Saint Publius

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Saint Publius-2.jpg
First Bishop of Malta
Bishop of Athens
Diedc. 125;[note 1] c. 161-180,[2]
Athens, Greece[3]
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast22 January[4] (Roman Catholic)
13 March[2] (Eastern Orthodox)
PatronageFloriana, Malta

Saint Publius (Maltese: San Publju) is a first century Maltese Saint. He is venerated as the first Bishop of Malta. St. Publius is Malta‘s first acknowledged saint, the prince of the island (Maltese: il-prinċep tal-gżira). According to Maltese Pauline Mythology, Publius' conversion led to Malta being the first Christian nation in the West. His feast day is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, of which the traditions related and the day of celebration differ.

History and tradition[edit]

According to Tradition, it was Publius who received the Apostle Paul during his shipwreck on the island as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. According to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul cured Publius' dysentery-afflicted father.

"In the vicinity of that place were lands belonging to a man named Publius, the chief of the island. He welcomed us and received us cordially as his guests for three days. It so happened that the father of Publius was sick with a fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and, after praying, laid his hands on him and healed him. After this had taken place, the rest of the sick on the island came to Paul and were cured. They paid us great honor and when we eventually set sail they brought us the provisions we needed." - Acts 28:7-10, New American Bible

Apart from being patron saint of Floriana, St Publius is also one of the two patron saints of Malta beside St Paul. He was martyred c. 125, during the persecution of Emperor Hadrian, and canonised in the year 1634

His feast is celebrated on January 22, in the Roman Catholic Church, which places him as the successor of St. Dionysius the Areopagite (Denis the Areopagite), dating his martyrdom to ca. 112 AD.[note 2]

In the Orthodox Church, however, his feast day is observed on March 13, and according to an epistle of Saint Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, he is placed as the successor of Saint Narcissus of Athens, dating his martyrdom to the period of the persecution under Marcus Aurelius (161-180).[2]

Contemporary historians, such as Professor Godfrey Wettinger, have made it clear, that in his opinion, there is no physical proof that St Paul ever was in Malta, other than in pseudo-Maltese history dating from the 11th to the 18th centuries. It is also well established that early Christianity was of the Orthodox tradition and that the island was conquered by the Muslims between 870 and 1091, during which period it also spent years uninhabited; meaning Christianity in Malta is not rooted on St Publius and St Paul as it is not of continuous tradition. The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 28 verse one does specifically mention Malta in connection with Paul's voyage and shipwreck, however Pauline Mythology commonly presented as historical 'fact' in Malta, is rooted in religious views, specifically that of the Roman Catholic Church which is very powerful on the island. It is held that St Publius converted to Christianity after his father was cured of fever and dysentery by St Paul, however the Bible does not mention that St Publius ever converted.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "+ c 112. Tradition identifies this saint with Publius, 'chief man of the island of Malta', who befriended St Paul after his shipwreck (Acts 28:7). He became the first Bishop of Malta and later Bishop of Athens, being martyred under Trajan."[1]
  2. ^ "At Athens, the birthday of St. Publius, bishop, who, as successor of St. Denis the Areopagite, nobly governed the Church of Athens. No less celebrated for the lustre of his virtues than for the brilliancy of his learning, he was gloriously crowned for having borne testimony to Christ."[4]


  1. ^ Publius 21 Jan. Latin Saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome.
  2. ^ a b c Great Synaxaristes: (in Greek) Ὁ Ἅγιος Πούπλιος ὁ Ἱερομάρτυρας Ἐπίσκοπος Ἀθηνῶν. 13 Μαρτίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  3. ^ Fr. Andrew Anglorus. Orthodox Europe: Orthodox Malta. St John's Orthodox Church, Colchester. Retrieved: 2013-02-07.
  4. ^ a b The Roman Martyrology. Transl. by the Archbishop of Baltimore. Last Edition, According to the Copy Printed at Rome in 1914. Revised Edition, with the Imprimatur of His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons. Baltimore: John Murphy Company, 1916. pp.21-22.
  5. ^ Camilleri, Mark (2013). Il-Mit Pawlin u l-Abbuż tal-Istorja Maltija (in Maltese). Publikazzjoni Sensiela Kotba Socjalisti (SKS). pp. 12–16. ISBN 9789993217299.
  6. ^ "Il-Mit Pawlin u l-Abbuż tal-Istorja Maltija". The Malta Independent on Sundays. 6 November 2016.


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Dionysius the Areopagite
Bishop of Athens
Succeeded by
Quadratus of Athens
New creation Bishop of Malta
Succeeded by
Quadratus of Malta