Every religion has a place of worship. For Christianity, there are three terms to refer to it, each connoting a different meaning. Whilst a chapel is small and usually located in larger places like airports, a church is larger with the term also referring to the parish. In a Cathedral, one would find a symbolic seat – the Sedia vescovile – which belongs to the Bishop. Consequently, this would make the Cathedral of Mdina the most important church of all the Diocese where most of the liturgical events are held. The Bishop, who represents Christ, heads the congregation in its journey as a Christian community.
According to local tradition, the first Bishop of the Maltese Islands was Publius who, at the time, was the acting governor of the Roman Melita. Saint Paul’s shipwreck in 60 A.D. was essential for the locals to get in touch with the Gospel. Chapter 28 of the Acts of the Apostles narrate how Paul healed the governor’s father during his three-month stay on the Island. It is very likely that Paul was not only preaching the word of God to the locals, but also converting them to Christianity. Tradition also holds that the present Cathedral in Mdina was built in the same area where Publius’s residence was.
Primary sources, including manuscripts and original artefacts, are limited in the first 600 years of Christianity in Malta. During the Byzantine period until the first half of the 6 th Century A.D., the local Diocese was subjected to the Holy See in Rome. After 1154, it formed part of Sicily’s Palmeritan See.