St Paul spent three months on the island of Mljet in Croatia


Abstract. An important book by Ignjat Đurđević published in 1730 in Venice was released in 2008, in The Year of St Paul, i.e. two thousand years after the birth of St Paul. It is the Croatian translation of Ignjat Đurđević's monograph written in elite Latin language, in which he proves that St Paul spent three months on the island of Mljet in Croatia, and not the island of Malta.

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 language 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.

It was Dr. Miho Demović who initiated an important project of Croatian translation of Ignjat Đurđević's 1730 monograph. Đurđević's book proves that St Paul's shipwreck occured on Croatian island of Mljet, not on Malta.For example, Malta is not in Adria (the Adriatic Sea), but in Lybian sea.

Publication of this book was a great event in 2008, proclaimed The Year of Saint Paul by pope Benedict XVIth.

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.

The Croatian version of Demović's introductory study is available on pp 5*-60*, and in English on pp 61*-104*. This web page is based mainly on Miho Demović's study.

The following 360 pp of the book contain Croatian translation of Đurđević's original treatise published in elite Latin. The book contains several indices: Index of cited authors, Index of terms, and Index of photos.

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

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.

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.


Chapter 27, 27 of the Acts in the Bible mentions ADRIA (i.e. Adriatic Sea)

Đurđević's translation from Vulgata of St Jerome:

27Sed posteaquam quartadecima nox supervenit, naviganntibus nobis in ADRIA circa mediam noctem,
suspicabantur nautae apparere sibi aliquam regionem & c.

Đurđević's translation from Greek original into Latin:

27Ut vero quartadecima nox facta est, jactatis nobis huc & illuc in ADRIA, circa mediam noctis suspicabantur nautae admoveri aliquam sibi regionem & c.

Translation into Croatian from Đurđević's translation into Latin:

27Kada je već došla četrnaesta noć otkako smo bili tjerani tamo-amo po ADRIJI, oko ponoći mornari nazreše da im se primiče neka zemlja itd.

Translation into English from Đurđević's translation into Latin (D.®.):

27It was the forteenth night, and we were being driven about in the ADRIA by the storm. About midnight the sailors suspected that we were getting close to land etc.

And the contemporary English translation of the Bible changed the original Greek and Latin texts (see ACTS 27, 27) as follows:

27It was the forteenth night, and we were being driven about in the Mediterranean (sic!) by the storm.

Obviously, the translators were aware that Malta is not in the Adriatic, so they simply changed the original Adria into "Mediterranean".




In Chapter 28, 1 of the Acts in the Bible we have the first sentence indicating Melita as the island of St Paul's shipwreck, and in the 16th century the name of MELITA was simply changed to Malta.

Đurđević's translation from Vulgata of St Jerome:

1Et cum evasissemus, tunc cognovimus quia MELITA insula vocatur.

Đurđević's translation from Greek original into Latin:

1Et servati tunc cognoverunt, quia MELITA insula vocabatur.

Translation into Croatian from Đurđević's translation into Latin:

1Tek kad se spasismo, doznadosmo da se otok zove MELITA.

Translation into English from Đurđević's translation into Latin (D.®.):

1When we were safely ashore, we learnt that the island was called MELITA.


Issuing of Croatian translation of Bartol 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.

Dr. Miho Demović initiated organizing a conference in Dubrovnik in November 2008, dedicated to Đurđević's monograph. 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.

Some of Đurđević's Croatian texts are available via Wikipedia. He was a tri-lingual poet: he wrote in Croatian, Italian and Latin.

A result of centuries old tradition of St. Paul in Croatia is that there are as meny as 320 versions of Croatian second names based on the name of "Paul". It is estimated that about 10000 people in Croatia are bearing such second names.

St Paul visited Croatian island of Mljet on his journey to Rome

Miho-Demovic: Two millenia of St Paul's shipwreck near the Croatian island of Mljet

Ignjat Djurdjevic St Paul was on the island of Mljet in the Adriatic for three months


Croatia - its History, Culture and Science