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Destination: Malta

December 10, 2006


Malta Today

Contrasts in Christendom: Red Lights in Amsterdam, Neon In Malta, By Thomas Basil, New Oxford Review

Malta is a remnant speck of Christendom off the coast of a post-Christian western Europe. Malta is home to 365 Catholic churches, roughly one for every 1,000 residents. Of her 400,000 citizens, 98 percent profess Catholicism and, more significantly, 85 percent attend Sunday Mass. The national flag is the feudal eight-point Maltese cross. Malta’s state university trains future doctors and engineers as well as future priests. Public schools teach Catholicism as a required subject. Political debate is not over a woman’s “right” to abort, but over a couple’s “right” to divorce. Malta quaintly outlaws both modern liberties.

Andrew Sorokowski from Rockville, Maryland writes a letter to the editor responding to the NOR article:

Like their Baroque architecture, Maltese piety is uninhibited, demonstrative, exuberant. One Friday evening, we paused outside a packed Carmelite church in Valletta’s Old Theatre Street, entranced by the lavish panoply of candles and vestments, the spirited song and ceremony. It was probably the most exciting thing going on in the sleepy capital at that moment. A woman thrust a Rosary into my wife’s hands, entreating her to recite a decade whenever she passed an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is apostolicity: spontaneous and sincere, with none of the self-conscious formalism of parish outreach programs and greeting committees.

The Catholic Church in contemporary Malta

Malta takes a stand for life under EU pressure

The government also said it was confident “that this will remain the position of Malta after membership” and that as a member state of the European Union, Malta “will continue to advocate its strong determination against abortion as a faithful reflection of the values of the Maltese people”.

See also: Maltese Prime Minister and Bishop’s Conference Reject United Nations Abortion Push

Notable churches

Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu – Gozo

Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu: A Marian icon for the world


The holy icon of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu is an illustration of the still holier name, the name of Mary, the name of a maternal love given and of a filial love returned. It is the most venerated icon of the Blessed Virgin in the islands that lie at the centre of the Mediterranean, the cultural cradle where the devotion to Mary grew and began to take on the hues of peoples and nations. It is an icon which is steadily becoming better known and more widespread. And the faithful throughout the Catholic world can only be enriched by it.

from a homily of Pope John Paul II at Shrine of Our Lady of Ta Pinu

In the past, Malta’s strong family life has provided a solid basis for the stability and harmonious development of society. In the present age can the families of Malta and Gozo continue to meet this urgent challenge? Like many societies, yours is not immune to a kind of spiritual disorientation caused by rapid social changes and the attraction of value systems and modes of behaviour which run counter to the deepest convictions which have moulded your identity as a people. Today, invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Reconciliation and Queen of Peace, I ask all of you to pray with me that Malta’s families will be the crucible in which your society will forge a renewed commitment to the Gospel values which are its most precious inheritance from the past!

Of related interest: Maltese Oratory “Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu” dedicated at National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC

St. Helen’s Basilica – Birkirkara
St. Paul’s Cathedral – Mdina
St. John’s Co-Cathedral – Valletta
St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church – Valletta
St. George Basilica – Victoria

St. Mary’s Church – Mosta

On April 9, 1942, during an afternoon air-raid, a large Luftwaffe bomb pierced the dome (two others bounced off) and fell among the congregation of more than 300 people, awaiting early evening mass. It did not explode.


St. Paul’s shipwreck on Malta
See fresco of St. Paul’s Shipwreck here

The Great Siege Of 1565

The siege is one of the greatest sieges in the history of the world, fought by unequal forces on the small island of Malta which commands the sea-routes at the centre of the Mediterranean. That such a small island could withstand the attack of the most powerful empire of the era is a testament to the fortitude of the defenders. The Knights of St John were a remnant of the medieval world, the largest of the surviving crusading orders…

Recommended reading: The Great Siege of Malta by Ernle Bradford

Of related interest

Catholic Men’s Quarterly: The Rocks of Malta

Biographies of Jean Parisot de la Valette, Grand Master of the Knights of St. John:
Wikipedia bio
Catholic Encyclopedia bio

Knights of Malta – Catholic Encyclopedia

Order of Malta Homepage

Valletta: “A city of palaces built by gentlemen for gentlemen.”

St. Paul, Patron of Malta

Additional links

Times of Malta: Archbishop prays at Mosque in message of dialogue



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