In Scala, one of the oldest and most picturesque villages of the Amalfi Coast, celebrations were held in honour of Blessed Gerard, founder of the Order of Saint John, now Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and its first Grand Master. Born in Scala around 1040, he moved to Jerusalem where, in the second half of the eleventh century, he became the superior of the hospital – built by the Amalfitans – which assisted pilgrims in the Holy Land.
The celebrations – which took place between 2 and 4 September with a crowded programme of events – were attended by Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap, Grand Commander Fra’ Emmanuel Rousseau, Grand Chancellor Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo and the Order of Malta’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Antonio Zanardi Landi.
The Italian Government was represented by the Minister for Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, with whom the Grand Master had a meeting. On 3 September, a preview of the docufilm “Blessed Gerard, warrior without a sword” was presented, produced by Father Enzo Fortunato, Friar Minor Conventual as well as journalist and writer. It is the first official documentary about Blessed Fra’ Gerard.
On 4 September there was a Solemn Mass in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo a Scala celebrated by Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, after which the Grand Master gave a talk about how Blessed Gerard’s example still guides the Order of Malta “the only one left among the many Hospitaller Orders created in the first centuries of the second millennium, continuing its vocation to assist in tormented and troubled places worldwide – from the streets of the homeless, to the sea where it helps to rescue those fleeing wars and famines, from the lands to where Ukrainian refugees have fled, to assistance for the reconstruction of churches devastated by Islamic terrorism, to the great maternity hospital in Bethlehem, where Catholics, the Orthodox and Muslims assist women giving birth, 90% of whom come from Muslim families”.
The Grand Master then laid a commemorative wreath with a guard of honour at the Church of St. Peter in Campoleone, not far from the house where Blessed Gerard was born.
Also present at the celebrations were the Grand Prior of Naples and Sicily Fra’ Nicolo’ Custoza de Cattani, Fra’ Roberto Viazzo representing the Grand Priory of Rome, the Mayor of Scala Ivana Bottone and numerous representatives of local institutions.