April 20, 2010.
Malta has greeted Benedict XVI. It was the pontiff’s 14th international trip.
This visit commemorated the 1,950 anniversary of St. Paul’s shipwreck to the island. That’s why the first thing Benedict XVI did in Malta, was visit the grotto where according to tradition, St. Paul sought refuge when he landed in Malta. The pope recalled how St. Paul evangelized the island and how since then it’s been a land of missionaries.
“I have come in the footsteps of those countless pilgrims down the centuries who have prayed in this holy place, entrusting themselves, their families and the welfare of this nation to the intercession of the Apostle of the Gentiles.”
During the 26 hour trip, the pope took time to meet with 10-thousand youths in the city of La Valleta. He arrived aboard a catamaran with several young adults from the country. He encouraged young people to welcome the Christian vocation.
“To all of you who wish to follow Christ, as married couples, as parents, as priests, as religious, as lay faithful bringing the message of the Gospel to the world, I say, do not be afraid!”
He also encouraged them to express the love of God especially to the needy, the disabled and immigrants.
The pope also recalled the long Christian tradition of Malta and ensured that many countries can learn from the islands’ Christian example.
Benedict XVI left the island on Sunday afternoon. It was the third time a pope traveled to the island of St. Paul.