| Roderick Spiteri (PL)|
Paola (or old name Casal Nuovo) is a town in the Grand Harbour area of Malta, with a population of 7,910 people (March 2013). It is named after Grandmaster Antoine de Paule who laid the foundation stone in 1626, but is commonly known as Rahal Gdid, which means "new town" in Maltese.
Paola is renowned for the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, its large parish church (the largest church in the Maltese Islands), its beautiful square with shopping centres, the Good Friday procession, and its football club, Hibernians FC.
There are two parish churches, one dedicated to Christ the King and the other to Our Lady of Lourdes.
The feast of Christ the King is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of July and Our Lady of Lourdes is celebrated on the first Sunday after 17 August.
The parish also has a Franciscan church dedicated to Saint Anthony, in the Ghajn Dwieli zone of the parish. St. Ubaldesca Church is the oldest church in Paola and was the first parish church there. It recently underwent restoration.
Paola also has Maltas only mosque and an Islamic Cultural Centre led by Imam Mohammed El Sadi. The countrys correctional facilities and the largest burial grounds, the Addolorata Cemetery are also in this town.
The town is a commercial centre in the Southern Harbour area of Malta, about 5 km from the capital Valletta.
Antoine De Paule became Grandmaster of the Order of St. John on 10 March 1623, when he was 71 years old. On 20 July 1626, he set up a new town which he named "Paula" in his own honour. De Paule wanted to build a church in the town, dedicated to St. Ubaldesca, who was a sister in the Order of St. John. Pope Urbanus VIII issued the Bull which gave permission for this church to be built. This Papal Bull was issued from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome on 31 July 1629. An extract from this Bull reads as follows: "we accept this request and to the afore mentioned Antonius, with the Apostolic authority granted by this Bull, we give the authority that in the mentioned town in a location of his preference, as long as it is comfortable and just, a church can be built in honour of the afore-mentioned Saint." On 12 November 1629, the Council of the Order of St. John decided to effect what was written on the Bull. The laying of the first foundation stone of this church was celebrated in grand style by Grand Master de Paule himself on Sunday 25 August 1630.
"On the day of Sunday, the 25th day of the month of August 1630, which is the feast of the king Saint Ludovico, the Most Serene and the Most Revered Grand Master Fra Antoine de Paule went to the town, which for the past four years had taken the name of his family and which was established in the land of Marsa, and he was accompanied by numerous Venerable Gran Cruci as well as by numerous brethren from our Order and in front of a crowd of people he laid the first stone of the church which was to be built for the grace of God and the Holy Virgin Ubaldesca, sister of our Religion, with the permission of the Most Reverend Prior of the church, Fra Salvatur Imbroll, who was adorned with pontifical clothes and according to the rites of the Holy Roman Church. This was done with the apolostic authority given by the Magnificent His Holiness from Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, on the 3ist of July 1629 and which was written in the public deed of the Notary Lorenzo Grima." The church was enlarged in 1900 to accommodate the growing population of Paola and it became a parish in 1910, when it was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A new and larger church, the one dedicated to Christ the King, was eventually built to replace it in Antoine de Paule Square, the towns main square. Today, the church undergone restoration and its interior is adorned with beautiful gold guilding and a majestic niche holding the parishs titular statue of Christ the King.