CHURCH OF ST PAUL’S SHIPWRECK
This magnificent church, dedicated to the shipwreck of St Paul, is not easy to find. It is hidden away in a side street off Merchant Street and the entrance belies the sheer beauty of its interior. But the extra effort in finding it is repaid handsomely by the ornate splendour of this amazing shrine to Malta’s patron saint.
The church traces its origins to 1570, was designed by Gerolamo Cassar, and completed in Dec. 1582. It was ceded to the Jesuit Fathers and a new church was started in 1639. The church’s facade was rebuilt in 1885 according to the design of Nicola Zammit.
The church hosts fine artistic works, including the magnificent altarpiece by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio, and paintings by Attilio Palombi, and Giuseppe Calli. The wooden titular statue of St Paul was carved in 1659 by Melchiorre Cafà, the brother of Lorenzo Gafà, who designed the dome. The statue is paraded through the streets of Valletta on February 10th, when the annual commemoration of St Paul’s Shipwreck is held. This is a national holiday in Malta and this church hosts the main ceremonies in the presence of all the dignitaries of church and state.
Among the many treasures in this beautiful church are a relic of the right wrist-bone of St Paul, and part of the wooden column on which the saint was beheaded in Rome.
From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)