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Grand Master Fra’Giacomo Dalla Torre dies in Rome

A devoted and much loved leader

Rome, 29 April 2020

Frà Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, 80th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, died in Rome in the early hours of 29 April. He was a much loved leader, spiritual adviser and deeply committed religious member of the Order of Malta.

Fra Giacomo Dalla Torre prays at Lourdes

Fra Giacomo Dalla Torre prays at Lourdes

Born on 9 December 1944 in Rome, he graduated in Humanities from the University of La Sapienza, Rome, specialising in Christian Archeology and the History of Art. He held academic posts at the Pontifical Urbaniana Institute, teaching classical Greek and was also Chief Librarian and Archivist for the Institute’s important collections. Over many years, he published a range of distinguished academic essays and articles on aspects of medieval art history.
 Fra’Giacomo Dalla Torre became a member of the Sovereign Order in 1985, as a Knight of Honour and Devotion and took his Solemn Vows in 1993. From 1994 – 1999 he was the Order’s Grand Prior of Lombardy and Venice and from 1999 to 2004, a member of the Order’s supreme government, its Sovereign Council. At the Chapter General of 2004 he was elected Grand Commander of the Order and on the death of the 78th Grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, he became the Lieutenant ad interim. From 2008 to 2017 Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre held the post of Grand Prior of Rome. On the resignation of the 79th Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, he was elected Lieutenant of the Grand Master by the Chapter General which took place on 29 April 2017 and at the Chapter General of 29 April 2018, was elected 80th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order.

A man of great spirituality and warmth, Fra’ Giacomo reached out personally to those in need, attending the weekly soup kitchens in Rome at the Termini and Tiburtina railway stations, serving the homeless at the annual Christmas lunch for the homeless, taking part in the Order’s international pilgrimage each year – which he did for over forty years – and in the national pilgrimages to Loreto and Assisi. A great joy was his attendance at the Order’s International Summer Camps for Young Disabled every year – both for him personally and for those whom he encountered, young volunteers and guests alike, whom he greeted with affection and sympathy. His warmth, kindness, holiness and involvement in care for those who need care are summed up in his letter to the participants of the 2019 Summer Camp in Germany, when he wrote: ‘My dear, impressive young helpers and guests! …May I say that I rejoice with you in this special experience, which is a combination of spirituality, of love, of enthusiasm and fun. It is a privilege to be with you and to see how much everyone cares for everyone else… The Order of Malta can be proud of you all…’

As Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre carried out numerous official and state journeys. Only last January he made a state visit to Benin and in July last to Cameroon. More recently, he travelled to Germany, Slovenia and Bulgaria for meetings with their respective authorities. During these journeys he always made a point of visiting the Order’s social-health facilities to greet personally the staff and the patients.

Throughout his life, Fra’ Giacomo, a very cultured man, was a great lover of music, especially Italian opera, and his musical knowledge was prodigious, as was his appreciation of the arts and of history.

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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.