Order of Malta celebrated its founder Fra’ Gerard 900 years after his death
Lieutenant ad interim Villas Boas, Cardinal Becciu and Health Minister Speranza present at the celebrations in Scala
Rome, 4 September 2020 – The celebrations to commemorate the founder of the Sovereign Order of Malta 900 years after his death was held in Scala, in the province of Salerno, and worldwide on 3 September. Many historians claim he was born in Scala around 1040, and moved to Jerusalem where, in the second half of the 11th century, he became the head of the hospital built by Amalfi citizens to assist pilgrims. Founder and first Grand Master of the Order of St. John (now Sovereign Order of Malta), it was thanks to his charitable work and his charisma that Pope Paschal II, with his bull of 15 February 1113, transformed the hospital into a lay religious order of the church, with the right to elect its superiors without interference from any other authority, lay or religious.
Recognized as blessed by the Catholic church, Fra’ Gerard’s example – based on the founding motto Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum (bearing witness to the faith and helping the poor) – has animated the Order of Malta’s 900-year history. It is now present in 120 countries with health and social care carried out by a network of 13,500 members, 80 thousand volunteers and some 40 thousand professionals.
The celebrations in Scala began, on Thursday 3 September with a Solemn Mass presided by Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the Pope’s Special Delegate to the Sovereign Order of Malta, also attended by the Order of Malta’s delegation led by the Lieutenant ad interim, Fra’ Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas, with members of the Sovereign Council – the Order of Malta’s government – the Procurators of the three Italian Grand Priories and 100 knights, dames, chaplains and volunteers. For the Italian government, the Minister for Health, Roberto Speranza will be present, as well as the president of the Campania region, Vincenzo De Luca, and the mayor of Scala, Luigi Mansi.
The celebrations continued in the afternoon of 3 September with the presentation in the Piazza del Municipio of a set of commemorative stamps produced by Poste Italiane and dedicated by the Italian to Blessed Gerard, followed by a concert of the famous violinist Uto Ughi.