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Pope’s 1st international trip of 2022 will be to Malta

Mdina-Cathedral-and-surroudings-�-Courtesy-of-the-Archdiocese-of-Malta-1.jpg

Ian Noel Pace | church.mt/photos

Mdina Cathedral and surroundings

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 02/10/22

The Pope will visit the island nation on April 2 and 3.

The Pope will visit Malta on April 2 and 3, 2022, the director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, officially confirmed on February 10. It will be the 85-year-old Pontiff’s 36th apostolic trip outside Italy since his election in 2013. The announcement comes as the island nation of Malta is celebrating a special feast day, the shipwreck of St. Paul.

“Accepting the invitation of the President of the Republic of Malta, the civil authorities and the Catholic Church of the country, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Malta from 2 to 3 April 2022, visiting the cities of Valletta, Rabat, Floriana and the island of Gozo. The program and further details of the journey will be announced in the near future,” announced Bruni.

A few minutes earlier, the Archdiocese of Malta had made the news official via its Twitter account.

The Pope will visit the capital of the country, Valletta, as well as the cities of Rabat, Floriana and the island of Gozo, said the spokesman, without confirming whether the head of the Catholic Church would visit – as announced by the archdiocese – the village of Hal Far.

Located in the south of Malta, this city houses a center for migrants. The local Maltese press reports that a visit to the center is part of the program. In December, during his last trip, Pope Francis visited a migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece.

The third pope to visit Malta

This trip has been planned for a long time. It had been announced for May 2020 before being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Later, the visit was mentioned for the end of 2021 – as part of the trip to Cyprus and Greece in particular – before being postponed again.

Received by Pope Francis on October 8, 2021, the Prime Minister of the archipelago, Robert Abela, said at the end of his audience that the trip would take place in the following year.

By visiting Malta, Pope Francis will make his first trip of 2022 outside Italy – he is scheduled to travel to Florence on February 27 for a meeting with bishops and mayors of the Mediterranean. Francis will be the third pontiff to visit the island after John Paul II’s two visits in 1990 and 2001, and Benedict XVI in 2010.

Malta in Acts of the Apostles

St. Paul found the island of Malta to be extraordinarily welcoming, which has given the island a reputation for hospitality, as mentioned even by recent popes.

The first 10 verses of Acts 28 recount the story of his shipwreck:

Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.

Discover some of the spiritual richness of Malta through our coverage at Aleteia, here, and including these:

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