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!


On this great Feast of Mary, Mother of God, as we commit our lives in 2018 to Her infinite care, we are reminded that a plenary indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, in a church or in an oratory, are present [take part] in a recitation or solemn chant of: ...

the hymn Veni Creator ... on the first day of the year, imploring divine assistance for the whole of the coming year, or
the Te Deum hymn, on the last day of the year, in thanksgiving to God for the favours received in the course of the entire year.
(Reference: Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, 4th edition, 26. § 1. al. concessions.)

The faithful in doubt are reminded that this indulgence may be applied to the Faithful Departed, one of the great acts of Charity, and is gained by fulfilment of the usual conditions: of Holy Communion, Confession, and prayer for the Holy Father's intentions.

A very Happy New Year to all our pious readers!

And in case you were wondering, this is what your prayer should feel like! (Courtesy of Notre-Dame de Paris)


Murillo - Holy Family with St John the Baptist
As we meditate during this Holy Octave of the Nativity of our Blessed Lord on the unimaginable generosity of God in coming amongst us for our Salvation as a small baby boy, we must also, in these troubled times think too of the devastation of morals being forced upon us form every direction in our society, by those who chose to deny the reality of God's creation.

It is often very difficult for us to resist these pressures, and to have the answers ready for the aggressive liberal attacks on the Church's teaching, and more so to reply to the very warped misunderstanding of Her teaching which is often thrown at us.

The Bishops of the United States of America have published an open letter, signed by interfaith leaders, Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox and Protestant, HERE, opposing the madness of gender ideology, with the following text:

Created Male and Female : An Open Letter from Religious Leaders
December 15, 2017
Dear Friends: 

As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society. 

We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one's sex as male or female. 

We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). 

A person's discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love. 

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can "change" their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of "first, do no harm." Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it. 

The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation. 

We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person's sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity. 


The Madonna of the Serpent, by our confrere Carravaggio.
This painting shows us the fruits of our holy anticipation in these coming weeks.
Some of us will not look back with unalloyed pleasure on the year that has just past. Generally in the public sphere at least good news has been scarce. We are challenged at every level by uncertainty and insecurity. That should provide us with opportunities for deeper reflection and more insistent prayer. Faith can carry us through the darkest valley and offer hope where all else appears of no avail. The lessons as well as the experience of the past provide some answers as well as demonstrating both resilience as well as recovery.

2017 was hailed as a year of significant anniversaries; which indeed it was. The anniversary of Luther’s revolt in 1517 which divided Christendom; the anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 1917 which introduced 70 years of misery for millions –and whose effects still influence in a variety of ways the lives of millions more; the anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady in Fatima which has reverberated around the world ever since and still engages speculation and supposition. The consequences of these events of global significance continue to be felt for good and ill. Religion, politics and society were profoundly affected by the events of 1517 and 1917. Much blood was spilt and much treasure expended trying to contain and then trying to defeat the conflicting forces of energy produced by both.

There is however another anniversary this year to which –to my knowledge to date- no allusion has been made. In 1417 the Council of Constance was called. Its purpose was to end the scandal of three popes, dividing the loyalties of Catholics throughout the western world. This situation had its origin in the conclave of 1378 and the election of Pope Urban VI. The cardinals were divided and later claimed to have been under undue pressure to get on with it and elect somebody. All might have gone well but for the temperament of the new pope. One historian has described him as “a coarse, overbearing, sadistic despot”. Within a short time the cardinal electors fled from Rome and disavowing the previous election went on to elect a French cardinal who took the name of Clement VII. European allies of France supported that pope. Others – including England – supported the Roman pontiff. Papal deaths on both sides produced further elections for a period of 39 years. Then in 1409 a third Pope who only lasted one year was also elected. He was succeeded by a pope calling himself John XXIII. Finally the most powerful ruler in Europe, Emperor Sigismund of Germany persuaded this last “pope” to call a Council, which met in October 1517. All three popes were persuaded to abdicate –the last time this happened until 2013  and a new pope, Martin V, was elected and accepted by all. He then ratified all that had happened during the council, without which it would not have been legitimate.  The peaceful celebration of Midnight Mass of Christmas in Constance with the Emperor present and taking part was the first time in decades that Europe had a single pope. For the time being unity was restored. In keeping with its special character, the Advent season of 1417 was time of healing and resolution of a major schism.

Of course in those far away centuries communication was slow and most people were illiterate and would have been only vaguely aware – if at all  of the crisis. The pope was a distant figure prayed for in the Canon of the Mass and directly familiar to the people of Rome and to the few churchmen who visited Rome, and to the kings who corresponded with him for various reasons. Local struggles, natural disasters and the failure of harvests would have disturbed their peace of mind and their welfare. Information regarding everything going on now reaches us instantly. Pictures of the latest atrocity or natural disaster are on our screens in seconds. It is difficult to avoid the upset and the sense of helplessness that at time they bring. That is why understanding the supreme significance of the Christmas story is vital as an antidote to despair and disillusion. It’s not just the gifts, the goodwill and the jollity – though these link us to each other and lighten the load of solitude and hopelessness. It is the deeper meaning of the Christmas story that needs to be understood and reflected upon by all of us. After many thousands of years of human history, God intervened directly to impact decisively on our species, and indeed the whole of creation. We lacked the means to correct the imbalance and division between what God intended us to be and how humans actually behaved. By taking on, redeeming and leaving an inheritance of continuity of rescue and recovery of grace to mankind, Our Lord guaranteed a never-failing remedy. It operates and is effective among those who obediently and sincerely cooperate with it through the sacraments and the worship bequeathed to the Church by the coeternal Son of the living and only God. Advent reminds us that that evangelization is far from finished and will continue till God’s purpose is achieved. You and I are privileged to be a part of that saving work. When you offer your prayers and holy communion on Christmas day, think of just how much you owe to your Creator and your Redeemer and pray for an end to divisions both within and outside of the Church and that all of us may be united more fruitfully to the visible communion of it,  His Mystical Body.

Antony Conlon
Principal Chaplain the Grand Priory of England. 


By request of the British Association and the Grand Priory of England, we bring to your notice the appeal by their Excellencies the Bishops of England and Wales encouraging everyone to contact the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, and their Member of Parliament, urging them to drop the faith-based admissions cap and thus allow Catholic free schools to be created. Helpfully they've created an online form which makes it easier to do just that.

It will not take more than a minute, so it would be very helpful if you would fill out the brief form here:

At this critical stage it is important for all Catholics to keep up the pressure on the Department for Education, as the Government prepares to renege upon its election manifesto commitment. 

Thank you for taking the time to do this — and please forward this appeals as widely as you can to other Catholic friends!

For those of you who sometimes wonder what Tuitio Fidei actually involves, this opportunity to defend the Faith is a perfect example. Go out and do it now!


Let us rejoice today in the intercession of all the Saints throughout the ages whom Holy Mother Church honours in triumph this day upon all the altars of the world.

This year, which also sees the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation, let us ask the Saints, especially the holy Martyrs and witnesses of the Truth in our own Order of Saint John, which was cruelly destroyed in this land by the Protestant heresies, to assist us in our prayers to convert all Protestants to the True Faith, as in charity we welcome them into the One True Fold of the Church.  Let us also pray for those misguided Catholics, who through impulses of false ecumenism, have joined in the celebrations in honouring the heresiarch Martin Luther, and for the countless worthy souls who pray for their good, and who join us in the ceaseless prayer of Tuitio Fidei.

Let us pray too for the victims of the Reformation, and, amongst our own, those Sisters of our Order who were left starving and homeless, the Sick of our Hospitals left to die, the Poor left unfed, the tenants of our Commanderies destitute. May all the Holy Saints come to their eternal aid, and to the aid of the countless victims of heresy and cruelty throughout the world in our own day. 

All Holy Martyrs, pray for us,
All Holy Confessors and Doctors, pray for us.
All Holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.
All Holy Widows and Virgins, pray for us.

Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More, pray for us
Blessed Adrian Fortescue, pray for us
Blessed David Gunson, pray for us.
All Holy Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us.

The wrong sort of triumph - 
Luther as the Devil's bagpipes by Eduard Schoen 1535



As we draw towards the close of the month of the Holy Rosary, let us contemplate the words of the recent Popes on this wonderful prayer.

In His message to the people of Malta on the 19th June 2017, delivered at the miraculous Marian shrine of Ta’ Pinu (to which our Order was once much devoted, and which was much beloved of our late Grand Prior Fra’ Fredrik), Pope Francis recommended the recitation of the Rosary in these terms: “This prayer helps us to contemplate everything which God, in His Love, has accomplished for us and for our Salvation, and makes us understand that our life is united to that of Christ. When we pray it, we carry everything to God: troubles, wounds, fears, but also joys, gifts, our loved ones… everything to God.”

Pope Francis recounts that he himself “frequently prays the Rosary in front of a mosaic: a little mosaic of a Virgin a Child, where it looks as if Mary is in the centre, whereas in reality, using her hands, she becomes a sort of ladder by which Jesus descends amongst us.

When we pray the Rosary, the Pope explains, “we address the Virgin Mary so that she brings us closer and closer to her Son Jesus, to know and love Him more and more. And while we repeat “Ave, Maria”, we meditate on the mysteries, the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments of the life of Christ, but also of our own life, because we are walking with the Lord.”

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee, blessed art Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of the Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

POPE PIUS X (1903 to 1914), wrote: 
“Give me and army which recites the Rosary and I shall conquer the world.” “Of all prayers it is the most lovely, the richest in grace, that which most pleases the Holy Virgin.”

POPE PAUL VI (1963 to 1978), in his exhortation of 1974 wrote: 
“The evangelical nature of the Rosary, centred upon the redemptive mystery of the Incarnation, has thus a truly Christological orientation.” The Jesus of each successive Ave Maria is that same Jesus which the succession of the mysteries presents to us one by one…” "My preferred prayer, by its simplicity and its depth.” “Let us be assiduous in reciting the rosary, both in the church community as well as in the intimacy of our families.

May every member of our beloved Order of Malta take the Popes' message of heart in the spirit of Tuitio Fidei; we hold in our hand a sacred weapon more finely-honed than any sword; thereby shall we defeat the Enemy.

Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Ta' Pinu, pray for us. 

 Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. 
 Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. 
 May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; 
 and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, 
 cast down into hell Satan and all the wicked spirits 
 who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen. 

 Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. 
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. 

(Translations: Grand Priory of England)


Saint John XXIII by the late Arthur Fleischmann,
a bust in the possession of the Grand Priory
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.

Let us ask his prayers particularly for our present constitutional reforms, that they may be guided by a true love of the Church, and serve our beloved Order fruitfully within the long tradition of service to the Chuch and to the Poor and the Sick.

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.

Saint John, pray for us.


The following is an essay by Dom Louis-Marie OSB, Abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Sainte-Madeleine at le Barroux in southern France.

The Abbot demonstrates the relevance of the Rule of Saint Benedict to the daily life of all Catholics, and particularly to those who have committed themselves to a common life, at whatever level.

Don’t try looking in the Rule of Saint Benedict for the expression “human rights”, you won't find it. So do monks and religious have no rights then?  Put thus, no, none.  Perhaps only in the chapter on impossible tasks where it says that the monk has the right to bring to his superior’s attention an order which exceeds his capabilities.

But to understand the thinking of Saint Benedict, the lovely harmony that he wishes to reign in the cloister, let us take some examples. Does the monk have the right to own a pencil, or some paper and all the other things necessary to his contemplative life? It seems to be so, as Saint Benedict judges these things indispensable, but he doesn’t say the monk has the “right” to have them for his use, he says that the abbot has the “duty” to give them to him. Another example: does the abbot have the right to be obeyed by his monks? Nowhere in the Rule will you find this right expressed so precisely. No, Saint Benedict's understanding is simply that the monks have a duty to obey their superior. Do the monks have a right to their proper place in the community, and do they each have the right to receive the same affection on the part of the father abbot? Saint Benedict says, no, not at all, but the superior has a duty not to trouble the order without good reason, and certainly never to make exceptions for individuals. Saint Benedict thus insists on common obligations, and not on rights.

This all seems though to be much the same, because at the end of the day the monk has his pencil, the abbot is obeyed, and order is respected.  But it’s not the same at all, as the spirit is quite different and in fact the two formulations are polar opposites. One concentrating on duties, favours charity, and the other, concentrating on rights, favours selfishness.  In the end it’s the difference between the city of God, where love of God and of others extends right to hatred of self, and the city of the Devil, where love of oneself extends all the way to hatred of God and of one’s neighbour.

This is one of the reasons why Saint Benedict banned all grumbling in community. Indeed, grumbles are often due to the claiming of rights. Already, at the beginning of the Rule, he makes fun of those monks who declare holy all the things they desire. A monk should never claim anything at all for himself, which demonstrates that the spirit of the monk raises itself to God, and thinks not of its rights but its duties. It is the same for families. Saint Paul recalls not the rights of husband and wife, but their duties to each other, and especially those of the husband, who should make sacrifices for his wife. The same goes for the relationship between parents and children.

This is equally valid for businesses. At job interviews young people present themselves with a file under their arms full of their innumerable rights: working hours, holidays, and all the other great values of the state.  And if shareholders only think of their dividends, why should we be surprised at the vicious circle which leads to conflicts?

We can apply the same principles to the press. If the supreme rule is “the right to know” why be surprised at the lack of charity and respect for the dignity of the individual? But the worst is, since the law which permits abortion, which has developed into fundamental women’s rights, the spirit of the whole of society has abandoned the rights of the child, which is the ultimate duty of parents. That’s diabolical.

Yet we have the example and the grace of Jesus Christ, who never claimed the right to be treated as equal to God, but who fulfilled his duty right to the end. Let’s imitate Him.

(Translation, Grand Priory of England)


Saint Hugh was born about 1168 at Alessandria (Italy).
He became a knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
After lengthy service with the Order in the Holy Land,
he was elected Master of the Commandery of St John di Prè
in Genoa (Italy), where he worked in the infirmary nearby. 
He was renowned for miraculous powers over the natural elements. 
He is believed to have died in 1233.

St Hugh's name is inscribed in a panel of the outer wall of the Conventual Church in London.

From the Collect
Saint Hugh,
God gave you the power to heal the sick by the sign of the cross.
Pray that God will give all our members
the spirit which inspired your own love
to serve God in our sick brothers and sisters.


Today the Church celebrates Our Lady of the Rosary, instituted by Pope Saint Pius V.  On this day, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, prompted by the Rosaries of thousands of faithful people, most particularly the fighting men in their galleys, the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 secured a decisive victory against the Turks and the forces of Darkness. The Rosary was responsible for the lifting of the Siege of Vienna in 1685, and innumerable other later victories against error, including, in recent memory, the victories over the threat of Communism in Austria in 1955 and in Portugal in 1975. PRAY THE ROSARY!

This morning, some of our brethren will be reciting the Holy Rosary after Holy Mass outside an abortion clinic in Brixton. If you cannot be there, PRAY WITH THEM!

This Feast, the Office of which which has lost some of its edge in the reforms, is seem by the Church as a powerful weapon - the second Antiphon of Vespers reads: Virgo potens, sicut turris David: mille clipei pendent ex ea, omnis armatura fortium. "It is the mighty Virgin, like the tower of David: a thousand shields hang upon it, all the armour of valiant men."  The Church wants us to use our Rosaries as a military weapon.  Are Knights of Malta to fail to respond to this call?

The Rosary recited publicly perfectly fulfils our twin charism of Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum, as we meditate in each mystery upon Our Lord's life and sacred Passion, which Pope Benedict called "a contemplative exercise open to all." As we apply the merits of our prayers the Rosary is also a supreme act of charity.

The Devil, in his wiles, has in recent years turned these sacred beads into a fashion accessory. The Rosary is not a toy! Go out and make him look the fool he is. PRAY THE ROSARY!

If the last week of October has slipped by, and you, dear Reader, have not yet started your daily Rosary, as THIS POST, then it's not too late!

This excellent French site, the Community of Chemin Neuf in Nazareth, proposes that we say a decade each day this month for three intentions:
1) Pope Francis and his intentions.
2) World peace by Our Lady's intercession.
3) The conversion of all Muslims.
If you wish to support them by inscribing your name, you can do so HERE.

But the most important thing is to PRAY THE ROSARY!

Regina sacratissimi Rosarii, ora pro nobis.
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.


Last Saturday members of the Grand Priory, Association and Companions gathered for what has become the annual Day of Recollection at All Saints Chapel, Wardour Castle. We are very grateful to Richard, Lord Talbot of Malahide and the trustees for allowing us the use of the Chapel, continuing the tradition of his father, our confrere John, Lord Talbot of Malahide, who died last year.

The day was led by one of the youngest chaplains of our Order, and a long term friend of the Order in Britain, Father Joseph Hamilton, who was ordained priest last year. We are very grateful to Fr Hamilton for stepping in at the last minute. He took the place of Fr John Osman who was unable to come due to illness, and for whom your prayers are requested.  

After Sung Lauds, Fr Hamilton preached the masterly talk he had given at Walsingham a fortnight ago, see link HERE, and Fra' Richard Berkley-Matthews then renewed his Temporary Vows before the Grand Prior during the Sung Mass of Our Lady at midday.  After lunch, Fr Hamilton gave his second conference, on the importance of order in our lives - the beginning of a longer series of talks which will be published in due course. This was followed by Sung Vespers, and Benediction (photographed) with which the Day concluded.

We are grateful to Mrs Berkley-Matthews, Fra' Richard's mother, for her hospitality at lunch and teatime.

Please pray also for the several members of the Order who are unwell and were unable to join us.


Today is the Feast of Blessed Peter Pattarini, who was a Prior 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.

(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.