St Publius: patron saint of Malta
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St Publius: patron saint of Malta

I refer to the letter St Publius dated June 19 by Adelaide M. Zerafa and I confess I was very surprised when I read this letter. She started on the wrong foot by stating as a fact something which is completely incorrect. She confused matters and arguments as she referred to another period, not that of Publius of Malta. Venerable Bede made no mistake at all when he wrote that the Maltese Publius was the first bishop of Malta and martyred in Athens. On the contrary, he was correct.

In one sentence she made a fact of something which is totally wrong and to prove otherwise I need a volume. Obvious this is not the place but there is literature at hand if she would know where to look for it. Ven Bede was wrongly labelled as having made a mistake when it was only some Maltese historian who started all this confusion when he misinterpreted matters and made the same mistake in quoting and referring to the wrong period and person.

Sacred Scripture is not a historical book in the strict sense of the word and we should not expect to find in it all historical information. And what about Tradition? One should be sensitive when writing about such delicate facts so as not to doubt and mislead people in vain. Everyone is free to believe what he or she likes but to write something which is far from the truth is dangerous. Why all this antagonism and lack of belief in this saint?

What are we expecting to find? His baptismal certificate? His ID number? His death certificate? St Gorg Preca used to consider St Publius as a "great Maltese saint". He was very devoted to him, so much so that he included St Publius in the Litany of the Saints and the Museum Watch. Why not follow in his footsteps? I would say that it is exclusively thanks to St Publius that Malta is mentioned in the Acts. St Luke must have been greatly impressed by his solidarity shown with all on board the shipwrecked vessel to describe the episode in such detail. Why not be people of more faith and try to imitate St Publius?

He practised the works of mercy within a few hours, and this when he was still a pagan. And we? How many of us are ready to host the many irregular immigrants that are coming to our shores? St Publius received such persons and prisoners in his house for three days! And these were 276 in all.

She was right when she concluded her letter by stating that she stands to be corrected. And how! Let us be more positive, and before we write, make sure that we have clear knowledge of the proper facts from the right channels or sources and not expose confused ideas or statements. This applies also to all those who talk and write on this subject.

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