Chapel of San Pawl tat-Tarġa, Naxxar

In Naxxar, the legacy of St. Paul’s shipwreck and the ensuing spread of Christianity among the Maltese resonates deeply. This is scarcely surprising given that this once-small village was closest to where the shipwreck is believed to have occurred. The name ‘Naxxar’ itself seems to echo this historic connection, stemming from ‘nassar,’ a word that translates to ‘one who Christianizes.’ Tradition holds that it was in this very place, now known as San Pawl tat-Tarġa, that St. Paul preached to the island’s inhabitants.

A stone’s throw away, the principal church of Naxxar’s parish stands as a testament to Malta’s ancient faith. Dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the church proudly bears the motto ‘Prior Credidi,’ a Latin phrase meaning ‘among the first to believe.’ This reflects the community’s long-held belief that they were among the earliest to embrace Christianity following St. Paul’s influence.

The chapel of San Pawl tat-Tarġa was built in the latter years of the 17th Century, replacing another which had been completely destroyed at the beginning of that Century. On the parvis of the chapel there is a statue of St. Paul, facing the other side of the road where a column with a cross at the top marks the position of the earlier, much older, church.

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