Saint Paul’s Shipwreck Collegiate Church, Valletta

The Maltese historiographer Gio Francesco Abela describes the church in his Descrittione di Malta (1647) as “a most beautiful temple”. The church, which is a Collegiate Parish, houses a relic of part of Saint Paul’s right wrist bone, and one of the four marble pillars or legs of the table on which the apostle was beheaded in Rome in 64 AD – donated by Pope Pius VII in 1818 in recognition of services rendered by the collegiate chapter during the plague outbreak of 1813. The main altarpiece, depicting the shipwreck of Saint Paul, is by the artist Matteo Perez d’Aleccio (1547-1616), a follower of Michelangelo; and Melchiorre Gafa (1635-67) sculpted the titular wooden statue of Saint Paul at his bottega in Rome. It shows the apostle in the act of preaching – a prototype for all other statues of Saint Paul in Malta. The also church holds numerous objects d’art of silver, gold and precious stones, mainly donated by Grand Masters and Bishops.

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