[map of Malta] Self-governing colony of the British Empire, comprising the islands of Malta, Gozo, Comino, and the islets of Cominotto and Filfla, in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. The foundation of the Church in Malta (Melita) is accredited to Saint Paul, in Acts 28, which also mentions Saint Publius, martyred, 125, traditionally the first bishop. The islands came under Spanish rule in the 13th century and for over two centuries progressed rapidly, owing chiefly to the labors of Franciscan, Dominican, and Augustinian Fathers. In 1523 the Knights of Saint John settled in Malta, which seven years later was bestowed upon them by the Emperor Charles V. There followed a glorious period in the history of the island, for it became one of the principal strongholds of Christianity against the Turks. With the decline of the Ottoman power, the Order of Saint John began to diminish and by the close of the 18th century had lost its influence. Ecclesiastical leadership has always been strong in Malta, and the place occupied by religion in the lives of the people is demonstrated not only by the number of clergy and religious men and women, but also by the frequency of religious feasts and processions.

Ecclesiastical divions include See also:
New Catholic Dictionary

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