Nearly 1000 years of history, 1000 years in the service of humanity
In the early Middle Ages, around 1048, the caliph of Egypt granted permission to some merchants in the old Duchy of Amalfi to build in Jerusalem a convent, a church and a hospital to care for pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. Under the guidance of St. Gérard there has been thus created the Order St. John of Jerusalem, monastic community which ran the pilgrims’ hospital, regardless of their race or religion.
The Knights, members of the Order, were monks bound by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Obliged to also take on the function of protecting the pilgrims and the sick and the territories that the Crusaders had conquered, they added that their hospitaller mission that of defenders of the faith. They had become a Military Order, including gaining a territory and acting as a State. The foundations were thus laid for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, whose mission is summarized by the slogan “Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum” (Defence of the faith and assistance to the poor).
Over the centuries it aquired and lost territories (the islands of Rhodes and Malta). After many wanderings, the headquarters of the Order is established in 1834 in Rome, on the territory of the Pontifical State.
Faithful to its legendary history, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is a religious, noble traditional, chivalrous military order. It comprises 13500 Knights and Dames and it is spread over 120 countries worldwide.
Its organizations pursue the same mission, to help the poor and those in need. Thus, through their humanitarian programs, they help children, the elderly and disabled, care for the sick and intervene in case of natural disasters.
A subject of international law and a lay religious order of the Catholic Church, the Sovereign Order of Malta has today bilateral diplomatic relations with over 100 states and the European Union, and permanent observer status at the United Nations. It is neutral, impartial and apolitical.
The Order of Malta operates through 12 Priories, 47 national Associations, 133 diplomatic missions, 1 worldwide relief agency and 33 national relief corps, as well as numerous hospitals, medical centres and specialist foundations. It does not pursue any economic or political goal and does not depend on any other state or government.