Under the direction of Chevalier and Commander Knight Antonio Castellano the Knights of Malta have started down a new path to demonstrate that the chivalric idea of Knights in shinning armour still exists – albeit as the ‘Modern Knights’ of Malta.
Eleven postulants departed Bologna on the last weekend of September to take part in a Solemn Investiture Ceremony hosted by the HE Chev Mro Mark Agius, Grand Prior of Malta under the patronage of Their Imperial and Royal Highnesses the Prince Grandmaster and Royal Protector, Sandor and Herta Margarete Habsburg Lothringen.
The whole event was attended by many other distinguished guests and Knights from around the world, such as Russia, Ukraine, Germany, England, Sweden, USA and Canada. And to match the seriousness and grandeur of such an occasion dress code too switched from lounge to black tie.
On the first evening, the Medina Foundation for Music led by conductor Chev. Agius staged a Fund-raising Recital of Sacred Music by the St Paul Chamber Ensemble. Over €1,500 was raised and donated to Hope foundation and Medina Foundation.
Afterwards Knights, Dames and postulants mixed at an aperitivo to get to know one another. It was an exciting night for those new to the Order as there were no barriers to approaching anyone regardless of their title, rank or social status – very much in keeping with one of the Order’s principle that everyone is welcome and treated with respect.
His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani bestowed his Spiritual Protection and Apostolic Blessing on the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem putting the Order under his protection. The Order constantly works in the fields of the sick and the poor and helping those in need. Recent donations made by the Order include hospital beds to Macedonia and over 150 computers to Ghana.
On the following day, all current members of SHOSJ and new postulants walked through the main streets of Valletta in ceremonial dress code with a two-man police escort at the head. Hundreds of surprised tourists quickly snapped away with their cameras as the column, dressed in black or red mantle with cape and regalia passed along the streets until St Augustine Church.
Inside the Church, throngs of guests and families packed into the aisles in great anticipation of the actual investiture. Bailiffs, Grand Priors, Priors, Knight Commanders and many foreign dignitaries also watched on as HRH Prince Sandor Habsburg knighted the new postulants. On this point, it must be noted that SHOSJ promotes itself as an Ecumenical Order and does not exclude other faiths because most important of all is that members adhere to a strict dogma of helping others regardless of their faith.
In the evening there was a grand Gala Reception at Castello Dei Baroni, Wardija, International Headquarters of the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem. Guests mixed and mingled until the buses rolled up at the castle again to return guests home.
The next day and for those that remained mass was offered up at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta and a final visit to the Monastery of the Cloistered Gerosolimitan Nuns of St Ursula to see the skull of the Blessed Gerard, Founder of the Order.
The SHOSJ assist the impoverished and displaced people across the globe. In recent years the members have assisted in raising funds to purchase medicines and medical equipment for many third world countries, including: Philippines, Republic of Honduras, Africa: Gambia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Zimbabwe, Haiti Bahamas, Yemen
The Grand Priory of Italy in the past has dedicated its time to help the poor and those in need.
– Various interventions, dinners for the poor, furnishing a shelter.
– Purchase of equipment for Hospital Salerno to cover expenses and the donation of equipment.
– Participation in the purchase of a means of transport for the disabled in the province of Ascoli Piceno.
– Donation of robes. Gift sent to a parish where they come from Mexican Sisters of Cardinal Sebastiani
Overseeing the huge task to bring the Order into the modern age is Senior Information Officer Chev. Knight Commander of Grace Mikael Hagansbo. He addresses the issue of being online: “…we have also started the complex process in building a new digital platform in which the new website is the most important task.
We have produced two issues of the Modern Knight digital Magazine and we have also started the complex process of building a new digital platform.
Most Grand Priories has also appointed national Information and Social Media Officers to be the link between Information Communication Media and the Grand Priories… The Facebook group is really working fine thanks to Brother Antoine Bonello.
Chev. Hagansbo reiterates how important change is to the Order but especially to the wider public. “Yes, of course, we can and must change direction. I think every single Brother and Sister wants to read about what goes on around the world, what kind of charity events and projects our other Brothers and Sisters do… thousands of thousands of other people around the world that wants to read about us about what we are doing, how we manage various aid projects and they also want to know how to join us.”
Web site: http://shosj.org