The Grand Master inaugurates the monument to Fra’ Andrew Bertie on Malta
On 30 June in Malta, amid great emotion, Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing unveiled a plaque in memory of his predecessor Fra’ Andrew Bertie. The ceremony, in Casa Lanfreducci, seat of the Maltese Association, was attended by over a hundred people, including members, volunteers, friends and supporters of the Order on the island.
It was an opportunity to commemorate the personality and dedication of the 78th Grand Master, who died in 2008 after twenty years at the head of the Order. Among other things, it was recalled that Fra’ Andrew Bertie’s main purpose in life was to keep faith with the Order’s precepts, to which he was “passionately committed, with a profound and intense devotion to Our Lords the Sick and the most disadvantaged”. “His assiduous visits to the sick in hospitals and assistance to the disabled during the pilgrimages to Lourdes were his priorities”. In addition he “worked untiringly to modernize the Order’s structure and organization and was instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations worldwide”. He was an authentic “source of inspiration for each and all”. As the President of the Maltese Association, Alfred Caruana Galizia, explained, the installation of a marble plaque to commemorate his memory was prompted by his long friendship with Malta – where he loved to spend his holidays – and the affection of the Maltese people.
The ceremony started with a procession from Casa Lanfreducci to the church of Our Lady of Victory, in La Valletta, where the Head Chaplain of the Maltese Association, Msgr. Lawrence Gatt, celebrated a Latin mass for the repose of the soul of Fra’ Andrew Bertie. Among others, the brother of the late Grand Master, Peregrine, and his niece Caroline Carrington, were present.
The guests then returned to Casa Lanfreducci where the commemoration took place, with two maxi-screens for those participating outside in Victory Square. The Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, in unveiling the plaque, decorated with the Fra’ Andrew Bertie’s coat-of-arms and relative inscription, admiringly recalled his predecessor’s life and works. “One day – he ended with a smile – I would also like to be remembered in this way”. Immediately afterwards the participants were able to visit the “Memorial Monument” in the hall that will now be called “Grand Master Bertie Room” and an exhibition dedicated to the late Grand Master.
The Visit to the Monastery of Saint Ursula
The Maltese event ended with the visit of the Grand Master and the Grand Commander to the monastery of Saint Ursula, where 15 of the Order of Malta’s nuns live, the last, together with another community of sisters in Spain, of the Order’s female contemplative branch. Fra’ Matthew Festing, who had greatly desired this meeting, was joyfully greeted by the religious and their chaplain, father George Aquilina, who accompanied the Grand Master in prayer in the chapel where the skull of the Order’s founder, Fra’ Gerard, is kept.
The Monastery of Saint Urusula in Valletta is considered an historic monument of the Republic of Malta and a milestone in the island’s religious tradition. It was founded in the late 16th century and the first enclosed nuns appeared in 1639. The Hierosolymite sisters have been praying for the Order and its members for over 800 years.