Historic Papal visit to the Order’s hospital in Rome
The Grand Master: “The sick are at the heart of our mission”.
“I should like to take this opportunity of my visit to your hospital, run by the Italian Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, to consign my Encyclical Spe Salvi to the whole Roman community, and in particular to those who, like you, are in direct contact with suffering and sickness.” Thus Benedict XVI in a momentous visit to the Order’s San Giovanni Battista Hospital in Rome. The Grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, in greeting His Holiness, affirmed that “The sick are at the heart of our mission.”
“Dear knights of the Order of Malta, dear doctors, nurses and volunteers who work in the Hospital,” the Pontiff said, “you are called to provide an important service that calls for abnegation and a spirit of sacrifice. In each sick person may you know how to recognise and serve Christ Himself. Show Him, with your gestures and your words, the signs of His merciful love.”
In this regard Benedict XVI praised the contribution made by the Order of Malta to the mission of the Church to be near to the suffering and he recalled how, from its beginning in 1113, this lay religious order of the Catholic Church has dedicated itself “to the care of the sick, especially the poor and marginalized.”
Together with the Grand Master, the Sovereign Council and members of the Order, the patients, their families, staff and volunteers prayed at the Mass celebrated by His Holiness at the Hospital.
Among the highlights was the Pontiff’s visit to the Reawakening Unit, where patients are treated in the recovery phase known as ‘vegetal state’. It is one of the very few in Italy offering this most difficult and touching care.