Saint Paul had shipwreck on Croatian island of Mljet, and not on Malta. This is the subject of the monumental book written in elite Latin by Ignjat Đurđević, published in Venice in 1730. Ignjat Đurđevic was Croatian Baroque writer from the city of Dubrovnik. The island of Mljet is not far from Dubrovnik.
Publication of this book was a great event in 2008, proclaimed The Year of Saint Paul by pope Benedict XVIth:
Ignjat Đurđevic: Sveti Pavao apostol brodolomac, with foreword by Miho Demović, Dubrovačka biskupija, Dubrovačke knjižnice, Opcina Mljet, Zagreb 2008. ISBN 978-953-97952-3-0 (see IKA)
The editor in chief of Croatian translation is Dr. Miho Demović, outstanding Croatian historian and musicologist. The 2008 translation was printed in hardcover, and the first 104 pp contain Scholarly introduction written by Dr. Miho Demović in Croatian and English:
Miho Demović: Ignjat Đurđević i dubrovačka tradicija o svetopavloskom brodolomu u vodama hrvatskog otoka Mljeta, Uvodna studija, Zagreb 2008.
Đurđević's 1730 book was translated from elite Latin into Croatian by Dr. Jozo Marević, Dubrovnik. Elite Latin is not easy to read even to those with solid background in Latin language. Therefore the book was accessible only to a narow circle of top scholars. Now with Croatian translation of the book and the accompaning scholarly study published in English, the book became available to much borader public.
We extend our congratulations to Dr. Miho Demović and all of his collaborators for their painstaking and important work.
As Dr. Miho Demović stressed,
neither I nor the publishers had any intention whatsoever of perusading people to accept the author's opinion that the actual location of Saint Paul's schpwreck was indeed the island of Mljet (although, we personally, deeply and confidently trust it as a fact). The only intention we had was to point out the event as an interesting excerpt from the old Ragusan political, religious and literal history.
Until recently it was believed that the first person to identify the location of Saint Paul's shipwreck near Mljet was the father of European historigraphy, the Greek emperor and historian Constanine Porphyrogenitus (905-959) who, describing the south Dalmatian islands in his work "On Administering the Empire", wrote the following:
Another big island is Mljet. It was described by Saint Luke in the Acts where he calls it Melita. Saint Paul was there bitten by the viper but he shook it off into the fire where it was burned.
However, scholars have recently discovered new inforation in The Geography of Ananias of Širak, written between 592-636 AD, which confirms that Saint Paul stayed in Dalmatia following a shipwreck that happened on the Adriatic island of Melita (Mljet).
After Porphyrogenitus, the 16th century Italian historian of Dubrovnik (Ragusa) Serafino Razzi, Dominican and for a while Vicar of Capitular of the Ragusan Metropolitan see, claimed the same. He set forth the following:
At the end of this presentation on the island of Mljet, I shall tell you that many serious writers think that this Ragusan Mljet was the very island where Saint Paul the Apostle escaped after the shipwreck and there he was bitten by a viper as written in chapter 28 of the Acts. One of them is the honorable cardinal Gaetano.
Razzi thought that the shipwreck couldn not have taken place in Malta because Malta was situated in the African, instead of in the Adriatic Sea.
Đurđević claimed at the beginning of his book the following:
It is interesting that while Malta was under the Spanish government, Đurđević was supported in his views by both English and French scholars. However, when Malta came under the English protectorate, the circumstances changed and the English writers stood up for the Maltese option. Something similar happened to the French writers when Malta was conquered by Napolen Bonaparte.
I say and I claim that before the chivalrous Hospitaller Order of St John moved to African Melita, the glory of Saint Paul's shipwreck site had been granted, without any hesitation or doubt, to Illyrian Melita.
Dr. Miho Demović initiated a very successful conference in Dubrovnik in November 2008, dedicated to Đurđević's monograph, about which CROWN reported. The participants explored numerous proofs, direct and indirect, that St Paul spent three months on the island of Mljet in Croatia, and not on Malta.
Issuing of Croatian translation of Ignjat Đurđević's monumental book was made possible by a generous finantial support of Prof. Pavica Šundrica-Šperk. She is retired professor of English language at a Dubrovnik high school.