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News Archive - 2008

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Tenth anniversary of Christmas soup kitchen for the homeless in the heart of Rome

Rome, 27 December 2008

The Prince of Wales and the Chairman of the Trust, Peter Loyd

On December 27, Order members and volunteers at the Casa di Rodi offered hot lunches to the homeless, feeding almost 200 street people in two shifts, greatly intriguing the street people by the unusual setting of an ancient and historical church. In attendance to distribute gift bags of clothing, sleeping bags and other treats were the Grand Commander Fra' Giacomo della Torre acting Regent of the Roman Grand Priory, ably assisted by a band of cheerful Order volunteers. The soup kitchen celebrates its tenth year in operation.

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Rome, 23 December 2008

Dear Members of the Order,

I wish to send to all my very best wishes for a Christmas both holy and serene, and a New Year that will bring many blessings.

As I look back over this eventful year, I wish to recall the passing of Fra' Andrew Bertie, the Order's 78th Grand Master, in February, and to remember this great servant of the Order, who in his twenty years at the head of our historic institution did so much to modernise it and to encourage us all in its vital work to help the poor and the sick.

The charitable and hospitaller activities of the Order have grown exponentially as they now extend to 120 countries. As I follow in his footsteps, I wish to emphasise my desire to carry on this splendid work, to encourage all members to concentrate on their programmes to help the sick, the poor and those marginalised by society, to help the handicapped, the lonely.

This year our international emergency corps, Malteser/Maltarelief International as well as our national Associations, have been in action in Burma, in Georgia, in Congo, in the Sudan, giving food, medicines, clothing and support to the victims of those events. I am most grateful to our members, personnel and volunteers who continue to carry out their works for those in need, 24 hours of every day of every week in five continents.

We plan a significant start to 2009, with an international strategic seminar in January, which will have a major impact on the Order's development over the next ten years. Over 400 international delegates, representing the twelve Priories and the 47 national Associations of the Order, together with our Professed Knights, will meet to define the guidelines for the Order in the coming decade, according to our “Spirituality in Action”.

Happy Christmas and happy new year, May our dear Lady The Virgin of Filermo protect our Lords the Sick and the Poor, and you all.

Fra' Matthew Festing


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The Prince of Wales opens Athelstan House, Malmesbury

Newest project for the Orders of St John Homes Care Trust

Malmesbury, 21 November

The Prince of Wales and the Chairman of the Trust, Peter Loyd

A very cold autumn afternoon did not deter well wishers awaiting the arrival of HRH the Prince of Wales to open officially Althelstan House in Malmesbury. His Royal Highness was greeted by members of the Order of Malta and the Venerable Order of St John, together with civic and local dignitories.

The Chairman of the Orders of St John Trust, Peter Loyd, in welcoming the prince to the newest of the Trust's homes for older people, thanked His Highness for his enthusiasm and interest in the project. In his reply, Prince Charles noted that this was a historic project in ecumenical terms, bringing together the Catholic and Anglican Churches. The prince inspected the living quarters and recreation areas, chatted with residents, and sampled the delicious tea prepared in his honour by the house chef.

The visit followed that of the Service of Dedication led by HMEH the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra' Matthew Festing, in late September.  

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Order Presses for World Food Security
Grand Hospitaller Boeselager speaks on the problems and the Order's role at this key meeting

Rome, 5 June 2008

The Order's global head of charitable activities, Grand Hospitaller Albrecht von Boeselager, addressed a packed auditorium of world leaders at the High Level Conference on World Food Security, held at the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome last week.

'The Order, through its worldwide relief service, Malteser International, was among the first to deliver aid in Myanmar (Burma), providing basic health care and safe drinking water for more than 60,000 people,' Boeselager told the Conference, noting that the organisation is caring for 'About 12,000 internally displaced people in three camps, and installing an emergency health station in Labutta in the Irrawaddy Delta, as well as caring for more than 40,000 victims of Cyclone Nargis in Rangoon.'

Importance of domestic agricultural production

He stated the Order's strong support for the coordinated approach adopted by the international community at the Conference: 'We welcome strong practical measures to address the challenge of helping the poor immediately and subsequently improving agricultural production by refocusing politics on agricultural development and a decisive up scaling of funding for these purposes and also channelling the advantage of higher prices only to stimulate food-production,' he said. He emphasised the urgent need to help farmers in developing countries and especially women in rural areas. 'We are convinced that promoting domestic agricultural production is the best way to achieve food security over the medium and long term.'

Addressing the nutrition problem

The problem of malnutrition must also be addressed - by training and educating people towards better nutrition, so that the nutritional value of the food actually produced is not wasted and results in improved health. The Order of Malta would therefore welcome the addition of the nutrition dimension to the High Level Conference.

And he emphasised that the Order of Malta is open to collaboration with other governmental and non-governmental organisations: 'The Order's diplomatic relations with 101 states are the basis for establishing bilateral cooperation programmes, whenever circumstances require it.'

He noted the usefulness of combining efforts with those of multilateral organisations, noting: 'We have operated joint emergency and development projects with United Nations agencies, in particular with UNHCR, WHO, WFP, UNICEF and UNDP; others too. The Order recently signed with FAO a Letter of Understanding to cooperate in certain areas of mutual interest, starting in particular with the establishment of market gardens in combination with our medical institutions and programmes, with the objective of training rural families in horticulture and improved nutrition.' In conclusion, a unanimous adoption of the Declaration of the High Level Conference on World Food Security for the benefit of the poor and the hungry on this earth was of key importance.

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Clean drinking water brings relief to thousands in Burma
The Order of Malta emergency relief service sets up water purification plants in Labutta

Supplies being packaged by local volunteers.

The Order of Malta emergency relief service yesterday airlifted in 2 water treatment plants for Labutta. They will serve 25,000 people per day with clean drinking water. One is in the hospital in Labutta: it can produce 500 litres of drinking water per hour. The other, much larger, is in the centre of Labutta; it can produce up to 6,000 litres per hour.

During the last few days, the Order's emergency service has airlifted in further stores of relief items, including 2,700 family kits, boats, medical drugs and equipment and consumables.

Currently in Labutta, the Order is running:

- two emergency health stations in two camps, hosting 12,000 internally displaced persons;

- organising a mobile medical team to do outreach activities;

- has built more than 30 latrines; and

- will now build 100 more to secure hygiene and safe drinking water.

You can donate online to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis through our Foreign Aid Service (orderofmaltafas.org) via the donate button on the left side of the page, or by sending a cheque made payable to BASMOM Foreign Aid Service, 58 Grove End Road, London NW8 9NE. If you are a UK taxpayer and you complete the GiftAid form on the website, we can also reclaim the tax on your donation.

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President of Albania in official visit to the Grand Master
Assistance over 10 years through the Order's social service organisation

Rome, 21 May 2008

"I would like to express the immense gratitude for the help and assistance you have given to my country in various fields such as social assistance, education, health service and care and I would like that our fruitful and beneficial cooperation will continue to be further deepened and enhanced in the future." Thus the President of the Albanian Republic, Dr Bamir Topi, in his meeting with the Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing, in the Order's Magistral Villa on the Aventine Hill.

The Grand Master noted the Order's strong presence in Albania through its social service organisation (Malteser Ndihmon ne Shqiperi), which provides primary health care and social assistance as well as a civil protection and rapid intervention team. "In just over ten years, the Order of Malta and its Embassy have proved to be a reliable point of reference for providing humanitarian help in different situations to the Albanian people," he said, "taking care of the victims of natural disasters in the country and in particular resettling the refugees who fled in their thousands from Kosovo."

Following the meeting, the Albanian Delegation visited the Order's San Giovanni Battista Hospital and its exceptional Reanimation Unit, among the most advanced in Italy.

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Burma: Malteser International's medicines reach Yangon
Children and the sick urgently need assistance

Malteser International, the emergency relief service of the Order of Malta, is amongst the very few foreign agencies in Burma. Their aid for the stricken population of the Irrawaddy Delta continues. Today's eyewitness report describes their current support measures

"The situation in Labutta is disastrous. Within the city itself, there are around 100,000 internally displaced persons living in 58 camps. They lack everthing," Malteser International staff members providing assistance in the Irrawaddy Delta since the weekend report. "Within the first hours after the opening of our emergency clinic in Labutta, we treated around 250 patients. Most people are suffering from diarrhoea, skin diseases and burns due to cooking outdoor on open fires." Another big problem is provisions for children and babies. "As a reaction to the horrible events, many breastfeeding women don't have milk for their babies. This endangers the youngest ones who urgently need help."

To assist the survivors, Malteser International provided emergency health kits. "Our relief supplies were the German Technical Relief Organisation (Technisches Hilfswerk) plane which landed in Yangon last night" Roland Hansen, Head of Malteser International's Asia Desk, describes the situation: "Tomorrow our staff members on the ground can bring the medicines and further relief supplies to Labutta, so we can help 30,000 in the Irrawaddy Delta people for three months." They will add to the supply for the emergency health station as well as the two mobile medical teams of Malteser International in Labutta. Staff members will distribute further relief goods in the three districts of Yangon where they have been providing assistance since immediately after the cyclone.

"The example of the successful cargo plane with relief supplies shows that the financial donations we receive really reach the survivors in form of concrete help," Hansen says. "Our highly trained local emergency experts have free access to the disaster regions. They treat patients, take care of the provision of drinking water, the construction of latrines and help building emergency shelters. But in order to assist more people, we urgently need further donations."

Yesterday Malteser International sent a second cargo with medicines, dressing material, plastic covers, cookware, feeding bottles and powdered milk, together with water pumps, pipes and tools for the supply of safe drinking water ­ and an additional doctor, nurse and water engineer to Labutta. 

The British Association Foreign Aid Service has launched an appeal for donations. Please see their website for details (http://www.orderofmaltafas.org/).

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London, 23rd April 2008

Rupert Lowenstein gives his address.

A Memorial Requiem Mass was held at the Brompton Oratory on 22nd April for Fra' Andrew Bertie, 78th Grand Master of the Order. Fra' Andrew died in Rome on 7 February. Presided over by His Eminence Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the Mass was celebrated by The Most Rev Mario Conti, Archbishop of Glasgow and principal chaplain to the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, assisted by Mgr Antony Conlon, principal chaplain to the Grand Priory of England, with the Reverend Ronald Creighton-Jobe, Ceremoniere. Mgr Vincent Brady also representing the Apostolic Nuncio, and Mgr Mark O'Tool were robed and in the sanctuary. The Master of Ceremonies was Lt.Col.Brian Forsyth.

Charles Weld.

The packed congregation heard Mgr Conlon speak of the exceptional commitment of this exceptional man, whose life was devoted to the Order which he served with such distinction. Mr David Bertie, nephew, read the lesson, Fra' Fredrik Crichton-Stuart, Grand Prior of England, read the bidding prayers and Fra' Matthew Festing, said the prayer of the Order. Prince Rupert Lowenstein spoke movingly of their friendship which had begun before they both went up to Oxford and lasted until Fra' Andrew's death - 'he combined intelligence with dignity and authority,' he said. 'We thank God for our long friendship with this good and upright man.'

The London Oratory Choir, under the direction of Patrick Russill and accompanied by organist John McGreal, sang splendidly.

The Mass concluded with a piper in a skirl of Stuart tartan, piping Flowers of the Forest. The wild, beautiful, brave, mournful sound echoed around the Oratory, holding the congregation spellbound, completely silent. The magnificent memorial to a remarkable man was over.

The many guests included the Grand Master of the Order, Fra' Matthew Festing, The Duke of Gloucester, Grand Prior of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, and Princess Michael of Kent.

Sir Michael Craig-Cooper, Vice-Lord-Lieutenant for Greater London, and Archduke Sigismund of Austria, Grand Master of the Order of St Stephen, attended. Among others present were:

Mr and Mrs Peregrine Bertie (brother and sister-in-law), Mrs David Bertie, Mr and Mrs Andrew Carrington, Charlotte Rose Bertie, Lucy Bertie, Charles Carrington, Georgia Carrington, Jennifer Marchioness of Bute, the Countess of Avon, the Earl and Countess of Gainsborough, Lord Norreys, Lord Lyell, Mr and the Hon Mrs Richard Fanshawe, Sir Simon Towneley, Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, Mr John Bellingham, Mrs Charles Bunbury, Mrs Diana Collins, Mr Rhidian Crichton-Stuart, Major and Mrs Niall Crichton-Stuart, Mr Charles Crichton-Stuart, Mr and Mrs Michael Dormer, Mrs Peter Knatchbull-Hugessen, Mr and Mrs Antony Hornyold, Mrs Edward Lovell, Mr Peter Lovell, Mr and Mrs Frederick Nicolle, Colonel and Mrs George Ramsay of Kellie, Mrs Peregrine Spencer-Churchill with other members of the family.

During the Mass.

The High Commissioner for Malta, the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, the Italian Ambassador, the Polish Ambassador, the Hungarian Ambassador.

Mr Jean Pierre Mazery (Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta) with Mr Charles Weld (president, British Association) and Mrs Weld, Lady Talbot of Malahide (vice-president) and Lord Talbot of Malahide, Mr Hugh van Cutsem (chancellor), Count and Prince de La Rouchefoucauld-Montbel (president, French Association).

Professor Anthony Mellows, (Vice-Lord Prior, Order of St John of Jerusalem) and Mrs Mellows with Sir Brian Jenkins (Prior of England and the Islands) and Lady Jenkins, Mr and Mrs Eric McQuaid (representing the Order of the Holy Sepulchre), Mr Leo Simmonds (representing members of the Papal Orders of Knighthood).

The Right Rev Stephen Ortiger, Viscount Bridgeman, Marianna Viscountess Monckton of Brenchley, Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr, Lord and Lady Carbery, Lord Craigmyle, Lord Grantley, Lady Howard de Walden, Lady Torpichen, Lady Deirdre Curteis, the Hon Mrs Susan Buchan, the Hon Lady de Zulueta, the Hon Mrs Timothy Palmer, the Hon James Stourton, Sir Nicholas Mander, Lady Wilkins, Mr John and Lady Anne Eyston, Princess Rupert zu Loewenstein, Count Joseph Czernin, Count Andrzej Ciechanowiecki, Contesssa Di Grassi Dis Pianura, Count Andrew Hadik, Count Franz La Rosee, Count Mark Pejacsevich, Count Nicolas Reuttner.

Mr Christopher Balfour, Mr Peter Beauclerk-Dewar, Dom Aidan Bellinger (Abbot of Downside), Mr and Mrs Charles Carey-Elwes, the Rev Mark and Mrs Carter, Mr Bill Cash, MP, and Mrs Cash, Mr Charles Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Mr Julian Chadwick, Mr Antony Chambers, Mr and Mrs Michael Chapman, Fra' Richard Cheffins, Father Edward Corbould, Fra' Elie de Comminges, Mr Michael de Giorgio, Mr Francis de Zulueta, Mr Maurice Dunman, Mr Robert Elwes, Mr and Mrs Gervase Elwes, Major Michael Festing, Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Forsyth, Mr and Mrs John Fox, the Rev Philip Gaisford, Mr Duncan Galllie.

Mr Andrew Grant, Mr Selwyn Hodson-Pressinger, Ms Georgina Holt Evans, Mr George Hope, Mrs Victoria Huntington-Whitely, Fra' David Irwin, Dom Philip Jebb, Mrs James Judd, Mrs S. Kennedy, Mr Nicholas Kenney, Mrs David Leslie, Ms Nicola Lowe, Dr and Mrs Daniel McCarthy, Mr Oliver McCarthy, Mr Richard McCarthy, Mr Alexander Macdonald, Mrs Alexander McEwen, Mr Brian Macgreevy, Mr and Mrs David MacLure, Mrs Sarah Macmillan, Mr Nicholas Maxwell-Lawford, Mr and Mrs Andrew Meeson, Mr Dairmid Ogilvy, Signor Nello Pasquini.

Dr and Mrs John Poncia, Mrs L. Reeve-Tucker, Brigadier John Rickett, Mr John Robinson, Mr Ian Scott, Mr and Mrs Philip Scrope, Mr Desmond Seward, Mr A. H. Stafford Northcote, Mr Hugh Stafford Northcote, Dr and Mrs Stella-Sawicki, Mr and Mrs Nigel Stourton, the Very Rev Kevin Taggart, Ms Virginia Taylor, Mr Henry Tempest, Mr and Mrs David Waterton-Anderson and Professor Mark Watson-Gandy with many friends, other members of the Order of the Malta and representatives of other associations having connection with Fra' Andrew.

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New Grand Prior for England
Fra' Fredrik Crichton-Stuart sworn in by newly elected Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing

London, 21 April 2008

The Grand Prior.

Before a packed congregation of family, friends and members of the Order at the Order's church in the hospital of St.John and St.Elizabeth, London, Fra' Fredrik Crichton-Stuart was sworn in on 21 April as only the second Grand Prior of England since the reinstatement of the Priory in 1993, then in abeyance for 450 years.

Fra' Fredrik gave his oath to Fra' Matthew Festing, newly elected Grand Master of the Order, himself only the second Englishman to hold the post, and also the former Grand Prior.

In his homily Msgr Antony Conlon, Principal Chaplain of the Grand Priory, spoke of this important and challenging time in the Church's ministry and that of the Order, as the modernising influences in both take forward their great commitment to care for those in the world who have the most need -- the sick, the poor, the marginalised, those who suffer.

Owen Murphy and his exceptional choir sang the splendid medieval chants and motets which accompanied the ceremony.

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Fra' Matthew Festing in first visit to Pope Benedict XVI

Rome, 11 April 2008

The Grand Master with the Holy Father.

The recently elected Grand Master of the Order of Malta, His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Matthew Festing, was received this morning in private audience by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

The very cordial occasion marked the first meeting between the new Grand Master and the Pontiff.

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First Duty of the New Grand Master

Rome, 12 March 2008 - Fra' Matthew Festing pays his respects to Fra' Norbert Kinsky

The new Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra' Matthew Festing, made his first public appearance today, attending the funeral in Pisa of a much respected figure in the Order, Fra' Norbert Kinsky de Wchynicz et Tetow, who died at the age of 83.

His Highness was among the many mourners at the solemn Requiem Mass in the church of Pugnano and spoke movingly of the dedication and commitment of this loved man, born in Prague, member of the Grand Priory of Bohemia, who lived in Pisa for most of his adult life. For many years he was Secretary General for Internal Affairs at the Grand Magistry of the Order, and a member of the Sovereign Council.

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Fra' Matthew Festing Elected Grand Master

Rome, 11 March 2008

Matthew Festing, 79th Grand Master.

Fra' Matthew Festing, 58, an Englishman, becomes the 79th Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, elected this morning by the Council Complete of State (the Order's electoral body). In accepting the role, the new Grand Master swore his Oath before the Cardinal Patronus of the Order, Cardinal Pio Laghi, and the electoral body. He succeeds Fra' Andrew Bertie, 78th Grand Master (1988-2008), who died on 7 February.

The new Grand Master affirms his resolve to continue the great work carried out by his predecessor. Fra' Matthew comes with a wide range of experience in Order affairs. He has been the Grand Prior of England since the Priory's re-establishment in 1993, restored after an abeyance of 450 years. In this capacity, he has led missions of humanitarian aid to Kosovo, Serbia and Croatia after the recent disturbances in those countries, and with a large delegation from Britain he attends the Order's annual pilgrimage to Lourdes with handicapped pilgrims.

Educated at Ampleforth and St. John's College Cambridge, where he read history, Fra' Matthew, an art expert, has for most of his professional life worked at an international art auction house. As a child he lived in Egypt and Singapore, where his father, Field Marshal Sir Francis Festing, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, had earlier postings. His mother was a member of the recusant Riddells of Swinburne Castle who suffered for their faith in penal times. He is also descended from Sir Adrian Fortescue, a knight of Malta, who was martyred in 1539.

Fra' Matthew served in the Grenadier Guards and holds the rank of colonel in the Territorial Army. He was appointed OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by the Queen and has served as her Deputy Lieutenant in the county of Northumberland for a number of years.

In 1977 Fra' Matthew became a member of the Order of Malta, taking solemn religious vows in 1991.

As well as his passion for the decorative arts and for history, for which his encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of the Order is legendary, as is his very British sense of humour, Fra' Matthew spends any free time possible in his beloved Northumberland countryside.

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Rome, 7 March 2008

"The problem of solidarity has taken on a worldwide dimension. Following the path laid down by our late Grand Master, Fra' Andrew Bertie, we must all work to restore a more human face to society everywhere, by recognising in every person the image and likeness of God." These were the words pronounced by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrant of the Solemn Memorial Mass.

The Lieutenant ad interim of the Order, Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre, and the Sovereign Council of the Order, its senior government members and the family members of Fra' Andrew Bertie were joined by ambassadors, state and civic authorities and many representatives of the Order of Malta from around the world in the solemn event yesterday at the Basilica of Saints Boniface and Alessio, on the Aventine Hill, Rome.

The former President of Malta, Guido de Marco, and the Order's Ambassador, John Bellingham, shared their own memories of a remarkable man who governed the Order at a significant period in its history, doubling its diplomatic ranks, increasing the worldwide membership, overseeing a great extension in its humanitarian projects across the globe, which now reach out to those in need in 120 countries.

His Excellency the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, was present, as well as the Prince and Princess of Liechtenstein, and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

The Secretariat of State of the Holy See was represented by His Excellency the Substitute for General Affairs, Mons. Fernando Filoni and His Excellency the Secretary for Relations with States, Mons.Dominique Mamberti. Also attending were Their Eminences the Cardinals Laghi, Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, de Giorgi, Foley, Law, Levada, Martino, Re, Ruini, Sandri, Vallini and His Grace Abbot Philip of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Their Excellencies the Captains Regent of the Republic of San Marino Mirko Tommasoni and Alberto Selva, Madame Kaczynska, consort of the President of Poland, the European Commissioner, Jan Figel, Guido de Marco, former President of the Republic of Malta.

Their Royal Highnesses Carlo di Borbone of the Two Sicilies and Carlo Ugo Borbone Parma, Their Imperial and Royal Highnesses George Habsburg and Archduke Michael of Austria, His Royal Highness Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou, Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent.

The President of the Austrian Senate Kritzinger, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Rocen, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Martynov, the Minister of Legislation of the Czech Republic Svoboda, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria Keremedchiev.

Sen. Mario Bacini, Vice President of the Italian Senate, Giovanni Maria Flick, Vice President of the Constitutional Court, Marisa Troise Zotta, Extraordinary Commissioner of the Province of Rome, Mario Morconi, Extraordinary Commissioner of the City of Rome, Augusto Battaglia, Regional Alderman for Health, Dr.Gaetano Gifuni, Dr.Gianni Letta, senior authorities from the Air Force, Carabinieri and Forestry Corps of the Republic of Italy.

Sixty Ambassadors of the Order and sixty Ambassadors to the Order were also present, as well as official delegations from 72 States, from the United Nations, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, the World Food Programme, International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights.

Earlier in the afternoon, Vice Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli of the Italian Republic met with the Lieutenant ad interim, Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre, and members of the Sovereign Council to present the condolences of the Italian government.

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Malta, 28 February - 2 March

Rome, 3 March 2008

The Grand Hospitaller with the President of the Maltese Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, Dr. Michael Frendo, in opening the Conference at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Valletta, thanked the Order for its activities in Malta, especially in its help for the elderly and refugees.

In a series of lively discussions, Hospitallers shared information on the works they undertake both in European countries and the developing world, describing new projects set up during the last 12 months, reviewing the long-term programmes and considering strategies for the future. Dr. Alfred Caruana Galizia, President of the Maltese Association of the Order, hosted the three day meeting which was led by the Grand Hospitaller of the Order, Albrecht von Boeselager.

Among the many project highlights during 2007:
a review of the Order's relief services in Central and Eastern Europe, which now number 13 and focus on help for disabled children and the elderly housebound; special weekends for handicapped children and their families in Belgium, and five summer camps attended last year by 200 children with special needs; in Germany, a restaurant in Hamm where disturbed young people help in the kitchen and the restaurant itself as part of a rehabilitation programme; the astonishing growth in the number of homes for the elderly in England (currently at 75); building cottages in Transylvania, Romania, for a summer camp for young people, with seven already finished; in Spain, a hostel in Navarra for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela and three soup kitchens in Madrid; in Krakow, Poland, a centre for disabled children, established in 2006, now cares for 200 children; in Budapest a free medical clinic run by the Order offers care to the homeless; in Ireland the Order's ambulance corps continues to provide first aid and community services around the country, and the Association supports a new 4-year midwifery course at Bethlehem University; in Portugal where volunteers provided meals for pilgrims on the road to Fatima, and in Porto where psychological and social support is given to cancer patients; in the Czech Republic where the Order has set up first aid centres in 12 cities.

Discussions led by the Grand Prior of England, Fra' Matthew Festing, focused on the importance of setting an example of living by Christian principles, as the mission of the Order is two-fold: to show one's spirituality through living the faith and practising it through good works.

Around Europe, as well as abroad, the Hospitallers lead teams made up of medical personnel, assistants and volunteers, in line with the Order's great traditions.

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Fra' Andrew Bertie: the last, emotional salute

Rome, 16 February 2008

The funeral of the Grand Master.

"We can without doubt say that Fra' Andrew Bertie was 'one of the just' in the biblical sense of the word. Because the just are those who are open to the Will of God, and our Grand Master, as one of these, wished to establish a new era in the long history of our Order, to which he was passionately committed. This was our Grand Master."

Thus the Cardinalis Patronus of the Order of Malta Pio Laghi recalled Fra' Andrew Bertie, Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, during the solemn funeral celebrated today in Rome at the fifth century Basilica of Santa Sabina, on the Aventine Hill. In his homily, Cardinal Laghi emphasised how the Grand Master had particularly promoted spirituality among the members of the Order, by his own example, and by always reminding them of the importance of the Order's commitment: 'Tuitio fidei, obsequium pauperum' (Support for the Faith and Service to the Poor). He was steadfast in his visits to the sick in hospital and in assisting the disabled during pilgrimages to Lourdes and to Loreto. To inspire all who work in the care of the sick and the needy and to modernise the structures and the organisation of the Order, he promoted meetings and conferences at the national and international level, the most recent being held in Malta, Lebanon, Cameroon, Bolivia, Mexico and the United States.

Mourners from around the world - the family members, friends, members of the Order, Cardinals, Ambassadors, volunteers and staff, all of whom held this servant of God in deep affection - attended the Funeral Mass for the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra' Andrew Bertie, who died on 7 February at the age of 78.

At 11 o'clock the cortege departed from the Priory church and along the famous avenue of laurels of the Magistral Villa under a brilliant sun. Made up of members of Fra' Andrew's family and senior members of the Order, two mounted Carabinieri of the Italian Republic stood to attention as the procession passed through the arched gateway. The monks of the nearby Benedictine abbey church of Sant'Anselmo walked alongside, intoning Gregorian chant. A military guard of honour made up of Carabinieri and the Order's Military Corps of the Italian Association awaited the arrival of the coffin at the Basilica. The Last Post sounded.

The solemn High Mass was celebrated by the Cardinalis Patronus of the Order, Cardinal Pio Laghi, and concelebrated with Cardinals Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Poupard, Tauran, Martino, Rodà©, Foley, the Prelate of the Order, Monsignor Angelo Acerbi, and numerous chaplains, all robed in purple. Also present were Cardinals Sodano, Daoud, Lajolo and Sozka.

The acting head of the Order, the Lieutenant ad interim, Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, concluded the moving service by reading the Prayer of the Order in Latin. Then in solemn procession, the family and senior members of the Order accompanied Fra' Andrew Bertie to his last resting place in the Order's church of Santa Maria del Priorato, where he joins two other Grand Masters - Fra' Galeazzo de Thun Hoenstein (75th Grand Master, 1905-1931) and Fra' Angelo de Mojana de Cologna (77th Grand Master, 1962-1988). The interment which followed in the splendid eighteenth century Piranesi church was a simple ceremony - Latin prayers intoned over the coffin draped with the Order flag, a white eight-pointed cross on a red ground.

Around the world, at the same hour, Masses were celebrated in Order churches and chapels and hospitals to mark the passing of this much loved leader.

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The Prince and Grand Master Fra' Andrew Bertie

Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie was the first Englishman to be elected to the post of Grand Master in the Order's 900-year history. Born 15 May 1929, he was educated at Ampleforth College, Christ Church Oxford and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. After military service in the Scots Guards, he worked as a financial journalist in the City of London, before taking up the senior post in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) at Worth School, Sussex. Admitted to the Order in 1956, he took solemn religious vows in 1981 and served on the Sovereign Council (the government of the Order) for the following seven years before being elected Grand Master on 8th April 1988.

On the death of Fra' Andrew Bertie, the Grand Commander of the Order, Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, was sworn in as Lieutenant ad interim. He remains in charge until the election of a new Grand Master.

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Grand Master Lying in State
Funeral to take place Saturday 16 February

Rome, 9 February 2008

In the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Priory.

The Lying in State of His Most Eminent Highness the Grand Master, Fra' Andrew Bertie is being held in the chapel of Santa Maria del Priorato, Magistral Villa of the Order of Malta on the Aventine Hill.

The chapel will remain open every day from 10.00 am until 6.00 pm until Friday 15 February, so that all who wish to pay their respects to the man and the Head of State may do so. Between 10.30 and 12.30 on 11th and 12th February the chapel will be reserved for members of the diplomatic corps to pay their respects.

Yesterday afternoon the Grand Master was received with great emotion at Santa Maria del Priorato by his brother, Peregrine Bertie, the members of the Sovereign Council and the Grand Master's closest colleagues. A guard of honour formed by the Military Corps of the Italian Association piped His Highness into the church. The Order's flag stood at half mast. In the church, funeral prayers in Latin were said over the coffin.

The funeral takes place in Rome next Saturday 16 February at 11.30 in the Basilica of Santa Sabina. It will be attended by His Highness' family members, the members of the Sovereign Council, his colleagues, and members and volunteers of the Order of Malta from around the world. Following the funeral ceremony the Grand Master will be buried in the church of Santa Maria del Priorato.

The State Funeral takes place on 7 March, thirty days after the decease.

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Grand Master's Death Announced

Rome, 8 February 2008

Andrew Bertie, 78th Grand Master.

The death was announced this morning of His Most Eminent Highness the 78th Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta, Fra' Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie, in Rome yesterday, 7 February. The Grand Commander of the Order of Malta, Balilif Fra' Giacomo della Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, has been sworn in as Lieutenant ad interim of the Order, and remains acting head of the Sovereign Order until a new Grand Master is elected.

Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie was the first Englishman to be elected to the post of Grand Master in the Order's 900-year history. Born 15 May 1929, he was educated at Ampleforth College, Christ Church Oxford and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. After military service in the Scots Guards, he worked as a financial journalist in the City of London, before taking up the senior post in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) at Worth School, Sussex. Admitted to the Order in 1956, he took solemn religious vows in 1981 and served on the Sovereign Council (the government of the Order) for the following seven years before being elected Grand Master on 8th April 1988.

His Highness Fra' Andrew Bertie, who spoke five languages fluently, oversaw many changes in the Order of Malta, instituting a modern approach to the Order's humanitarian programmes, increasing the membership and extending the possibilities of aid to the poor and the needy in far-flung regions. He augmented from 49 to 100 the number of the Order's bilateral diplomatic mission, whose delicate mission it is to offer assistance to afflicted countries in times of natural disasters or civil conflicts. He set up international conferences where members were invited to contribute to the Order's humanitarian strategies and encouraged a greater commitment to the spiritual side of the Order's stated mission to help the sick and the poor and to provide an example of living according to Christian principles. In addition, he modernised the internal structure and administration of the Order.

A man of quiet reflection and wide interests, although of a certain British reserve, Fra' Andrew was much loved by all who worked with him on his many projects. He greatly enjoyed the company of the young, and his former students were often among his visitors to the Magistral Palace in Rome. He always much enjoyed meeting and talking with all those involved in the good works of the Order, many of whom he met on his travels around the world to visit the Order's charitable activities and consult with the national associations involved. When possible, he spent his holidays at his home in Malta, where he was very involved in organising and teaching judo courses for children as well as tending his farm, whose four different varieties of oranges were a constant source of pride in good weather and anxiety in bad.

That His Most Eminent Highness was held in high regard is evidenced by the many honours bestowed on him. He was made an honorary citizen of Rapallo (1992), of Veroli (1993), Lourdes (1999), Magione (2002), Birgu (2003) and Santa Severina (2003). In Bolivia in 2002 he was created Huesped Ilustre (La Paz, El Alto and Santa Cruz). He held several honorary doctorates: Medicine and surgery, University of Bologna (1992); Jurisprudence, University of Malta (1993), Humanities, University of Santo Domingo (1995), Universidad Catolica Boliviana San Pablo, Bolivia (2002); Laws, St. John's University, Minnesota (2003). His Highness was also bestowed: Collar of the Pian Order (Holy See), Collar of the Italian Republic, Grand Cross of the Legion d'Honneur, and was holder of more than 50 decorations from other countries.

He is survived by his brother, Peregrine, and a large extended family.

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French President visits Villa Helios in Nice.

President Sarkozy visits the Order's home in Nice for sufferers of Alzheimer's

Nice, 1 February 2008

President Nicolas Sarkozy today visited the Villa Hélios Saint-Jean in Nice, where the Ordre de Malte France takes care of elderly people with Alzheimer disease. The visit took place just before the President presented his "Plan Alzheimer 2008-2012". This disease is one of the French government's priorities.

The Villa Hélios, established in October 1999, currently cares for 96 patients in an environment focussed on an informal family atmosphere, offering a multidisciplinary team of 50 trained medical personnel. Residents are encouraged to follow a variety of interests, such as listening to music, painting, gardening, and also taking regular exercise to complement regimes of physiotherapy.

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