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News Archive - 2013

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News in year:
2013

Cold nights, warm soup

In Lithuania, the Order’s Lithuanian Charity Service operates soup kitchens in 23 towns as winter bites

The Order of Malta is running soup kitchens in many European cities this winter. In Vilnius, a Christmas concert fundraiser organised by the Order’s Lithuania Relief Organisation (MOPT) has provided enough donations to keep the operation up and running till next winter.

A warming cup - Christmas soup kitchen in Lithuania
A warming cup - Christmas soup kitchen in Lithuania

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Typhoon aftermath: Malteser International increases relief for stricken islanders

Food, household, hygiene kits, tarpaulins, medical help for 20,000

Typhoon aftermath - support for Samar islanders
Typhoon aftermath - support for Samar islanders

Latest aid increase from Malteser International means support for 20,000 people, with 4500 kits of food, household and hygiene items benefitting 1500 families on Bantayan, 800 tarpaulin sets sheltering families on Samar and medical treatment for 570 patients in the villages of San Antonio and Amandayehan.

"Health services were reinstated fairly quickly in urban areas following Typhoon Haiyan. But poor rural communities in remote areas haven’t received the medical attention they need,” says Dr. Mel Capistrano, Malteser International emergency relief expert. “Community health infrastructures, like village health stations and rural health clinics, were totally destroyed. As well, local health care staff have been personally affected and so they’re difficult to mobilise.”

Support plans for the future
In addition to emergency relief, Malteser International will focus on recovery efforts in the areas of health, sanitation, reconstruction and psychosocial care. For Samar Island, there will be an additional focus on schools and restoring livelihoods through seed distribution.

Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. With over 100 projects annually in some 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas, Malteser International has been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster, helping them lead a healthy life with dignity – without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles build the foundation of its work. For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int

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Philippines: Order of Malta support for stricken islanders

The effects of typhoon Haiyan are spreading

Bantayan Island, Philippines - young children beg for food
Bantayan Island, Philippines - young children beg for food

On Bantayan island, aid for 900 families, on Samar island, aid for 600 families, on Bohol island, aid for 250 families.

The results of the Order of Malta’s initial assessments have shaped relief efforts: Malteser International, the Order’s humanitarian agency, are preparing to distribute emergency items - food, tents, tarpaulins, kitchen utensils, soap and disinfectant fluid - to 1,750 families in three islands, Bantayan, Samar and Bohol. Water purification tablets are being supplied for up to 30,000 people, so they have clean drinking water for a month.

Sandra Harlass, emergency relief and public health expert at Malteser International, Dr. Mel Capistrano, disaster risk reduction advisor, and a delegation of the Order of Malta Philippines Association are currently on Samar Island to accompany the relief efforts and look into additional aid possibilities.

DONATIONS: please go to Order of Malta Foreign Aid Service (FAS) and mark your donation 'Philippines Appeal'  https://www.justgiving.com/fas.

Photo: Kenly Monteagud

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Typhoon Haiyan: Order of Malta ready to deploy relief in Philippines

Thousands in need of immediate aid

devastation, Leyte Province, Philippines

In the wake of the evastating typhoon Haiyan which struck the Philippines on Saturday, thousands are dead, or missing or injured. Worst hit was Tacloban, in Leyte Province, where conditions are severe.

A relief term of experts from the Order of Malta’s international emergency agency, Malteser International, was immediately dispatched and meets today with the Order’s Philippines Association in Leyte Province. They will coordinate relief measures on the ground, undertake a needs assessment in the most affected region around Tacloban City and prepare emergency relief for the survivors.

“Gaining access to the disaster region is extremely difficult at the moment, because Tacloban Airport was destroyed in the storm. So we have to find alternative ways of getting there,” says Cordula Wasser, Philippines programme manager for Malteser International.

Malteser International’s local partners report that Haiyan has also affected the evacuation centres and temporary camps on the neighbouring island of Bohol, recently struck by an earthquake. “This means that Malteser International will expand ongoing relief measures for the earthquake survivors,” Wasser says.

Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. With over 100 projects annually in some 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas, Malteser International has been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster, helping them lead a healthy life with dignity – without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles build the foundation of its work.

For more information:www.malteser-international.org andwww.orderofmalta.int

Photo: Sky news

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Supporting disabled youngsters in Romania

The British Association’s Foreign Aid Service (FAS) in latest funding initiative

cluj-Napoca-making friends
Cluj-Napoca kindergarten-making friends

The British Association’s Foreign Aid Service (FAS) latest funding project: kindergarten for disabled youngsters in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. This inspirational project has been run by the Order since 1991, and constantly struggles for funding in the second poorest European Country.

Art lesson - doing it together

Art lesson - doing it together

 

Cluj-Napoca kindergarten - playtime
Cluj-Napoca kindergarten - playtime

FAS Chairman, Nicolas Reuttner: “The FAS has assured its survival in the past, and we are thrilled to be able to do so again.“

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Order of Malta soup kitchen launches in central London

As the evenings darken, the food line gets longer

A soup kitchen, joint project of Order members, Order of Malta Volunteers, and Companions of the Order of Malta has launched in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Since 3 June, each Monday the team has met up in late afternoon to set out to collect food donations - unsold sandwiches, salads and desserts.

Soup kitchen van and volunteers, Lincoln's Inn Fields
Soup kitchen van and volunteers, Lincoln's Inn Fields
 

By early evening, the van rolls up and the waiting volunteers get ready to help, distributing food, fruit, chocolate bars and bottled water to all comers. As the evenings darken, the food line gets longer.

If there is any food left over, as the homeless slip back into the shadows, the food is taken to hostels for the homeless in Vauxhall.

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The needs of people with disabilities are not met in disasters

Order of Malta participates in UN survey

A rescue exercise for disabled in Vietnam
A rescue exercise for disabled in Vietnam

The Order of Malta has conducted a survey in Vietnam as part of a United Nations data collection. Findings reveal that people with disabilities often lack vital information and support to protect themselves from disasters – the preliminary result of a survey conducted by the Order of Malta’s relief agency, Malteser International, in Vietnam for International Day for Disaster Reduction.

The Vietnam survey is part of a worldwide effort by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to collect data from over 120 countries until the end of 2013. “This is the first survey conducted on a global scale on how the disabled cope with disasters,” said Sae Kani, Malteser International Disaster Risk Reduction specialist.

Malteser International, has been active in disaster risk reduction in Vietnam since 2009 and is a member of the Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DiDRRN) in Asia-Pacific. The preliminary results of the global survey are available at: www.unisdr.org A rescue exercise for disabled in Vietnam

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Lampedusa: medical psychological teams from the Order of Malta seek to maintain calm among survivors and islanders

‘Everyone is in constant contact with a dramatic reality’

Lampedusa: two survivors in desperate condition
Lampedusa: two survivors in desperate condition

From ANSA, the leading Italian newsagency reports from the scene

‘It is difficult to keep emotions under control,’ the medico-legal helper tells us,’ as we understand that there are some things one is unable to talk about. It is not that one is insensitive, but the shock is deep.’ Andrea Grande is the doctor in charge of the emergency medico-legal team DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) of the police force, with the task of bringing together the bodies of the victims of the boat disaster off Lampedusa: in a team of 30 they have been working without a break since Thursday evening, when the first victims arrived at the local aircraft hangar, now transformed into a temporary morgue.

Lampedusa: survivors need heat sheets to prevent hypothermia
Lampedusa: survivors need heat sheets to prevent hypothermia

‘These are emergency situations which call for instant action,’ says Dr Grande, with 22 years’ experience as a medico-legal expert. Only one’s professionalism helps one to stay calm at a time like this.’ Where do he and his team find the courage to choose this kind of work? ‘It’s not courage,’ he says, ‘it’s a way of understanding things. But sure, it is not without its difficult moments.’ For him, that moment came when they had to close the coffins over four small children, pulled lifeless from the sea. ‘It was very, very difficult.’

And it has been very hard for everyone involved in these tragic days, working in the hangar, hearing the cries of desperation of the survivors. Matteo Simone, psychologist with the Italian Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (CISOM): ‘Encounting those who have survived is a difficult moment,’ he explains, ‘even when this is a task one is used to.’ CISOM has been working on Lampedusa for some time with a team of doctors, nurses, psychologists and first-aiders: the Corps’ health workers are the teams who go aboard the patrol vessels of the Italian Coast Guard, giving first aid to every migrant who has need of it.

‘When we intervene,’ Matteo says, ‘our first task is to monitor everyone who needs care, starting from our own volunteers, the police force, the first-aiders and the local population.’ Psychologist Francesca Longinetti adds: ‘We are all medical professionals, working closely together, doctors and nurses, linking in to the other units of the Corps, so that when there are particular problems we can keep each other informed and support each other. The aim now is to avoid panic attacks among the survivors and the local residents by keeping a careful watch on any developing signs of stress, as they are all in constant contact with a dramatic reality which can easily degenerate into something with very serious implications.’ One of the responsibilities of the team involved in the temporary morgue is to keep under observation the reactions of the workers who are identifying the bodies. ‘We keep up a conversation with them, to relieve the tension of the situation. And this way we can check if there are problems and if we need to intervene. If so, we can work with individuals or groups and we can review performance later when the emergency is over.’
(ANSA – translated from the Italian)

Photos: Sovereign Order of Malta photoarchive

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Harrowing scenes, high seas, desperation: but for some, a little hope

Order of Malta teams in dramatic rescue

Lampedusa: submerged immigrant boat
Lampedusa: submerged immigrant boat

The Director of CISOM, Mauro Casignini, reports that in the midst of the dramatic scenes of the last two days, the aid workers have been able to rescue 155 people. ‘At least one tiny line of silver,’ he said, ‘which encouraged our teams. So for some there is a little hope, and we feel uplifted after hours in the sea working to recover hundreds who did not make it.’ He notes that the night before the tragedy, a boat carrying 400 immigrants had arrived, 100 of whom were children, and all had landed safely. Right now, the impact is affecting the residents – just shy of 5,000 - of the tiny Mediterranean island and CISOM is also providing psychological help as they too are traumatised by the events of these days.

For the moment, the sea search has been suspended as the waves are too rough to venture out.

Lampedusa: immigrants crowd onto open boats
Lampedusa: immigrants crowd onto open boats

The Italian Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (CISOM) has an Agreement with the Italian Coast Guard and the Guardia di Finanza to work with them providing first aid assistance on the Italian coastline, in force since 2008. And since then, a CISOM doctor and nurse have gone out to every boat arriving at Lampedusa, performed medical checks and given first aid to all who needed it.

PLEASE MAKE YOUR DONATION TO:
Foundation CISOM – Italian Relief Corps of the Order of Malta
DeutscheBank Rome – Santi Apostoli
IBAN IT 31 A 03104 03214 000000821100
Mark your donation: “Operation Lampedusa”

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Lampedusa: hundreds of lives lost off the Italian coast

Order of Malta medical team on site immediately

The call came early yesterday, and the first assistance in the rough seas off the tiny island of Lampedusa was led by the Order of Malta medical team (CISOM). ‘I had worked all night,’ recounts Dr.Emilio Schirru. ‘There was a boat with 500 people on board. It was in difficulties. We managed to save them. So I went to bed, but at 7 there was another emergency call, another boat. I went aboard. Managed to save only six. And then in the sea was a little girl, about three, floating in the water in the midst of hundreds of bodies, even pregnant women. We pulled her in among the six survivors and all the other dead. I have never seen anything like it.’

 Background: The team is CISOM and they are the Italian Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta, 3500 volunteers countrywide operating in the fields of civil protection and emergencies on Italian territory. Special focus: work with the Italian Coastguard and Guardia di Finanza to provide a rescue service at sea for migrants coming to the southern coast and Lampedusa.

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Lebanese Association of the Order intensifies its medical assistance on the Syrian border

The Khaldieh Medical Centre at the service of Syrian refugees

lebanon-Khaldieh Centre cares for Syrian refugees
lebanon-Khaldieh Centre cares for Syrian refugees

Located not 40 kilometres from the Syrian border, the Khaldieh Medical Centre is on the same latitude as the Syrian town of Homs, the heart of the early clashes that inflamed Syria in March 2012. Khaldieh is where thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing their country arrived during those early stages of the conflict. To cope with the emergency, the Lebanese Association of the Sovereign Order of Malta – which supports the medical centre through the congregation of the Antonine Sisters – stepped up its aid, which ranges from cardiology and endocrinology to pediatrics and gynaecology, and started a vaccination and health awareness campaign for the many refugees.

Every day about 100 patients go to the Khaldieh Centre for medical treatment. On some days the number rises drastically. The number of visits is linked to the presence of certain specialists. On the days when the Centre offers gynaecological care, the number of Muslim women – including Syrian refugees as well – greatly increases. Many have fled the country with many children, or are pregnant and require special care. So the Centre places at their disposal a large number of female physicians, to meet the special needs of the Muslim culture.

The Syrian refugees who are camped out in the vicinity of the Khaldieh Medical Centre receive food aid, medical products, blankets and mattresses. Around 800,000 Syrian refugees are registered throughout the country, but total estimates reach 1,500,000. There are about 40 families – each with an average of 5 members – who patiently wait their turn to receive humanitarian aid in just one day of distribution: pasta, rice, oil, sugar, water for dissolving powdered milk for infants, detergents, toothbrushes, sponges, nappies.  >

The government in Beirut has accredited the Khaldieh Centre - the first on the list of over 40 medical centres analysed throughout the country – in recognition of its efficiency and the kindness and care of the staff, and the level of services it offers

Lebanon-outlying clinics treat elderly population
Lebanon-outlying clinics treat elderly population

Nine centres in remote locations
In this country known for its cedar trees, the Order of Malta Lebanese Association runs another nine socio-medical centres. Many are in remote locations often without healthcare services and populated by elderly residents. It is a widespread presence that goes from the north to the south of the country. It embraces different faiths and denominations, as seen in the close collaboration between the Order and the Shiite foundation Al-Sadr in Sidon which for years has been a point of reference for both Christians and Muslims. It is precisely its ability to communicate with different religions and to help one’s fellow man without distinction of faith and origin that “has allowed the Order of Malta to be appreciated by the entire community,” explained Monsignor Gabriele Caccia, the Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, recently. “They bear witness to Christian values,” the Nuncio added. “The Order of Malta sets an example of efficiency for the entire Middle East.”

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Hugh van Cutsem, former Secretary-General and Chancellor of the British Association of the Order of Malta

Hugh van Cutsem

The British Association of the Order of Malta salutes with deep affection and appreciation the passing of Hugh van Cutsem, who has died this week after a long illness. A knight of great gentleness, unfailing courtesy and committed care for those in need, his activities on behalf of the Order were carried out with characteristic modesty and generosity.

 Hugh was Secretary General from 2001-2007 and then Chancellor of the British Association, 2007-2008, before his retirement due to ill health.

Homily at the Requiem Mass in Brentwood Cathedral for Hugh van Cutsem on 11th September 2013 by Fr Edward Corbould OSB

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The Order’s auxiliary organisation in Hungary (MMSz) launches new online care initiative

Video clips offer help in seven languages

Hungary - a first aid exercise
Hungary - a first aid exercise

The Order of Malta Charity Service (MMSz) launches a ‘Web nurse’ programme on its website this month. The project provides a series of short instructions, set out in small videos, for the disabled and for patients just returning from hospital. The videos, which will provide a support for those who care for a patient at home but have little medical experience, cover basic care for the patient in a series of simple, easy to follow instructions.

A special support for patients and their families
The video clips – between 50 and 60 of them – are offered in 7 languages: Hungarian, Czech, English, German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, and run at 1.5 minutes each. ‘Simple ideas are often the most effective,’ says the CEO of MMSz, Lajos Gyorki. ‘We hope these short films will prove a special support for patients and their families.’

The MMSz also has a ‘Questions in First Aid’ App for Smartphones, which has proved very effective. The App asks: where are you? How many injured are there? Where can we call you? Already there are 9,000 users in Hungary - and it’s free.

For more information on the works the Order carries out in Hungary: www.maltai.hu (languages: Hungarian, English, German)

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Syrian refugees: FAS appeal grows

Donations to the British Association’s Foreign Aid Service (FAS) appeal continue to climb

Miladia Hamati Aoun helps vaccinate a small refugee
Nurse Miladia Hamati Aoun checks a small refugee


In the seven weeks since the British Association’s Foreign Aid Service (FAS) launched an appeal for Syrian refugees, over £40,000 has been raised, with contributions continuing to arrive daily.

The plight of the refugees remains. Arriving across borders in their hundreds, they need food, clothing, medicines and vaccinations. “There are many diseases, and a high risk of epidemics breaking out among the refugees,” says Miladia Hamati Aoun, a nurse at the Order’s socio-medical Khaldieh clinic in north Lebanon. The clinic is helping the most vulnerable Syrian refugee and displaced families – the majority are women and children, living with host families or in empty buildings or outside the refugee camps - as well as unregistered refugees. Social worker at Khaldieh, Rouba Azize, one of the coordinators of the emergency relief efforts declares: “People are living in basements, sleeping on cardboard on the floor. The hygienic conditions are horrendous and a threat to public health.”

From this month, two social centres in Bekaa Valley are also being supported.

The Order of Malta has been active in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon since August 2012, to date providing emergency aid for more than 30,000 people.

The Order of Malta projects in Lebanon: 10 socio-medical centres, 2 mobile medical units, 3 day care centres for the elderly and 7 ‘warm homes’, a centre specialised in cerebral-motor deficiency, a balneo-therapy centre, a hosting centre for the physically and/or mentally handicapped.

Please help by donating to the FAS appeal: www.justgiving.com/4-syria

Photo: Andreas Krogmann

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Yes – YOU did!

May the road rise with you wherever you travel – today and every day

Farewell, friends, it's been great
Farewell, friends, it's been great

As the last bus scooped up its remaining passengers for the long road home and farewell hugs and tears were exchanged, memories of this week of joy and laughter and prayer came flooding back – the challenging activities, the day trips, the wonderful religious ceremonies, the hilarious disco dancing – and the wild Irish jigs!

Hop, side, Hop, skip - it's easy!
Hop, side, Hop, skip - it's easy!


Three years of planning had paid off in spades – not a missed deadline, not a cross word, but a splendid mix of humour and efficiency and some quick footwork on the part of the volunteer staff and eager involvement and enthusiastic participation on the part of the guests.
Yes! – you ALL did. Brilliantly.

And may the wind be always at your back
As the day wore on, national group by national group, guests and helpers alike, tired but happy, were waved off with an Irish blessing and a promise to meet up again next year – for the 31st Order of Malta International Summer Camp for Young Disabled in the land of tulips and clogs.

The sun sets on the 30th International Summer Camp
The sun sets on the 30th International Summer Camp, Clongowes Wood,
Co.Kildare, Ireland

Photos: Julian Andrews

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YES! You can!

Summer Camp theme soars in song

There for you, There with you
There for you, There with you

Today’s Irish Day, with its laughter, song, humour, friendliness, endless jokes and noisy enjoyment, sums up the character of this year’s international summer camp: family and friends and unstinting support and very much fun – and everyone involved in some way connected to the Order of Malta.

Irish guest Robert whirls to an Irish jig
Irish guest Robert whirls to an Irish jig

Is feidir leat!
The Camp song, sung by 600 voices, raised the rafters at the last formal ceremony. Its theme ‘Yes You Can’ has been borne out in so many examples of guests trying out new experiences and testing themselves, with robust encouragement from all around them. Irish guest Laura, after her first ever carriage ride, beamed: “I may not be able to drive a car, but I can drive a horse and cart!”

Laura in the driving seat
Laura in the driving seat

Photos: Julian Andrews

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Open Day Mass for 800 in 8 languages

18 priests celebrate as the heavens open

Lifting voices in song
Lifting voices in song

Today’s great day dawned in sunshine and ended in rain, but high spirits were undampened. The traditional Open Day Mass at every International Summer Camp for the Young Disabled was celebrated by 18 priests in a packed hall – 800 guests, helpers, volunteers, friends, special visitors - and many languages.

A babel of languages and a riotous noise level!
In the afternoon the heavens opened and all the outdoor activities were quickly moved inside. Fairground games, bouncy castles, food stands, arts and crafts - all thoroughly enjoyed amid a babel of languages and a riotous noise level. There was even a visit from the Army and the Irish Costal Services Search and Rescue helicopter. The festivities ended with the Lebanese team – by now the Camp’s resident performers – singing joyously for the crowd.

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Camp life at the gallop

Grand Master takes the reins

Grand Master in cracking form
Grand Master in cracking form

A full day’s programme at the Order of Malta 30th International Summer Camp for Young Disabled saw the Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, looking in on mask decorating, trying his hand at clay pigeon shooting, checking out the archery, and comparing notes with the mask decorating guests who are preparing to display their creations at Friday night’s masked ball.

But he really hit stride as he whisked horse and carriage around Clongowes field, cheered on by guests and friends. And then it was Austrian guest Christoff’s turn. He smiled all the way.

Christoff couldn't stop smiling
Christoff couldn't stop smiling
 
Photos: Julian Andrews

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Singing all the way and dancing in the street

‘Feel good’ factor rides very high at the Order of Malta’s International Summer Camp for Young Disabled

Singing all the way with the Lebanese
Singing all the way with the Lebanese

After the frenetic activities of recent days, the midweek day of each camp is always an offsite visit with the full complement of guests, volunteers and helpers. ‘Dublin Day’ has been no exception.

In three large Pullman buses, 12 specially adapted ambulance buses and an assortment of cars and extra medical mobile vehicles the convoy set off, bound for the big city, and singing all the way.

Dancing in the street
Dancing in the street with the Poles

The day spun away
With a picnic at Dublin Castle, sightseeing tours of the town, a visit to Trinity College and a little retail therapy in Grafton Street where the Polish group found a traditional band and danced their way up the street, as the day spun away. All too soon wheelchairs were stacked back on the buses, and tired but happy campers turned homewards to Clongowes and supper and another night of partying and fun – this time with the much anticipated ‘International night’, where the different country teams set up stalls offering their national dishes and beverages. 

The day fades into dreams
The day fades into dreams

For more information: www.internationalcamp2013.ie

Photos: Julian Andrews

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Summer Camp in open air and full fig

The 600 lined up in Irish flag colour coordination

The 30th International Summer Camp for Young Disabled

The joyful atmosphere is infectious and the groups then split out into many and various activities. During the day, riding was a sellout; in the evening, the disco ran for hours.

The emphasis was on having fun, joining in, pushing boundaries.

A key activity of the Order of Malta is social inclusion for these young people, which their Summer Camps encourage and emphasise.

Photos: Julian Andrews

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30th International Summer Camp for Young Disabled opens

Sunshine, showers - nothing can dampen spirits

Arriving guests, Clongowes Wood College
Arriving guests, Clongowes Wood College

As 600 guests, helpers and volunteers descend on Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare, Ireland, the 30th International Camp for Young Disabled swings into action. Three years in the planning, the Irish Association’s teams of members and helpers are at their posts, schedules are consulted, lists are posted, balloons wave in the green, white and orange colours of the Irish national flag, alongside the Order’s red flag with the eight-pointed white cross – now the fun really begins.

Clongowes Wood College, the venue for the Order's 30th International Summer Camp for Young Disabled
Clongowes Wood College, the venue for the Order's 30th International Summer Camp for Young Disabled

The Camp, first established in Austria in the summer of 1984, from small beginnings is now a fixture in the international calendar of the Order of Malta. This year, guests have an array of enticing activities and games to sign up for: air rifle shooting, archery, drama workshops, carriage driving, arts and crafts activities and many more, with trips to a local whisky distillery, to Malahide Castle and to Dublin also on the agenda, all rounded off with discos and music events every evening. The guests, who come from 20 countries, meet and greet in a Babel of excitement. The camp, with its ethos of care and friendship – motto is Yes, You Can! – gives them the chance to challenge themselves with new experiences and activities, as well as to find again friends from other camps, other years.

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Remnants of the Knights’ 1000 year-old hospital discovered in Jerusalem

Excavation reveals fascinating details

The knights' hospital
The knights' hospital

The knights' hospital A recent find in the Old City of Jerusalem has unearthed the ruins of what is now considered to be the knights’ hospital of 1000 years ago.

The exciting discovery has revealed details of the probable of the building and confirms what has long been surmised about the construction itself. What has emerged is a strong image of the hospital and of the activities of the knights hospitaller.

The excavation has exposed part of an enormous structure, which was a busy hospital dating to the period between 1099 and 1291. The building is currently owned by the Waqf* and is situated in the heart of the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, in a region known as Muristan (a corruption of the Persian word for hospital), near David Street, the main road in the Old City.

The works, authorised by the Israel Antiquities Authority, expose parts of a structure which seems to extend across an area of fifteen dunams**. It is more than six metres high and reveals a great hall composed of pillars and ribbed vaults, rooms and smaller halls.

Contemporary historical documents, most of which are in Latin, mention a sophisticated hospital that was as large and as organised as a modern hospital. The Israeli Authority, in publicising the exciting findings, comments that ‘The hospital was established and constructed by a Christian military order of monks named the Order of St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem and known by its Latin name the Hospitallers (from the word hospital). They took an oath to care for and watch over pilgrims, and when necessary they joined the ranks of the fighters as an elite protective unit.’

The creation of a tradition: care for all, with total impartiality
The findings and the early sources provide considerable detail, much of which we already know: the hospital had different wings and departments depending on the nature of the illness and the condition of the patient – similar to the arrangements in a modern hospital. In an emergency the hospital could accept as many as 2,000 patients. Our Hospitallers treated sick men and women of different religions with respect (‘Our Lords the sick’- our proud motto). An example: Jewish patients received kosher food – a demonstration of our long tradition of care for all, with total impartiality, no matter who they are nor from whence they come. The Muslim Arab population was instrumental in assisting the knights in establishing the hospital and teaching them medicine. Arab culture has always held the medical profession in high regard and Arab physicians were famous far and wide.

The sources also note that, in addition to the medical departments, the hospital also functioned as an orphanage where abandoned newborns were brought. Mothers who did not want their offspring would come with covered heads and hand over their infants. In many instances when twins were born, one was given to the orphanage. The orphans were cared for devotedly and when they reached adulthood they could serve in the hospitaller order.

In later years, the Ayyubid ruler, Saladin, lived near the hospital following the defeat of the monks, and renovated and maintained the structure. He permitted ten monks to continue to reside there and serve the population of Jerusalem.

The edifice collapses in the 15th century
In the Middle Ages parts of the structure were used as a stable and the bones of horses and camels have been found in the excavations, alongside a great deal of metal used for shoeing the animals. In 1457, the building collapsed in an earthquake and was buried.

The discovery was prompted by a planning permission requested by the Grand Bazaar Company of East Jerusalem to create a restaurant. They worked in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority to carry out the excavations prior to the start of the new works.

[Photograph credit: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.]
* The granting or dedication of property in trust for a pious purpose. The current Waqf in Jerusalem is an Islamic trust which manages the Islamic edifices on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City.
**A dunam was a unit of land area used in the Ottoman Empire, representing the amount of land that can be ploughed in a day.

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The sky’s the limit!

Order of Malta young volunteers in Ireland in a skydiving fundraiser for 30th international young disabled summer camp

The high five! Irish volunteers in fundraising skydive
The high five! Irish volunteers in fundraising skydive

Fundraising efforts have gone sky high, as five members of the Order’s Irish Ambulance Corps’ Marino Unit dived out of a plane for charity last week - and added to the coffers for the Order of Malta’s 30th International summer Camp for Young Disabled.

Back on terra firma, this weekend a sponsored bicycle ride will see hundreds of cyclists heading down leafy lanes from 10 starting points right around Ireland, to meet up at Clongoes Wood College on Saturday evening. All the efforts are to support the Camp, which is scheduled for 10-17 August at Clongoes, County Kildare.

Yes, you can!
Over 400 volunteers and young disabled from over 20 countries are looking forward to taking part. The project has been in the making for 12 months, to ensure that every aspect of logistics – and fun – has been carefully planned for. ‘We are counting down the days now,’ says Irish Hospitaller Brendan Lawlor, ‘but reaching for the sky.’ The theme of the camp is "Is Feidir Leat" or "Yes You Can".

For more information: www.internationalcamp2013.ie

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Ancient ceremony welcomes new Knight of Justice

Religious vows to a life dedicated to helping those in need follows honoured tradition in the Order of Malta

Fra' Julian Chadwick
Fra' Julian Chadwick makes his solemn vows

Fra' Julian Chadwick made his Solemn Profession as a Knight of Justice in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in The Oxford Oratory on 6 July, vowing his allegiance to the Church and his commitment to caring for those in need.

The profession, made before the Grand Master, Fra’Matthew Festing, took place during High Mass, celebrated by Dr Antony Conlon, chaplain of the Grand Priory of England. The very moving homily on the character of the religious was delivered by Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe.

The Mass setting was Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli. A new piece of music, the Alleluia, was composed for the day by Andrew Knowles. It will add to the canon of Music written for the Order which includes pieces by the Grand Master's 18th century ancestor Michael Christian Festing. The stirring ceremony closed with a splendid Te Deum.

Tradition and symbolism
The ceremony of solemn profession has a long and symbolic tradition in the Order of Malta: before the Mass the sword is blessed and the knight is instructed to use it to guard both his own person and all enemies of the Christian faith.

A Knight of Justice takes the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The new knight is given golden spurs for his feet to demonstrate his contempt for worldly wealth and a belt as a sign of the chastity to which he is now vowed. The Grand Master strikes his shoulder with the sword three times, and in response the knight brandishes the sword aloft three times to demonstrate his willingness to defend his faith.

There follows the ceremony of clothing, as a reminder that this is a religious profession. The knight makes his solemn vow, becoming a full religious member of the Order. By ancient custom, his first act of obedience to the Grand Master is to take the Missal to the altar, and then to bring it back. His second order is to recite the Office each day. He is given the habit, and vested in the stola bearing images of Christ's Passion.

Knight's sword
Knight's sword

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The British Association Foreign Aid Service (FAS) launches Syria appeal

A small Syrian collects blankets for her refugee family, Khaldieh centre, north Lebanon Photo: Andreas Krogmann
A small Syrian collects blankets for her refugee family, Khaldieh centre, north Lebanon Photo: Andreas Krogmann

They are destitute, frightened, shocked. Since August 2012, the Order of Malta’s Kahldieh socio-medical centre in north Lebanon has been inundated with refugees from Syria. To date, the centre has provided free medical treatment for more than 1,300 Syrian refugees. The service has expanded into nearby villages where refugees are living in deepest poverty.

More resources are desperately needed.

Please help by donating to the FAS appeal: www.justgiving.com/4-syria

Refugee crisis: the Order of Malta has been active in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon since August 2012, providing emergency aid for more than 30,000 people.

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Pope Francis receives Fra’Matthew Festing

Meeting in the Vatican on the feast of St. John Baptist

Pope Francis and senior members of the Order's government
Pope Francis and senior members of the Order's government

Pope Francis and senior members of the Order's government Pope Francis received the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, accompanied by members of the Order’s Government yesterday. The audience took place in the Pontiff’s private study in the Vatican.

The economic and financial crisis and the humanitarian emergencies linked to ongoing conflicts, starting with the disturbing situation in Syria, were the main topics of the meeting with the Pope. The Grand Master discussed the Order of Malta’s multiple humanitarian activities in assisting local populations fleeing from violence. Among other topics were the Order of Malta’s activities in the Middle East and in Africa as well as its commitment in South America to help the disadvantaged.

The meeting between the two Heads of State took place, as is the tradition, on the feastday of the Sovereign Order of Malta’s patron saint, St. John Baptist, celebrated every 24 June.

Pope Francis and Fra'Matthew Festing in discussion, Vatican, 24 June 2013
Pope Francis and Fra'Matthew Festing in discussion, Vatican, 24 June 2013

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Every 24 June is marked around the world as thousands of members of the Order of Malta celebrate St John’s Day

Brompton Oratory, St John's Day Mass
Brompton Oratory, St John's Day Mass


In churches around the world, members, friends and volunteers of the Order of Malta marked St John’s Day – the feast day of the patron saint of the Order – with a solemn Mass and celebrations.

In London, the President of the British Association, Richard Fitzalan Howard, and the Grand Prior of England, Ian Scott, greeted the British members of the Order family at a service in the Brompton Oratory. The celebrant was the Right Reverend Alan Hopes, Bishop-Elect of East Anglia and Conventual Chaplain ad honorem and the homily was preached by the conventual chaplain of the Grand Priory ad honorem, the Reverend Antony Conlon, who reminded that the work of the Order is rooted in a proud tradition to care for society’s marginalised, a work that is as necessary today as it was when the Order was founded almost a thousand years ago.

President and Grand Prior greet an honoured member
President and Grand Prior greet an honoured member

The occasion also celebrated the conferring of decorations on special members of the congregation, all of whom have offered particular and dedicated service to the Order in Britain - through their work with sick pilgrims at Lourdes, at the St John’s Hospice in North London, in the care homes run by the Orders of St John Care Homes Trust across four counties and in many quiet ways – and who have gone about the Order’s mission to care for the poor and the sick with exceptional commitment. Photos: Julian Andrews

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Action for Syria: "Stop. Look at us!"

Campaign run by the Order’s humanitarian relief agency, Malteser International, calls attention to humanitarian tragedy

syrian refugee children aided at school in Turkey
Syrian refugee children aided at school in Turkey

A third of the Syrian population needs aid. Since the start of 2013, the number of Syrian refugees has risen from 475,000 to more than 1.5 million. Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s humanitarian relief agency, has been active in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon since August 2012, providing emergency aid for over 30,000. Until the end of June, the organisation’s local partners will continue to distribute food packages and baby food inside Syria and in the border regions.

Drawing attention to refugees’ plight
On Thursday, 16 May, Malteser International’s website went dark, in solidarity with the Syrian people. 28 German-based international organisations united to call attention to the plight of Syrian refugees and the large-scale humanitarian tragedy taking place in the region. The campaign’s message: to raise the public’s awareness of the suffering caused by the Syrian crisis and prompt a stronger commitment from political actors and civil society in calling for an end to the violence. The online campaign also ran in social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, strongly supported by friends and supporters.

Temporary field hospital on Turkish-Syrian border
A project currently in the pipeline: Malteser International is setting up a temporary field hospital in Kilis, on the Turkish-Syrian border, to alleviate the burden on the Turkish healthcare system. The hospital will be operated by Syrian and Turkish medical personnel, who will be guided and trained by Malteser International staff. In the long term, the medical unit will be brought over the border and operate directly in Syria. The project also aims to build the capacity of Syrian civil society groups in Turkey

Eye check for syrian refugee in Order of Malta clinic, Lebanon
Eye check for Syrian refugee in Order of Malta clinic, Lebanon

Checklist of emergency aid for 37,000 Syrians:

  • 4,644 emergency and hygiene kits
  • 3,904 emergency food packages
  • 2,500 baby food packages
  • 1,350 kits with school materials
  • 5,400 kits with winter clothing
  • 2,000 blankets
  • 1,400 heating ovens
  • 30,000 kg of coal for cooking and heating
  • 100,000 litres of heating oil

Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. The organisation provides aid in about 100 projects in more than 20 countries without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles of impartiality and independence are the foundation of its work. For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int.

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To be a very perfect, gentle Knight

Solemn profession in candlelit ceremony follows historic tradition in caring for those in need

fra' paul Sutherland makes his solemn vows before the Grand Master, fra' Matthew Festing
Fra' Paul Sutherland makes his solemn vows before the Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing

In a solemn ceremony last evening at the church of St James, Spanish Place, Fra’ Paul Sutherland made his vows as a Knight of Justice, in the presence of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, and among many members, family and friends.

The tradition, which dates back centuries, is that of a religious who lives his life in the community but takes the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and serves the poor and the sick. He promises to live with honour the four cardinal virtues – prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, and to become a very perfect, gentle Knight. The robes Fra’ Paul donned are also traditional – those of a knight in ceremonial uniform and those representing his commitment to his vocation in the Church.

The Homily, given by the Very Rev.Mgr.Andrew Wadsworth, appears in full in the Spirituality section.

Photos: Julian Andrews.

Fra' Paul Sutherland in the full Church robes of a Knight of Justice
Fra' Paul Sutherland in the full Church robes of a Knight of Justice

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledges the work of the Order of Malta in aiding the poor

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Ambassador Robert Shafer
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Ambassador Robert Shafer

The Order’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Robert L.Shafer, welcomed the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Under-Secretary General Wu Hongbo, among the many diplomatic guests at a special reception at the Order’s Embassy to mark the 900th anniversary of the Pie Postulatio Voluntatis. The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Francis Chulikatt, also attended.

In his response to Ambassador Shafer, the Secretary General noted that “the Order of Malta has always been the UN’s faithful ally in achieving the Third Millennium Goals,” and thanked the Order for its “constant commitment to serving the poor and needy.”

The setting for the reception was an exhibition of the Order of Malta’s activities from its origins, including a reproduction of Pie Postulatio Voluntatis, which was promulgated by Pope Paschal II in 1113 exactly nine centuries ago, laying the legal foundations for the Order of Malta’s sovereignty and independence.

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Tranquillity, spirituality, friendship

Old hands and first-timers at the Order’s 55th international annual Lourdes pilgrimage

The Lourdes procession in brilliant sunshine
In unexpected brilliant sunshine, in an atmosphere of tranquillity, of spirituality and friendship, more than 6,000 members, volunteers and the sick from all over the world gathered in Lourdes 3-7 May for the Order of Malta’s 55th annual international pilgrimage. The British Association can proudly lay claim to an even longer pilgrimage presence.
Returning pilgrims greeted each other affectionately – a tradition that many can count in generations. This year, first-timer Emily Hunter accompanied and cared for her grandmother, now in her nineties and a pilgrim of many years’ standing.

Del Hunter and grand-daughter Emily
Del Hunter and grand-daughter Emily
The pilgrimage is a year in the planning, to ensure that the hardworking members and volunteers - the medical personnel, stretcher bearers, special needs pilgrims, their attendants – all enjoy this intense experience.

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Nine hundred years on – the Order of Malta in Britain celebrates an important mission, vibrant then, vibrant today

Order of Malta members process into Westminster Cahtedral
Order of Malta members process into Westminster Cathedral

In the February of 1113, an important document was released to the knights working in the hospital of St John in Jerusalem. The Papal Bull of Paschal II recognised them as an independent religious order with a mission to care for the poor and the sick. This significant document is still preserved in the National Library of Malta in Valletta.

To mark the historic occasion, some several hundred members of the Order of Malta in Britain, including representatives of the Order’s senior government in Rome, the Presidents of the national Associations of the Order from Ireland, France, Germany and the Lebanon, as well as the United Kingdom, the Grand Prior of England, and many guests, volunteers and friends joined His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols in his celebration of solemn Mass in Westminster Cathedral.

The Order in the world
His Grace, in greeting all in his homily, noted that the Order was commemorating an anniversary of nine hundred years – an anniversary no other religious charitable organisation can lay claim to. He referred to the Order’s works, which continue around the world today – with projects in 120 countries, hospitals, hospices, dispensaries, clinics, programmes to aid refugees, street children, addicts, the handicapped, the elderly. And he emphasised in particular the work and the infectious energy of the young members and volunteers here in Britain.

Photos: Julian Andrews.

His Grace archbishop Vincent Nichols and British Association President Richard Fitzalan Howard
His Grace archbishop Vincent Nichols and British Association President Richard Fitzalan Howard

The Order in Britain
The President of the British Association, Richard Fitzalan Howard, thanked the Archbishop for his words of welcome and encouragement and pledged that the Order in Britain would continue to build on its projects to help those in most need. These include homes for the elderly, pilgrimages, a Dial-a-Journey project in Scotland, and soup kitchens in various cities; the eight regional groups of the Companions of the Order organise volunteering of their members to support these activities. The event concluded with a reception in the Cathedral Hall.

Full text of Archbishop Nichols' homily

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Inaugural Mass of Pope Francis

Grand Master of the Order Fra' Matthew Festing pays homage to Pope Francis at the conclusion of a joyous celebration

Pope Francis greets Grand Master Matthew Festing
Pope Francis greets Grand Master Matthew Festing

Over 200,000 of the faithful gathered in sunshine in St.Peter’s Square to participate in the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis. The Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, who holds the rank of cardinal in the Catholic Church, attended, accompanied by the Order of Malta’s official delegation. More than 130 official delegations were present.

The Holy Father addressed the world, declaring the importance of: “Protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person.

“Let us never forget,” he said, “that real power is service…to the poorest, and the weakest.” Pope Francis chose care and protection as the key themes of his homily, stressing the need to show each other “loving concern for each and every one, especially children, the elderly, and those in need, who are often the last we think about.

We are the custodians of each other
“I would like to say to all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social spheres, and all men and women of goodwill: we are the guardians of creation, the plan of God inscribed in nature, the custodians of each other, and of the environment. Do not let the signs of destruction and death accompany the journey of our world! But in ‘guarding’ we must also look to ourselves,” said the Holy Father. “We should not be afraid of goodness, nor of showing tenderness.”

Following the joyous celebration, the Grand Master and members of the Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta paid homage to the new Pope, who greeted the heads of State assembled for the inaugural Mass in strict alphabetical order.

The Order’s First Aid Post in St Peter’s Square on standby
The doctors and nurses from Order of Malta’s First Aid post in St.Peter’s Square, which is kept busy all year round providing free medical care to pilgrims in need, were on standby and supervised the area around the Basilica, together with almost 700 volunteers. They were joined by 46 volunteers from the Italian Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (CISOM) who also offered medical assistance, two ambulances and a specialised referral medical post.

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Syria: the daily struggle for survival goes on

Second anniversary of conflict, 70,000 dead, a million refugees; Malteser International is there

It is the second anniversary of the Syrian conflict. Over 70,000 lie dead, a million refugees have fled. The struggle for survival is desperate, particularly for mothers with small children. “Their needs, especially the children, increase every single day,” says Thomas Molitor, emergency coordinator at Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s humanitarian relief agency. “An adult can sometimes make do with less food. But infants need nourishment to grow – and they need it every day.”  

Syrian refugees find a safer haven

Syrian refugees find a safer haven

Food parcels in northern Syria 
Malteser International has scaled up its aid in the region to cover an additional 13,000 people, including new cross-border relief operations in Turkey and northern Syria. Distribution teams are bringing emergency food packages and baby food from Turkey into the Syrian districts of A’Zaz, Afrin and Al Bab, a rural, opposition-controlled region north of Aleppo. The aid will benefit 750 families and 500 infants for 5 months. 

Aid for Syrian refugee children in Turkey 
In Turkey, Malteser International is supporting a school in the border district of Kilis, where 1,350 Syrian children currently attend class, by paying an allowance to teachers, subsidising running costs, supplying school materials and giving the children healthy snacks three times a week. “Children learn better when their stomachs aren’t empty,” Molitor says. Medical support in Lebanon Malteser International has been helping the displaced population within Syria, and in Turkey and Lebanon, since July 2012. It has distributed emergency kits, heating ovens, blankets and winter clothing to over 20,000 people in the region. It is also supporting a health clinic of the Order of Malta in Lebanon, which offers free health care to Syrian refugees, with medication and medical equipment. 

Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. The organisation provides aid in about 100 projects in more than 20 countries without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles of impartiality and independence are the foundation of its work. For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int 

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Cardinal-electors prayed in Chapel designed by Pittsburgh knight

vatican Chapel

The meditation chapel used by the Pope was designed by a member of the USA Federal Association, architect Louis Astorino. Completed in 1996, the chapel serves visiting clergy, and it is where the College of Cardinals gathered and reflected before moving on to the Sistine Chapel to vote for the Argentinian Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis and Bishop of Rome.

Just 3,300 square feet on a triangular lot to echo the Holy Trinity, Astorino’s design echoes the history of the Vatican and exudes tranquillity by the use of a glass wall overlooking the Leonine Wall. The resulting space is both light and warm. Louis Astorino calls it his firm’s greatest work.

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A moving and memorable morning: Pope Benedict takes his farewell

pope Benedict - last day

Benedict XVI on popemobile

Over 200,000 people in St.Peter’s Square and the streets beyond demonstrated their support for the frail pontiff, and their empathy for his successor. There was applause and there were tears as Benedict XVI, in the last public speech he will ever make, thanked the crowd for their expressions of love and faith.

pope Benedict - last day

The 'sede vacante'

The jeep moved through the arches…and he was gone!

pope Benedict - last day

Benedict XVI leaving Audience

The Order of Malta, which runs a first aid post every Wednesday and Sunday at the Vatican, recorded a hectic morning, with numerous patients. The Order of Malta’s Aline Dobrzensky, a long-time volunteer at the Post, recounts: ‘A young American/ Italian couple came in with a two-week old baby, as the mother was feeling faint. When she recovered and felt better, they stood by the door of the Post, just as Pope Benedict was leaving after the Papal Audience in his white jeep. He turned and gave our whole team a lovely wave and a smile, to say farewell. The white jeep then suddenly stopped and the mother held up her baby to His Holiness. The Pope, who is a member of the Order of Malta, gently kissed the baby boy - who was called Benedict - on his forehead and gave us all such a lovely smile. Then the jeep moved on through the arches ... and he was gone!’

pope Benedict - last day

First aid post volunteer group

The Order of Malta’s First Aid Post in the Vatican has been running Wednesdays and Sundays since 1975. It is staffed by 85 members and volunteers, including doctors, nurses and trained first aiders. The Post is at the disposal of all pilgrims who visit St.Peter’s for papal audiences and Masses.

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Pope Benedict addresses the members of the Order: ‘Your valuable work is a living testimony to the Gospel’

papal Mass - 9 February 2013

The culminating moment at the end of the solemn Mass in St.Peter’s Basilica, celebrated by the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone for the 900th anniversary since the granting of the Bull by Pope Paschal II (15 February 2013), was the address by Pope Benedict XVI to the packed congregation. Over 4500 members and volunteers of the Order from all over the world joined in celebration, led by the Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing. Also present were the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, representing the President of the Republic of Italy, together with the heads of state of the Principality of Monaco, Morocco and Jordan, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, and many civic authorities, 170 ambassadors and diplomatic representatives, and a delegation from the Order of St.John.

‘This important event takes on a special meaning in the context of the Year of the Faith, during which the Church is called to renew the joy and the commitment of belief in Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of the world. In this regard, you too are called to welcome this time of grace, so as to deepen your knowledge of the Lord and to cause the truth and beauty of the faith to shine forth, through the witness of your lives and your service, in this present time.

papal Mass - 9 February 2013

‘And by faith, down the centuries, the members of your Order have given themselves completely, firstly in the care of the sick in Jerusalem and then in aid to pilgrims in the Holy Land who were exposed to grave dangers: their lives have added radiant pages to the annals of Christian charity and protection of Christianity. In the nineteenth century, the Order opened up to new and more ample forms of apostolate in the area of charitable assistance and service of the sick and the poor, but without ever abandoning the original ideals, especially that of the intense spiritual life of individual members.

‘Dear friends, continue working in society and in the world along the elevated paths indicated by the Gospel faith and charity, for the renewal of hope… These ideals are aptly expressed in your motto: Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum. These words summarise well the charism of your Order which, as a subject of international law, aims not to exercise power and influence of a worldly character, but in complete freedom to accomplish its own mission for the integral good of man, spirit and body, both individually and collectively, with special regard to those whose need of hope and love is greater.’

papal Mass - 9 February 2013

In his address to the members of the Order, Fra’ Matthew Festing, recalled the mission, past, present and future, of the Sovereign Order of Malta: ‘We have carried out an important role in innumerable historical events, often dramatic ones. The Order of Malta has often been forced to abandon what it had set up, and to start again. The Order has weathered vicissitudes which threatened its very existence. But from the distance of almost a thousand years, we are still here. The mission is always the same: to continue our fight against poverty, sickness and suffering on every continent. It is a mission as necessary today as it was nine hundred years ago – to alleviate physical and spiritual pain, to promote peace and justice and to help those in great need.’

The full text of Pope Benedict’s address...

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Inauguration of the Order of Malta’s international conference

International working conference

The International Conference of the Order of Malta opened today in Rome, the first of two days of meetings around themes central to the Order – spirituality, communications, diplomacy. The Order’s heads of government attended, together with many of the Ambassadors, national leaders and representatives of international organisations.

Fra’ Matthew Festing, Grand Master, in opening the conference, declared that ‘We seize this opportunity to share experiences and to learn from each other.’

The objectives of the Conference, organised on the occasion of the 900 year anniversary of the granting of the Bull by Pope Paschal II to the Order of Malta, were to mark the many works and projects carried out by the Order in 120 countries where the Order has a presence, and to define the next steps in its humanitarian and spiritual development.

The Conference also created the possibility of valuable exchanges of information on experiences in the field, which the Grand Master noted: ‘Singapore, Sydney, North and South America are a long way from Rome. So we seize this opportunity to exchange information and ideas. An important aim for the future is to achieve a unity between objectives and actions, and a spiritual unity too, and to encourage and build the Order’s leaders of tomorrow.’

On Saturday 9 February 4,500 members, volunteers, and patients from the Order’s hospital in Rome, S.Giovanni Battista, will gather in St Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the special anniversary with a solemn Mass, where they will be addressed by Pope Benedict.

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The Order of Malta marks the 60th World Day for the Fight against Leprosy

leprosy patient in Cambodia

leprosy patient in Cambodia

The Order of Malta has cared for sufferers from leprosy (Hansen’s disease) for almost a thousand years and still does so today. It runs care centres, early detection programmes and educational programmes in Africa and Asia.

 

The Order’s care for leprosy victims in Africa
Cameroon
- patients and their families are cared for at the Roham Chabot Centre in Mokolo, the main city in the far north. The programme forms part of an extensive global leprosy programme run by Ordre de Malte France, MALTALEP. The Order also runs programmes for the detection and treatment of tuberculosis through 15 clinics and dispensaries.
Gabon - patients with leprosy are cared for in a hospital supported by Ordre de Malte France, in Eberigné.
Guinea Conakry - the Order continues its implementation of a national fight against TB and leprosy under an agreement with the state government. Patients are diagnosed and treated in public health centres. The Order has been operating in Guinea since 1986, when the first agreement was signed with the country for a national leprosy programme. Its Pita surgery operates as a logistics base for its national leprosy programmes.
Ivory Coast - clinics supported by the Order are involved in the treatment of patients with the disease, most of whom are children under the age of 15. Ordre de Malte France supports 19 clinics and dispensaries in the country, which include those treating leprosy patients.
Morocco - the Order continues its cooperation with the country’s healthcare programmes for leprosy.
Senegal - the care and treatment of leprosy sufferers at the Central Hospital of the Order of Malta (CHOM), in Dakar, is supported and funded by Ordre de Malte France. The speciality care has been established for many years.

Extended support in south east Asia
Cambodia - the Order of Malta CIOMAL Foundation focuses on giving support for leprosy detection and treatment, helps eradicate the stigma of leprosy and trains medical students and health personnel (533 in 2011) in specialist treatments and procedures, as well as running radio based education campaigns country wide and campaigns in regional communities. It supports the Cambodian National Leprosy Control Programme, and its teaching and rehabilitation centre, Kien Khlang in Phnom Penh, covers all aspects of the disease – detection, prevention, early treatment, and rehabilitation, both medical and socio-economic. In 2010, the rehabilitation centre received 249 leprosy inpatients and gave medical consultations to 1,250 outpatients. Programmes for social reintegration and microeconomics encourage former patients to become self-sufficient.

Modern treatment for the disease
The most effective treatment for leprosy is with multi-drug therapy (MDT), but patients need to be detected early for a successful outcome and local populations need to learn about the disease, how it can be prevented, and how its sufferers can be reintegrated into their communities. The fight against the disease is not over: the World Health Organisation (WHO) records almost 200,000 new cases detected in 2011*.

*WHO: Leprosy – new case detection 2011.

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Syria Crisis: Plight of refugees intensifies

Malteser International scales up aid in the region

syrian Refugees

As the crisis in Syria and its neighbouring countries intensifies and the numbers of refugees and displaced continues to rise, Malteser International is preparing an expansion of its emergency response in the region. According to the United Nations, nearly four million Syrians are currently in need of aid. Malteser International will give continuation to its winter relief operations and plans to provide emergency aid to an additional 10,000 people in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. Further distributions of heating ovens, medication and school materials will focus especially on the needs of women and children, who are the most vulnerable among the displaced population.

“The situation of refugees living with host families, as well as of unregistered refugees, is especially troubling,” says Thomas Molitor, emergency relief coordinator at Malteser International, who is currently visiting Malteser International’s project areas on the Syrian-Turkish border and preparing further relief measures.

Working with local partners, Malteser International has already provided aid to more than 20,000 Syrians in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. The relief packages distributed included winter clothing and heating stoves, as well as household and hygiene items, including blankets, mattresses, kitchen utensils, soap, diapers and baby ointment. In addition, Malteser International has provided free medical treatment for Syrian refugees at a clinic in northern Lebanon. The German Federal Foreign Office has signalled its intention to continue supporting the relief measures.

Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. The organisation provides aid in about 100 projects in more than 20 countries without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles of impartiality and independence are the foundation of its work.

For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int 

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Grand Master’s keynote address to the diplomatic corps

The Grand Master greets ambassadors

The Grand Master greets ambassadors

The Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, received today at the Magistral Villa on the Aventine the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Sovereign Order of Malta for the annual audience at the start of each year. It is the occasion on which he updates the Ambassadors with a keynote speech on the worldwide activities carried out by the Order during the previous year, and its current concerns. 

The Sovereign Order of Malta has bilateral diplomatic relations with 104 countries. It is a unique humanitarian diplomatic network to assist in furthering the Order’s charitable works for those in need.   

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