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81st Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap elected today for a term of ten years

The Order’s electing body, the Council Complete of State, today elected its 81st Grand Master, who will serve a term of ten years.

Fra’ John Dunlap communicated his election to Pope Francis with a letter written in his own hand. He was sworn in today at 6.30 pm in the presence of Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi c.s., the Pope’s Special Delegate, in the Church of Santa Maria on the Aventine, thus entering into the fullness of his powers. According to Article 13 of the new Constitution, he will remain in office for 10 years. The Grand Master is the head of the Order of Malta, a lay religious order of the Catholic Church and at the same time a subject of international law.

The Grand Master: “There are many challenges that await us, but united in the awareness of our mission of Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum (witnessing the faith, helping the poor), I am sure that we will be able to face them together united and cohesively, in the same spirit that guided Blessed Gerard, founder of the Order over 900 years ago.”

Profile of the Grand Master

Born in Ottawa, Canada, on 16 April 1957, John Dunlap graduated from the University of Ottawa and then obtained a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Western Ontario. He has been awarded an honorary doctorate in Public Service by John Cabot University in Rome. 

Fra’ John Dunlap is a member of the New York State Bar and the Ontario Bar Association in Canada. In 1986, he joined the New York legal firm Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller in New York City, becoming a partner in 1993. He specialises in corporate and immigration law. An internationally respected lawyer, since 1997 he has been legal adviser to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Fra’ John Dunlap approached the Order of Malta and found his religious vocation in the mid-1980s during his volunteer work with patients suffering from AIDS and other diseases at the Cardinal Cooke Medical Center in Harlem (New York). He has volunteered in that hospital every week for the past 30 years. 

Admitted to the Order of Malta in 1996, he took his solemn vows as a Professed Knight in 2008. For over a decade he has served the Order of Malta as Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Names and Emblems and Representative to the Alliance of the Orders of St John.

In 2009 Fra’ John Dunlap was elected for a five-year term as a member of the Sovereign Council. He was re-elected for another five-year term by the Chapter General in 2014 and 2019. He has led the Order of Malta as Lieutenant of the Grand Master since June 2022, following the death of Fra’ Marco Luzzago.

Videos and photos of the Council Complete of State:
Videos of selected humanitarian activities of the Order of Malta:

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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.