Thursday, May 8, 2014

St. Paul Grotto, Rabat, Malta

Rabat's claim to fame is that Saint Paul spent some time here after he was shipwrecked on the island. Whether he lived in Rabat or was in a Roman prison is disputed but everyone agrees that he was here. A slightly subterranean grotto underneath St. Paul's Church is the spot where he stayed.

St. Paul's Church, Rabat

We visited the grotto as part of the connected catacombs where the Christians worshiped and buried their dead. The grotto has a nice statue of St. Paul and a plaque commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1990.

Grotto with statue (and cool ship-shaped candle)

Further in the grotto

Legend has it that stones scraped from the walls of the grotto have healing power and the cave never gets bigger even with all the scraping over the centuries.

Just outside the grotto are three altars. One is for St. Paul, another for St. Luke (a traveling companion of Paul's and writer of the third Gospel), a third is just there.

St. Paul altar

St. Luke altar

Third altar

By the altars is an old fresco barely still visible.

St. Paul fresco?

Up a staircase is much more modern chapel dedicated to St. Paul.


Side altar

The main altar has some small full-color statues of saints, a decoration I haven't seen before on an altar.

Main altar

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