From 'Mementoes of the Martyrs' : "...which provoked a Frenchman who was there to comment on the strange ways of the English, "those who are for the pope are hanged, those who are against him are burned:"                                               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!


In the light of its considerable relevance to the life and work of the Order, which shares with the Holy See its diplomatic character, and its mission of the promotion of religious values and of humanitarian concerns, it seems that it may be of interest to reproduce the lecture given on the 14th October in St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle-upon-Tyne by the United Kingdom's Ambassador to the Holy See, His Excellency Mr Francis Campbell.

The talk covers not only consideration of the diplomatic processes, but also the role of religion in modern diplomacy, international cooperation on health, development, climate change and disarmament.  Many of these are areas in which members of the Order of Malta work on a daily basis.


"The Crown's Oldest Diplomatic Relationship Is With the Papacy"

The UK, the Holy See, and Diplomacy

It is a real honour to be here tonight to deliver the Annual Cardinal Hume Memorial Lecture. It is an honour in so many ways because I know how special the memory of Cardinal Hume is held in this his home city of Newcastle where he was born in 1923. But it is also personally special because the Cardinal is buried in what is now my home parish of Westminster Cathedral. I am grateful to the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, St. Mary's Cathedral, the organisers of tonight's lecture - Fr Peter, and Fr. Marc, and Bishop Seamus for the kind invitation to speak to you this evening.

It is also apt that we are speaking tonight to the theme of the UK, the Holy See and diplomacy because we are doing so less than one month after Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to the United Kingdom. It was the second visit of a Pope to the UK - the first being the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982 - when Cardinal Hume was serving as the Archbishop of Westminster. But this most recent visit was the first official visit of a Pope to the country. The tenure of Cardinal Hume's leadership of the Catholic Church in England and Wales did so much to prepare the way for the first official visit of a Pope to these shores. It is fitting tonight that we can look afresh on the country's oldest diplomatic relationship - that between the Crown and the Holy See - and to do so from here in Newcastle - the birth place of one who did so much to enhance that relationship in the 20th century.

Tonight's theme speaks to a relationship that has over the centuries seen many significant events - some with a shared perspective and others with a marked degree of difference. But our focus tonight is the diplomatic relationship - in particular the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the Holy See. Tonight I would like to do three things. First, I would like to say something about diplomacy - an art that is often misunderstood. Second, I would like to say something about how foreign policy deals with religion. Finally, we will explore the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the Holy See - the Crown's oldest diplomatic relationship in the world.


Diplomacy is often a word that is much misunderstood. When one mentions diplomacy many negative images can spring to mind. Perhaps none more so than Sir Henry Wotton's description of an ambassador as "a man of virtue sent abroad to lie for his country." Satow's guide to Diplomatic practice captures diplomacy as "the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent states, and between governments and international institutions; or, more briefly, the conduct of business between states by peaceful means." [1]


Last Wednesday the second Saint John's Concert 2010/11 was given by the choir Musica Contexta.

The concert concentrated on Marian anthems from the Golden Age of the Sistine Chapel, the musical crucible of Renaissance Europe.  The choir sang from one large copy of the score. To a modern man these manuscripts look unusual; instead of having the parts vertically aligned, so singers can see their position in the score, the parts are arranged one after the other. Experimenting with this format this evening the choir might seem to be guilty not just of reinventing the wheel, but of retrialing a square one. Yet every early musician knows that 'progress' is merely a chimera: that things in the past were done differently for good reason, and this will only become apparent when they try to recreate the conditions in which the music was first performed.  This was the spirit of this performance.

The programme was as follows:
Salve regina (chant)
Ave maris Stella, Ave Regina (Guillaune du Fay, 1397-1474)
Alma Redemptoris Mater (chant)
Alma Redemptoris Master, Ave regina Caelorum ( Josquin des Prez, c.1450-15221)
Benedicta es (Josquin des Prez)
Virgo Prudentissima (Elzear Carpentras, 1470-1548)
Regina Caeli (Andreas de Silva, c.1475-c.1530)
Inviolata (Costanzo Festa, c.1495-1545)
Regina Caeli (Jacques Arcadelt, 1507-1568)
Sancta Maria (Cristobal de Morales, c.1500-1553)
Virgo Prudentissima (Giovanni de Palestrina, c.1525-1594)
The video below gives some glorious highlights from the concert.

Music Contexta's next CD for Chandos, "Roma Sancta" featuring music by Arcadelt, de Silva and Palestrina, is due for release in February 2011.

The next Musica Contexta concert is on 27th January 2011.

Next month's concert is by the boys' choir of Arnold House School.  See link in the sidebar for details.


This coming Saturday, 30th October, as part of the Grand Priory Day of Recollection, there will be a Sung Mass of Our Lady's Saturday at 12 noon.  The celebrant will be Canon William Hudson of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

The day will begin with Lauds at 10 am, and in the afternoon there will be Vespers and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, finishing around 5 pm.  All are welcome.

Tuesday next, 2nd November, is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, and a Requiem for the Holy Souls, with Absolutions, will be sung at 6.30 pm.  The celebrant will be Dr Michael Cullinan.


Archbishop Sardi leading the Order's procession of the Sanctissimum in Loreto last year.
From the Vatican News Service yesterday:
At the end of the General Audience today, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has announced a Consistory for  20th November next, in which he will proceed to the nomination of twenty-four new Cardinals. These are the words of the Pope: 
"And now with joy I announce that next November 20th I will hold a Consistory in which I will name new Members of the College of Cardinals. The Cardinals have the task of helping the Successor of the Apostle Peter in the implementation of his principal, fundamental, perpetual and visible mission of the unity of the faith and communion within the Church (cf Lumen gentium, n. 18)."
Among the names of the new 'Porporati' is Monsignor Paolo Sardi, titular Archbishop of Suturium, Vice-Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Pro-Patron of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. His Eminence now takes the full title of Cardinal Patron of the Order, or Cardinalis Patronus, a post last held, for 16 years, by Cardinal Pio Laghi.

We offer Cardinal Sardi our congratulations, best wishes and the assurance of our prayers, as we do to the other 23 prelates raised to the rank of the sacred purple.


Blessed Charles of Austria was beatified on 3 October 2004 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

Member of the Order of Malta with the rank of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion, the emperor Charles of Habsburg was a descendant of the emperor Charles V who in 1530 had granted the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino in sovereign fief to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Charles of Austria was born August 17, 1887, in the Castle of Persenbeug in the region of Lower Austria. His parents were the Archduke Otto and Princess Maria Josephine of Saxony, daughter of the last King of Saxony. Emperor Francis Joseph I was Charles' Great Uncle.
Charles was given an expressly Catholic education and the prayers of a group of persons accompanied him from childhood, since a stigmatic nun prophesied that he would undergo great suffering and attacks would be made against him. That is how the “League of prayer of the Emperor Charles for the peace of the peoples” originated after his death. In 1963 it became a prayer community ecclesiastically recognized.
A deep devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began to grow in Charles. He turned to prayer before making any important decisions.
On the 21st of October, 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon and Parma. The couple was blessed with eight children during the ten years of their happy and exemplary married life. Charles still declared to Zita on his deathbed: “I'll love you forever.”
Charles became heir to the throne of the Austro‑Hungarian Empire on June 28, 1914, following the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand.
World War I was underway and with the death of the Emperor Francis Joseph, on November 21, 1916 Charles became Emperor of Austria. On December 30th he was crowned apostolic King of Hungary.
Charles envisaged this office also as a way to follow Christ: in the love and care of the peoples entrusted to him, and in dedicating his life to them.
He placed the most sacred duty of a king - a commitment to peace - at the centre of his preoccupations during the course of the terrible war. He was the only one among political leaders to support Benedict XV's peace efforts.
As far as domestic politics are concerned, despite the extremely difficult times he initiated wide and exemplary social legislation, inspired by social Christian teaching.
Thanks to his conduct, the transition to a new order at the end of the conflict was made possible without a civil war. He was however banished from his country.
The Pope feared the rise of communist power in central Europe, and expressed the wish that Charles re‑establish the authority of his government in Hungary. But two attempts failed, since above all Charles wished to avoid the outbreak of a civil war.
Charles was exiled to the island of Madeira. Since he considered his duty as a mandate from God, he could not abdicate his office.
Reduced to poverty, he lived with his family in a very humid house. He then fell fatally ill and accepted this as a sacrifice for the peace and unity of his peoples.
Charles endured his suffering without complaining. He forgave all those who conspired against him and died April 1st 1922 with his eyes turned toward the Holy Sacrament. On his deathbed he repeated the motto of his life: “I strive always in all things to understand as clearly as possible and follow the will of God, and this in the most perfect way”.
(From the Beatification address by Pope John Paul II)

God our Father, through the gift of Blessed Emperor Charles You have given us an example to follow. In extremely difficult times he performed his burdensome tasks without ever losing his faith. He always followed Your Son, the true King. He led a humble life, sincerely loving the poor and giving himself heart and soul to the search for peace. Even when his life was in danger he trusted in You, putting his life in Your hands. Almighty and Merciful God, by the intercession of Blessed Emperor Charles, we pray that You may give us his unconditional faith to support us in our most difficult situations, and the courage to always follow the example of Your only Son. Open our hearts to the poor, and strengthen our commitment for peace within our families and among all peoples. We ask this through Christ our Lord. 


Musica Contexta performs
A programme of Marian music from the Papal chapel – the musical crucible of Renaissance Europe – featuring sacred works by Dufay, Josquin, Morales, Arcadelt & Palestrina.

Wednesday 27th October at 7.30 pm


as part of the series of SainJohns Concerts

Entrance by programme at the door, for which a donation of £15 per person is requested.


Blessed Gerard nursing in the Sacred Infirmary
It is not certain whether Gerard came from present-day Italy or France. He went to Jerusalem and there, towards the end of the eleventh century, he established a hospice for pilgrims and the sick next to the Church of St. John. To maintain this work he founded a religious community, which he governed in accordance with the Rule of St. Augustine. On 15 February 1113, Pope Paschal II solemnly approved the new Order, which had been established even before the first Crusaders went to Palestine to recover the Holy Sepulchre. The Pope's Letters Apostolic, Piae postulatio voluntatis, were addressed to 'Gerard, Founder and Warden of the hospice at Jerusalem and to his lawful successors.' Gerard died at Jerusalem in 1120. This is also the day on which, in 1993, the Grand Master decreed the Restoration of the Grand Priory of England.

O God, who exalted blessed Gerard because of his care for the poor and the sick, and through him founded in Jerusalem the Order of St. John the Baptist, give us the grace of seeing, as he did, the image of your Son in our brothers and sisters. 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 John XXIII by the late Arthur Fleischmann
He was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Italy, on 25 November 1881.

In 1915 he was drafted as a sergeant in the Italian military medical corps and became a chaplain to the wounded. In 1925 Pius XI made him Bishop and Apostolic Visitor in Bulgaria and he took as his Episcopal motto: Obedientia et Pax.

In 1953 he was created Cardinal and became Patriarch of Venice. In 1956 he was invested as Bailiff in the Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta. At the death of Pius XII he was elected Pope on 28 October 1958. His was an authentic image of the "Good Shepherd": meek and gentle, enterprising and courageous, simple and active.

On 24 June 1961, the patronal feast of our Order, he approved the current Constitution of our Order. In 1962 he opened the Second Vatican Council. He died on the evening of 3 June 1963.

Blessed John, you served the sick, wounded and dying
in military hospitaller duties,
caring for their suffering bodies and souls.
Pray for the multitude in the world today
suffering the ravages of wars and conflicts. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.


A regular worshipper in the Conventual Church has sent us this photograph, which, despite its outward similarity to a tourist snap, is in fact the record of an historic moment in the life our our Country, Our Church and our Order.

The photograph was taken from Lambeth Bridge shortly after the Holy Father had passed across, cheered by our photographer, on Friday 17th September 2010, on his way from visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace to the Palace of Westminster, to address Parliament and the Nation.

At the very time this picture was taken, the Holy Father was speaking in Westminster Hall. He was standing on the spot on which St Thomas More was condemned to martyrdom in 1535, the first time since the Reformation that the Members of both houses of Parliament have been addressed as a formal act of State by a Bishop of the Catholic Church. The first time ever by the Roman Pontiff. 

Present near the front of the Hall sat The Grand Prior of England, Fra' Fredrik-Crichton Stuart, the first time that the Grand Prior has been present in Parliament since Sir Thomas Thresham in 1559, before which time the Priors sat ex officio among the barons.  See the drawing at the bottom of this article.

We post here below the text of the Address delivered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on this glorious occasion in the life of the Realm.  His Holiness is boldly aware of the significance of this history both for British Catholics and for all peoples of these Isles.

The latter part of the Holy Father's address has much of relevance to the daily work today of the Order of Malta. These words are addressed to us too, let us have the courage to heed them.

Mr Speaker,
Thank you for your words of welcome on behalf of this distinguished gathering. As I address you, I am conscious of the privilege afforded me to speak to the British people and their representatives in Westminster Hall, a building of unique significance in the civil and political history of the people of these islands. Allow me also to express my esteem for the Parliament which has existed on this site for centuries and which has had such a profound influence on the development of participative government among the nations, especially in the Commonwealth and the English-speaking world at large. Your common law tradition serves as the basis of legal systems in many parts of the world, and your particular vision of the respective rights and duties of the state and the individual, and of the separation of powers, remains an inspiration to many across the globe.
As I speak to you in this historic setting, I think of the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides. In particular, I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose ”good servant” he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.
This country’s Parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good.
And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy.
The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as “every economic decision has a moral consequence” (Caritas in Veritate, 37), so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore. A positive illustration of this is found in one of the British Parliament’s particularly notable achievements – the abolition of the slave trade. The campaign that led to this landmark legislation was built upon firm ethical principles, rooted in the natural law, and it has made a contribution to civilization of which this nation may be justly proud.
The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.
Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.
Your readiness to do so is already implied in the unprecedented invitation extended to me today. And it finds expression in the fields of concern in which your Government has been engaged with the Holy See. In the area of peace, there have been exchanges regarding the elaboration of an international arms trade treaty; regarding human rights, the Holy See and the United Kingdom have welcomed the spread of democracy, especially in the last sixty-five years; in the field of development, there has been collaboration on debt relief, fair trade and financing for development, particularly through the International Finance Facility, the International Immunization Bond, and the Advanced Market Commitment. The Holy See also looks forward to exploring with the United Kingdom new ways to promote environmental responsibility, to the benefit of all.
I also note that the present Government has committed the United Kingdom to devoting 0.7% of national income to development aid by 2013. In recent years it has been encouraging to witness the positive signs of a worldwide growth in solidarity towards the poor. But to turn this solidarity into effective action calls for fresh thinking that will improve life conditions in many important areas, such as food production, clean water, job creation, education, support to families, especially migrants, and basic healthcare.
Where human lives are concerned, time is always short: yet the world has witnessed the vast resources that governments can draw upon to rescue financial institutions deemed “too big to fail”. Surely the integral human development of the world’s peoples is no less important: here is an enterprise, worthy of the world’s attention, that is truly “too big to fail”.
This overview of recent cooperation between the United Kingdom and the Holy See illustrates well how much progress has been made, in the years that have passed since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, in promoting throughout the world the many core values that we share. I hope and pray that this relationship will continue to bear fruit, and that it will be mirrored in a growing acceptance of the need for dialogue and respect at every level of society between the world of reason and the world of faith. I am convinced that, within this country too, there are many areas in which the Church and the public authorities can work together for the good of citizens, in harmony with Britain’s long-standing tradition. For such cooperation to be possible, religious bodies – including institutions linked to the Catholic Church – need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church. In this way, such basic rights as religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of association are guaranteed. The angels looking down on us from the magnificent ceiling of this ancient Hall remind us of the long tradition from which British Parliamentary democracy has evolved. They remind us that God is constantly watching over us to guide and protect us. And they summon us to acknowledge the vital contribution that religious belief has made and can continue to make to the life of the nation.
Mr Speaker, I thank you once again for this opportunity briefly to address this distinguished audience. Let me assure you and the Lord Speaker of my continued good wishes and prayers for you and for the fruitful work of both Houses of this ancient Parliament. Thank you and God bless you all!
The Parliament of King Edward I, ca. 1300. The King sits on the throne attended by both Houses of Parliament. He is flanked by the King of Scots, the Prince of Wales, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The single figure in black sitting to the right of the barons on the cross-benches in the second row from the bottom of this drawing is the Grand Prior of England of the Knights Hospitaller.  He is William de Tottenham, who was the first Grand Prior to be summoned to the House of Lords.


Today is the Feast of Saint Hugh, 1168 - 1233, Religious of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.


The Rosary Procession this year takes place on Saturday 16th October. Assemble in the Westminster Cathedral Piazza at 1.45pm.

Members of the Order of Malta will as usual walk in choir-dress with the clergy, before the Statue of Our Lady.  The procession will be led by Right Reverend Dom Cuthbert Brogan OSB, Abbot of St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough.

This year, as last year, Companions of the Order will walk as a group behind the statue.  All are encouraged to come and swell the numbers, and to pray for this very worthy intention of Reparation for sins committed.

The devotions at the Brompton Oratory conclude at about 5 o'clock.

For all information, or to volunteer as a steward, contact: 
Francis Carey (01494) 729223 or 
Mathias Menezes (020) 8764 0262 or 07950 384515


The Battle of Lepanto, by Paolo Veronese
On Sunday 7 October 1571 combined Christian fleets under the leadership of the young Don John of Austria achieved a significant naval victory over the Turks in the Straits of Lepanto.

The Turkish fleet, until then considered invincible, was destroyed in their first great defeat at sea. Tens of thousands of Christian slaves were liberated.

In gratitude to God and Our Lady, Pope St Pius V, who saw the actual victory in a vision while in a meeting in the Papal Palace, declared an annual commemoration of Our Lady of Victory.

Pope Gregory XIII transferred the feast to the first Sunday in October with the title Most Holy Rosary since the victory was won through invocation of Our Lady of the Rosary.

In the reform of the liturgy the feast was returned to its original date.

The Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta has a very special interest in this feast. The Order’s fleet and its many officers in other fleets of the Papal Alliance gave great service in this extremely important battle in the history of Western Civilization.

For an excellent overview of the devotion of the Holy Rosary within the life and Tradition of the Church, you are directed to this article from New Liturgical Movement.

The Rosary is recited weekly throughout the year in the Conventual Church at 8.30 every Thursday morning.  It will also be recited at 6.15 on Thursdays during the month of October, before the evening Mass.


There will be a sung Mass in the Conventual Church on the feast of the Founder of the Order, 13th October, at 6.30pm.

Music will be provided by the Schola Cantores Missae, under the direction of Mr Charles Finch.

Mass will be followed by a formal reception in Fortescue House to which all are warmly invited.


Today is the Feast of Blessed Peter Pattarini, who was a Prior of the Order. May we on this day offer special prayers for our own Grand Prior, Fra Fredrik Crichton-Stuart, who like Blessed Peter, is striving to promote the Religious vocation of all Members of the Order.

With Blessed Fra' Peter d'Imola, who was born about 1250 at Imola (Italy) into the family of the lords of Linasio, we find another aspect of the Order, which has always been interested in matters of the spirit. He was a well-known jurist of his times, he mediated between the Guelphs and Ghibellines at Romagna in 1297. Of his earthly life few things are known. He was born at Imola, Emilia, and Prior of the Hospital in Rome. Was he the Commander in Florence? That is a supposition which takes its likelihood from the fact that, after his death (October 15, 1320); he was buried in that city in the church of Saint James in Campo Corbellini, which belonged to the Order.

Relic of Blessed Peter.
But if the existence of the Blessed Peter passed almost unnoticed here on earth, (it is enough to be a real saint, no one except God knowing it no one including the saint himself!), that was not the case after he died.

One day the brothers were preparing and adorning the church to celebrate the feast of Saint James in a worthy fashion. A high ladder had been placed against the tomb of the Blessed Peter, and one of the priests was working hard to attach a hanging to the wall. His support began to slip, threatening greatly to fall and shatter the bones of its religious burden. It was then that the clerics present saw the arm of the holy man open the tomb slightly and hold the falling ladder as it passed him.

In consequence of that miracle, which was charitable though macabre, and well-authenticated by witnesses, the venerable body was taken out of its resting place - relative rest - and placed under the main altar in a reliquary that Commander Fra' Augustine Mego had made for it, not without having set aside the miracle-working arm in a little box.

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that our saint is particularly humble, for, though we already knew so little about him, he allowed the documents concerning him - both his life and his miracles - to disappear When his church was flooded during the great inundation of the Arno, in 1557. The reliquary was submerged for several days; evidently, it must have suffered much damage, together with the relics it contained. But in the 17th century, they still venerated the arm, which had been preserved with its flesh and nails.

May we, like Peter d'Imola, be learned, pious, courageous and beneficent, alive and dead, without, however acting too much the ghost. His humility, his charity, his knowledge, are virtues which we shall try to imitate without risking error, in the great simplicity of God.

His feast is celebrated on the fifth day of October.

(From: Ducaud-Bourget, Msgr. François: The Spiritual Heritage of The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Vatican 1958)

O God, who gave to blessed Peter, Prior of our Order, the gift of healing discord and division, grant to us through his prayers the grace of striving for peace and so being called the children of God. Through the same Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The series of Saint John's Concerts 2010/11 got off to a glorious start with the first concert last Wednesday, Hexachord's 'O Michael'.

The choir sang the most sublime renditions of music dedicated to Saint Michael of his feast day, and truly showed us, against all gainsayers, why we should be justly pound of our European Christian heritage. Here indeed is the summit of divinely inspired music.

We are profoundly grateful to the singers for this wonderful concert.  Despite the heavy rain which chose to fall throughout the afternoon and evening, the concert was reasonably well attended, and some £300 raised for Saint John's Hospice.  Many thanks to everyone.

You are all warmly encouraged to come to the next concert, Musica Contexta singing Marian music, 'Inviolata', which takes place on Wednesday 27th October at 7.30.