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The BBC's Paul Wood in Valletta, Malta
"The strongest and oldest bastion of faith in Europe for the Roman Catholic church"
 real 56k

The deputy PM of Malta, Lawrence Gonzi
"For the Maltese this visit captures basic values"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 05:01 GMT 06:01 UK
Last day of Pope's pilgrimage
Pope John Paul in Malta
The Pope has been met by ecstatic crowds in Malta
Pope John Paul is in Malta for the last day of his historic journey to retrace the footsteps of St Paul the Apostle, which has already taken in Greece and Syria.

The Pope will begin the day with a mass to beatify two Maltese priests and a nun.

One of the priests, Father Don George Preca, was said to miraculously cure the sick. On one occasion, a man who had lost his sight was reportedly cured after praying over a shoelace which belonged to Don George.

Pope John Paul in Malta
The Pope's current tour was designed as a pilgrimage along the path taken by the Apostle Paul
Everywhere he goes in Malta Pope John Paul has been met by ecstatic crowds in this small nation where 98% of the population has been baptised in the Roman Catholic church.

The Pope began his visit to Malta on Tuesday with an appeal for solidarity and peace.

Maltese President Guido de Marco welcomed the pontiff as a leader to whom the Maltese people looked to "as a fountain of hope".

The two others to be beatified are Benedictine nun Maria Adeodata Pisani, the daughter of a Maltese baron, and Nazju Falzon, best known for teaching the catechism to British servicemen at a time when Malta was annexed by Britain.

Reconciliation

The Pope's three-country tour was designed as a pilgrimage along the path taken by the Apostle Paul at the time of his conversion to Christianity.

The apostle is believed to have stayed in Malta for three months before he was transferred to Rome and executed.

In Greece and Syria, the Pope made momentous attempts to reconcile the Roman Catholic church with Orthodoxy and with Islam.

In Syria he became the first Pope to visit a mosque, and he is the first pontiff to visit Greece since the great schism split Christianity into eastern and western churches.

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See also:

07 May 01 | Middle East
Mosque visit crowns Pope's tour
05 May 01 | Middle East
Syria plea for Pope support
05 May 01 | Europe
In pictures: Pope in Syria
29 Mar 01 | World
Pope reaches out to Islam
20 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Syria
08 May 01 | Europe
Pope arrives in Malta
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Malta
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