The Republic of Malta is composed of three main islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Its strategic position in the Mediterranean between Europe and Africa has made it a perfect stronghold for many: Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Aragonese, the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, French and English…the remains of the first human settlements on the island date back to 5200 B.C. With a surface area of 316 sq kms, Malta is one of the smallest and most populated states in the world. The population has reached 400,000 inhabitants. Tourism is a fundamental element in Maltese economy.
Malta was one of the first Roman colonies that embraced Christianity, brought around 60 B.C. by Saint Paul, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. The Maltese are Catholic by overriding majority, and there are more than 360 churches in Malta, Gozo and Comino. Persons d’autres dénominations chrétiennes sont également présentes, dont les anglicans, les orthodoxes, les luthériens, l’Église d’Écosse, les méthodistes, et d’autres religions comme le Judaïsme et l’Islam.. From 2004 onwards, Malta forms part of the European Union.
The first seeds of the spirituality of unity were sown in the sixties. In 1975 there were around 70 persons who adhered to it, the first community was formed, the first vocations to the focolare came about, and there was the desire was to have a Focolare on the island and to hold the Mariapoli in Malta. Then finally, in 1979, the first Mariapoli was held, with 1000 participants. And at the beginning of the 80’s two centres for the Focolari were established.
This life continued to grow and put down roots: the year 1999 was a fundamental stage of this journey. Chiara Lubich came to Malta to receive from the University of Malta the degree Honoris Causa in “Literature (Psychology)”, motivated by the contribution given by her charism in “the cultivation of an integral vision of the human person in the field of psychology.” Within this perspective, “Psychology and Communion” was born on international plane. It is a network of operators with the task of delving into this original psychological approach. Ten years after the conferment of the degree on Chiara, a specialist seminar was held in Malta on the psychological significance of the relational paradigm that emerges from the spirituality of unity.
The Focolare community continues to flourish unto today, and several thousand people have been touched by the spirituality: lively relationships have been built with the local Church, and with other Movements and ecclesial communities. The real effects can be seen in the work that is presently being carried out in the journey towards “Together for Europe 2012”.
Work is carried out in close contact with people of other Christian denominations through the Malta Ecumenical Council, and with the local church in the diocesan ecumenical commission. Frequent and very friendly are the contacts with the Moslem community, particularly in events in which we have collaborated, working together with the children. One of the most recent developments is in the cultural sphere, particularly in the fields of medicine, pedagogy, sports, and also in the political-juridical field: members of the Focolari, who belong to the two main political parties, seek to give their witness to fraternity.
Amongst the various Maltese initiatives in adherence to the Economy of Communion, the school of English “the Voice” was born in 1992. It is much appreciated by the Ministry of Education for its cordial and welcoming climate and the professional level of instruction.
This welcome was experienced also by Saint Paul, who was shipwrecked on the island (Acts 27, 26) and who remained there for three months. He left –as recorded by Benedict XVI on his travel there in 2010-“an indelible mark on the history of your country”. On that occasion he recorded how, thanks to the presence of Paul amongst the Maltese, the Gospel of Jesus was rooted firmly and has borne “much fruit not only in the life of individuals, the families and the communities, but also in the formation of the national identity of Malta, and also of its vibrant and particular culture.”