The feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck is celebrated every year on February 10. Malta is well known for commemorating its history, retaining its Christian identity, and upholding its long-standing traditions. The Maltese say that the apostle Paul shipwrecked off the island’s coast, and they hold a grand festival to commemorate this event. A massive statue of the legendary evangelist is carried about town by the city’s toughest men. In Malta, it’s called ‘San Pawl Nawfragu.’
History of Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck
According to the Bible, St Paul was caught in a storm while on his way to Rome from his home in Jerusalem. The ship was swept onto the tiny island of Malta by the winds, and the Maltese, well-known for being hospitable people, greeted St Paul with open arms.
Acts 27:27 through 28:11 tell the story of Paul’s shipwreck and three-month winter stay in Malta. As a prisoner, he was transported to Rome, where he would be brought before Caesar for trial. Paul prayed for the safety of those aboard the ship and his request was heeded, for the ship never arrived at its destination, but rather, it ended up on the shores of Malta.
This isn’t the only story told regarding St. Paul and Malta. Once, while Paul was visiting Malta, he was bitten by a venomous snake. St. Paul allegedly swiped the snake off his hand and was not wounded in any way. St. Paul stayed in Malta for three months before departing to continue his travels. Historically, St Paul is credited with founding the first Christian community in the Maltese Islands, making the island one of the earliest Roman colonies to embrace the faith. Malta’s patron saint, Paul himself, is also revered as the patron saint of those who’ve been bitten by snakes.
Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck timeline
St. Paul arrives in Malta because of a storm.
The first bishop of Malta, St. Publius, is canonized.
Malta builds some of its oldest churches during this period.
Malta erects a carved statue of St. Paul.
Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck FAQs
Any idea where Paul's shipwrecked in Malta?
Chapter 28 of the Acts of the Apostles tells the tale of how Paul the Apostle shipwrecked on Malta while en route to Rome to face charges, and the island is referred to as Malta throughout the chapter. Historically, this shipwreck is said to have happened at the eponymous St. Paul’s Ba, at St. Paul’s Island.
How can we know St. Paul was actually on the island?
An anchor from St. Paul’s shipwreck has allegedly been found on the island of Malta.
How many people were with Paul at the time of the shipwreck?
A total of 276 people were also on board.
Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck Activities
Feast in Valletta
Valletta serves as the primary location for the St Paul's Shipwreck commemorative festivities. Located on Valletta's West Street, St. Paul's Parish Church is one of Malta's oldest churches, built in 1570. In addition to church services and street parties, the feast is commemorated by processions accompanied by a statue of St. Paul.
Over the years, many people have enjoyed watching the annual fireworks display from Grand Harbor. Locals believed that St.Paul lived in Malta for a time after his accident and converted many people to Christianity during his stay.
Brass bands and costumed spectators all add to the spectacle of the parade, which is greeted with clapping and cheers from the audience. A Solemn Mass in honor of the Church of St. Paul's Shipwreck concludes the holiday.
5 Facts About St. Paul’s Shipwreck
Parish Church of Saint Paul Shipwrecked
In Malta's capital city of Valletta, the "Parish Church of Saint Paul Shipwrecked" celebrates Saint Paul's Shipwreck.
Famed for his healing abilities
Apostle Paul was famous for his healing abilities, including healing the father of St. Publius from dysentery.
There is some archeological evidence to support some of the stories told by the Maltese.
Bitten by a snake
Paul was reported to have sought sanctuary in a cave, where he was bitten by a snake, though he was miraculously unaffected by the bite, the story says.
A Maltese legend claims that St. Paul founded a Christian community on the island.
Why We Love Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck
It’s Maltese tradition
The arrival of St. Paul is important in Maltese tradition. The people take great pride in the fact that St. Paul’s shipwrecked on their island.
Advent of christianity
Christianity is introduced to Malta. The Maltese are proud of their Christian heritage.
It has historical significance
The shipwreck is of significant historical value. Malta is a key location in Christian history.
Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck dates