From Cardinal Sarah : "In order to avoid hearing God's music, we have chosen to use all the devices of this world. But heaven's instruments will not stop playing just because some people are deaf."                                                                                              Saint John-Paul II wrote: "The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met."                                                 Cardinal Müller says, “For the real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil.”                                                  St Catherine of Siena said, “We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.”                                                  Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”                                                Brethren, Wake up!


Today is the feast of Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Cardinal Schuster, OSB, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.


He was born in Rome of Bavarian parents on 18 January 1880 and was baptized Alfredo Ludovico Luigi. He entered the Benedictine monastery of St Paul-Outside-the-Walls when he was 11, and in 1896 began his novitiate, taking the name of Ildefonso. He made his solemn profession in 1902. After studying philosophy at Sant' Anselmo (Rome)  and theology at St Paul's Abbey, he was ordained a priest in 1904. 

He was appointed Archbishop of Milan by Pope Pius XI on 26 June 1929 and created a Cardinal on 15 July. In 1933 he was invested Bailiff in our Order. A few days before he died, he withdrew to Venegono seminary. 

His last, moving words were to the seminarians: “You want something to remember me by. All I can leave you is an invitation to holiness...”. He died a few days later on 30 August 1954. His cause for canonization was introduced in 1957 by his successor, Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI. When his tomb was opened on 28 January 1985, his body was found to be intact. He was beatified on 12 May 1996.  

The Collect
Almighty God, through your grace,
Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso,
by his exemplary virtue built up the flock entrusted to him.
Grant that we, under the guidance of the Gospel,
may follow his teaching and walk in sureness of life,
until we come to see you face to face in your eternal kingdom.
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.          


Salome with the Head of the Baptist by Caravaggio, 1607
The Feast of the Decollation, or Passion of our Blessed Patron was this year displaced by the occurring Sunday. Whereas the Nativity is a Solemnity which would take precedence over the Sunday, this Feast does not, even in the oratories of the Order.

In the Conventual Church, as part of the monthly day of Recollection on Saturday (with excellent conferences given by Father Rupert McHardy of the London Oratory) the Feast was observed by sung votive First Vespers, and during Holy Hour the singing by Schola Baptista of the glorious English early Tudor motet 'O Baptista vates Christi' by Hugh Aston (born 1485).

"O Baptist, Prophet of Christ,
who arose greatest among those
born of women,
whom we entreat in this temple
with concordant voices,
be on the side of us, thy people.

Defend this choir,
whose members we are
and whose leader and best patron
thou art after Christ,
lest the smoke of anger harm us;
let love be in our hearts.

Thou art nothing without God,
who chose thee alone
among so many mortals
to be a witness to our hope,
the true preacher of the word of God,
pointing out the Son of God..."

Holy Hour was followed by veneration of the relic, which was also present on the altar for the Mass of the Sunday.

The Grand Prior was present on Sunday, and thus able to greet everyone on this patronal feast which we share with the Hospital.

Misso Herodes spiculatore, praecepit amputari caput Joannis in carcere : quo audito, discipuli ejus venerunt, et tulerunt corpus ejus, et posuerunt illud in monumento.
V/. Gloria et honore coronasti eum, Domine.
R/. Et constituisti eum super opera manuum tuarum.
Oremus. Sancti Joannis Baptistae Praecusoris et Martyris tui, quaesumus Domine, veneranda festivitas, salutaris auxilii nobis praestet effectum : Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deum, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.


Last night, the final evening of their visit to London, our guests from Malteser Hospitaldienst Austria came to Saint John's Wood to see the Hospital and Conventual Church. The Grand Prior was present to welcome them to the home of the Order in England, as were the Chancellors of both the Grand Priory and the British Association.  The heavy rain prohibited us from beginning our visit in the courtyard to look at Brampton House and the facade of the church, but failed entirely to dampen the spirits of our guests!

Following a talk in the afternoon given by the Commissioner on the founding of the Hospital and the history of the Conventual Church (again splendidly translated by Tina Andracher!), Holy Mass was celebrated by Father Peter Newby in Latin and German, ending with the singing of the German hymn "Segne du Maria." We were joined by several of the Sunday faithful and Companions, including some very useful German speakers! Mass was served by both English Companions and volunteers from Malteser Austria.  Our photographer was serving, hence the lack of photographs of this part of the afternoon.

Following Mass, everyone repaired to Fortescue House for a splendid buffet supper and a visit of some of the Order's artefacts led by the Grand Prior.

Our guests return home to Graz tomorrow, we wish them a safe journey, and offer them our thanks for all the fun we have had together over the past week. Click photos to enlarge.
Talk on the history of the Church and Hospital
Malades and Helpers at the Reception

Friends and helpers
The Grand Prior with some of the Malteser volunteers and the Sword!


On Tuesday morning our visitors were taken to the Tower of London, in a visit organised by Sean Armstrong.  Again they arrived by river-boat, thankfully not to Traitor's Gate! We were greeted by the Governor of the Tower, Major General Keith Cima, who most graciously arranged for us, as we were Catholics, to enter his residence the Queen's House. Here we were able to visit the cell at the bottom of the Bell Tower where St Thomas More was held prisoner in dire conditions for the 15 month prior to his execution on Tower Hill. This part of the Tower is not normally open to visitors, so this was a great privilege. After a brief prayer in the cell, we then visited the tomb where the saint's body, but not his severed head, are buried in the crypt of the chapel. The Yeoman Gaoler showed us around and gave most interesting and informative talks.

We then, thanks greatly to the courtesy shown by the Tower authorities to our guests our Lords the Sick, jumped the queues for a private visit of the Crown Jewels, and those who could manage the stairs (including some Malades) were taken up to William the Conqueror's chapel of Saint John in the White Tower, where all kings until Charles II spent the night in vigil before their coronation. It is also the place where the Order of the Bath was founded.

After our long and fascinating morning's visit, we were treated most generously to a delicious lunch in the offices of Norman Rose in Southwark, courtesy of Simon Cox, the husband of one of our Dames, in a roof-top dining room with wonderful views across the City and Tower Bridge.  Our guests left us by bus to go to visit Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, with the boundless energy of youth!

We are very grateful to everyone who made this visit such a success, and also to our guests whose presence allowed several of us to take a morning of work to play at being tourists in our own city! Click pictures to enlarge.
Order of Malta Gun of 1607 on the lawn before the White Tower 
The Governor, Major General Cima, addressing our visitors
The Yeoman Gaoler addressing the party before the Queen's House
In St Thomas More's cell
The Saint's tomb (reliquary)
Group photograph before Tower Bridge
The Bridge opening!

Saint Thomas More, pray for us.
Saint John Fisher, pray for us.


Father Peter Newby, Rector of St Mary Moorfields, led our guests on a short walk around Catholic London which took in the location of his church's predecessor, the first cathedral built after the Restoration of the Hierarchy.  The site was later sold and the proceeds paid for the building of Westminster Cathedral.  We then moved to view one of the few remaining pieces of London Wall, built by the Romans.  The original Roman work can be seen at the bottom of the present wall outside All Hallows Church.  

Negotiating one of the many very narrow side streets of the City the group arrived at the site of the former Augustinian friary in Austin Friars where the Netherlandse Kerk now stands.

Moving on again we arrived at the Blue Plaque recording the birthplace of John Henry Cardinal Newman in Old Broad Street. As Fr Newby pointed out, the London into which he was born was transformed into a very different City by the time of his death in Birmingham.

The Bank of England and the Royal Exchange were next to be viewed before a stroll back to the Church with glimpses of the 'Gherkin' and the Stock Exchange building on the way.

It had been planned to have afternoon tea in the Church Hall, but access down the stairs proved impossible for the wheelchairs and Father kindly put the Sacristy at the disposal of the party, with all the helpers assisting in bringing the tea things up from down below in a relay of efficiency.

Many thanks to Fr Newby for his interesting talks en route and the hospitality at the Church. Click photos to enlarge.
Site of the Pro-Cathedral of old St Mary Moorfields near Finsbury Circus
The Roman masonry at All Hallows London Wall
The visitors enjoying the talk at Austin Friars
Pilgrimage to the soon-to-be-Beatus' birthplace in Old Broad Street
Afternoon tea in the Sacristy at St Mary Moorfields!


The anniversary Mass intention for Maria Martinho was offered by Father Sloan at the Sung Mass on Sunday 22nd August. Maria, an old friend of the Order and of Saint John's Wood community and veteran of many Order pilgrimages to Lourdes and other holy places, died after a long and valiant battle against cancer on 20th August 2008.

In 2007 whilst in Walsingham with the Order she already knew that her condition was terminal and lamented the fact that she would never be able to fulfil a lifelong ambition to meet His Holiness the Pope. Our then Hospitaller, Peter Loyd decided that we should make this happen.

Within days tickets to the General Audience had been arranged, flights and hotels booked and plans set in train to ensure that she would meet Pope Benedict. As the accompanying photographs show, she did to, her great delight!

Maria lived for more than a year after this happy meeting, far longer than her doctors had predicted and was even able to take part in the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes in May 2008.

Many people yesterday remembered Maria, and having prayed for her soul, some 25 toasted her memory after Mass in Fortescue House.

Requiescat in Pace.


We have been very pleased to welcome a group of visitors from Graz, on holiday to London, six Malades with their helpers from Malteser Hospitaldienst Austria.

They arrived on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday a group of members of the Order from the Conventual Church and Companions, under the leadership of John Tabor, arranged a picnic in Greenwich.

Fra' Richard Cheffins, who lives in Greenwich, gave a guided tour of the town, the historic market and the Royal Naval College, and delivered a most learned talk, simultaneously translated with an enviable skill by Tina Andracher, the group leader.

It was disappointing that the fire of two years ago aboard the Cutty Sark has resulted in continued scaffolding on this glorious tea-clipper, with which some of our guests, well versed in British maritime history, were already familiar. The spire of Hawksoor's magnificent anglican church of St Alphege was also shrouded in scaffolding, the bane of every tourist's life!  The glorious baroque interior and the organ console played for many years by Thomas Tallis (and also by the princesses Elizabeth and Mary Tudor), was however open to visitors. We were, nevertheless, blessed by the weather which although threatening to rain at any moment remained warm and fine.

After a lunch on the grass by the colonnade of the College Brewery the group visited the Painted Hall, the former dining hall, and Chapel, before repairing to the Trafalgar Tavern for a pint. An order of 18 pints at the bar caused no evident surprise!

Further reports of the visit will follow before our guests' return to Graz on Thursday. Click photos to enlarge.
Disembarking from the Riverboat
In the Greenwich Hospital Market
Fra' Richard's Morning Office
In the Exhibition
Fra Richard's talk
The Painted Hall
The College Chapel
Group photograph outside the Chapel
At the pub


We have received a letter from the Commissariat of the Holy Land, the Franciscan Office charged up by the Holy See to collect funds from around the world for the Holy Places in Jerusalem, acknowledging the Good Friday Collection of £140 in the Conventual Church.

Many thanks to all those who gave to this cause to protect and maintain some of the most holy things in our religion.


The Grand Priory of England's copy of the Icon of Our Lady of Philermo
The Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, falling this year on a Sunday, was celebrated in a packed church by Father Richard Sloan, Chaplain of the Hospital.  The Mass was followed by a picnic lunch for members of the Order and the faithful in Fortescue House and garden.

We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the glorious celebration of the Feast at altar and board.


Following the devastating floods in Pakistan, Malteser International is providing medical care for more than 1,000 patients per day in the Swat valley in its Basic Health Units as well as via mobile clinics.  The Order's medics have been present in the region since the earthquake in 2005, so it is well placed to undertake the emergency help now needed.

"The safe storage of drinking water is essential especially in those areas where diseases have already occurred," explains Dr. Juergen Clemens, Senior Desk Officer Pakistan at Malteser International. "Furthermore it is a high priority to care for the children who have a weaker immune system than adults. Therefore we vaccinate the children against measles and tetanus."

Photographs courtesy of Malteser International
To read more about the Order's work in this region click here.

Please give all you can to support this aid project. Please also pray for this work and for the people of Pakistan, and for the souls of the many thousands who have died.


On Thursday last The Very Reverend John Canon McDonald, Magistral Chaplain and Chaplain Emeritus of the Hospital, celebrated this special Mass for the intentions of the forthcoming Papal visit to Britain, in honour of Our Lady of the Snows, the dedication of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. The basilica was built by Pope Liberius on a site indicated by a miraculous fall of snow the Esquiline Hill, as he had been directed in a dream.  It has been since that time a feast particularly beloved of the Roman Pontiffs, and which is associated also on this same day with the Basilica's miraculous icon Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Heaven, and Mother of the Church, as proclaimed by Pope Paul VI.  It is the custom in the Basilica that a fall of white rose petals accompany the introit of the Mass, a ceremony followed in the Conventual Church this year to symbolise our unity to Pope Benedict's intention, as we prepare for his visit to our country.

The Grand Priory's schola sang chant and Roman polyphony, Palestrina's Missa Sine Nomine à 4 and Soriano's Regina Coeli. The Regina Caeli replaces the Salve on this feast, as this title was anciently also given to this image of Our Lady.  The organist was Colin Mawby KSG, to whom we are most deeply grateful.

The Mass was followed by prayers before our own icon of Our Lady of Philermo for the Holy Father, for the Papal visit and the beatification of the venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, the texts of which are given below for those who may wish to make a private devotion or novena.

The prayers are followed by a short video of some moments from Thursday's Mass and devotions.
Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.  R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Let us pray, O God, who through the resurrection of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ didst vouchsafe to give joy to the world: grant, we beseech thee, that through His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
For the Intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

Prayer for the Papal Visit to the United Kingdom

Let us pray: God of truth and love,
your Son, Jesus Christ, stands as the light
to all who seek you with a sincere heart.
As we strive by your grace
to be faithful in word and deed,
may we reflect the kindly light of Christ
and offer a witness of hope and peace to all.
We pray for Pope Benedict
and look forward with joy
to his forthcoming visit to our countries.
May he be a witness to the unity and hope
which is your Will for all people.
Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer for the Canonisation of the
Venerable John Henry Newman

Let us pray: Eternal Father, You led John Henry Newman to follow the kindly light of Truth, and he obediently responded to your heavenly calls at any cost. As writer, preacher, counsellor and educator, as pastor, Oratorian, and servant of the poor he laboured to build up your Kingdom. 
Grant that through your Vicar on Earth we may hear the words, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the company of the canonized saints. 
May you manifest your Servant’s power of intercession by even extraordinary answers to the prayers of the faithful throughout the world. We pray particularly for our intentions in his name and in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  Amen. 
Prayer for England
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.
By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.
Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.
Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home.  Amen.
Our Lady, Mother of the Church — pray for us.
St Andrew — pray for us.
St George — pray for us.
St David — pray for us.
V. May the divine assistance remain with us always. R. And may the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.


screen shot of video ©BBC 2010
The BBC online news service carries an interesting report from a site near the Black Sea in Bulgaria, about the possible finding of further relics of our Blessed Patron John the Baptist.  Click here to watch the video report.  

The report tells us there is a tooth within the sarcophagus, which adds to the substantial heritage of claimed relics of the Baptist's head - in Damascus, visited by Pope John-Paul II in 2001; in Rome at San Silvestro in Capite; in Amien Cathedral; and on Mount Athos, among the most reknowned.  Some or none of these may be real, which in no way diminishes their value as aids to devotion, and in venerating them we honour the Saint, and join in the prayers of pilgrims over many centuries.

There is is of course no authority to believe in the veracity of this latest find, but we pass it on as a matter of some historical and pious interest.


Colonel Pace today, with his niece, Father Sloan, and other friends.

It is with great joy that today we were able to celebrate the 97th Birthday of Colonel Tommy Pace, which occurred last Friday.

After Mass most of the congregation repaired to the Hospital refectory for a champagne reception. Father Sloan, the Hospital Chaplain, paid tribute to the Colonel's thirty years of service in the Sacristy, and latterly amongst the knight of Malta. He presented Colonel Pace with a gift on behalf of Matron, Mrs Malcolmson, and the Hospital.

Colonel Pace responded in kind, with a jolly speech thanking all those present for their wishes and kindness.

Ad Multos Annos.