Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St John of Jerusalem of
Rhodes and of Malta


The President of the Republic of Malta on an official visit to the Grand Master

The President of the Republic of Malta on an official visit to the Grand Master

On Saturday the President of the Republic of Malta George William Vella was received by the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Fra’ John Dunlap. This is the third visit – in different capacities – of President Vella whose mandate will terminate in April 2024. He previously visited the Grand Magistry as Foreign Minister in 2015 and as President in 2020.

Likewise, many visits on behalf of the Order of Malta’s government have taken place, the latest in June 2023 when the newly elected Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap made his first official visit abroad. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1966 there have been 17 visits of Presidents of the Republic and Grand Masters and 6 of Ministers and Grand Chancellors.

Saturday’s meeting further witnessed the rooted ties that link the Order of Malta to the Republic of Malta. Relations date back to nearly 5 centuries ago: in 1530, after being forced to leave Rhodes, Emperor Charles V granted Malta to the Order with Pope Clement VII’s approval. When Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Malta during his Egyptian campaign in 1798, the Knights were forced to leave. But ties have remained strong.

“As your five-year term of office is now coming to an end, I should like to thank you for always being attentive and interested in the works of the Order”, said the Grand Master as he addressed President Vella with a farewell greeting. “I am very grateful for your role in the development of our mutual relations, and I wholeheartedly wish you every success in your future endeavours.” For his part, the Maltese president hoped for a further strengthening of ties with the Order of Malta aimed at “exploiting the enormous potential for even more deep-rooted cooperation”.

During the talks, both expressed concern about the current geopolitical scenarios from wars to terrorist acts to violence.

Over the years the Order of Malta has held numerous gatherings, seminars, and symposia on the island of Malta. The activities carried out in Malta include the distribution of meals to oncology patients, immigrants, homeless and lonely people as well as support to elderly people in retirement homes.

The Order also organizes pilgrimages to Gozo for sick people, outings for young orphans and summer camps for disabled youth. It runs a shuttle service to take wheelchair patients to hospital and a residence for single mothers and children. The Order offers canine Search & Rescue service on emergency events and first aid service at religious events.

Last December the National Library of Malta organised the exhibition ‘In the Footsteps of the Hospitallers: 900 years of chivalry, faith and charity’, featuring documents from the Order’s archives stored at the National Library as well as publications from the library’s collections.