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Grand Master: our medical staff and volunteers at the forefront

A letter to the Order’s organisations around the world

Rome, 19 March 2020

Fra Giacomo Dalla Torre prays at Lourdes

In his Lenten message, Grand Master Dalla Torre to the members worldwide:

Dear confreres and consoeurs, dear professionals, volunteers and supporters of the Order of Malta around the world,

In this unprecedented moment that is uniting over 150 nations worldwide in facing the same grave challenges, my most profound gratitude goes to the Order of Malta’s Associations, volunteers and relief corps who have been contributing in supporting the national health systems in several of the countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our medical staff and volunteers are providing assistance to the elderly who are forced to quarantine at home, by regularly delivering food and medicines, and health teams are deployed to administer tests to the population and to manage some mobile medical units which are equipped to handle the virus, strictly following the healthcare guidelines. Their indefatigable dedication is witness to the Christian message and faith which underlies all the charitable activities of the Order of Malta.

I also wish to express my deepest appreciation to all those medical professionals who – since the onset of the virus – have been working round the clock to assist people affected by this disease.

Every day we read in the news distressing reports on the condition of the people who’ve been hospitalised, many in intensive care, some incubated. We must pray for the sick who, by experiencing isolation, suffer this loneliness the most. Our thoughts also go out to their families: being denied from attending or even saying goodbye to your loved ones is a pain nobody should endure, and I wish to express my sympathy to all those people living this dreadful condition. To them and to all the doctors, nurses and health workers go my prayers and my full and wholehearted gratitude.

With deep regret, it was decided to cancel the 62nd Order of Malta’s International Pilgrimage to Lourdes, one of the most significant moments in the life of the members and volunteers of the Order of Malta. This decision was a very painful one.

Given the rapidly worsening of the situation in France, for the first time in over 160 years the Marian sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes has been closed to the public. It is my hope that many members and volunteers will be able to reunite for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land programmed next November, on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the death of Blessed Gerard, our founder, trusting that the world will have by then turned this dramatic page in history.

With its over 900 years of Hospitaller tradition in assisting the poor and the sick, the Order of Malta remains close to those in need and those who are suffering in this terrible moment and will continue reaching out to whoever is in need. I would like to recall Pope Francis’ words just a few days ago: “United to Christ, we are never alone”, and I renew the appeal of the Pontiff to ask everyone “to pray for the elderly who are suffering, in a particular way from interior solitude”.

I wish you all a blessed Lent,
Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto 

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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.