About 4,000 Knights and Dames of Malta processed into Saint Peter's Basilica on Saturday, as part of celebrations marking the 900th anniversary of the establishment of their organization as a Sovereign Military Order under Papal protection.
It was on 15 February, 1113, that Pope Paschal II issued the Bull Pie Postulatio Voluntatis, by which he placed the newly created “hospitaller fraternity” of Jerusalem under the protection of the Church and gave it sovereign status, constituting it as an Order in church law, with the faculty freely to elect its superiors without interference from other lay or religious authorities.
In his address, Pope Benedict tied the anniversary to the Year of Faith, during which, he said: “The Church is called to renew the joy and the commitment of believing in Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of the world.” Pope Benedict went on to praise the Order of Malta for its nine centuries’ history of faithfulness to the Church.
“Continue to walk along this path,” he said, “ bearing concrete witness to the transforming power of faith.” Since its founding, the Order of Malta has been dedicated to the care of the sick, to solidarity and to human promotion, all inspired by Christian commitment to living the Gospel.
At present, the Order of Malta is active in over 120 countries, supported by the diplomatic relations it currently has with 104 nations. The Order runs hospitals, medical centres, day hospitals, nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled, and special centres for the terminally ill.
In many countries the Order’s volunteer corps provide first aid, social services, emergency and humanitarian interventions. The Pope called on the Knights and Dames of today and tomorrow to preserve and cultivate this qualifying characteristic and work with renewed apostolic ardour, maintaining an attitude of profound harmony with the Magisterium of the Church.
“Dear friends,” said Pope Benedict, “Continue working in society and in the world along the elevated paths indicated by the Gospel – faith and charity, for the renewal of hope.”
Tags: Order of Malta
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