Faith, Hope and Charity

In 1942 the Maltese harbour of Valetta was the most heavily bombed place on earth. Occupying a strategic position between Italy and Libya on the one hand, and Gibraltar and the Suez Canal on the other, both the Axis powers and the Allies were desperate for control. But when the Italian air force launched its first raids in June 1940 the Maltese had no aircraft with which to defend themselves. That was until six packing crates were discovered containing obsolete Gloster Gladiator biplanes. Only able to get three in the air at a time they were outnumbered and outgunned but somehow managed to keep the Italians at bay. Malta survived and by the end of the war the three biplanes had been christened Faith, Hope and Charity – a reference to St Paul’s famous words from 1 Corinthians.

Two thousand years earlier St Paul himself had been washed up on the island of Malta following a shipwreck – perhaps in the very bay where Valetta would one day be built. Like the island St Paul had faced relentless opposition from his enemies but had stood firm. His faith in Jesus had given him a certain hope of eternal life where he knew he would live forever in the everlasting charity – or love – of God.

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