new City was still in its initial stages.
La Valette not only founded the City which still bears his name, but also started off more than two hundred years of great works which when completed, were described as one of the wonders of
Europe. After La Valette's death work proceeded rapidly under his immediate successor, Fra Pietro dcl Monte (1568-1572). Valletta grew to be "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen"
as Sir Walter Scott aptly put it. It was built when the Reiiaissance style was at its peak.
With the rapid erection of the City, the number of its inhabitants increased progressively, especially after the Order had transferred its headquarters from Vittoriosa to the new city of
Valletta in 1571. The decision of the Order to move to Valletta convinced all that the new City was no idle dream. Consequently, the City not only became a hive of activity with impressive
buildings everywhere but also home for a substantial number of people.
In the prevailing circumstances, Grandmaster Del Monte himself petitioned the Church authorities of Mdina to send a priest to Valletta to see to the spiritual welfare of the new residents;
subsequently, the Cathedral Chapter of Notabile delegated for the purpose a diocesan priest to carry out pastoral duties to the city's inhabitants. Moreover, the Cathedral Chapter bought a
piece of land, on which to build a church at its own expense. For several years until the proposed church was actually built and completed, the priest in charge carried out his pastoral
duties in the church of the Carmelite Friars in Valletta itself. It seems that the new church was built on the site where the Jesuits' College was later built.
Very soon after the Cathedral Chapter had acqufred the site, plans for the proposed church were drawn up by the well-known Maltese architect Geronimo Cassar, the building of the church was
immediately taken in hand. It was a very simple church, having five altars. In December 1582, on completion of the church, the priest in charge moved from the Carmelite church and took
possession of the new parish church, which depended directly on the Cathedral church of Notabile, the seat of the Bishop of the island.
Since early times, there existed on mount Xiberras, where Valletta was built, a small niche dedicated to Saint Paul, to commemorate the miraculous and providential shipwreck of the Apostle on
the shores of Malta in AD 60 an event remarkably recorded by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles in chapters 27 and 28. The shipwreck of Paul the Apostle, whom the Maltese dearly call their
spiritual father, was always and still is considered by them as the greatest and the noblest episode in their island's chequered history
It was, indeed, fit and proper that the Cathedral Chapter had decreed that the new parish church, from amongst several others which were concurrently being built within the walls of Valletta,
should be dedicated to the Shipwreck of St. Paul on the shores of Malta at the dawn of Christianity. This church was to become a national monument and a fitting tribute of the love and
devotion of all the Maltese towards St. Paul, the Apostle, who was the instrument chosen by Divine Providence to preach the Word of God and found the Church in Malta, twenty centuries
Not long after its completion, the new church was ceded to the Jesuit Fathers who offered a new site to the parish priest whereon to build a new church. A small church was built in due time.
As the City continued to grow, and its population continued to increase, a bigger church was needed, so that the existing one was pulled down and rebuilt on a modified plan. The building of
the new church was begun in 1639 and continued over forty years. Grandmasters Jean Paul Lascaris Castellar (1636-57), Nicolas Cotoner (1663-80), Gregorio Carafa (1680-90) and Bishop
Laurentius Astirias (1669-78) all contributed large sums of money towards the new project as also did the Università (the local Commune), the clergy and parishioners.
St. Paul's Church present church
The church is 35 metres long and 22 metres wide, and consists of the main nave, which is 9 metres wide, two aisles, the sacristy on the left and the oratory on the right. In the aisles are
ten small chapels each having a dome.
A number of pilasters and columns render the internal architecture ionic in style. Originally, the plan showed a Latin cross, but with the addition of the side chapels, it now bears the plan
of a patriarchal cross. Behind the main altar is the choir, which is accessible through a small door with a narrow passageway from the sacristy. On entering the church one admires its
artistic architecture, the elliptical dome, designed by Lorenzo Gafà, the colourful fresco paintings of Palombi, and the lavish glittering carving decorations
This church is situated in St Paul's Street in Valletta. The first church was built in 1609. Grandmaster Lascaris had paid for the building of the church. The facade in Baroque style was finished in 1885. It has two belfries and seven bells. The decorations were done by the Maltese sculptor Antonio Busuttil. Under the belfries are two statues - Saints Peter and Paul. Both were done by Vincenzo de Candia. In the middle is a statue of Our Lady. The Frescoes of the vault and also the pictures in the apses and choir are all the work of the Roman painter Attilio Palombi. The pictures in the vault show episodes in the life of St Paul. The organ dates back to the 17th century and is one of the oldest organs in Malta. Here are approximately forty grave-stones. They are made of marble and mosaic. The church has eight chapels, four on the right and four on the left. This church is rich in silver, with silver altar facades, candlesticks and lamps which were given to the church over the years. The treasures in this church cannot be compared with any other church in Malta. In the sacristy is a portrait of Grandmaster Manoel de Vilhena by Antoine de Favray. Other portraits are of Grandmasters and Popes which had something to do with the history of the church.
The Apostle's stay in Malta lasted three months, and it had filled the Maltese
with great faith and devotion soon, shrines began to rise everywhere, idols were broken or, at least, beheaded, and the new religion was practised freely in the Islands. It is no exaggeration to say
that St. Paul's coming to Malta was the greatest event in Maltese history
It would be very difficult to name all the monuments of these Islands relating to St. Paul, but these are the principal ones: St. Paul's Island; "Tal-Huggiega Church at St. Paul's Bay, where the
bonfire was lit to warm the shipwrecked people, and where the miracle of the viper took place; the church of "San Pawl Milqi", where Publius greeted St. Paul, Mdina Cathedral, build near the site of
Publius's palace, St. Paul's Grotto, where the Apostle lived for three months, St. Paul's shrine at Saqqajja, believed to have wept in 1798 during the rising of the Maltese against the French, St.
Paul's Church in Valletta, which treasures the relic of St. Paul's forearm and the column of his martyrdom, Floriana parish-church, and the various statues to be seen all around Malta and Gozo, and,
Malta still keeps his teaching!
The Roman citizen Paul, from Tarsus, was worrying the Jews of Palestine, for he had left their religion to join the followers of Jesus of Nazareth whom the Jews had helped to be crucified by the Romans. He was going from place to place all the time, preaching, baptizing teaching the new Religion to all the Gentiles, or non-Jews, in many lands.
His missionary journeys took him to Antioch of Syria, to Cyprus and Cappadocia, to most towns and cities of South West Asia and to the Grecian peninsula, and then he was caught by the Jews and falsely accused before the Romans, who decided to kill him. Paul asked go to Rome, and to be tried there by Caesar "I am a Roman citizen," he said. And I appeal to Caesar ", so he was put on a merchant galley together with many other people, including his friends Luke and Aristarcus, and the long journey began.
they stopped at Sodom and a Mira where, because of the rough seas, they boarded a bigger ship. Near Crete, the weather became really bad, the sea rougher, and everyone was afraid, but Paul reassured them saying, "'for fourteen days you have not eaten anything. Always waiting for the tempest to stop, to day you must eat, An Angel of the Lord told me that no one will be lost and that all will lain safely on a certain Island." He himself began to eat so as to set a good example.
Arid so it happened - as the Acts of the Apostles relate that, when they had come very near to land, some jumped into the water, and the others held on to some planks or woodwork and swam to the shore, "And when we had reached land," we read in the Acts " we knew that the Island was called MEL ITA and the inhabitants took great care of us. " Thus, in A.D 60, Paul had come to pagan Malta, here, a poisonous viper bit him, but he did not swell and die, for this, the inhabitants thought he was a god. So, Paul spoke to then of the true God, and how Christ had died on the Cross to save us from Hell.
He and the rest of those who had been with him on the ship spent three days as guests of the Governor of the Island, a certain Publius, whose old father Paul miraculously healed from a serious illness, the Maltese, seeing this miracle and that of the viper, wanted Paul to heal their sick and to tell them about his God.
for three whole months, Paul preached without rest, and converted most of the population to Christianity. He even consecrated Publius as Bishop of The Island and left him to take spiritual care of the new Christian community.
Born to Jewish parents in a thoroughly observant home in Taurus in Cilicia (present day Turkey), which was part of the Roman Empire, Paul was originally named after the ancient Hebrew king Saul. On the eighth day he was circumcised as stipulated by Jewish law and was brought up in accordance with the Pharisaic (an ancient Jewish sect which taught strict observance of Jewish traditions) interpretation of the Jewish Law. As a young Jew of the Diaspora (the dispersion of Jews into the Greco-Roman world), Saul took as his everyday name the Latin Paul, a name more in keeping with his Hebrew birth and had received formal training in Jewish Law in preparation to becoming a rabbi. He was an enthusiastic scholar and excelled in his studies and his extreme religious convictions led him to persecute the developing Christian church, holding it to be a belligerent Jewish cult that acted contrary to the Law and should therefor be destroyed. He was a zealot, arresting men and women and having them thrown into prison and was also an supportive witness to the stoning of St Stephen, the first Christian Martyr.
With authority and orders from the Chief Priests, Paul journeyed from Jerusalem to Damascus to arrest Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial, but approaching Damascus, he was suddenly "engulfed in a bright light" and blinded (See Acts 22.6). His companions led him to Damascus where he met a man named Ananias who said to Paul, "Brother Saul, see again" and immediately Paul regained his sight.
In his writings, Paul himself never actually used the term "conversion", which implies, by definition, shifting allegiance from one religion to another. He believed that conversion would be the end of all religious distinctions, instead Paul consistently spoke of God having "called" him, viewing his call to be a Christian and an evangelist as a single and indivisible event.
Paul then undertook three well-defined missionary journeys throughout the Mediterranean preaching the Gospel and it was during one of these journeys when he visited Cyprus that he reverted to the name of Paul.
When word reached them, the Jewish High Priests were furious at Paul's Christian evangelistic work and planned on how to kill him, but the Romans were made aware of the plot and took Paul into custody. Learning that Paul was in a secure place, his opponents created riots in Jerusalem. On questioning Paul, the Roman commander discovered that Paul having been born within the Roman Empire was in effect a Roman citizen and as such would require to be tried for any wrong-doings by his peers in Rome. The Governor arranged a guard to take Paul to Governor Felix in Caesarea on the coast of Phoenicia, now Israel. Paul was kept in prison in Caesarea for two years, continually defending himself until it was time to sail to Rome.
Leaving Caesarea in November, the ship sailed to Sidon in Syria and because of strong winds and rough seas, sailed on the sheltered side of Cyprus to Myra in Lycia, which is now part of Turkey. From Myra, the company boarded a ship bound for Alexandria en route Rome but gale-force winds forced the ship to shelter in a safe harbour in Crete. Not wishing to spend the winter in Crete, the ship's captain elected to sail on to the Italian mainland, but strong north-easterly winds forced the ship to be carried along. After fourteen nights of being lashed by rain, strong winds and the strong currents along the North African coast, the ship finally ran aground, the bow being stuck fast, unable to move and the stern being smashed by the violence of the sea.
When all 276 (some manuscripts quote 275 while others give the total as low as 76), survivors were safely ashore, they discovered the island to be Malta (See Acts 28). The native population of the island including Publius, the Roman Governor of the island, welcomed the visitors and Paul and his guard stayed with Publius for three days. Publius's father was ill with a life-threatening fever and dysentery and legend states that during their three-day stay, Paul visited the sick man and having placed his hand on him, cured him.
When they heard of this, the Maltese people were astounded and thought of Paul as a Messiah. For three months the people of Malta kept Paul safely hidden in caves in the old city of Rabat (St Paul's Catacombs) with Paul spreading the word of God to the people and even Publius himself was converted to Christianity. After three months, Roman soldiers eventually recaptured Paul and put aboard a ship called "The Twin Gods" which had spent the winter in Malta and the ship sailed to Syracuse in Sicily where they spent three days before embarking for Rhegium in southern Italy. After Rhegium, the ship sailed North to to the town of Puteoli, staying there for a week while preparations were made for the overland journey to Rome.
THE FINAL CHAPTER
Although the Romans did not hold the view that Paul had actually committed a crime and therefor did not deserve any punishment (See Acts 27.30) it was the Jews, because of Paul's apparent transgressions against Jewish Law, who opposed the Roman view and insisted that Paul be put to death. Paul was finally executed in the year AD 62 but there are no details as to how the Evangelist met his death. However it is widely assumed that Paul was beheaded as was the practised manner of execution.
Because of St Paul's conversion of the Maltese people, it is widely held that the Maltese Islands are considered to be the first Christian "country" in the world.
tiny island of Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea has a rich history as one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.
It all started with a shipwreck, as told in the book of Acts, about 60 AD while the apostle Paul was enroute to Rome. Boarding an Alexandrian grain freighter on the isle of Crete, a fierce Nor'easter blew the ship off course. It looked like all was lost.
"On the fourteenth night, they were still being driven across the Adriatic sea when the sailors sensed land approaching. They took soundings and found that the land was 120 feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found that it was 90 feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, the sailors dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for daylight," the book of Acts describes the story.
"When daylight came, they did not recognize the land. But they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea," it continues.
A Shipwreck's Impact
With the storm still raging, the ship struck a sandbar, and began to break apart. With the vessel and her cargo a total loss, the nearly 300 men on board swam for their lives. Miraculously, everyone survived.
"Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta," the story reveals.
And so began a Christian influence in Malta that has continued down through the centuries. Today, it is the most religious nation in Europe -- 98 percent of its citizens are members of the Catholic Church.
Saint Paul is memorialized throughout the island, no where more than in Saint Paul's bay, where tourists come to visit the Shipwreck Cathedral, and see the spot where most believe Paul's ship ran aground nearly 2,000 years ago.
Searching for Facts
But when former Los Angeles Crime Scene Investigator Bob Cornuke paid a visit to Malta, facts in the biblical narrative didn't fit with the view from Saint Paul's bay. Those anomalies began a 10 year search for the true location of Paul's shipwreck. Cornuke started his search in the pages of his Bible. The crux of the story revolved around the four anchors. Could they be found?
"I looked at the Bible and I said, 'Could I solve this like it was a crime? Could I take the evidence that exists on the pages of the Bible and actually find these lost anchors that the Bible talks about?'" he recalled.
Acts 27 and 28 gives a very detailed account of the story. From it, Cornuke listed four factors that would have to match up in order to find the true location:
- A bay with a beach
- A reef or sandbar where "two seas meet"
- The seabed at about 90 feet of depth.
- A place the sailors did not recognize.
To help track these down, Cornuke enlisted the help of a group of men who know the waters around Malta best -- the Maltese fishermen.
"So I started my search by going out with these fishermen, who knew the weather, knew the currents, knew the topography of the ocean," Cornuke said. "They took me out and explained to me all the possible places based on what the Bible narrative says."
Most of Malta is surrounded by cliffs, so he quickly narrowed the possibilities down to a few bays with beaches. To figure out which site was most plausible, Cornuke looked to Dr. Graham Hutt, an expert on Mediterranean storms.
"I've been studying these storms and weather patterns in the Mediterranean for more than 30 years," Hutt said. "And it resulted in a book on Malta and North Africa which covers all these issues with the weather."
Hutt's expertise helped make sense of the clues in the biblical narrative.
"They were really scared of getting dragged down into the bay of Syrtis, so they would have been trying as much as they could to head in a northerly direction, but only actually making northwesterly," he said.
After dropping a sea anchor, the ship would most likely have been driven up towards the southeast quadrant of the island. The only bay in that area that fits the biblical narrative is called the Bay of St. Thomas.
"In my opinion, bearing in mind where they most probably would have been, they would not have been able to round up and head further north than they did," Hutt said. "So in my view, St. Thomas' bay is a much more likely place."
An Electrifying Discovery
The theory goes that this was the bay written about in Acts 27 and 28. Part of the biblical account says that the sailors didn't recognize the island until the villagers told them. If the sailors had been on the north side of the island, there were many ports there they should have been familiar with.
One day, Cornuke made an electrifying discovery by way of an old diver with an incredible story.
"I met a man named Ray Ciancio and he said, 'Hey Bob, back in the early 60s, we dug up four anchors at about 90 feet of depth,'" Cornuke said.
The location: just outside St Thomas' Bay, near a dangerous sandbar called the Muxnar Reef.
The anchors were later donated to the National Maritime Museum, and expert analysis confirmed they were Roman-era anchors from the right time period. But the divers had no idea what they had at the time.
"As I say, it was of no importance to me whatsoever when we found them," Ray Ciancio said. "It was, 'Yipee. We found a piece of lead.'"
Anchored in History
Ciancio agreed to show CBN News the area where the anchors were found.
"So when I went out and I looked at the location where they found these anchors, I looked at the shoreline and it fit with what the Bible said," Cornuke said. "There was a bay with a beach. There was a reef where two seas come together."
"And when I saw that anchor, my heart skipped a beat and I realized that I could be standing in the presence of Bible history," he added.
Today, the sea floor is again tranquil and calm, giving no clues to the secrets it may hold. It's impossible to know for sure if it is the spot where Paul's shipwreck occurred, but if nothing else, the idea is prompting some Maltese to re-think their tradition.
Anchored in Faith
Joe Navarro is one of the divers who helped retrieve the anchors in the 1960s.
"I think it is high time we questioned ourselves," he said. "I myself am convinced that it is more plausible that the shipwreck was on Muxnar, not on St. Paul's island. We have believed St. Paul's island, but nobody ever questioned, 'But, are you sure?'"
"For me, finding these anchors is not just an archeological find," Cornuke added. "For me personally, it did a lot to enhance my faith. For me, they're a symbol of hope.
Today, the anchors are tucked away in the corner of Valletta's Maritime Museum, labeled only "Roman Anchors." Most visitors pass them by, having no idea what history they might hold.
*Original broadcast February 26, 2010.