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About the Order of Malta

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, better known as the Order of Malta, has a two-fold nature. It is one of the most ancient Catholic religious orders, founded in Jerusalem in around 1048 and at the same time it has always been recognised by nations as an independent subject of international law.


The Order’s mission is summed up in its motto ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum’ – live the Christian faith and assist those who suffer.  


The Order of Malta works in the field of medical and social care and humanitarian aid, in over 120 countries, supported by the diplomatic relations it currently has with over 100 nations. The Order also runs hospitals, medical centres, daycare centres, nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled, and special centres for the terminally ill. In many countries the Order’s volunteer corps provide first aid, social services, emergency and humanitarian interventions. 

Malteser International, the Order’s worldwide relief agency, works in the front line providing humanitarian aid in situations of natural disasters and civil conflicts. It is completely neutral and impartial. 


Following the death of the 80th Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, in April 2020, the current head of the Order is the 81st Grand Master, Fra’ John Dunlap, elected 3 May 2023..

The Grand Master is assisted by a governing council (called the Sovereign Council). 

Today, the Order is present in 54 countries. It has 5 Grand Priories, 6 Subpriories and 48 National Associations. The Order is made up of more than 13,500 Knights and Dames. Additionally, it has over 100,000 volunteers and 25,000 healthcare professionals.


Activities are funded essentially by its members. Funds come from private donations and vary according to different countries and situations. Resources for hospitals and medical activities usually come from agreements stipulated with the national health and social systems. The same is true for emergency services. In developing countries, activities are often backed by grants from governments, the European Commission or other international organisations. Funds also come from donations or benefactors’ contributions to Order’s activities.



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.