In Remembrance of Sovereign Order of Malta’s Grand Master Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto
Elected exactly two years ago, the 80th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto – after a year leading the Order as Lieutenant of the Grand Master from April 2017 to May 2018 – became head of the ancient Catholic order at a critical period marked by an institutional crisis that caused deep rifts. Fra’ Giacomo’s gentle but at the same time authoritative and determined nature enabled the Order of Malta to move forward and initiate a new phase of renewal and evolution, starting with the revision of the Constitutional Charter. A delicate process to which the Grand Master devoted the greatest attention, ensuring it would be as inclusive as possible and at the same time capable of meeting the needs of a fast-growing institution. In a short time, he managed to restore harmony within the Order and in its relations with the Pope.
Fra’ Giacomo’s grandfather was a journalist who had challenged the Fascist regime during World War II, both as director of the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano by speaking out against the persecution of the Jews and anti-Fascists, and in his house in Piazza della Città Leonina by sheltering various opposers of the regime, including Alcide De Gasperi. Fra’ Giacomo often talked about his family, his beloved brothers and sisters, and the difficult times his grandfather lived through during the Fascist period. Fra’ Giacomo spent most of his working life at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, combining it with his duties in the Order of Malta. The fact of having grown and worked in the Vatican meant he personally knew the highest authorities in the Church.
A man of great spirituality and intensely dedicated to charitable works, both as Grand Prior of Lombardy and Venice, later as Grand Prior of Rome, then as Lieutenant of the Grand Master and finally as Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo never stopped participating in the Order of Malta’s activities for the most vulnerable, including the distribution of meals to rough sleepers in the Termini and Tiburtina railway stations. This was something he habitually carried out even during the coldest winter nights. “I am at the service of the Order of Malta and of the people who need us,” he often repeated.
Profoundly Catholic, he participated in many of the pilgrimages organized by the Order of Malta, including the international one with the malades to Lourdes and the Italian ones to Loreto and Assisi. After his election as Lieutenant of the Grand Master, on the eve of his departure for Lourdes he said: “I am particularly happy to initiate my mandate as Lieutenant of the Grand Master with this event that brings together some seven thousand people from all over the world. No matter how many times one takes part in this pilgrimage, it is always a new experience that enriches the soul and brings us closer to the Lord. I am certain that this pilgrimage with “our lords the sick” – as we call those we assist – will give me fresh strength for the challenges I will be facing in this new position.”
Cordial with everyone, Fra’ Giacomo always had a smile and a word of thanks for their work for those he encountered in the corridors of the Magistral Palace on Via Condotti.
«The loss of Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre leaves in all of us a void difficult to fill. He was a good and spiritual man. As head of the Sovereign Order of Malta he showed great diplomatic finesse and an unparalleled charisma. He was and will remain an inspiration for many members and volunteers,” said Fra’ Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas, who has assumed the leadership of the Sovereign Order of Malta as Lieutenant ad interim.