On the occasion of Pope Francis' trip to Malta on April 2 and 3, we look back at previous papal visits to the island. After the 1990 and 2001 visits of John Paul II, we review the visit of Benedict XVI in 2010.
John Paul II described Malta, a country he visited twice during his pontificate, as “An island of faith, heroism and devotion.” The Polish Pope made his first apostolic visit to Malta in May 1990, and returned in May 2001, as part of a Mediterranean tour that also took him to Greece and Syria.
Malta first welcomed a pope on May 25, 1990, almost 26 years after it gained independence. At that time the country was 99% Catholic. The 13 meetings conducted by John Paul II during these three days were an undeniable popular success. The Polish Pope was welcomed by “an entire island in celebration” as the Times of Malta recalled 30 years later.