Polish association of Order of Malta celebrates 100th anniversary
Founded in 1920, the association is widely present in the country with over 1,000 volunteers
The Polish association marks its Jubilee this year, celebrating 100 years from its very foundation. Created in Poznań in 1920, the first traces of the Order’s presence in Poland, however, date back to the 12th century, and its action in the following centuries is witnessed by the establishment of the Polish Priory and of various commanderies in 1774.
Poland’s troubled history- with its partition and occupation – characterized much of the second half of the 18th century; the process of independence and consolidation lasted years. After 1920, members of the newly formed association actively participated in the struggle for the emergence of an independent Polish State. Attempts were made to create a Medical Corps based on Italian models whose medical structures were to constitute an autonomous part of the Polish military health service. The outbreak of World War II in 1939 put a halt to the many medical projects that were being developed. Nevertheless, an ad hoc Military Hospital managed by the association was to be established in Warsaw shortly after the beginning of the war to treat victims of the Nazi bombings. The Hospital aided approximately 15,000 injured and sick people. In total, nearly 500 volunteer staff worked in very difficult conditions in the facility, called the “hospital of the Polish underground”. The Hospital doctors also opened a clinic for the Jewish population, deprived of medical care due to the restrictive Nazi regulations. After the war, Poland came under the occupation of the Soviet Union and the medical activity of the association was banned. The Polish association remained active in exile – mainly in Rome and London – and its activities were resumed in Warsaw on October 14, 1992.
Currently, the Polish association is in charge of many activities and facilities: A Hospital in Barczewo (70 beds), an Outpatient Clinic in Poznań, and a Help Center for children with cerebral palsy and their families in Krakow, which is considered one of the best of this type in Europe. Also, camps for disabled people in Szczyrzyc (70 people per year) and pilgrimages to Częstochowa, Gietrzwałd, and Lourdes are organized regularly.
In 2008, during the Russian-Georgian conflict, the Polish association organized a humanitarian and medical mission in Georgia. In 2014, medical assistance was provided during the Kiev Maidan protests, and those injured in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict were transported to Poland for treatment.
The celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Polish association of the Order of Malta will begin next April, with the main celebration being held in Warsaw in June, and will conclude with events in Kraków towards the end of the year.
The Polish association manages around one thousand volunteers and takes care of some 1,600 people on a regular basis, and 6,000 people on an occasional basis, throughout the year.