Collegiate Church of St Paul
Located on part of the site for the Roman city “Melite”, which included all of Mdina and a large part of present-day Rabat, the present church building was built to replace another one which was completed in 1578 from funds provided by the noble woman Cosmana Navarra, on plans prepared by Francesco Buonamici. In 1617, the Sanctuary of St Publius was added on to the Collegiate Church of St Paul.
Several other churches were previously built on this site prior to the church we know today, dating back to at least the 14th century. In fact, in 1336, Bishop Hilarius referred to the church as “ecclesia Sancti Pauli de crypta”.
Building commenced in 1653, and was subsequently completed by Lorenzo Gafà in 1683. The church is built right next to St Paul’s Grotto. According to tradition, this grotto is the place where St Paul lived and preached during his three months in Malta.
The grotto has been visited by two popes, Pope John Paul II in 1990 and 2001 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. In this grotto, one can find a statue of St Paul, which was donated by Grand Master Pinto in 1748, whilst a silver galley which hangs from the ceiling was given by the Knights of St John to mark the 1900th anniversary of St Paul’s Shipwreck in 1960.