by Gordon Franz MA
EXCERPT On Saturday, April 17, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI visited the island of Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. On his stop at the Church of St. Paul’s Grotto in the city of Rabat, he was shown an inscribed lead Roman anchor stock that had been discovered five years earlier off the coast of Malta.
My good friend Mark Gatt, a Maltese diver, reports to me that this anchor stock has been nicknamed “Benedict’s anchor” because it was discovered on April 24, 2005, on the same day that Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his inaugural papal mass after being elevated to the papacy. Was this a coincidence? When this discovery and the date of its find were reported to the pope, he said it was, “Divine providence.”
The anchor stock is now on permanent display at the Malta Maritime Museum in Vittoriosa. Is this anchor stock from one of the four anchors that was jettisoned from the stern of the Alexandrian grain ship carrying the Apostle Paul and Dr. Luke to Rome in AD 60 (Acts 27:29)? Let us examine this possibility.
Description and Importance of “Benedict’s Anchor”
Mark Gatt gives a very descriptive account of the dive in which he discovered his now-famous anchor in his gripping and well written book PAVLVS The Shipwreck 60 A.D. (2010: 46-63). This anchor was retrieved off the coast of the Ghallis Tower near Salina Bay
What Gatt discovered was actually a lead anchor stock. This was the heaviest portion of the anchor that brought the anchor to the sea floor and allowed one of the wooden flukes, possibly tipped by a copper “tooth”, to bury itself into the sea bottom or snag a rock. This stock made of lead measured 2.3 meters long (about 7 ½ feet; 2010: 59, 69, 111) and weighed about 700 kilograms (1,540 pounds; 2010: 59). It was found at a depth of 36 meters (118 feet; 2010: 55, 94). There are a number of lead anchor stocks that have been found off the coast of Malta, but this is the first reported one that had an inscription on it….
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