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Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta


World pilgrimage of the Order of Malta

Rome, 20/10/2000 

More than 2000 Knights and Dames, members of the Order’s ambulance corps and national and international structures from all continents have arrived in Rome from 16 to 19 October to participate in the International Pilgrimage organised by the Grand Magistry within the framework of the Church’s Grand Jubilee celebrations.

The religious ceremonies, attended by H.M.E.H. the Prince and Grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, with the High Officers and the members of the Sovereign Council, started on the morning of the 16th with a solemn procession through the Holy Door in the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major, followed by the penitential ceremony and Holy Mass celebrated by the Cardinalis Patronus, H.E. Pio Laghi. In the afternoon the Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction took place in the same Basilica.

The next days the International Pilgrimage moved to the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, where the ceremonies were celebrated by the Cardinalis Patronus, and then to the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, where H.E. Cardinal Szoka officiated a Holy Mass. On the morning of the 19th, all participants in the Order’s Pilgrimage, after meeting in St. Peter’s Square, went in solemn procession to the Basilica’s entrance to pass through the Holy Door. They attended the Holy Mass at the Altar of St. Peter’s Chair, celebrated by the Secretary of State, H.E. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, with another six Cardinals and with the Chaplains of the Order. After the penitential ceremony the Holy Father John Paul II received all the Order’s pilgrims in a special audience in the St. Peter’s Basilica and addressed the following speech:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I would like to extend a cordial welcome to each of you, Knights and Dames of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who have come to Rome from every part of the world to celebrate the Great Jubilee. In particular, I greet the Grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, whom I thank for his courteous and noble words to me on behalf of those gathered here. I would also like to extend an affectionate greeting to Cardinal Pio Laghi, Patron of this Sovereign Military Order, who has wished to tale part in today’s event. With him I greet Mons. Donato de Bonis, your Prelate.

This meeting has special significance because it is being held during the Holy Year 2000 and testifies to the profound communion that joins the members of your Order to the Successor of Peter. On this occasion, I am pleased to express to the Government of the Otder, as well as to those who devote themselves generously to the first-aid services at the Roman basilicas and in other Jubilee programmes, my warm appreciation and gratitude for their constant, valuable contribution to the success of the Jubilee.

The Great Jubilee, in which the Church is commemorating the second millennium of the Incarnation of the Word, is a “year of Grace”: a year of the remission of sins and the punishments due to them, a year of reconciliation between disputing parties, a year of manifold conversions and sacramental and extra-sacramental penance. In particular, it is a year which involves “the granting of indulgence on a larger scale than at other times” (Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 14) and the re-establishment of God’s justice, a concrete expression of the commandment of love.

In the Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee I wrote: ” One sign of the mercy of God which is especially necessary today is the sign of Charity, which opens our eyes to the needs of those who are poor and excluded. Such is the situation affecting vast sectors of society and casting its shadow of death upon whole peoples ” (Incarnationnis mysterium, n.12)

In this regard, I would like here to mention the praiseworthy initiatives that your Order carries out in various areas of moral and spiritual poverty. They are inspired by a great availability to the needy, expressing to them in a visible and concrete way the love of the Lord and of the Church. These projects are at times an effective encouragement and a kind of model for those who want to contribute their efforts to establishing a new world where dignity and hope are restored to whoever is oppressed by modern forms of slavery and wounded in body and spirit.

I am referring especially to the prophetic service for the marginalized and excluded which you carry out with the zeal of an authentic battle for the integral advancement of human beings. Thanks to this noble battle for the defence and development of the human person, a mission to which your order has been dedicated for many centuries, you have been able to raise the banner of love in many parts of the five continents, where sickness and poverty degrade people and, unfortunately, threaten their future.

It is a real strategy of love, which involves you in hospitals, in leprosy clinics, in relief groups, in nursery schools and in rest homes for the elderly. Everywhere you are concerned to carry forward the primary aims of your age-old order: the “tuitio fidei” and the “obsequium pauperum”, always mindful of the words of your founder, Bl. Gerard: “Our institution will last until God pleases to raise up people who are willing to make suffering lighter and poverty more bearable.”

Dear brothers and sisters, in this positive context, the special outpouring of grace of the Jubilee year is a renewed occasion of fidelity to Christ and to your brethren for each of you and for your entire spiritual family.

The Jubilee urges you to fix your gaze on Christ, the Redeemer of man, and to welcome him with more and more intense love and awareness. During your Jubilee pilgrimage, you have had the opportunity in a very special way to dedicate yourselves to hearing the Gospels and to prayer, and, by receiving the sacraments, you have wished to renew your fidelity to Christ. It is only from him, the source of eternal life, that you will be able to draw new strength and new energy in the spirit of the Good Samaritan to meet the needs of the poor, ever more evident and tragic in the contemporary world. It is only with his help that you will be able to offer, in every circumstance, responses to the expectations of the poor that are not only skilled, but profoundly inspired be Gospel love.

The Jubilee also encourages you to be constant witnesses of authentic fraternal communion in the areas where you work. It calls you to proclaim Christ’s truth with your words and with your lives, so that your presence will be a model of new human and civil harmony for everyone you meet. May your activities be privileged opportunities for evangelization and serve as a sure reference-point for all who seek the kingdom of God and his justice with a sincere heart.

Lastly, may a more intense enthusiasm flow from this Jubilee celebration for each of you, in order to bear witness to the Gospel of charity in a world dominated by selfishness and sin. May your structures be shining outposts of the civilization of love and an effective expression of the Church’s social teaching.

With these sentiments, as I entrust of you, pilgrims of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, to the heavenly protection of the Blessed Virgin, “Comfort of the Afflicted”, and of St John the Baptist, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, as a pledge of abundant Jubilee gifts and graces.

I hope the entire Order of Malta will continue to prosper. May the Lord bless you all. Thank you for your visit to Rome and to the Vatican.

The speech of the Holy Father was preceded by the following welcoming words of His Most Eminent Highness the Prince and Grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie:

Most Holy Father,

in the name of the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, I should like to thank You much indeed for coming down to the Basilica to impart Your blessing on our jubilee pilgrimage to the Eternal City.

The Order is most grateful to Your Holiness for Your efforts to enhance the spirit of piety in the world, and I should like to emphasise our devotion to Your Person, our complete loyalty to the Magisterium of the Church and our determination to further the aims of our Founder, the Blessed Gerard: the defence of the Faith and the service to the poor and sick.

The Order of Malta, through members of the National Associations’ ambulance corps, has provided daily assistance to pilgrims visiting the four Basilicas of the Eternal City for the Great Jubilee of the church. The medical centres, set up inside and outside the Basilicas, are equipped with the latest first-aid and emergency equipment and electrical ambulances for the most serious cases. The medical staff, consisting of doctors and paramedics trained by the ambulance corps of the Order’s National Associations, are organised in shifts according to nationality.

world pilgrimage order malta

Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta

Magistral Palace, Via Condotti, 68 Rome - Italy

Tel. +39.06.67581.1 | [email protected]