Friday, 29 August 2008


Grandmaster Until 2008:

78th Frà Andrew Bertie 1988-2008

The Prince & Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra Andrew Bertie, meets with young pilgrims during the Order's annual pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Loreto in the Italian Marches.
Bertie in Poland May 2007

He is English, from London. He is "only" 59 years old, young for his post. He is of the highest nobility: in fact, he has royal blood in his veins. His mother, Lady Jean Crichton Stuart, is a descendant of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, the "Catholic" par excellence, and he is therefore distantly related to Elizabeth II. His father James, a nobleman of ancient British aristocratic stock, with the title of the counts of Lindsay and Abington, was a broker on the London Stock Exchange who, in both world wars, served as an officer in the British Navy. The sister of his father married the brother of Sir Winston Churchill.

This noble geneology belongs to Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie, elected April 8 as the 78th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta. ["Knights of Malta" .... JP] He succeeds the Italian Brother Angelo de Mojana di Cologna, who died January 18 after 26 years of rule.

Descended from families and individuals used to governing, this "king without a kingdom" will guide 12,000 Knights scattered throughout the world, and a religious, military and hospital Order inspired by St. John the Baptist, of whom Christ said numquam surrexit maior: "Never has a greater man arisen. "

Brother Bertie was included in a brief list of "outsiders" with a chance to be elected in the period before the Grand Electors of the Order, 35 in all, closed themselves inside the splendid villa designed by Piranesi on Aventine Hill in Rome. His election, as is known, was not a unanimous one, even if, in hindsight, one cannot say he did not fit the requirements that the Holy See had indicated through the Order's Cardinal "patron," Sebastiano Baggio: a young Grand Master, to give the Order a younger character and greater stability. [...]

Previous Grandmasters of SMOM:

77th Frà Angelo de Mojana di Cologna 1962 - 1988

76th Frà Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere 1931 - 1951

75th Frà Galeas von Thun und Hohenstein 1905 - 1931

for more see:

Present Grandmaster:

Profile of His Most Eminent Highness the Prince and Grand Master
Fra' Matthew FESTING

Fra’ Matthew Festing, an Englishman, was elected Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta on 11th March 2008 by the Council Complete of State of the Order of Malta. He succeeds Fra’ Andrew Bertie, 78th Grand Master (1988-2008), who died on 7 February.
Born in Northumberland on 30 november 1949, educated at Ampleforth and St. John’s College Cambridge, where he read history, Fra’ Matthew, an art expert, has for most of his professional life worked at an international art auction house. As a child he lived in Egypt and Singapore, where his father, Field Marshal Sir Francis Festing, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, had earlier postings. He is also descended from Sir Adrian Fortescue, a knight of Malta, who was martyred in 1539.

Fra’ Matthew Festing served in the Grenadier Guards and holds the rank of colonel in the Territorial Army. He was appointed OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by the Queen and served as her Deputy Lieutenant in the county of Northumberland.

He became a member of the Sovereign Order of Malta in 1977, and took solemn religious vows in 1991, becoming a Professed Knight of the Order. Between 1993 and 2008 he was the Grand Prior of England. In this capacity, he has led missions of humanitarian aid to Kosovo, Serbia and Croatia after the recent disturbances in those countries, and he attends the Order’s international annual pilgrimage to Lourdes.

As well as his passion for the decorative arts and for history, his encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of the Order of Malta is well known.

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