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Irish knight makes history – first professed knight of the Order of Malta in Ireland since the 16th century

Symbolism and tradition marks a ceremony which goes back almost a thousand years

Dublin, 26 July 14

Historic event: Fra'Paul Caffrey makes his Solemn Vows, Dublin

Historic event: Fra’Paul Caffrey makes his Solemn Vows, Dublin

On the most important day for the Order of Malta in Ireland since the 16th century, a ceremony of Solemn Vows was celebrated as the packed congregation heard Fra’Paul Caffrey make his promises to Grand Master Fra’Matthew Festing. Dr.Caffrey, an art historian with expertise in eighteenth and nineteenth century Irish art and design, is the first professed Irish knight for 474 years. His promise is to live according to the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. 

The ceremony attested to a constant throughout nine centuries – the mission of the Order of Malta – the love of God and the love of one’s neighbour (tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum). This mission comes from the founding knights of the Order in Jerusalem in the 11th century. Their work throughout history to care for those in need has led Pope Benedict to describe their help as adding ‘radiant pages to the annals of Christianity’.  

The service included a specially commissioned piece of sacred music, composed by the Community of the Silverstream Priory, and sung by the Lassus Scholars.  

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.