"Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island." (Acts 27:26)

16-18 April 2010

In the year 60 AD, the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on Malta. The Apostle to the Nations preached the Gospel to the Maltese, instilling a faith which the islanders have kept ever since. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI, nineteen hundred and fifty years after the arrival of Saint Paul, went to Malta to commemorate the event of the providential apostolic shipwreck.

His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III was pleased to accept an invitation from the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem to visit Malta in coincidence with the papal visitation. Accompanying His Beatitude were Archbishop Joseph Absi, titular Bishop of Tarsus and Archimandrite Mtanios Haddad, Patriarchal Apocrisary in Rome and Rector of the Patriarchal Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. In doing so, His Beatitude was mindful of the many links between Damascus, place of the apostle's vision of the risen Lord and home of the Patriarchal See of Antioch, which celebrated the Year of Saint Paul in 2008-9, and the Maltese islands and Sicily, which Saint Paul also visited in the furtherance of his mission to the nations.

Friday 16 April

1325 Arrival at Luqa airport to be welcomed by representatives of the Grand Priory of the Maltese Islands (Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem) and taken to the Grand Hotel Excelsior, Floriana

1430 Meeting with directors of the Grand Priory

1615 Visit to the Co-Cathedral of Saint John of Valletta

1800 Concelebration with Archimandrite George Mifsud Montanaro, pastor of the Greek Catholic community in Malta, of the Divine Liturgy in the Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of Damascus, (Theotokos Damaskinis) Valletta (For the homily preached on that occasion, see http://pgc-lb.org/english/News2_Malte_17-18april2010.html )The Patriarch presented a brochure about the church and the icon of Our Lady of Damascus in Syria.

2000 Reception and dinner at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, given by the Grand Priory of the Maltese Islands, of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

Saturday 17 April

1030 Visit to the Archbishop of Malta, Paul Cremona O.P. at the former Major Seminary, Floriana

1045 Island tour organised by the Grand Priory of the Maltese Islands

1600 Visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieħa with the Mayor of the town, Mr. Cutajar

1730 By sea to Saint Paul's Island (Selmunett) where the Mayor invited His Beatitude to unveil a commemorative plaque on the occasion of his visit

1800 Visit to the Saint Paul's Shipwreck Church, Valletta, commemorating the harmless snake's emergence from the fire (Acts 28: 5)

2100 Reception given by the Grand Commandery of the Castello at Castle Lanzun, at Mensija, San Gwann

Sunday 18 April

0900 Departure from the Grand Hotel Excelsior for the Church of Saint Publius (Acts 28: 8), Floriana

1000 Holy Mass presided over by H. H. Pope Benedict XVI with Patriarch Gregorios III concelebrating at the altar, Floriana, Piazzale dei Granai.

1300 Lunch with Pope Benedict and Maltese bishops in the Nunciature

1430 Visit to the Wignacourt Museum and the Cave of Saint Paul, Rabat

1800 Viewing the sea-parade accompanying Pope Benedict's visit to the youth of Malta

1900 Leave-taking from hosts, Count Dr. the Chev. J. R. Pace and other members of the Order in Valletta

2000 Departure for Valletta Airport

2100 Departure for Catania, where His Beatitude was welcomed by Professor Corrado Monaca, President of Movimento Azzurro

2200 Transfer to Ispica for overnight stay at the Palazzo Gambuzza Hotel


Visit to Sicily of His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III

19-21 April

Monday 19 April

1000 Meeting Bishop Antonio Staglianò of Noto

1200 Meeting the Mayor of Ispica, Piero Rustico

1315 Lunch with the Council of the Movimento Azzurro

1730 Attendance, as one of several expert speakers, at Movimento Azzurro's International Conference on "How to overcome arrested development in the Mediterranean region" at the Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation

2000 Lecture by H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III entitled, "Business and politics need persons open to sharing," with emphasis on the role of Christians in the dialogue of cultures and religions in the Middle East

2030 Supper

2130 Overnight stay in Ispica

Tuesday 20 April

1000 Visit to Santa Maria alla Cava, with its Byzantine frescos and visit to the archaeological sites of the Parco Forza, between Syracuse and Ragusa with welcome by school children

1100 Blessing at Ispica of the Saint Paul Mediterranean Oasis, with unveiling of two marble plaques by the Mayor of Ispica and Professor Monaca, commemorating H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III's visit and the Movimento Azzurro

1800 Celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major with music and chants by the Coro Mater Dei

2030 Supper

2130 Overnight stay in Ispica

Wednesday 21 April

1030 Meetings with Paolo Urso, Bishop of Ragusa in the Bishop's Palace and with the Provincial President, Giovanni Francesco Antoci in the Provincial Palace

1100 Meeting with the Prefect of Ragusa, Dr. Francesca Cannizzo and the provincial authorities, with speeches from Prefect and Patriarch and signing the Golden (distinguished visitors' ) Book

1300 Lunch at the Prefecture

1530 Visit to Ragusa/Ibla and to the shrine of Saint George

1900 Celebration of Vespers in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist presided over by Bishop Paolo Urso with a homily by His Beatitude

2045 Supper at Ibla with the Prefect, President and Bishop and His Beatitude's delegation (who were present at all the above-mentioned visits)

2200 Final overnight stay at Ispica at the Palazzo Gambuzza Hotel

Thursday, 22 April

0930 Departure for Catania

1200 Departure for Rome

1315 Arrival in Rome

Notes by Patriarch Gregorios III

Translation from the French and Italian V.C.

Teachings of Christ

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Random Proverb

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Seek, my child, the nobility of the soul, for it is truth; that of the body is false. Do not seek honor from men, for this injures one; but rather, seek heavenly glory . . . . You are to be sympathetic with all the brethren and help them as much as possible; and, you are to minister to them that are unable or weak. Do not desire to live by another's labors . . . . Never ridicule anyone, and especially when they are in misfortune. When you hear that a certain brother is disorderly, supplicate God to correct his life. Visit and help the sick, and serve the brethren as their servant; so you might be a friend of Christ Who, for your sake, became a servant and minister. Always heed, my child, not to fall into temptations. However, if it happens that you should fall, immediately rise up and amend yourself with repentance, and again hasten to prayer. In this manner, live your life, my child, and God shall always come to you and help you in soul and body.

St. Theodora of Alexandria, "The Lives of the Spiritual Mothers: An Orthodox Materikon of Women Monastics and Ascetics