Pope in Malta

 Pope John Paul was met by ecstatic crowds during his two day visit to Malta. At the airport on Tuesday, he was received by President Guido Di Marco, Archbishop Joseph Mercieca and the island's bishops. In his first address, the Pope recalled that St. Paul arrived in Malta as a prisoner, on his way to Rome. He said: "Here, he and his shipwrecked companions were treated, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, with unusual kindness. "Here he bore witness to Christ, and restored to health the father of Publius and other people of the island who were sick. "For two millennia you have been faithful to the vocation involved in that singular encounter. Today the Successor of Peter wishes to confirm you in the same faith, and to encourage you in the spirit of Christian hope and love." On Wednesday, as many as 200,000 people - half the island's population - attended Mass in Granaries Square in Valletta. The highlight of the service was the beatification of two priests and a nun. They were : Fr George Preca, Sr Maria Adeodata Pisani and Fr Nazju Falzon. Fr Preca, who died in 1962, was a diocesan priest and founder of the worldwide lay Society of Christian Doctrine. Sr Maria was an enclosed nun who died in 1855. She was famous for her holiness and love of the poor. Fr Falzon was a lawyer who gave up his career to become a priest working with young people. He died in 1865. During the service also appealed for prayers to help bring peace in the Middle East, and deplored the latest violence there - the stoning to death of two Israeli teenagers. Pope John Paul was due return to the Vatican last night. BBC/VNS

Share this story