Saint Paul’s Shipwreck

10th February

For the people of Malta, the 10th of February is a day marked in Maltese history as the beginning of their Christian Tradition. It is believed, as recorded in Acts, that it was the Apostle Paul himself that brought Christianity to the Island.

The narrative in Acts 27 (18-38; 28,1-17) gives a vivid account of the event. 

Saint Paul was being taken to Rome as a prisoner to be tried there, when a violent storm wrecked the ship on to the Maltese shores. There were 276 people on board, mostly prisoners like him. All those on board had lost hope of saving their life. But Paul, although only a prisoner, took hold of the situation, because the Angel of God had spoken to him, telling him not to be afraid but to have faith. God had promised him that all those on board will be saved after being wrecked on an island. When they all swam safely to shore, they got to know that the island was Malta. They were warmly welcomed by the Maltese, who started to regard Paul as a god when nothing happened to him after being bitten by a poisonous snake. He was also welcomed by Publius, the Roman Representative on the island. Paul preached the Christian Faith to the Maltese, converting them to Christianity and he also healed the sick, including Publius’ father. For the following three months he lived in a cave, still known today as Saint Paul’s Grotto in Rabat. Before resuming the journey to Rome, Paul appointed Publius to fulfil the role of Bishop for the converted Maltese.

Saint Paul was being taken to Rome as a prisoner but he was not a criminal. He had been a Pharisee, basing his beliefs on the law of Moses, regarding the followers of Jesus as a threat to his beliefs. Everything changed when on his way to Damascus to round up Christians, Jesus Himself spoke to him. (Acts 9, 22-26 )

Jesus intervened in his life and transformed him. Paul was neither a handsome man, nor a perfect one, but God endowed him with many qualities in his personality. He used these strengths to spread the Christian Faith. He was a great leader and he led many people, especially Gentiles (those who were not Jews) to a belief in Jesus Christ.

Create an opportunity to talk to the kids that God gives special gifts, abilities, to each and everyone of us. God trusts us to do something with these gifts that are different from anyone else’s. These gifts, abilities, grow when we use them well. If we don’t use these abilities we would be wasting God’s gifts to us.

Help children to identify these gifts.

  • Encourage them to speak about their abilities.
  • Acknowledge what abilities you notice in them – being computer clever, singing, drawing, listening, cooking, making others happy, being kind, generous, creative, how they pray, etc.

Find occasions when you can compliment children on their accomplishments (not only academic! )
Encourage them to compliment others when they see their siblings, friends, even adults, doing something they admire.

When the ship was being tossed by the stormy seas and all those on board were afraid for their life, it was Saint Paul who took the lead in that dire situation. The people on the ship trusted Paul. They believed that his God was going to lead them to safety and this faith gave them hope. Their faith and trust in what Paul was telling them helped them overcome their fears. On the other hand, Paul had faith that God would listen to his prayers. He put his full faith in God through prayer, as he blessed and broke bread, the earliest form of the celebration of the Eucharist.
‘Storms’ in our life are situations that make us afraid of what will happen in times of uncertainty.

  • Encourage children to share their experiences of feelings that cause them fear. Jesus helps us through our fears if we believe in Him and put our trust in Him.

God does not always stop difficult situations. However He promises that He will always be with us, He will always be our friend.

Consider looking up The Calming of the Storm from the Children’s Bible. (Mark 4, 35-41).
Pass the message “Faith drives away fear.”

For Family Prayer Time consider reading or narrating yourself the event of Saint Paul’s Shipwreck from the Book of Acts.

 Lead prayers :

  •  Start with the Sign of the Cross explaining that it is the first sign of our Faith.
  •  Express prayers of gratefulness for the gifts we have received from God
    (eg. Thank you Dear God for helping me to be kind. . . for giving me a good singing voice, etc. )
  • Encourage children to voice their fears: Let us put our fears to God…
  • Sing together I Believe.

Malta is mentioned in the bible since Saint Paul, on his way to Rome, was in Malta. Thanks to Saint Paul, we got to know about God and His love. 

On an A4 light colour cardboard paper draw or find a picture of Saint Paul and the Maltese Islands. Afterwards, write a small prayer to thank God for sending Saint Paul to the Maltese islands and spreading the Word of God in these islands. 

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.