The Grotto

The Grotto is one of the most venerated sites on our island, which is where St Paul is said to have stayed when he arrived on our island in 60 AD. He was shipwrecked in Malta when he was travelling from Crete to Rome to be put on trial in front of Julius Caesar. When in Malta he is said to have resided in this cave during his three months stay. It is from here that he is thought to have preached and spread the word of God and thus gave our island its Christian religion. As a result of this, the cave became a place of worship and many important personalities came on pilgrimages. Some of these include Pope Benedict, Pope John Paul II, Fabio Chigi who later became Pope Alexander VII, Admiral Lord Nelson (1800) and several others. 

An awakening of the cult of St Paul started with the Spanish hermit Juan Beneguas Da Cordova who in 1600 came to this grotto and acquired land above it and used it as a base from where he could promote the devotion of St Paul. St Paul's Grotto was originally the Rabat Parish Church under the jurisdiction of the Cathedral of Mdina. It was officially released from the Rabat Parish Church in 1610 and entrusted first to Beneguas. The Order of the knights of St John also set their eyes on this important site, not only for its religious aspect but even for political purposes. In 1617 Juan Benegas De Cordova handed the area over the Knights. It was Grandmaster Alof De Wignacourt who also saw the need of building a college for the established Chapter of Canons of the Collegiate of the Grotto of St Paul, also known as the Chaplains of the Order. The mission of these chaplains was to promote the devotion of St Paul and take care of the Grotto day and night. 

What you can see in the grotto is a statue of St Paul which was donated by Grandmaster Pinto in 1748. In the grotto you can also see a silver vessel which was executed in 1960 for the 1900 year anniversary from the shipwreck of St Paul in Malta. This was also donated by the knights of St John.