The visit, set for April 17-18, was announced in September. The Maltese bishops, as well as the nation’s president, George Abela, had invited the Pope.
“The Pope will arrive in Malta on Saturday afternoon and return to Rome Sunday evening,” the archdiocese reported Saturday. “On arrival, His Holiness will hold meetings with the highest Civil Authorities and then visit St. Paul’s Grotto in Rabat.
“On Sunday morning the Pope will celebrate Mass on the Granaries, in Floriana and he will then meet youths at the Valletta Waterfront in the afternoon.”
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.
Malta, which won independence from the United Kingdom in 1964, has some 410,000 inhabitants, 98% of whom are Catholic.