The historic pastoral visit took place between May 25th and May 27th in the year of 1990. This, not only, marked St John Paul II’s first visit to the Maltese Islands but, it also marked, the first time a pope ever visited Malta.
This was the Pope’s 48th Apostolic Trip outside Italy in the first 12 years of his Pontificate. John Paul II was elected Pope on the 16th of October in 1978.
The Maltese gave John Paul II an astounding welcome united behind the theme named ‘One Heart with the Pope’. People close to the pope expressed their surprise and delight at how welcoming the Maltese people were to receive the Holy Father and they even claimed that the welcome was unlike anything that they had ever seen in their previous trips outside Italy.
John Paul II himself said that he would always hold ‘the pride and nobility of these people [the Maltese]’ close to his heart as a fond memory of the warm welcome that he has received in Malta.
John Paul II visited the Maltese Islands again on the 8th of May in 2001 with the purpose of beatifying San Ġorġ Preca, Nazju Falzon and Sr Maria Adeodatta Pisani. This visit was part of his Pauline pilgrimage during which he also visited Greece and Syria.
Pope Benedict XVI also visited the Maltese Islands in 2010 while Pope Francis’ visit to Malta, that was scheduled to happen in 2020, has been postponed.