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.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.