The Cross in Roman Burial places      

Relief Decoration of a Cross at Salina

A number of late Roman and Byzantine tombs on the Maltese Islands show definite evidence for the practice of Christian rituals during burials. This evidence often takes the form of relief decorations consisiting of the Greek Cross Monogram (as in The Salina 5 hypogeum shown above) or the chi rho symbol. One of the latter examples, accompinied by the letter alpha and omega inscribed in its upper half , adorns the roof of a Baldacchino tomb at Abbatija tad-Dejr in Rabat (see picture below). The name of Jesus Christ is surprisingly very rare, being found only at a unique inscription found at the Gzira ta' San Tumas Hypogeum.


Abbatija tad-Dejr

Despite this explicit evidence for Christianity and the reference for St. Paul's Shipwreck at Malta in the Acts of the Apostles, no archaeological evidence for the presence of christian communities on the islands predating the second century has ever been found.

As a matter of fact the evidence available points otherwise. An altar associated with Phoenician ritual at Tas-Silg could have been in use until the first century AD while the 'Gozitans' still practiced imperial worship until the second century AD.

The evidence for the conversion of the Maltese through the work of St. Paul, if it exists, has still to be found.



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