|Bishop of Athens|
Bishop of Malta
|Died||c. 112;[note 1] or c. 125; or c. 161–180|
Athens, Roman Achaea
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Feast||22 January (Roman Catholic)|
13 March (Eastern Orthodox)
|Attributes||Shown with a lion next to him|
Saint Publius (Maltese: San Publju; Greek: Πούπλιος) is a first century Maltese bishop. He is venerated as the first Bishop of Malta and one of the first Bishops of Athens.
Publius is Malta's first acknowledged saint, the prince of the island (Maltese: il-prinċep tal-gżira). According to Maltese Christian tradition, Publius' conversion led to Malta being the first Christian nation in the West. His feast day is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, of which the traditions related and the day of celebration differ.
According to Christian tradition, it was Publius who received Paul the Apostle during his shipwreck on the island as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul cured Publius' dysentery-afflicted father.
Apart from being patron saint of Floriana, Publius is also one of the two patron saints of Malta beside Paul. He was martyred c. 125, during the persecution of Emperor Hadrian, and canonised in the year 1634.
His feast is celebrated on January 22, in the Roman Catholic Church, which places him as the successor of Dionysius the Areopagite (Denis the Areopagite), dating his martyrdom to c. 112 AD.[note 2]
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, however, his feast day is observed on March 13, and according to an epistle of Saint Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, he is placed as the successor of Saint Narcissus of Athens, dating his martyrdom to the period of the persecution under Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180).
Godfrey Wettinger, a contemporary historian, argues that there is no proof that Paul ever was in Malta other than in pseudo-Maltese history dating from the 11th to the 18th centuries. The island was conquered by the Muslims between 870 and 1091, during which period it also spent years uninhabited, suggesting that Christianity in Malta is not rooted on Publius and Paul. Though the Acts of the Apostles (c. 28) does specifically mention Malta in connection with Paul's voyage and shipwreck, the text does only claims that Publius' father was healed of dysentery and not that he ever converted.