Friday, 22 June 2007

Order of Malta Mass at the London Oratory

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, otherwise known as the "Sovereign Military Order of Malta" (SMOM), the "Order of Malta" or the "Knights of Malta", today held its Annual Mass at the London (Brompton) Oratory in celebration of the feast day of its patron, St. John.

I was unable to attend this year, however here are some photographs taken in 2006:

The Order of Malta is the world's oldest military-religious order and has its origins in a hospice and confraternity in Jerusalem founded some time before the First Crusade (1099). Admission to the order is restricted to Roman Catholics of good standing. Internationally, the Order currently comprises 12,500 knights and dames, many from some of Europe's most important Roman Catholic families.

In accordance with its Constitutional Charter, the purpose of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is "the promotion of… the Christian virtues of charity and brotherhood. The Order carries out its charitable works for the sick, the needy and refugees without distinction of religion, race, origin or age. The Order fulfils its institutional tasks especially by carrying out hospitaller works, including health and social assistance, as well as aiding victims of exceptional disasters and war…"

Today the Order is a major global, professional organisation in terms of the humanitarian aid, medical care and emergency medicine it provides, in its management of hospitals, specialised homes for dependent elderly people, socio-medical care centres, the collection and transporting of medicines and the training of workers and ambulance staff. It has a body of more than 80,000 permanent volunteers and 11,000 doctors and nurses to deliver medical and relief aid; and its national Associations are present in over 120 countries.

For historical reasons the Order is a sovereign and neutral entity in international law and has accredited diplomatic missions in ninety-seven nations around the world. The Order has also received observer status at the United Nations and has delegations to various international organisations.

The 78th Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Andrew Bertie is accorded the ecclesiastical precedence of a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, with the diplomatic honours due to a sovereign head of state. Last month saw the Prince and Grand Master make a highly successful state visit to Poland (the first that a Grand Master of the Order of Malta had made to Poland since that carried out by Grand Master Chigi Albani della Rovere in 1931).

The Grand Master with the President of Poland during last month's state visit:

Portrait of Count Bogdan Hutten-Czapski (1851-1937), Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour & Devotion, President of the Polish Association during the previous state visit to Poland by a Grand Master of the SMOM.

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