History of the Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck

Without any shadow of doubt the feast commemorating the shipwreck of St Paul which is celebrated in Valletta is rooted in history.  Clearly, once the parish church dedicated to this event had been built, both the clergy and the parishoners started celebrating in a fitting manner every year, the feast of the Shipwreck of St Paul in Malta.
Altough it sdtarted as a parish feast, celebrations soon assumed a diocesan and national dimension through the active participation of the diocesan bishop and the Grand Master of the Order of St John, ruler of the islands.
For a number of years the bishop participated in the festivties together with the chapter of the Mdina Cathedral.  These latter were present only during the procession given that at its inception the commemoration of the Shipwreck of St Paul was celebrated on the 25th of January namely the liturgical feast of the Conversion of St Paul on the road to Damascus.
Consequently, for a long stretch of years, the feast of the Shipwreck did not enjoy any exclusive date for its celebration unlike the present state of things.

The choice of the 10th February

In 1684 Fra Davide Cocco Palmieri became bishop of Malta.  This prelate had much to heart the providential shipwreck of St Paul on the Maltese Islands with its extraordinary significance for the inhabitants.  Like all his predecessors he never missed participating in the solemn procession of St Paul in Valletta, on the Sunday following the feast of the conversion. However, Cocco Palmieri felt that an important occasion such as the feast of the Shipwreck of St Paul merited special commemoration with a specific proper date in the local Church liturgical calendar.  The bishop was of the opinion that this date should not coincide with the feast of the Conversion on the 25th January. 

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