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


Cardinal Lajolo received into the Order

Rome, 10/01/2009 

The Order of Malta’s Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing received yesterday morning at the Magistral Palace Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

During the encounter, the Grand Master conferred on Cardinal Lajolo the insignia of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion, admitting him to the Order of Malta. In the presence of components of the Order’s Sovereign Council, authorities and guests, his family members and closest collaborators, Cardinal Lajolo gave the following speech.

I am deeply grateful to the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, His Most Eminent Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing, for the high honour he has granted to me today. The words he used to address me were extremely kind and generous, and I appreciate them from the heart.

In this bestowing on a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church the honour of Bailli Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion I understand – forgive me if I am saying something obvious! – a peculiar expression of the spirit of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in its relationships of loyalty and cooperation with the Apostolic See.

As for me, I have very gladly accepted this honour as a new bond with this “Religious lay Order, military, chivalrous and nobiliary by tradition”, whose spiritual profile is reflected in its high ideals – its very purposes of life – of propagating the glory of God and spreading the Christian virtues of love and brotherhood.

These ideals – indeed supreme ones – have driven the members of the Order since the beginning of their story, and led them first to engage in assisting the ill of Jerusalem deprived of any other human consolation, and soon afterwards to rush to the help of pilgrims in the Holy Land, exposed to serious danger due to their very position. (…)

The Knights of the Order have written glorious pages in the history of “Christian civilization”, pages of human and Christian heroism that are still worth of admiration today, in a totally different international scenario and cultural climate.

Notwithstanding the Napoleonic occupation of Malta in 1798, notwithstanding the abuses suffered after the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, which were confirmed by the Treaty of Paris in 1814, in the 19th Century the Order could resurge (I think I can dare to use this term) thanks in particular to Pope Leo XIII, and opened to new fields of activity without however leaving its original ideals behind. On the contrary, the Order could find a new and broader scope of application for them.

Today, the diplomatic relationships of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta with the Holy See and other 101 countries, its official relationships with 6 more countries and its official relationships at Ambassador level with the European Commission reflect its great institutional strength and also its will to give a universal dimension to its service, always inspired by the Gospel’s ideals of love and brotherhood. I have witnessed this during the years of my diplomatic experience as Papal Representative first and then as Secretary of Relationships with States.

The caring and prompt assistance given to all, without any discrimination of nationality, class or religion, draws strength from an always fresh and effective commitment that derives from the deep spirituality of the three major classes of the Order, which starts of course from the original, driving force of the Knights of Justice but that eventually involves innumerable other people in the same impulse of doing good. The principle of “obsequium pauperum et tuitio fidei”, deeply rooted in the Order’s soul, has shaped itself into a multitude of works and hospitaller activities, especially during natural disasters, aftermaths of war, serious social needs, massive meetings, or however in circumstances of persisting emergency. The Order has also arranged for the necessary training of young volunteers and always focused on the new, emerging needs that are endlessly arising in our society.

I would simply like to express my admiration and gratitude for what you members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta are, do and give testimony of in the present social and political scenario of many countries of the world. So many worldly illusions are revealed in their transitory fragility, while love remains in its full strength. I hope that the fresh energies you will now receive from the new Prince and Grand Master, His Most Eminent Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing, will lead to new accomplishments.

The beautiful Cross in the coat of arms of the Order represents a guarantee that your commitment in life will be a fruitful one. The Rosary that surrounds it is a sign of the loving help of the Mother of God that will never fail you, so that you may generously share it with others. The Crown that surmounts the Cross explains that your sovereignty is different from any other worldly power, because the love of Christ will not hesitate to descend down to the deepest degree of human weakness and destitution, and exactly for this reason will grow more and more powerful, free and noble than any other power on earth.

cardinal lajolo received order

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]