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News Archive - 2009

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‘Protect civilians caught in military conflict’
Appeal by the Order to the UN Security Council

New York, November 2009

‘The international community must follow the rules of international humanitarian law and protect civilians caught up in military conflicts - today 90% of war victims.’ In his address to the United Nations Security Council in mid November – the first time the Order of Malta has taken this role since its Permanent Observer appointment in 1994 – Grand Hospitaller Albrecht Boeselager emphasised that member States must ‘ensure that those who violate these principles are prosecuted.’  And he called on the international community to outlaw or restrict trade in small arms and cluster munitions, which indiscriminately kill or injure civilians.

The address, Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, reflected the Order’s experience in providing aid for victims of conflicts in Africa and Asia. Boeselager cited use of civilians as ‘human shields’ in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Gaza and ‘incredible atrocities’ in eastern Congo with ‘systematic use of rape and mutilation’ as a ‘military strategy of destruction’. He denounced violence against refugee camps as targets of military raids and the humanitarian personnel who have been ‘accidentally in the way, or even attacked on purpose,’ such as has happened to Order workers in Darfur and Afghanistan, and twice at the Order’s hospital in Bethlehem. Others have been blocked trying to aid refugee camps in Sri Lanka.

He stressed the importance of legal prosecution against such acts, so that in accordance with settled principles of the international law of ‘command responsibility’ not only the perpetrators of these abuses but also their commanders must be held accountable. The Council should therefore ‘clearly and unambiguously endorse these principles, insist all combatants observe them, condemn violations of these principles, urge all Member States to take appropriate action to investigate and punish violations, and consider referring to the International Criminal Court any gross violations that Member States are unable to pursue through the ordinary course of their domestic law and procedure.’

Full text: Permanent Observer Mission Sovereign Military Order of Malta to the United Nations website - www.un.int/orderofmalta

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Historic occasion in Torphichen Preceptory

Members attend Mass in former Commandery

Torphichen, 14 November 2009

Almost certainly for the first time since 1560, members of the Order, led by the Grand Prior of England Fra’ Fredrik Crichton-Stuart, took part in a celebration of Mass in Torphichen Preceptory (or Commandery).  The historic occasion was a Mass in the Traditional Rite (now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite)  – a Missa Cantata for the feast of St Josaphat organised by Una Voce Scotland. The Rite was that which the Order’s predecessors would have used at Torphichen. (The religious Orders used the Roman Rite rather than the Sarum Missal favoured by many dioceses of Scotland.)

Of the original buildings, only the transept and crossing of the church remain; it was there that the Mass was celebrated by Mgr Hugh Boyle, chaplain to the Order’s Companions in Scotland. The other priory buildings can also be identified, as the foundations have been uncovered and preserved by Historic Scotland but the nave was torn down in the 18th century and replaced with a new kirk for the parish.

Torphichen was the headquarters of the Order in Scotland. Although technically it was simply a Commandery of the Grand Priory of England, in fact it was the Scottish 'Priory' and its Commander sat in the Scots Parliament as Lord St John. The Order owned land or property in every county of Scotland except Bute and Argyll, and held at least three territorial baronies. 

Another possible first was the presence of the Grand Prior of England.  Before the Reformation and the Union of the Crowns, the English Grand Prior was an officer of state in England just as Lord St John was in Scotland – neither of them would have entered the other’s country in time of peace.  There is a reference to an English king being at Torphichen - King Edward I, following the Battle of Falkirk in 1296 came to the Preceptory to recover from being trampled on by his horse as he slept on the eve of the battle.

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Senior schoolmaster and noted musician, Duncan Gallie, becomes a Knight of Justice

London, 14 October 2009

Duncan Gallie, a member of the Sovereign Council (the government of the Order), yesterday made his solemn religious vows to the Order’s Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, at the Order’s church in the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth in London. The church overflowed with Fra’ Duncan’s many friends, colleagues, members of the Order and religious confreres, who attended the splendid ceremonies which marked the occasion.

In his homily during the service, Fr. Antony Conlon, chief Chaplain to the Order’s Grand Priory, described Fra’ Duncan as ‘part of a fraternity united by a common vision of evangelical hope and charity, founded on mutual support as well as the care of the vulnerable in our society.’ He continued: ‘The ceremony of your Profession is the public expression and witness of your dedication to service and the deepest desires of your heart to be more closely identified with the virtues that your state requires.’ 

A Knight of Justice in the Order of Malta takes the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and dedicates his life to helping the poor and the sick as the focus of his vocation.

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Spain welcomes the Order’s International Summer Camp for Young Disabled

Segovia, Spain, August 2009

A young guest

Birthdays are always celebrated in style

‘Hot but great!’ A volunteer, one of many who worked for the week in mid August when 365 participants turned up for the Order of Malta’s International Summer Camp for Disabled Young People in Segovia, Spain, sighed happily. The Camp, now in its 26th year, saw 128 young guests welcomed and cared for by 155 helpers, 5 doctors, 6 nurses and 11 priests as well as volunteers and friends. 

HMEH the Grand Master, together with the Grand Chancellor and Grand Hospitaller, visited the camp and participated in a Solemn High Mass in the Royal Chapel at El Escorial.

Competing in the St.Christopher's cup:
a very popular annual event
(this year Sweden won)

Whilst temperatures soared, the group – from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, U.K. and U.S.A. – played games, swam in the pool, took excursions into the countryside and Segovia, and enjoyed special projects and workshops. Some worked with specially adapted computers in an internet café set up for the week, some practised dancing skills, all joined in the evening entertainments which included an international food night, a disco night, a fancy dress party. A wonderful night procession, candles in hand, national flags balanced by a guest in a wheelchair from each country present, wound its way through the fields to a grotto in a nearby garden. In the hot midnight air, the accompanying priests intoned the rosary and one by one, each flag was laid before the grotto, candles blazing in its niches, right up to the Statue of the Virgin commemorating the visions of Lourdes of over a century ago.

Carlos and Barbara Cusinati met as two young volunteers at the first International Camp in Verona. Twenty five years later they have returned with their two sons, now also volunteers.

Carlos and Lucia Barandiaran, a brother and sister volunteer team: Carlos organises, Lucia runs the camp's daily newspaper.

Next year’s Camp, the 27th, is hosted by Great Britain and will take place at the Bluestone Camp in Pembrokeshire, Wales, 10-17 July. To help this most worthy of projects your donation would  be most gratefully received. Please send your cheque, made out to:  
Hospitaller Ltd.,  A/c number 51458159, Sort code 40-05-20
to  the British Association of the Order of Malta, 58 Grove End Road, London NW8 9NE.

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A celebration

London, 24 June 2009

400 members, volunteers and friends of the Order of Malta British Association gathered in the London Oratory for solemn ceremonies to mark the feast day of the Order’s patron saint, St.John Baptist.

The event was marked by the Order’s recognition of so many of those who have dedicated themselves to care - in the Order’s homes for the elderly in England, which now number 75, in assisting the handicapped and accompanying them on pilgrimage to Lourdes, in visiting the elderly housebound, in the Order’s hospice for the homeless and its hospital of St.John and St.Elizabeth in London.

For more information, see the specialist section on this website: Medical and Humanitarian Activities.

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Rome, 8 June 2009

The Chapter General of the Sovereign Order of Malta, called every five years, took place in Rome today, under the chairmanship of His Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing, 79th Grand Master of the Order. Sixty representatives were present: the members of the Government, the Grand Priors, the Regent of Sub-priories, and the elected presidents of the 47 National Associations of the Order established around the world.

The Chapter General is the Supreme Assembly of Knights, which elects the members of the Sovereign Council (the Government of the Order), the Government Council and the Board of Auditors, amends the Constitutional Charter and Code as appropriate, and discusses important issues such as spiritual status, the humanitarian activities and diplomatic relations of the Order.

Today the Chapter General elected the following members of the Sovereign Council for the period 2009-2014:

Grand Commander (Head of the Religious members): H.E. Fra’ Gherardo HERCOLANI FAVA SIMONETTI

Grand Chancellor (Minister for External and Internal Affairs): H.E. Jean-Pierre MAZERY

Grand Hospitaller (Minister for Health and Humanitarian action): H. E. Albrecht Freiherr von BOESELAGER

Receiver of the Common Treasure (Minister for Budget and Finance): H. E. Marquis Gian Luca CHIAVARI



H.E. Fra' John T. DUNLAP

H.E. Duncan GALLIE

H.E. Emmanuel ROUSSEAU



Government Council



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Rome, 8 June 2009

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday appointed Archbishop Paolo Sardi pro-patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Italian, Vice Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, since 1996 Archbishop Sardi has been Apostolic Nuncio with special responsibilities. He succeeds Cardinal Pio Laghi, who died in January.

Born 1 September 1934 in Ricaldone, province of Alessandria, Archbishop Sardi has, since the pontificate of John Paul II, coordinated the Vatican office which edits the Pope’s texts and addresses.

Ordained a priest on 29 June 1958, after a licentiate in theology he graduated in canon law and jurisprudence at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. He taught moral theology in Turin until 1976, when he was called to the Vatican to work in the Secretariat of State. In 1992 he was appointed Vice Councillor and on 10 December 1996, Apostolic Nuncio with special responsibilities and titular Archbishop of Sutrium. On 6 January 1997, Pope John Paul II ordained him bishop in the Vatican Basilica. On 23 October 2004 he was nominated Vice Camerlengo (chamberlain) of the Holy Roman Church.

Archibishop Paolo Sardi has the task of promoting the spiritual interests of the Order and its members, and its relations with the Holy See.


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Record turnout for the Order’s Lourdes pilgrimage

Lourdes, 11 May 2009

The Order of Malta’s annual international pilgrimage, 1 – 5 May, was this year attended by a record number of participants, made up of members, malades and volunteers, and totalling 6,390 pilgrims.

Some were there for the first time, some for their 35th. They all joined in prayer and procession, in magnificent spring sunshine, to honour the shrine where 151 years ago a fourteen year old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux, had received visions of the Virgin Mary. Since then, the site has become one of the most visited religious shrines in the world and pilgrims come from every corner of the globe to seek peace and succour, in a place where the sick are surrounded by love and care and every pilgrim, whatever his need, is aware of the serenity of the environment.

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Rome, 24 April 2009

On Thursday 23 April, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing went to see the two tent camps, Poggio di Roio and S. Felice d’Ocre, set up by the Order of Malta's Italian Relief Corps (CISOM) in the Aquila area hit by the earthquake and to commiserate with the shocked inhabitants.

In pouring rain in Poggio di Roio, where 700 homeless people now live, the Grand Master met victims, and talked to Order volunteers about the health and humanitarian services activated under the coordination of the Italian Civil Defence. He visited the medical stations in the tent camps, where hundreds of operations were carried out immediately after the earthquake, and chatted with the younger patients. And then saw the camp chapel with its antique wooden statue of the Madonna - salvaged from Poggio di Roio’s church.

67 CISOM volunteers (doctors, nurses and specialised helpers) arrived in the earthquake zone in the early hours of 6 April, set up the tent camp of Poggio di Roio for 700, with another in San Felice d’Ocre for 275, and since 8 April have distributed 2,000 meals a day in the camps. At the request of the Civil Defence CISOM will run the camps for the duration of the state of emergency - expected to last throughout the summer. Fra’ Matthew Festing promised the inhabitants that he will personally follow the humanitarian assistance the Order is providing and the needs that will arise over the coming months.

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Rome, 17 April 09

The Grand Hospitaller consults
with the volunteer team

The Order’s Grand Hospitaller, Albrecht von Boeselager, yesterday visited the areas of Abruzzi affected by the recent earthquake. Accompanied by the Italian Association’s Magistral Commissioner, Fausto Solaro del Borgo, he wanted to see for himself the work of the Italian Relief Corps volunteers during the recent traumatic days.

In the operations room of the Department of Civil Protection, the Grand Hospitaller met the Director General of institutional and international relations of the Italian Civil Protection Department, Dr.Agostino Miozzo. "I am grateful to the volunteers of the Order of Malta Italian Relief Corps (CISOM) for service they provided with their usual professionalism," he told Boeselager. "In this crisis their contribution was, as always, greatly appreciated. They are now a well-integrated part of our Department."

An Order of Malta Emergency Corps
worker assists a quake survivor

Continuing his visit to the two camps set up by the Order’s Relief Corps in Roio and in S. Felice d'Ocre, the Grand Hospitaller talked to volunteers and to many of the earthquake’s survivors. The Director of the Italian Relief Corps, Mauro Casinghini, explained how the Corps was organised, emphasising the speed with which they had activated the emergency intervention, so that they could help the population with as little disruption as possible. "I am very happy with what I saw: the high level of organisation, the atmosphere in the camps, the relative serenity of the people who have suffered this catastrophe, all demonstrate the quality of intervention provided by our volunteers. Our admiration and gratitude for their dedication goes to them all," the Grand Hospitaller observed warmly.

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EARTHQUAKE: Order’s Italian emergency corps distributing 2000 meals daily to region’s homeless

Rome 9, April 09

The Order of Malta’s Italian emergency corps (CISOM), with their medical personnel, rescue workers, specialised nurses, and volunteers, have been working in cooperation with the Italian Civil Protection non-stop since early Monday. They are concentrating aid at the epicentre of the earthquake, Poggio di Roio, have set up a ‘tent city’ providing 700 beds for the homeless of the area, with another 275 beds in nearby San Felice d’Ocre. The Order’s two medical centres, on continuous duty, have treated over 150 patients to date.

Sniffer dogs save lives
Together with the National Fire Department, CISOM’s two trained sniffer dogs helped find survivors in L’Aquila: they were pulled out alive from the ruins yesterday evening. From today the team will provide over 2,000 meals every day for the foreseeable future.

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Rome, 7 April 09

In heartbreaking conditions the work to support the victims of Italy’s most recent devastating earthquake continues unabated. As thousands are evacuated and the number of dead continues to climb, after-shocks can still be felt in the region.

From first light yesterday, teams of doctors, medical assistants, rescuers and sniffer dogs from the Italian Association’s Military Corps and 67 units from its emergency corps (CISOM), as well as many volunteers, have been working around the clock. By the end of day two of the disaster, they have already set up two extensive main tent areas, with a medical unit on duty 24/7 until further notice, and food distributed to hundreds of the now homeless population. The Association plans more aid measures over the coming days, with further assistance arriving hourly.

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Rome, 6 April 09

In the small hours of this morning an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit the Italian area of the Abruzzo, causing devastation and loss of life in many towns in the region. The Italian Association of the Order has swung into action, arriving in L’Aquila at 6 a.m. with the first group of its doctors, ambulances, first aid equipment and rescue workers. Supplies of tents will arrive from the Order’s mobile unit in Rome in the next few hours. The Association’s emergency corps (an auxiliary corps of the Italian army) is already on the ground and has organised teams from Abruzzo, the Marches, Florence and Umbria, who have provided ambulances, tents and sniffer dogs.

The immediate emergency and first aid work is underway with the sniffer dogs to find the injured caught in the rubble, and with Order medical personnel to give first aid to the shocked victims and those made homeless.

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BASMOM newsletter for 2009 now online

The Hospitaller newsletter is now available online and can be downloaded here.

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Rome, 7 February 2009

A year from the passing of the 78th Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, his life, dedication and works on behalf of the Order were recalled in a moving tribute paid by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.

His Eminence celebrated the anniversary Mass in the Basilica of St.Alessio and St.Bonifacio, on the Aventine in Rome in the presence of Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, their Eminences Cardinals Tauran, Martino, Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Lajolo and Coppa, members of the Sovereign Council, the Italian undersecretary of State Gianni Letta, the Diplomatic Corps and many Order representatives and members.

“We recall the tremendous enthusiasm with which Fra’ Andrew took on this onerous task,” Cardinal Sodano said, “and that for twenty years he dedicated himself totally to his mission, promoting many social initiatives in no less than 120 countries of the world,” he said. “His entire life was inspired by profound principles of faith. May he grant us the grace of responding to the heritage which he bequeathed to us.”

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Spotlight on current projects for Malteser International, the Order’s worldwide relief service

A brief look at actions on three continents in three months

Cologne, 2 February 2009

In the Americas, in Africa and in Asia, Malteser International's current projects centre on food aid, reconstruction of housing, improving sanitary conditions, educating in primary health care.  Read more...

About Malteser International

The Order of Malta has programmes in over 200 countries around the globe. Malteser International is its emergency arm. It seeks to work with local partners wherever practicable, as this ensures working with people who have local knowledge, language, understanding, whilst it provides welcome employment to many.

For more information about Malteser International and its work, please see:

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Grand Master of the Order visits Ampleforth

Yorkshire, 29 January 2009

Fra’ MATTHEW FESTING (C67), His Most Eminent Highness, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta returned to his old school at Ampleforth this week and spoke to members of the Upper VI on the History and Aims of the Order of Malta.

Fra’ Matthew Festing was elected as the 79th Prince and Grand Master of the Order on 11 March 2008. He is only the second Englishman in 970 years to be Grand Master – the other being his predecessor Fra’ Andrew Bertie, also educated at Ampleforth (E47, Grand Master 1988-2008).

Dominic McCann (O02) spoke about the work of the young volunteers of the Order (Order of Malta Volunteers – OMV) and his own involvement with them, in helping orphan children in Romania. The Grand Master and Dominic McCann were welcomed and introduced by Sixth Former Rebecca Tonna. The enthusiastic audience included Fr Abbot, Fr Gabriel Everitt, together with members of staff and students of the Upper VI.

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From 1993, Cardinal Patronus of the Order

Rome, 12 January 2009

The death occurred in Rome on 10 January 2009 of His Eminence Cardinal Pio Laghi, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion with Cross of Profession ad honorem, at the San Carlo di Nancy hospital.

 “The Order has lost one of its most eminent members as well as a great moral and spiritual guide,” the Grand Master of the Order, Fra’ Matthew Festing, declared.

The Lying in State, at first at San Carlo, was transferred yesterday to the Vatican. The funeral takes place today 13 January in the Basilica of St.Peter’s, with the solemn Requiem Mass celebrated by the dean of the College of Cardinals, His Eminence Angelo Sodano, and in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI.

The Grand Master of the Order, Fra’ Matthew Festing, will be present at the ceremonies, accompanied by the members of the Sovereign Council and the Prelate of the Order, Mons.Angelo Acerbi.

Created Cardinal at the Consistory of 1991 and nominated by Pope John Paul II as Cardinal Patronus of the Order on 8 May 1993, Cardinal Laghi took on the important duties of promoting the spiritual concerns of the Order and its members, and the relationship between the Holy See and the Order.

Cardinal Pio Laghi was born in Castiglione , Italy, on May 21, 1922 and was ordained on April 20, 1946. In 1942 he graduated in Theology, and in 1950 in Canon Law, at the Pontificia Università Lateranense. After studies at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, he entered the service of the Holy See in March 1952 as a diplomat in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. He saw service in Nicaragua, in Washington, Delhi and Jerusalem. From 1974 to 1980 he was Apostolic Nuncio in Argentina, then Apostolic Delegate, and from 1984, after the official agreements between the Holy See and Washington, pro-Nuncio in Washington. From 1990 to 1999 he was Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. 

In 2001, the Cardinal was appointed Special Envoy to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority, to consign a personal message from the Pope which urged the parties to declare a ceasefire and return to dialogue. In 2003, at the time of the Iraq crisis, Pope John Paul II sent him to Washington to advise President George Bush on the position and initiatives taken by the Holy See towards disarmament and peace in the Middle East.

Most recently, his many commitments with the Order of Malta included the obsequies following the death of Grand Master Andrew Bertie, the swearing in of Grand Master Matthew Festing, the official visits of  President Topi of Albania and President Basescu of Romania. Most especially, the members of the Order of Malta recall with great affection his unfailing presence at the Order’s annual pilgrimages to Lourdes and to Loreto, and on the exceptional pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And we remember, too, his touching and welcome participation at the Order’s annual international summer camps for the young disabled. In spite of failing health, he insisted on being present at the children’s camp last summer in Stift Stams, Austria.

Cardinal Patronus of the Order, HE Cardinal Pio Laghi (1922-2009) R.I.P.

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400 participants meet to discuss the development of the Order over the next 10 years

Venice, 15 January 2009

The Order’s international strategic seminar takes place in mid January in Venice. Over 400 participants, representing the 12 Priories and 47 national Associations of the Order, together with the Order’s Professed Knights, will deliberate on the development of the Order over the next ten years.

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Grand Master addresses the Order's diplomatic corps and reviews the Order's work worldwide in 2008

January 2009

The television agency Rome Reports has released a service covering the recent audience the Grand Master gave to the Diplomatic Corps.
The link to the service is:


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