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The Knights of Malta celebrate nine centuries of service in Rome

THE Catholic order of the Knights of Malta celebrated its 900th birthday in Rome last weekend.

The order, which was founded by Pope Paschal II in February 1113, is one of the few created in the Middle Ages that is still active and is the fourth oldest religious order in the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI, two days before announcing his resignation, addressed more than 1000 knights and dames of the order on Saturday, congratulating them for their charitable work among the sick and the poor.

“Your esteemed and beneficent activity, carried out in a variety of fields and in different parts of the world… is not mere philanthropy, but an effective expression and a living testimony of evangelical love,” Pope Benedict said.

Prior to the Holy Father’s address, the knights and dames attended a Mass led by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State.

The order of the Knights of Malta was originally founded by a group of aristocratic European Crusaders who looked after sick pilgrims in Jerusalem in the 12th century, when the order received official Papal recognition.

Speaking on the order’s 900th birthday, Fra Matthew Festing, the current Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, said ‘it is interesting that a small band of Crusaders has expanded into this huge worldwide organisation.’

 

—This story was reported in full in the February 15 print edition of the SCO

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