Order of Malta celebrates its founder Fra’ Gerard 900 years after his death
Celebrations in Scala, Amalfi, in the presence of Lieutenant ad interim, Cardinal Becciu and Italian Health Minister Speranza
On 3 September 1120, Blessed Gerard, founder of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, died there. On 3 September 2020, the Order of Malta’s members and volunteers in the five continents will celebrate this important anniversary.
On 3 September, the Lieutenant ad interim, Fra’ Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas, will be in Scala on the Amalfi coast with a delegation consisting of the Sovereign Council and over a hundred Order of Malta members and volunteers from all over Italy. Here, in full respect of Covid-19 restrictions, he will participate in the celebrations organized by the town that many historians indicate as the birthplace of Blessed Gerard.
In the introduction to the special edition of the San Francesco magazine dedicated to the Order of Malta’s founder, Fra’ Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas defined his importance: “Blessed Gerard drew the guidelines for the Order he founded, which has followed them along the centuries”.
On 3 September at 10 am, in the Duomo di San Lorenzo in Scala, there will be a solemn Eucharistic celebrated presided by the Pope’s Special Delegate to the Sovereign Order of Malta, Cardinal Angelo Becciu. The celebration will be transmitted live on TV2000.
Minister of Health Roberto Speranza will represent the Italian government. Also participating will be the President of the Campania Region, Vincenzo De Luca, and the mayor of Scala, Luigi Mansi.
The celebrations will continue on the afternoon of 3 September with official speeches and the presentation of a series of commemorative stamps dedicated to Blessed Gerard by the Italian State. A concert by the famous violinist Uto Ughi will follow.
The physical and spiritual suffering of the pilgrims arriving in the Holy Land between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, after a long and dangerous journey, was what prompted Blessed Gerard and his confreres to consecrate their lives to serving those in need.
Gerard was the head of the hospital built by the Amalfi citizens in Jerusalem in honour of St. John the Baptist. He was in charge of its organization, reception, food supplies and religious assistance. He looked after the sick and the poor and was even then called “the Lord of the sick”. The monarchs of Jerusalem, Portugal, Castille and Leon, as well as other princes and bishops, helped Gerard with significant donations. The hospitals and hospices in Italy and southern France gave a European dimension and important resources to the Order he founded.
On 15 February 1113 Pope Pascal II recognized Gerard and his institution. He placed the Order of Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem under the protection of the church, transforming it into a religious order, acknowledging the right to continue its work without civil or religious interference and elect, in due course, Fra’ Gerard’s successor.
Acknowledged as Blessed by the Catholic Church, for nine centuries Fra’ Gerard’s example has inspired the Order of Malta’s members and volunteers who will remember him with devotion on 3 September.