Thursday, July 28, 2016

MALTA: The Catacombs and St. Paul's Grotto in Rabat


Remember my post on Rabat a couple of posts ago, when I mentioned that mid-day we stopped to visit the catacombs and St. Paul's Grotto?  Well, here's what we saw:

1.  Catacombs

First of all, there are supposedly 24 catacombs in the St. Paul's cluster in Rabat, only two of which are open to the public.  They represent a large, communal burial ground/cemetery outside of Mdina and Rabat, dating back to the 4th century AD, deep in the bowels of Mother Earth.

The one we visited is the smaller of the two, adjacent to the grotto,
and is not the one called the St. Paul's Catacombs.
When you turn left at the bottom of the stairs, you enter the catacombs,
which we decided to do first, before the grotto on the right.

I mentioned on Facebook that if you're claustrophobic...not a good idea!
And if you don't like mazes...not a good idea.
At one time we had no clue how to get out.  Seriously.

But it was still worth seeing what we saw!
As you can see, they're still excavating...or at least letting you see what it was like.

Some of the burial chambers were "not like the others."
We wondered who the rich and famous were.  

And on our way out, we wondered why we couldn't get out there?!
We couldn't, which is why we almost panicked.
If this is the smaller of the two open to the public, we picked the right one!


We did eventually find our way back to where we could then turn right to enter the grotto.

But first, here's a reminder of what St. Paul's church looks like in Rabat, built from 1656-1681.
Near the main entrance is the stairway leading to the grotto underneath the church.
Supposedly the church inside is "gloomy and dull," which we didn't see to verify for ourselves.
But it has a statue of the Madonna said to have miraculous powers.

The grotto itself is off of a large hallway with side niches...

honoring Paul, I assume?

But the grotto itself is where Paul and his missionary party sheltered for 3 months around 60 AD,
after being shipwrecked off the coast of Malta (near where we stayed in Bugibba).

"During his stay, Paul was bitten by a snake and remained unharmed, prompting the natives to regard him as a god.  He later healed the father of the governor of the island, Publius, and many other people."  (Acts 28:1-11)

When we are able to connect the dots from early Sunday School days,
man alive, we'd be stupid not to, right?!


4 comments:

  1. That sounds a little freaky! But fascinating and beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you may have noticed (or not?), Ruth, this post is back from July 28th. I noticed that it was in "draft" on my blogger list and so published it. But I have a feeling it then replaced the post that had already been there with comments. Don't ask! But anyway, thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  2. A wonderful, mysterious descent into the catacombs. Your montages make it feel as if I’m right at your side. Down, down, down! I’m glad this was not one I left for later. What happens to those who really do get lost? How small is/are the small catacombs?

    The church may be dingy inside, but the front has a lively Mannerist facade. I love the way those big arches meet the scrolls of the little ¿bungalows? above.

    Alas, my Sunday school doesn’t quite reach to Paul in the grotto, but us heathens still trip over such stories in our schoolin’. Terrific blog post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I just told Ruth, Ted, this post is back from July 28th. I noticed that it was in "draft" on my blogger list and so published it. But I have a feeling it then replaced the post that had already been there with comments. Don't ask! But anyway, thanks for your comment!

      Delete