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The Order of Malta

The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Christian civilisation.

A lay religious order of the Catholic church since 1113 and a subject of international law, the Order has diplomatic relations with over 100 states and the European Union as well as Permanent Observer status at the United Nations. It is neutral, impartial, and apolitical.

Founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century, the Order of Malta has a long history of service to the vulnerable and the sick. This 900-year history is reflected in its full name: the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. Since 1834 the Order of Malta’s government seat has been in Rome, where it is guaranteed extraterritorial rights.

As a lay religious order, some of the Order of Malta’s members are formally religious – those who have professed the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience – and others have just taken a special promise of obedience.

The great majority of the 13,500 knights and dames are lay members. All are devoted to the exercise of Christian virtue and charity and are committed to striving after spiritual perfection within the Church and to expending their energies serving the poor and the sick.

The Order of Malta remains true to its inspiring principles, summarised in the motto “Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum”, defence of the Faith and service to the poor and the suffering, which been made real through the voluntary work carried out by dames and knights in humanitarian assistance and medical and social activities.

Today the Order carries out these activities in over 120 countries.