The small church dedicated to St Publius is annexed to the Rabat parish church of St. Paul and stands on a grotto, where according to tradition, St. Paul resided during his stay in Malta. The church owes its erection to Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt (1601 – 1622) and to Fra Giovanni Beneguas da Cordova.1 In 1726 it was enlarged and remodeled by architect Salvu Borg (1662-1733)2and it was solemnly consecrated on the 1st July 1731 by Mons. Alpheran and the anniversary of this event is celebrated every second Sunday of July.3
This church boasts a titular painting by Mattia Preti (1613-1699) showing The Virgin and Child with Ss. John the Baptist and Publius.4
The titular was commissioned by the Order for St. John as can be observed by the eight-pointed cross clutched by the Infant.
The two lateral paintings situated in the choir area, depicting scenes from the life of St. Publius are by Enrico Regnaud (1692-1764). These illustrate St Publius Preaching and St. Publius in the lions’ den. The latter is signed and dated HRF 1730, [Henrico Regnaud Fecit].5 Both paintings occupy a large and horizontal canvas, ideal for depicting narrative for history paintings. These two lateral canvases have been restored in 2009.6
Author: Melanie Farrugia