Feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck in Malta
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All the Events that You Need to Know About!
Malta is famous for celebrating its history, Christian identity and preserving its long-time traditions. The feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck in Malta, that falls on the 10th of February, is one of the island’s major public holidays, especially since it’s a religious feast. Malta holds a heavy Catholic background and this is reflected in the numerous churches across the island and the countless of feasts commemorating significant Catholic events. The feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck is one such example.
The history of the feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck
St. Paul and Malta have a long relation dating back to A.D. 60. Apostle Paul left a heritage that influenced many generations ahead. 2000 years ago he gave Malta Christianity making the island one of the first Roman colonies to convert to Christianity. Till this day Maltese celebrate the occasion with great enthusiasm preserving the oldest traditions that fascinate many travellers coming across Malta.
Paul also found his way to Malta by chance. The Roman ship that was taking Paul to be tried as a political rebel did not reach its destination and was caught by a storm getting wrecked on the shores of the island. The islanders gave a shelter from the fierce storm to all those aboard who safely swam back to the shore. Many legends surround Apostle’s life in Malta with some archaeological evidence that supports some of the stories told. It is said that he took refuge in a cave (Rabat), was poisoned by a snake but felt no ill-effects and that he cured Publius’ father from a serious fever. In turn Paul became famous for his healing abilities, while Publius became the first Bishop of Malta.
There is also another narration about St Paul. While he was on the Maltese Islands, he got bitten by a venomous snake while standing in front of the fire. St Paul simply swiped off the snake and was not injured by the bite in any way. St Paul remained in Malta for three months before parting ways to continue his journey.
These and many other St. Paul’s life legends made St. Paul’s Shipwreck day a celebration not to miss. Documented by the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Bible, The Shipwreck Day now is commemorated as a National Public Holiday and a Religious Feast at the Church of St. Paul Shipwrecked in Valletta and in the streets of Malta’s capital city. Every year, on February 10th, Maltese celebrate their faith which is perceived to be a key factor in Maltese identity and is marked with religious ceremonies and processions.
The feast in Valletta
The main events for St Paul’s Shipwreck happen in Valletta. St Paul’s Parish Church, situated in West Street Valletta, is one of the oldest churches on the island, dating back to 1570. The feast is mainly celebrated by masses and street celebrations including the processions with the St Paul statue.
On the 10th February, the day of the official feast, Valletta will be brimming with events that are interesting for both locals and tourists alike. The day starts off with a mass at 7.00am and another one at 8.00am. On the day, the Archbishop and the President of Malta also make their way to Valletta to inaugurate the feast.
At 12.00pm, you can witness the firing of the canons from the Saluting Battery to commemorate the feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck. The traditional band march starts at 1.00pm led by ‘Banda tas-Soc. Fil. Naz. ‘La Valette’’ and it passes through the following streets: Triq San Pawl, Triq it-Teatru l-Antik, Triq ir-Repubblika, Triq Nofsinhar, Triq Zakkarija, Misrah San Gwann, Triq San Gwann, Triq il-Merkanti, Triq Melita, and Triq San Pawl. This means that if you don’t feel like going out, you can still witness the band march from the balcony in a room at AX The Saint John.
An English mass will be held at 3.45pm followed by a procession with the statue of St Paul at 5.30pm. Another procession is held at 9.30pm together with religious celebrations.