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The Order of Malta

The Romanian Maltese Relief Service is one of the humanitarian organizations of the The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, contributing to the transmission of a tradition of nearly ten centuries in helping the poor and protecting the sick.

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.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Romania

The first relationships of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta with the Romanian people are dating from the thirteenth century, when, through the Knights of St. John Diploma, the Hungarian king Bela IV invites them to settle in Banat. It is considered that the first hospital in Romania was founded by the Knights of St. John in Oradea, before the hospitaller seat in Sibiu, whose establishment is attested from 1292.

The diplomatic relations at legation level, between Romania and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta were established in December 1932. The relations were terminated in 1948 without having been denounced by either party. In 1960 there was founded the “Union of members and those awarded the Merit of the Sovereign Order of Malta”. Renamed in 1962 as “the Association of the Romanian Members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta,” it operated in exile throughout the totalitarian regime.

On 24 May 1991 the diplomatic relations between Romania and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta resumed. Since 1991, the Order has achieved several projects in Romania: equipment and supply of hospitals with medicinal products, conducting specialized training courses for doctors and nurses from Romania within the Ambulance School from Paris, management of points of care, assistance to elderly and disabled people etc.

In the medical and social fields, we signed with the Romanian state a “Cooperation agreement for humanitarian assistance” (2002). The provisions of the Agreement are implemented by the territorial units of the Romanian Maltese Relief Service (e.g. support for people affected by natural disasters in Romania).

The Order also undertakes spiritual activities such as the annual pilgrimage of the Order held in Lourdes, a spiritual meeting point of the Knights of Malta worldwide. The Knights of Malta are companions of disabled people, for whose benefit is organized the entire event.

The 8 corners of the Maltese Cross represent the eight Beatitudes given by Jesus, a life program for opening to true values, illuminating facts and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

(Mt 5,3-12)