Benedict XVI to Visit Malta in April 2010

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BLATA I-BAJDA, Malta, SEPT. 13, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is planning to make an apostolic visit to Malta in April, commemorating 1,950 years since St. Paul’s shipwreck there.

A press release from the Maltese bishops announced Saturday that this visit is in response to their invitation, along with that of the nation’s president, George Abela.

It will be the third trip of a Pontiff to the Mediterranean island nation, including Pope John Paul II’s trips in 1990 and 2001.

The visit will celebrate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul’s shipwreck in the archipelago that, according to tradition, occurred in the year 60, during his second voyage toward Rome.

The Apostle of the Gentiles, the Acts of the Apostles says, was welcomed by the local population «with rare humanity.»

He remained on the island for three months before setting out for Sicily. Bitten by a viper, he was unaffected, and many islanders who were ill went to him and were healed.

Vatican Radio announced that Alberto Gasbarri, in charge of preparing Papal trips outside Italy, will go to Malta in October to organize the program.

Malta, which won independence from the United Kingdom in 1964, has some 410,000 inhabitants, 98% of whom are Catholic.

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