|Malta, an island 58 miles
south of Sicily, was colonized by the Phoenecians,
maritime merchants of the ancient world. Rome took
possession of Malta after defeating the Phoenician colony
of Carthage in North Africa. When the Roman Empire
divided, the island became part of the Eastern Empire, and
remained under Byzantine control until 870, when it was
taken by the Arabs. It passed from Arab to Norman, to
French, to Spanish control. In 1530, Malta was granted to
the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who governed it
until the 19th century, when it
became part of the British Empire.
In 1964, it became an
independent republic and member of the United Nations.
The Church in Malta was founded by St.
Paul, c. AD 60, who consecrated its first bishop, St.
Publius (Acts 28:6-8). Though under Arab control the
Church was temporarily suppressed, the episcopal
succession was restored and has continued to the present,
so that, according to Maltese tradition, theirs is the only existing Apostolic
see besides Rome. On his visit there, the Holy Father is
to beatify Venerable George
Pisani, Nazju Falzon. Malta’s population is 92% Catholic.