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In the Footsteps of St. Paul

2 Day Tour
2 Days (7/8 hours each day)
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Mellieha Sanctuary

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Tour Description

Day 1
Mellieha Sanctuary, San Pawl Milqi, Church of the Bonfire, St. Paul's Island & Valletta (St. John's Co. Cathedral, St. Paul's Shipwreck Church)


Christianity has almost 2000 years of history in Malta. It was brought to the island by no one other than the Apostle Paul in 60 AD. Paul was being taken to Rome to be tried as a political rebel, but the ship was wrecked just of the coast during a very bad storm. The Maltese assisted the crew, St. Paul and others who were onboard the wrecked ship. They looked after them, fed them and provided shelter for them until they could continue with their journey. According to local tradition, St. Paul preached the gospel of Christianity to the locals, who at the time were under Roman rule. Even the Governor of the island Publius converted to Christianity and became Malta's first Bishop.

We start our two day tour with a visit to Mellieha Sanctuary. This sanctuary is dedicated to Our Lady in Heaven and it has been one of the most important Marian shrines in Malta for centuries. The sanctuary is also famous for a painting of the Madonna on the rock face which is attributed to St Luke the Evangelist, who was shipwrecked in Malta together with St Paul in AD 60.

We drive down to St Paul's Bay and stop outside the Church of the Bonfire. According to tradition the site where the Church of the Bonfire is located is where St Paul first reached land and made a bonfire. Here you can also see St. Paul's Islands from the coastline and this was the place the locals believed the shipwreck took place.

The second part of the tour includes a visit to Valletta. After a lunch break we will visit two very important churches. The first is St. John's Co- Cathedral. Although not directly connected with St. Paul, the cathedral is a must see. We will include a tour of the cathedral which was the church of the Order of St. John and also home to Caravaggio's masterpiece "Beheading of St. John" amongst other treasures. The highlight of our visit to the capital is St. Paul's Shipwreck Church, 'the hidden gem'. This is one of the the most popular churches in the Maltese Islands. It was the Bishop's church in Valletta and was closely connected with the Order of St John. Besides having a glorious history, it is rich in works of art, paintings, sculptures and silverware. Two very important relics of St Paul are held in this church: a wrist bone and a piece of the column above which he was beheaded.

At this stage our tour comes to an end and we make our way back.


Day 2
Rabat: St. Paul's Grotto, Wignacourt Museum, Roman Domus, Mdina & Cathedral Museum


Our first stop of the day is the St. Paul's Grotto which was the actual resting place during the short period the saint stayed on the island. This is now part of the newly refurbished Wignacourt Museum which houses an impressive collection of paintings and other treasures from the time of the Knights of St John.

Just before our lunch break we visit the Roman Domus. This property dating back to the Roman era was typical of the period when St. Paul was in Malta. It is an upper class Roman Town House discovered in 1881. This is considered to be the richest archaeological find of the Roman period in Malta. Its elegant architecture and polychrome mosaics date its original construction to the early 1st century B.C.

After our lunch break we will visit the ancient city of Mdina.

Mdina is built on a plateau in the centre of the island. The city's old Baroque buildings, cathedral and magnificent bastion walls dominate the rural skyline. We will do a general tour of the city including the beautiful Mdina Cathedral. The cathedral is said to have been built on the site where the Roman govenor Publius had his residence. In addition we will also pay a visit to the Cathedral Museum which was originally a seminary to train future priests. It was later transformed into the Cathedral Museum and is today considered as one of the best ecclesiastical museums in Europe. There is a fine collection of paintings, silverware, church vestments and a unique series of etchings by Albrecht Durer.

At this stage our tour comes to an end and we make our way back.

© 2013 Joan Sheridan Freelance Tour Guide. All rights reserved.