Skip to comments.At 900 Years, Knights of Malta Confronts Modernity
Posted on 02/06/2013 9:09:57 AM PST by marshmallow
ROME (AP) - Matthew Festing - aka His Most Eminent Highness The Prince and Grand Master of the Knights of Malta - bounds into the sitting room of his magnificent Renaissance palazzo sweaty and somewhat disheveled, and asks an aide if he should take off his sweater to be photographed.
Garrulous and self-effacing, Festing embodies some of the paradoxes of a fabled Catholic religious order that dates from the medieval Crusades: Steeped in European nobility and mystique, the order's mission is humility and charity - running hospitals, ambulance services and old folks' homes around the globe. It has many trappings of a country, printing its own stamps, coins, license plates and passports, and yet - a stateless state - it rules over no territory.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta's world headquarters, down the block from the Spanish Steps and with an Hermes boutique on the corner, features reception rooms draped in oil portraits of grand masters past and a gem of a chapel where King Juan Carlos of Spain was baptized by the future Pope Pius XII. On the ground floor, it runs a health clinic that, while private, provides free services for anyone who can't pay.
"It is, I suppose, a series of contradictions," Festing told The Associated Press ahead of the order's 900th birthday this week. "I'm on the inside of it, so it doesn't seem to be contradictory to me, but maybe it is."
And as the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, as the group is officially called, celebrates the anniversary on Feb. 9 with a procession through St. Peter's Square, a Mass in the basilica and an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, the ancient order is confronting some very modern-day issues.
Once drawn exclusively from.....
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The Knights of Malta, being an Equestrian Order, also have the privilege of being able to ride their horses into church...I was once at a Mass in California where the Knights (mostly some very wealthy ranchers) formed up and stepped their horses into the back of the church.
It was quite impressive!
My Dad is a Knight of Malta. I sent him a link to this article. Thanks!
Knight of the Malt? That must be our local beer drinking champion.