This morning in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, I presided at the Eucharist during which a Ceremony of Investiture for new members of the Canadian Association of the Order of Malta took place.
New members came from Toronto and Montreal as well as the Ottawa region; the ceremony was bilingual: two of the new Knights of Malta are francophone, the other three English-speaking. I was also given the insignia of a Conventual Chaplain (as is the case with Archbishops Collins and Miller in Toronto and Vancouver).
The Order of Malta is a Religious Order founded by a Papal Bull of Pope Pascal II in 1113 as the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, led by the Knights of Justice who are professed Friars, and the Grand Master who holds the precedence of a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, and is inspired by the devotion of the Knights and Dames of Malta at the Masses of the Order of Malta, and in the Defense of the Faith and the care of the sick and the poor.
Throughout the nine hundred years as a Religious Order, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta has been blessed by its Patron Saint John the Baptist and by the Saints and the Blessed Knights and Chaplains of the Order of Malta.
Present in Palestine in around 1050, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. Its 12,500 members include Professed Friars and others who have made vows of obedience. The other Knights and Dames are lay members, devoted to the exercise of Christian virtue and charity.
What distinguishes the Knights of Malta is their commitment to reaching their spiritual perfection within the Church and to expending their energies serving the poor and the sick.
The Order of Malta remains true to its inspiring principles, summarized in the motto "Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum", defense of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering, which become reality through the voluntary work carried out by Dames and Knights in humanitarian assistance and medical and social activities.
Today the Order carries out these activities in over 120 countries.
The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law, with its own constitution, passports, stamps, and public institutions. The 78th Grand Master, FRA MATHEW FESTING, was elected Head of the Order for life in 2008.
The Order has diplomatic relations with 99 countries (including Canada—the Canadian Ambassador to the Holy See handles relations with the Order of Malta—) many of which non-Catholic - and missions to major European countries, as well as to European and international organizations.
The Order of Malta is neutral, impartial and non-political, which is why it can successfully act as a mediator between States.
His Excellency Peter Quail, President, visiting in my office on Friday morning