'After we had escaped, we then learned that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness.' (Acts 28).
We spent a week in Malta arranged by the Friends of the Rowans Hospice and St James the Less, Southwick, in aid of the Rowans on-going work. We stayed at the Hilton Hotel in St Paul's Bay and had a very comfortable holiday with about fifty other people from the Portsmouth area.
We were able to get around on very old British buses of considerable vintage which seemed to be 'spring-less' as we felt every pothole (and there were many!) on the roads of the island. On one occasion I discovered my seat was being held up with a wooden box! The drivers all had rosaries dangling from the rear view mirror, I suspected they needed the prayers of our Lady, and almost everyone getting on made the sign of the cross on entering, no doubt praying for a safe journey.
Malta is an island of beautiful churches and one of my favourites was St Paul of the Shipwrecked which was celebrating its title festival when we visited. The Anglican Archdeacon of Malta, wrote in the Anglican Cathedral magazine of a visit he and the assistant priests at the Cathedral made for the First Vespers of the Feast of St Paul Shipwrecked at the church: "If I had ever wanted to appear in opera, this would have fulfilled my wish! The church was hung in crimson damask - every inch of pillar and wall covered - and the altars were groaning with gold and silver vessels. In a perilously steep gallery on high, a band of violins, flutes and drums played lustily along with the organ. The Archbishop and dozens of monsignori and priests (and we three Anglicans) processed in with the relic of St Paul and Vespers were sung. The church was packed; bells rang out at seemingly random moments and firecrackers and loud bangers exploded outside. Ian Paisley would have had a heart attack!"
St Paul's Anglican Cathedral is a contrast to all this and is quite plain and very English. We worshipped with a packed congregation at the Sung Eucharist on Sunday and were made very welcome and felt much at home. Unlike St Paul we were not bitten by a snake!
Vi and Den Wills
page last updated 1 MAY 2001