Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck
This feast is a commemoration in Malta of the shipwreck of St. Paul on the island in 60 c.e., an event told about in the New Testament. Paul, the story says, was being taken as a prisoner aboard ship to Rome where he was to stand trial. When storms drove the ship aground, Paul escaped and was welcomed by the “barbarous people” (meaning they were not Greco-Romans). According to legend, he got their attention when a snake bit him on the hand but did him no harm, and he then healed people of diseases. Paul stayed for three months in Malta, converting the people to Christianity (Acts 27:1-28:11). Paul is the patron saint of Malta and snakebite victims.
The day is a public holiday, and is observed with family gatherings and religious ceremonies and processions.
Malta National Tourist Office
65 Broadway, Ste. 823
New York, NY 10006
212-430-3799; fax: 425-795-3425
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 124