St. Paul's Church and Grotto

Rabat, Malta

The Collegiate Church of St Paul is built on part of the site of the Roman city Melite, which included all of Mdina and a large part of present-day Rabat. There were numerous churches built on the site of the present church which dates from the 17th century. In 1336 bishop Hilarius refers to the church as ecclesia Sancti Pauli de crypta, and also mentions the cemetery and the Roman ditch. The present church was built to replace a church which was completed in 1578. The new church was built with funds provided by the noble woman Guzmana Navarra on plans prepared by Francesco Buonamici. The church building commenced in 1653 was completed by Lorenzo Gafà in 1683. Annexed with the church of St Paul is a smaller church dedicated to St Publius which was rebuilt in 1692 and again in 1726 by Salvu Borg.

According to the Book of Acts, Paul and his missionary party were shipwrecked on Malta for three months. During his stay, 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.

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.

Entrance to the grotto (cave) is through the church of St Publius. The grotto is the place where according to tradition St Paul lived and perched during his three months stay in Malta in 60 A.D. In 1748 Grand Master Pinto donated a statue of St Paul for the grotto. The grotto was visited by two Popes, Pope John Paul II in 1990 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

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Address

Triq il-Kullegg, Rabat, Malta
See all sites in Rabat

Details

Founded: 1726
Category: Religious sites in Malta

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Michelle Jenkinson (16 months ago)
Beautiful place to see very religious. Beautiful status
mithun mathew (18 months ago)
Calm and quiet church with great architecture, build on approx AD 47
Linto Jacob (18 months ago)
Nice traditionally built. With historical touch
Leonella Ferrarini (18 months ago)
Interesting as unusual. I found a person there available to explain how the ancient Christians celebrated their cult.
John Bye (2 years ago)
From outside it doesn't look much different to a dozen other churches in Malta, but what's underneath is amazing. First you have St Paul's grotto, where the apostle is reputed to have stayed after being shipwrecked in Malta. Then there are the Second World War air raid shelters, hewn out of the rock by the locals to escape bombing raids. And finally there's a veritable labyrinth of ancient catacombs (not to be confused with the even bigger complex, also called St Paul's, further down the road). The ticket also includes a museum upstairs, although we skipped that as we were short on time.
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