“The only worthwhile striving is after the highest ideals: If you aim for an easy target, your standard will inevitably decline, and no progress is ever made, except through real effort and real suffering.” - Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie                                                                                                                                                 "Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God" - Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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THURSDAY 5th AUGUST - OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS. PRAYERS FOR THE POPE'S VISIT TO BRITAIN

The icon wearing the crown placed there 
by the hand of the Venerable Pius XII in 1952

The Feast of Our Lady of the Snows, the Feast of the Dedication of the Roman Patriarchal Basilica of Saint Mary Major, which is said to have been built upon the site of a miraculous fall of snow outlining the plan of the building in the night of 4th to 5th August 352 AD. 

Since at least the 8th century, the miraculous icon of Our Lady, Salus Populi Romani, reputedly painted by Saint Luke upon a table made in the workshops of Saint Joseph, has been housed in the Basilica, originally above the main door. In  In 1240 She was formally declared "Regina Caeli" in a document of Pope Gregory IX. Since 1613 She has been displayed in the tabernacle in the Pauline chapel built for Her, where She remains to this day, much loved of all the Roman people.

She was crowned by Pope the Venerable Pius XII in the Marian Year 1952 on the establishment of the feast of the Queenship of Mary, and declared Mother of the Church by Pope Paul VI in the closing session of the II Vatican Oecumenical Council.

It is thus fitting that this Feast be set aside for especial prayers for the present Holy Father and the success of His visit to this realm. Accordingly, after the 6.30 evening Mass on this day, prayers will be said before the icon of Our Lady of Philermo for the Pope's intentions and for the well being of our country.

Those unable to join us in the Conventual Church are warmly enjoined to unite themselves to this intention in the recitation of a Pater, Ave and Gloria and the Regina Caeli.

CARAVAGGIO - 400 YEARS

This month sees the 400th anniversary of the death of the great painter and a fellow knight of Malta, Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio.

The blog Rorate Caeli has a most interesting article, and a 50-minute documentary film on his life in Milan and Rome.  It is fascinating, and it would be shame to miss it.  Click here.

Part of the film analyses the painting The Taking of Christ, pictured below, which now hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.

TUESDAY 27th JULY - FEAST OF SAINT PANTALEON

THANKSGIVING FOR THE VICTORY OF THE LIFTING OF THE SEIGE OF RHODES.


The end of the Siege, with the Ottoman camp on the distance, and 
the Grand Master's army having recaptured the Tower of Italy.

On this day in the year 1480, the Turks were defeated by Grand Master Pierre d'Aubusson at the lifting of the Siege of Rhodes.

D'Aubusson, who was 57 at the time of the siege, was one of the most accomplished Grand Masters ever to lead the Order. A man of fine presence, a polished diplomat, a Cardinal, and as the siege was to show, a courageous leader in war.

The besieging Ottoman army was made up of 170 ships and 100,000 men, under the command of Gedik Ahmed Pasha.  Grand Master d'Aubusson's small garrison was reinforced by 500 knights from France, and 2,000 soldiers under the command of the Grand Master's brother Antoine.

On this last decisive day of the battle, on which the Turks managed to capture the tower of the Langue of Italy, the battle rose to a frenzy during which 4,000 Turks were slain. The Hospitallers finally reached the tent of the Grand Vizier and captured the holy standard of Islam.

Defeated, the Ottoman fleet finally left on 27th August. Safety for Christian sea traffic in the Mediterranean was thus assured, until the fall of Rhodes in 1522.

Arms of Grand Master d'Aubusson with the Cardinal's hat, 
from a wall facing the port in Rhodes.

The Victory is commemorated within the Order this day in a Mass contained in a Missal of 1659 of the Domus SS Joannis et Cordulae in Cologne.
Feast of the 1st Class
ORATIO 
Deus in te sperântium fortitudo, adesto precibus nostris : quas tibi cum gratiarum offerimus actione : pro Victoria Magistro nostro, ac ejus exercitui, contra hostes Fidei Christianæ Turcos, per te mirabiliter Rhodi concessa : suppliciter deprecantes: ut solitâ tuæ pietatis clementiâ muniti, dextrâque tuæ potentiæ defensi : ab hostium infidiis, omníque adversitate protegâmur.  Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
SECRETA
Hostias tibi Domine placationis et laudis offerimus, suppliciter exorantes : ut qui nos de Fidei tuæhostibus triumphare fecisti : clementer ab inimicorum infidiis, et omni periculo salves et munias.  Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
POSTCOMMUNIO
Sumptis redemptionis nostræ muneribus, quæsumus Omnipotens Deus : eorum celebratione tuæ protectionis auxilium : et famulum tuum N. Hospitalis Hierosolomitani Magistrum, cum suo Exercitu, gratias de Triumphis Turcarum hostium fidei, nomini tuo sancto referentem : ab omni inimicorum incursu, cunctisque adversitatibus liberes semper et protegas.  Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

PRAYER FOR THE POPE

As we prepare for the Papal visit to our land, it is incumbent upon us to pray for the Holy Father, for his intentions, for the success of the visit, and for the broader good of the Church.
It is not too strong to say that we have witnessed growing attacks upon both the person of Pope Benedict and upon the Church in recent months in papers and media which we have been brought up to respect, and of which we might have expected better.

For those of us in the Order of Malta, and for those collaborating with the work of the Order through the Companions and other groups, we are reminded that our charism of Tuitio Fidei requires of us the defense of the Church and of the person and teaching of the Pope against secular attacks.  These attacks are as grave as the physical attacks by the Turk in our formative centuries.

To prepare ourselves we need to be informed. It is not good enough to say we do not wish to read the scurrilous and intemperate things, often wholly untrue, which are written about the Pope, unpleasant as they are to ingest.

A deacon of the Diocese of Lancaster, Rev Mr Nick Donnelly, an author for the Catholic Truth Society, who holds a BA Divinity in Theology, and who is on the editorial team of The Catholic Voice of Lancaster, the newspaper of the Diocese of Lancaster, has started a new Blog, Protect the Pope, to catalogue such negative statements, with a view to informing ordinary Catholics.  We are grateful to him for this most worthy apostolate.  We are grateful too to Fr Finigan for bringing this to our attention.

We commend it to you as an aid to directing your prayers, and to allow our readers to fight for Truth from an informed standpoint.


As Mr Donnelly writes:

Oremus pro Pontifice Nostro Benedicto.

SAINT JOHN’S CONCERT SERIES 2010/2011

        !!!                               Next Concert - 23rd MARCH - Hexachord                            !!!       

We are pleased to present the first annual series of Saint John’s Concerts, to be held in this beautiful classical church.

The programmes will include a fascinating glimpse of  choral music across the ages, concentrating particularly on English Tudor music, including works from the Eton Choirbook and Taverner, as well as more widely known pieces by Palestrina and other renaissance music, and on music written for the Order of Saint John though various periods.

We are grateful to the choirs Musica Contexta and Hexachord, whose long association with Saint John’s Wood parish is well known, singing polyphony of the most sublime quality, as well as our neighbours, Arnold House School, whose recently formed polyphonic choir will be making its debut in our church, in a concert of renaissance and classical music which will also allow the new organ to be heard to full advantage.

Schola Baptista will perform some extremely rare works written in Malta and elsewhere for the churches of the Knights of Saint John. Several of these pieces were performed in front of Fra' Matthew Festing, the Grand Master of the Order in Merton College Oxford last year.

The concerts are being organised in collaboration between the Hospital of Saint John and Saint Elizabeth and the Order of Malta, whose long association with the work of the Hospital dates back to its foundation by Sir George Bowyer, a 19th century knight of Malta who built the Hospital and Church greatly at his own expense, and who was instrumental in restoring the charitable activity of the Order in England. His heart is buried in front of the altar in the Church.


The concerts are in aid of SAINT JOHN'S HOSPICE, the only only independent hospice in central London. It delivers a unique model of care to one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in the world. Working in partnership with seven local Primary Care Trusts, its services cover a large geographical area from Hammersmith in the west, to the City in the east, from the Thames in the south to the M25 to the north.  Visit the website for more details.

Entry to the Concerts is by Programme available on the night, for which a donation of £15 is requested on the door. Wine and soft drinks are available in the interval.
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PROGRAMME

Wednesday 29 September 2010 at 19:30
Concert: Hexachord
O Michael - Across the ages, the extraordinary attributes and powers of St. Michael, Archangel have provided great inspiration to composers.  Monumental Renaissance masterpieces, such as John Taverner's six-part, festal mass "O Michael" and Heinrich Isaac's "Angeli, archangeli", can be heard alongside works by Palestrina, Willaert, and others.

Wednesday 27 October 2010 at 19:30
Concert: Musica Contexta
Inviolata - Marian music from the Sistine Archive.  From the musical melting-pot of Renaissance Rome, music in honour of the Virgin Mary by northern Europeans – Josquin and Arcadelt; Spaniards – De Silva and Morales; – and Italians – Festa and Palestrina. The programme will include music from Musica Contexta’s forthcoming ‘Roma Sancta’ CD for Chandos.

Wednesday 24 November 2010 at 19:30
Concert: Arnold House School Chapel Choir
A programme of polyphony and organ, including Richard Dering, George Dyson, Vaughan Williams and Faure. Interspersed in the programme will be two organ solos of works by J. S Bach, played by Paul Swinden, Choirmaster, and Colin Stuart.

Wednesday 15th December 2010 at 18:30
Christmas Carols: Cantores Missae - The popular annual Order of Malta Carol Service, with the plainsong Greater 'O' Antiphons, polyphonic motets, congregational carols and traditional readings in the candle-lit church.

Wednesday 26 January 2011 at 19:30
Concert: Musica Contexta
Glories of the Eton Choirbook - The Eton Choirbook is the most spectacular source of English Renaissance polyphony. Hidden away in the library of Eton College, the manuscript survived the Reformation, and so ensured that composers such as Kellyck, Fayrfax, Cornysh and Browne – otherwise barely known – have masterpieces to be remembered by. The programme will include probably the greatest work of the early Tudor period – John Browne’s ‘Stabat Mater’.

Saturday 26 February 2011 at 19:30
Concert: Schola Baptista
Music for Saint John - A programme of music composed for the liturgies of the Order of Saint John, from early chant from Rhodes to the heights of polyphony from Valetta.

Wednesday 23rd March 2011 at 19.30
Concert: Hexachord
Plorans, plorabit - Sometimes, especially during Lent and Holy Week, it might seem as if Thomas Tallis, arguably England's most illustrious Renaissance composer, was the only composer to set parts of the Lamentations of Jeremiah.  In fact, this text has inspired composers across the ages, from Festa in the early Renaissance, through Zelenka and Charpentier in the Baroque, to Stravinsky, Krenek and  ernstein in the 20th century. Through music by Carpentras, White, Morales, and others from the Renaissance period, this concert focuses on some of the lesser-known settings, and juxtaposes these with penitential choral works from the same period.

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Choir Biographies:
HEXACHORD - An early music ensemble, Hexachord was formed during the twilight of the 20th century with a primary aim of exploring a vast, virtually untapped repertoire of sacred Renaissance choral music.  Much of this music resides, largely and solely in manuscripts, choirbooks and part-books from the period, and has been specially transcribed and edited by the ensemble's director, Simon Lillystone, for liturgical, as well as concert use.
The ensemble has since given many concerts both inside and outside London, and has brought to light an array of stunning works by unjustly neglected composers, particularly those of Verdelot, Phinot, Porta, and de Monte.
MUSICA CONTEXTA  translates literally as 'music interwoven', reflecting the group's primary aim of  resenting Renaissance music in the context of its original conception and function. The group first performed in Ely Cathedral in August 1992, making its London debut at St. John’s Smith Square the following year. Since then Musica Contexta has performed throughout Britain and Europe. Sell-out Festival appearances in Britain have included the York Early Music Festival, the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester Cathedral, and the Stour Music Festival in Kent.  http://www.musicacontexta.com/ 
Musica Contexta’s Wigmore Hall debut was one of a number of BBC broadcasts the group has made. In 1995 the choir made its first CD recording, of music by John Sheppard. This was followed by a highly acclaimed series of recordings for Chandos, featuring Palestrina’s Music for Holy Week: the final recording in this series was shortlisted for the prestigious Gramophone Early Music Award.
SCHOLA BAPTISTA is an ad-hoc group of professional and amateur voices under the direction of Eoghain Murphy, a Knight of Malta, specialising in English and continental polyphony of the Golden Age, and with an additional interest in performing the largely-unpublished music written for, or associated with, the Order of Saint John whilst in Rhodes and Malta.  
They have performed before the Grand Master of the Order on several occasions, most recently in Merton College Oxford earlier this year.
CANTORES MISSAE is a vocal ensemble drawn from leading choral and consort singers in London. A variable group numbering from 4 to 12 singers (or more  f required), the members are drawn from such institutions as Westminster Cathedral and St. Paul's Cathedral. The group is now becoming established in Catholic circles for its performances of the finest works of the golden age of polyphony, in particular Victoria's Tenebrae Responsories, in such places as Portsmouth Cathedral, Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, London, the Chapel of the Knights of Malta, London and St.Thomas Aquinas in Ham, but their repertoire extends through to the 20th Century. The highest calibre of excellence is the hallmark of Cantores Missae, which always lends an extra dimension to any occasion, whether a wedding, funeral or a special service.
ARNOLD HOUSE SCHOOL CHAPEL CHOIR Arnold House a reknowned boys' preparatory school in St John's Wood, has recently developed a high standard of music under their enthusiastic young Director of Music, Paul Swinden. The Chapel Choir sings a mainly liturgical repertoire and leads the school's worship through music during the academic year. The school is happy to renew its association with the Hospital, and is glad to be able to encourage its young musicians. http://www.arnoldhouse.co.uk/

This post will be updated from time to time. The Series Programme leaflet is now published, copies will be available in the Church and Hospital Reception. A printable online version may be downloaded here, or in the 'download' menu in the sidebar.

MONDAY 12th JULY - BLESSED DAVID GUNSTON M. ON.

The Order in England is blessed with many English saints, who act both as intercessors and examples to people living and working in our own troubled age. Blessed David is one of them.
Sir David Gunston was a member of an English naval family who was received into the Order at the Auberge of England in Valetta on 20 October 1533.

He served on the ships of the Order in the Mediterranean until 1540 when he returned to England, by which time Henry VIII had suppressed the Order in his kingdom by an Act of Parliament of 10 May 1540. David Gunston was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1540 and was condemned to death by an Act of Parliament in 1541 for denying the authority of the King in spiritual matters.

He was hanged, drawn and quartered at St. Thomas' Waterings, Southwark on 12 July 1541. Pius XI declared him Blessed on 15 December 1929.

Collect of the Mass.

O God, who made of blessed David a notable champion of the Catholic faith whose martyrdom shed glory on our Order, grant that he may stimulate us to defend the unity of your holy Church. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Blessed David Gunston, Pray for us and for England.

THURSDAY 8th JULY - BL. ADRIAN FORTESCUE, PATRON OF THE GRAND PRIORY OF ENGLAND

Blessed Adrian Fortescue, from the painting in the Collegio in Malta, 
of which a copy hangs in the Sacristy of our Conventual Church.

On Thursday 8th July at 6.30pm there will be a plainsong High Mass in the Conventual Church of St John of Jerusalem on the feast of Blessed Adrian Fortescue, Martyr, Beatus of the Order and Patron of the Grand Priory of England.


The Mass will be celebrated in the presence of the Grand Prior, who is in London much recovered from his recent illness, by Monsignor Antony Conlon, Conventual Chaplain “ad honorem” and Chaplain to the Grand Priory of England. Members of the Order, Companions, and other friends are warmly encouraged to attend to join in the patronal festival.

The Mass will be offered for the repose of the soul of Gilberte Dumont, who died last week in the Hospice aged 104. Her family and friends will be present. You are encouraged to pray for this intention. Requiescat in Pace. 

There will be a Reception in Fortescue House after Mass, to which all are welcome.

THURSDAY 1st JULY - FEAST OF SAINT NICASIUS, MARTYR ON

Painting of the Saint in the Collegio in Malta

Nicasius was the grandson of one of the last emirs of Sicily, who had been converted by Roger of Normandy (or perhaps converted through his influence).  Nicasius was born about 1135 in Sicily, possibly in Palermo, into the Kameti family, later know as 'de Burgo'.

He joined the Order of Saint John as a knight, as did his brother Ferrandino. They answered the call of Roger des Moulins and travelled to the Holy Land where Nicasius was martyred in 1187. He fought in the great siege of Acre (1187-1191). According to one tradition he was captured there and beheaded with many others, including his brother.

According to another tradition, he was captured during the disastrous battle of The Horns of Hattin and was decapitated in the presence of Saladin after refusing to convert to Islam.

Saint Nicasius, as a Knight of Saint John,
you gave your life in the Holy Land in defense of Christendom.
Pray for the Order of Saint John and for peace in the Holy Land.

From the Collect
O God, every year you give us joy
In the commemoration of your martyr, blessed Nicasius:
Grant that through his prayers and example
the companions of our Order may grow in faith
and always follow you with all their hearts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.