The beautiful St. Paul's Church in Rabat stands above
a grotto where St. Paul is said to have taken refuge after his shipwreck
According to the Book of Acts of the Apostles, St Paul and his
missionary party were shipwrecked on Malta for three months.
During his stay, St Paul was bitten by a snake and remained unharmed,
prompting the natives to regard him as a god. He later healed the father
of the governor of the island, Publius, and many other people (Acts
According to tradition, St Paul eschewed the
comfortable surroundings offered to him and chose to live in this
subterranean grotto instead.
Whether or not this is true, it is possible
that he preached from here.
The Church of St. Paul, built above the grotto, dates
from the 17th century. The statue of St Paul was donated by Grand Master
Pinto in 1748; the silver galley hanging from the ceiling was given by the
Knights of St John in 1960 to mark the 1,900-year anniversary of St Paul's
shipwreck. Pope John Paul prayed in the grotto during his visit in May
The Sanctuary of St Publius was added on to the Church
of St. Paul in 1617. The Spaniard Publius came to Malta in about 1600 to
become a knight, but upon visiting the grotto he decided to become a
hermit instead. Lorenzo Gafa renovated the building in 1692 and his
brother Melchiorre executed the marble statue of St Paul..
Note that St. Paul's Grotto is not the same as the similarly-named St.
Paul's Catacombs, which are a couple of hundred meters away.