Follow the Footsteps of Paul , Caesarea to Malta to Rome

The ancient city of Caesarea is now an archaeological park located on the Mediterranean Sea, but in the past, it was an impressive city named after Caesar Augustus and built by Herod the Great (from 22 and 10 BC). The religious history of Caesarea is long , one that was dedicated to the Divine Augustus. As told in the Book of Acts in the New Testament, Peter and Paul visited the city. As the end of the 1st century neared, the mistreatment of Jews in Caesarea led to the First Jewish Revolt (from 66 to 70 AD).

In recent years, the city has been the site of various extensive excavations that led to the establishment of an archeological park that offers lovely views of the sea. If you pay a visit to Caesarea, you will also encounter Herod’s Roman Theater (which has been fully restored) and a host of Roman temples and Christian churches that over the years, have served as a place of worship for the Romans, Byzantines, Muslims and Crusaders.

The last stop on the third missionary journey of St. Paul was Malta. The island nation is nation located on the southernmost tip of Europe and has a history of inhabitants since prehistoric times. There are more than 40 prehistoric temples located in Malta. For example, one in Ggantija is the oldest freestanding stone structure in the world. Today, 98% of the population is Roman Catholic.

In the past, Malta was known as a significant fortified city. Over the years, it has become home to many historic cathedrals, churches and castles. The knights of the Crusades also spent time in Malta until Napoleon Bonaparte made them relocate in 1798.

As for Paul, during his third missionary journey, he was shipwrecked at Malta while he was on his way to Rome. This shipwreck took place in 60 AD and is on record in the Acts of the Apostles. Paul would stay three months on the island , spreading the Christian religion throughout the region. His stay there would create many different legends that have been told over the years. There is a tale told that the nearest person living close to the shipwreck was Publius, the Chief Man of the Island. His villa was located close by, which is where those in the shipwreck stayed and recuperated for three days. Afterwards, they went to the chief town called Melita. While in this city, Paul cured Publius’ father of a fever after the Chief Man of the Island was converted to Christianity. St. Paul had later ordained him as a bishop. This made him the first bishop of Malta.

Three months had passed and the sea proved to be safe for sailing once again. St. Paul filled his vessel with the gifts that had come from his friends in Malta and sailed off to Rome, which is where he would eventually become martyred. When the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity, he made it the official religion of the Empire. Throughout the island, a handful of places to worship were constructed and the following of the religion seemed well organized. There is an account of a church that was built on the same site of the palace of Publius, where St. Paul had cured the father of the Chief Man of the Island. Over the years, the site was rebuilt and is now occupied by the Cathedral Church. It was dedicated to Saint Paul at Mdina.

If you are following the footsteps of Paul, Rome is also an important site for people to visit. The early tradition states that Paul was imprisoned n Rome from 53 to 62 AD, and once again in 64 AD. While he was in Rome, he penned the New Testament books of Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. The 4th-century historian Eusebius wrote that Paul was beheaded in Rome in 67 AD.