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. 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”: nurturing, witnessing and protecting the faith (tuitio fidei) and of serving the poor and the sick representing the Lord (obsequium pauperum).
Yesterday the Order has celebrated the 900th anniversary since the granting of the Bull by Pope Paschal II with a mass at Vatican. Grand Master of the Order Fra’ Matthew Festing led to Rome more than 4000 knights from all over the world and Pope Benedict XVI addressed the congregation of knights and 170 ambassadors. Pope asked the Order to continue the work done since its founding, dedicated to the care of the sick and to human promotion, all inspired by Christian commitment to living the Gospel.
At present, the Order of Malta is active in over 120 countries. The Order runs hospitals, medical centers, day hospitals, nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled; and special centers for the terminally ill. After natural disasters the Order’s volunteer corps provide first aid, social services, emergency and humanitarian interventions.