8 september: the Order of Malta’s pilgrimage to Assisi
The pilgrimage of 8 September to Assisi has a special significance for the Order of Malta. On the day on which the church celebrates the birth of Mary, some 250 of the Order’s members and volunteers, led by the Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, met to attend the traditional mass celebrated by Archbishop Paolo Sardi, Pro-Patron of the Order, in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
“The Order has always had a great devotion to the Holy Virgin,” Archbishop Sardi asserted in his homily. “Over the centuries the Order has jealously guarded an ancient icon, called the ‘Madonna of Philermos’ from the name of the mountain on which it was venerated on the island of Rhodes. A valuable copy of this icon is conserved here, in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.” “It seems to me,” concluded the Pro-Patron, “that the Madonna of Philermos’ request to us today is this: Mary asks us to be generous in our contribution to the great cause of peace. Peace first of all among us, but peace also among people all around the world. Our cooperation must not only be expressed in prayer but also in mutual understanding, in accommodating others with their particular character, in forgiving the wrongs done to us, in patiently accepting our own sufferings to contribute to the redemption of the world”.
In the afternoon the XVI meeting of Melitense culture was held in the setting of the Magione castle. Prof. Paolo Caucci von Saucken talked about the historic relationship between Santiago di Compostela and the Order of Malta. He also referred to the Jacobean Holy Year 2010 and to the Order’s next pilgrimage which, led by Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, will take place at the beginning of October.
Afterwards, Giovannella Berté Ferraris di Celle presented her latest book: “Il volto della Madonna del Fileremo – Descrizione ed analisi iconologica della storica icona ricomparsa in Montenegro” [The Face of the Madonna of Philermos – Description and analysis of the historic icon reappearing in Montenegro”]
The meeting concluded with addresses by the Grand Master and by General Giuseppe Valotto, Chief of Staff of the Italy Army, who greeted and thanked General Mario Prato di Pamparato, leaving the command of the Italian Army-Sovereign Order of Malta Medical Corps after 15 years.