St Paul Grotto 
  Euro2 Malta: 26 May - 1 June 2008



St. Paul's Church and Grotto, Rabat

"After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness." --Acts 27:1

St. Paul's Church is built over a grotto where Paul may have stayed. 

The beautiful St. Paul's Church in Rabat stands above a grotto where St. Paul is said to have taken refuge after his shipwreck on Malta.


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 27:1-11).

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 1990.

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.

Visitor Information

Names: St. Paul's Church and Grotto; Grotto and Parish Church of St. Paul
Type of site: Church; biblical site; Footsteps of St. Paul
Dates: 17th-century church
Location: Rabat, Malta island, Malta




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Last modified: May 15, 2008
Webmaster: Tony Zahra - but send any complaints to the Chairman :)