The Feast of St Paul's Shipwreck - Malta

Procession of Saint Paul's Shipwreck in Valletta

Unique to Malta the feast of the shipwreck of St Paul is held annually on the 10th of February. The feast celebrates the events that proceeded, and including, the shipwreck of St Paul off the shores of Malta.

Although the exact location of the shipwreck was never determined, it is said to have been on the rocks near the shore of Malta. As the story goes, St Paul was travelling to Rome as a prisoner to stand before Caesar, being trialled as a political rebel. However, the ship carrying him, and the 247 others, was caught in a violent storm, leading to it being broken up on the Maltese coast. St Paul was warned of the shipwreck beforehand by God who agreed to spare the lives of everyone on board. All managed to swim to ashore, to be greeted by the local population. While St Paul was standing by a fire, he was bitten by a poisonous snake, yet did not incur any ill effects or injuries. The Maltese took this as a sign that he was perhaps a god. Paul, however, soon shows them it was God’s power at work in a mere man by healing the governor of the island, Publius, who was later made the first Bishop of Malta.

Paul stayed here for 3 months before continuing on his original journey.

Today, the main festivities are held in The Parish Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck in Malta’s capital city of Valletta, one of the oldest churches, dating back to the 1570s. The church even holds a relic of his alleged wrist bone and a piece of the column he is said to have been beheaded on. The three must dos are:

1. Attend the service at the Church of St Paul's Shipwreck in Valletta. Hear the homilies and singing, see the works of art such as the altarpiece, paintings and a wooden statue of St Paul.
2. Watch the procession of Saint Paul’s statue from the church through Valletta’s streets after the mass. See the marching band, music, falling confetti, overhanging banners and cheering crowds as the parade makes its way up Republic street.
3. Following the 8 am mass, watch fireworks over Grand Harbour

Relic of St Paul's wrist-bone
Statue of St Paul carried during processional

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