His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today received in audience Fra’ Matthew Festing, Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta. The meeting took place in the Vatican, on the occasion of the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the Order of Malta. After the very cordial meeting, the Grand Master, together with the High Officers of the Sovereign Council, was received by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, with whom they held extended discussions.
The meetings focussed on developments in interreligious dialogue with the Orthodox Patriarcate of Moscow, in the light of the Grand Master’s forthcoming visit to Russia, and on the medical and social aid the Order provides in the Holy Land. Other areas of discussion included the assistance currently underway in the earthquake-stricken Italian region of Emilia provided by the Italian Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (CISOM), the Order of Malta’s medical and health care developments in Italy, and the celebration next February of the nine hundredth anniversary of the granting of the Papal Bull of 1113 by Pope Pascal II to the Order.
Photographs: © Photographic Service – L’Osservatore Romano 2012