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Grand Master Fra’Matthew Festing resigns from office

Lieutenant ad interim assumes the role of head of the Order of Malta

Rome, 28 January 2017

Fra' Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein

Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein

The government of the Sovereign Order of Malta, the Sovereign Council, today accepted the resignation of the 79th Grand Master, Fra’Matthew Festing. Lieutenant ad interim Fra’Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein is appointed to lead the Order until the election of a new Grand Master. 

In a letter sent yesterday, 27 January 2017, to Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein and the members of the Sovereign Council, Pope Francis reaffirmed the special relationship between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Apostolic See. The Pope affirmed that the Lieutenant ad interim assumes responsibility over the Order’s government, in particular regarding relationships with other States. Pope Francis will appoint a Special Delegate to the Sovereign Order. The Order assures its full collaboration with the Delegate.  

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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.