Minister for Humanitarian Action and International Cooperation
The Grand Hospitaller’s responsibilities include the offices of Minister of Health and of Social Affairs and Minister for Humanitarian Action and Minister for International Cooperation. He coordinates and supervises the initiatives of the Grand Priories, National Associations and other Order institutions world-wide, all of which are involved in charitable and humanitarian actions, and ensures that Christian principles of care and human dignity are respected.
The Grand Hospitaller is assisted by a Council composed of representatives of all the territorial regions where the Order of Malta operates.
Grand Hospitaller, H.E. Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis, Knight of Justice
Born in Naples on 24 November 1955, he obtained a classical high school diploma, then a Doctor of Medicine and Surgery degree in 1980 and a specialist diploma in Paediatrics from the University of Naples Federico II in 1984. The following year he obtained a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology from the Harvard University School of Public Health, in 1995, a postgraduate degree in Bioethics from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, and in 2011, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy – St. Thomas Section.
In 2009, invited by the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, Monsignor Jacques Perrier, he became the 15th Permanent Doctor, and therefore President, of the Lourdes Bureau des Constatations Médicales (the office that examines cases of presumed miraculous healings) and of AMIL, the International Medical Association of Our Lady of Lourdes. He is the first non-French doctor to be appointed in that role.
Throughout his career, he has carried out research and teaching activities in the fields of paediatrics and bioethics alongside his clinical activities. His numerous experiences in over thirty years include those of: Complementary Officer in the Italian Navy, participation in several humanitarian missions in Albania and Kosovo, City Councillor, Member of the Italian Parliament and President of the Province of Caserta.
He has been actively involved in UNITALSI since 1973 and in the AMCI (Association of Italian Catholic Doctors) since he was a medical student. In both, he has held positions at diocesan, regional and national level. He is a full member of the Hospitalité de Notre Dame de Lourdes, the Hospitalité de Notre Dame de Salut, the Italian Society of Paediatrics and the Harvard Alumni Association.
Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis has been professed in solemn vows of the Order of Malta since December 2017.
He took office as Grand Hospitaller on 3 September 2022.