As Cardinal Mercier said : "When prudence is everywhere, courage is nowhere."                                                                                  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!


Dear and loyal readers!

Fifteen years ago, on the 29th September 2009, the first post on this Blog went up, entitled "WELCOME".

Now has come the time to write another - but not saying "GOODBYE", but merely "FOLLOW ME!"

From now on the Order has got itself up-to-date with technology (that is a bit of an exaggeration!) and there is a new Blog, connected to the Grand Priory of England website.  Its purpose will be the same as this one, and we shall continue to post as before. Your editor will be joined by other contributors, so it will be, if you think that possible, even better!

All previous posts on this blog have been transferred, so you can still search past items.

We look forward to an exciting new chapter in Order communications. Please come with us!

Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Blessed Adrian Fortescue, pray for us.


 RORATE CAELI desuper, et nubes pluant justum : aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem !

The Order's Rotate Mass was held last Tuesday, within the second week of Advent, at the Church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, in the presence of the Grand Prior. The Advent Recollection was preached by Monsignor Dr Michael Nasir Ali, who became a chaplain earlier in the year.


The campaign Right to Life is coordinating responses to the Northern Ireland Public Consultation on sex-education in schools, particularly in relation to mandatory teaching about abortion to the very young, the policy proposed by the Department of Education. 79% of Irish respondents to the earlier consultation did not want abortion laws imposed by Westminster.

It takes a minute to respond to the consultation on the link below.  The deadline is this Friday at one minute to midnight. Please consider adding your voice for Life.

Our Lady of the Presentation, pray for all children.


For those many of our readers wondering what to buy their loved ones for Christmas, here is the perfect suggestion. The new British Order tie, suitable for Members, Companions and friends, anyone who knows the Order, works with it or supports its activities, of simply likes (or even dislikes) it.

The tie, in pure silk, combines Maltese Crosses with the lions passant and fleurs-de-lys taken from the arms of the ancient Tongue of England, to which all British knights in Rhodes and Malta belonged.

It may thus, of course, also be safely given to anglophone foreigners!

All proceeds go to support the works of the Order.  Click HERE !

With best wishes for a very happy Christmas!


The Feast of Blessed Gerard this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the reestablishment of the Grand Priory of England in 1993.

The Mass, celebrated in the Church of the Assumption and St Gregory Warwick Street, was presided over by the fourth Grand Prior since the restoration, and 58th since our foundation, Fra' Max Rumney.

Before the Mass the General Assembly of the Grand Priory was held in choir, of which all members of the Order in Britain now form part.  The 30th anniversary Medal of Merit was established at the end of the Assembly, and bestowed upon, initially, all current members of the Priory. It will henceforth be awarded annually on the Feast of Blessed Adrian Fortescue, patron of the Priory, to volunteers and benefactors of the Order in Britain whose contribution is noteworthy.

During Holy Mass, Benedict and Hannah Jennings made the Promise of Obedience. Please pray for them.

The celebrant and preacher was our Chaplain, Monsignor John Armitage. We are grateful to him for the text of this sermon. 

Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Romans 5:29)  When we see the abundance of sin and evil in our world, we have to remind ourselves of this truth of our faith, for it is a truth of faith needed in each generation to guide humanity through the “abundance of sin” found in every age. The sense of powerless that comes in the face of man’s inhumanity to man was described by the Roman historian Livy in 56 bc. “Here are the questions to which I should like every reader to give their close attention: what life and morals were like; what men and what policies, in peace and in war, territory was established and enlarged. Then let him note how, with the gradual relaxation of discipline, morals first subsided, as it were, then sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge which has brought us to our present time, when we can endure neither our vices nor their cure.” amid such turmoil, The Word became flesh and lived among us”.  

As the world today faces the challenges of war and peace our awareness that we can “can endure neither our vices not their cure is either a recipe for despair, or a public witness, to the truth of our faith that Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

The suffering of the people of Ukraine, the Holy Land and the many countries trapped in the grip of violence, injustice and poverty, witness to a seemingly never-ending story of violence and despair. The hymn Abide with me”, describes the turmoil of change and decay”, but most importantly gives the remedy! O thou who changest not, abide with me.” Let us not be disheartened by the challenges that face the world, for the suffering of humanity, unlocks the wellspring of God’s Mercy, which can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14). So let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, and make justice and peace flourish.

This mercy is lived out each day as the Church seeks to witness to the teaching of the “Good News” that sets people free and the service of God’s people, especially the poor and the sick.  

The talk of the Order’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority last Friday, on the work of the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, expressed in the most powerful way the continuation of a work of the Order inspired by our Catholic faith and the call to serve the sick and poor. The Holy Family Hospital has a direct link to the first hospital in Jerusalem set up by Blessed Gerard and which continues to this day to be open to all, regardless of faith or nationality. In these troubled times may our prayerful support and generosity to our hospital be great, as our brothers and sisters face a turmoil as great as any in the time of Blessed Gerard.  

So where is the abundance of grace which will overcome the abundance of sin in our time?  It is, where it has always been, in the hearts of faithful men and women who recognise that despite the change and decay, God always abides with his people for The Word became flesh and lived among us”. New life does not come about by a change in structures, but by the renewal of the human heart for You renew the Church in every age by raising up men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses of your unchanging love. They inspire us by their heroic lives and help us by the constant prayers to be the living sign of your saving power.”

Today we also celebrate our fellow countryman, St Edward the Confessor, who lived through the change and decay” of his times. His simple piety, the unaffected generosity of his nature, enabled him to serve the men and women about him, by easing their burdens, relieving their necessities, and confirming them in their allegiance to the faith.  Mgr. Knox reflected that “The Conqueror, who diverted the stream of history, went to his grave disappointed, and lies there a historical memory. The Confessor, whose ambitions could be satisfied by finding a poor man his dinner, saw no corruption in death, and lives the patron of his fellow countrymen." Mgr. Ronald Knox

Like all the saints we celebrate this month, St Therese, St Bruno, St John Leonardi, their lives were shaped by the knowledge that the one who never changes would always abide with them. This is a definition of holiness, where ordinary men and women who do extra ordinary things because they believe, like Our Lady, that the promises made them by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  

In the aftermath of the reformation, Pope Paul V asked St John Leonardi to reflect upon the problems facing the Church of their time. Those who want to work for moral reform in the world must seek the glory of God before all else. If at first glance they appear difficult, compare them with the magnitude of the situation. Then they will seem very easy indeed. Great works are accomplished by great men and women, and great women and men should be involved in great works.  

The truth is we know we have to change, as St John Henry Newman reminds us for To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often”.  We are troubled in our conscience by our cowardice, our complacency, our lack of courage.  We feel guilty that we don’t do more, and this is where we stop.  Perfection simply means becoming the person God has created me to be! Be cannot change structures unless we first change our selves. We give up what we are now, with the help of God’s grace, for what we can become.   

As we celebrate the great works of Blessed Gerard, if they are to be more than the history of the past, the Church calls, challenges, even demands each one of us today, to build an Order of Great works fit for our times, as we defend the Church, by our service of the sick and poor.  Great works are accomplished only by great men and women, and great women and men should be involved in great works, and if at first glance our structural challenges appear difficult, compare them with the magnitude of the situation we face as servants of Gods Mercy to our fallen world, then the “minor issues” we face will seem very easy indeed.

Gerard teaches us by his life that the changes we all long for in our troubled world, can only begin with the human heart, and this comes about by humility which understands that all I have is a gift of God, and the gift grows only by sharing it with others.  The consequence of this gift is a greatness of the spirit that we know as nobility of heart. It is a depth of generosity, at the very centre of who we are, that we willingly share wight those most in need. I am what I share, and I share what I have received for a loving God.

It is holiness alone that renews and changes the world, the Church and the Order, and in our founder, we hear why. He was called "the humblest man in the East, the servant of the poor, and kind to strangers. His appearance was not impressive, but it was a noble heart that made him conspicuous.  On this his feast day, let us renew our vows and promises, made at our profession and when we joined the Order. Much is to be done, as in our time as we commit ourselves once again to be instruments of grace to overcome the evil and suffering of our world. Inspired by Gerard’s humility and nobility of Heart, may we walk in his footsteps as witnesses of hope, as great men and women who have committed themselves to the great works of our beloved Order, for Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more!”

Blessed Gerard, pray for us.

Grand Priory of England - ad multos annos! 


This wonderful meditation upon Saint Joseph was preached at the August day of Recollection by Fr Paul Keane, Chaplain of the University of Cambridge, priest of Brentwood Diocese, and recently a Magistral Chaplain of our Order. We are very grateful to him for these spiritual insights.

From the Holy Family and St Catherine by Bordoni

Devotion to St Joseph 


I was not meant to be here. Nor were the professed knights. This weekend we were to be on retreat at Farnborough Abbey. But the abbey became unavailable and, instead, we shall make the retreat in October. But with every loss there is a gain. We can be here. However, let me bring something of Farnborough to Golden Square. Not its beautiful chapel or the tomb of Emperor Napoleon III but St Joseph.

Even if we know Farnborough, we may not immediately associate it with the spouse of Our Lady, but the national shrine of St Joseph is at the abbey. If any of us did not know there was a national shrine of St Joseph, you have not failed your English Catholic proficiency test. Its existence has been a well-kept secret since it was originally established at Mill Hill in 1866 by Fr Herbert Vaughan, the future Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. He sought and received from Blessed Pope Pius IX permission for a canonical coronation of a statue of St Joseph.

Receiving the pope’s specific blessing for the crowning of images of Our Lady began in the early seventeenth century. Such coronations were extended to only one other saint - St Joseph - in the late eighteen century. It began with the crowing of his image at Kalisz, in central Poland, in 1796. Sadly, Mill Hill was closed and sold in 2006 but, thankfully, it was arranged that the crowned statue of St Joseph and its surrounding shrine should go to Farnborough. This was apt because the foundress of the abbey, Empress Eugene, the wife of Napoleon III, gave a donation to help found the St Joseph’s Society for Foreign Missions, for which Mill Hill was built. In brief, we have had a national shrine to St Joseph since 1866. Its crowned statue is now at Farnborough. We may not be at the abbey but for this first talk, in Golden Square, let us spend time with St Joseph.

To go to Joseph is something St Teresa of Avila would heartily support. In her autobiography she wrote of him: ‘I am quite amazed when I consider the great favours our Lord has shown me through the intercession of [St Joseph], and the many dangers both of body and soul from which he has delivered me. It seems that to other saints our Lord has given power to succour us in only one kind of necessity; but this glorious saint, I know by my experience, assists us in all kinds of necessities; hence our Lord, it appears, wishes us to understand that as He was obedient to him when on earth, so now in Heaven He grants him whatever he asks’ (Chapter 5).

As Catholics, we have customs and expressions that others may find odd. For example, if you feel crowded in a restaurant just say Grace before you eat and make the sign of the cross. You will find that your neighbouring diners will promptly edge away. And whilst on that, experience teaches that however sure you are that the waiter or waitress has brought everything to the table, the moment you begin Grace, they will bring over a forgotten condiment or begin pouring your wine. Either way, they freeze in shock or are blithely unaware of your muttered prayer, while we end up feeling embarrassed as if caught out. But say Grace we should because we should never eat the fruits of the earth and sea causally and ungratefully.

A Catholic phrase that we use is ‘I have a devotion to’ followed by some saint’s name or prayer, such as the rosary. No one else uses the word ‘devotion’ so casually. And devotion is a strong word. It implies a wholehearted adherence to a person or thing. It makes me think of Helena’s passion for Demetrius in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Helena says to him:

‘I am your spaniel, and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.
Use me but as your spaniel—spurn me, strike me, 
Neglect me, lose me. 
Only give me leave, 
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.’ (Act II, Sc. I).

Now, such sentiments we could judge as a little over the top. And the thing about devotion, within Catholic theology, is that it is not first a matter of our emotions but a choice of our will. To be exact, devotion is a virtue of religion when we choose to give God what is His by right – such as giving thanks before we eat. Devotion is an act of the will, a choice to serve our Creator. In fact, any real act of prayer or service comes from devotion.

Now, at the same time, ‘devotions’ has become the word we use for pious practices or certain prayers which can be ways of focusing our hearts, our minds, our wills that they bring us closer to God. Some devotions will work for some, others for others. I love the Stations of the Cross. I know clergy who do not. Some cling to the rosary; others are left cold.

St Teresa, however, would have us all become devoted to St Joseph. She says in her autobiography: ‘I have never known anyone who was truly devoted to [St Joseph], who performed particular devotions in his honour that did not advance more in virtue, for he assists in a special manner those souls who recommend themselves to him.

St Teresa was ahead of the field. Popular devotion to St Joseph had been slow to develop. It was only from 1479 that a feast day was kept for him in Rome. Perhaps certain apocryphal texts were to blame for this. In the first centuries of the Church, there was a desire to know more about Jesus’ childhood years than the Gospels recalled. What was His life like as he grew up as he grew up in Nazareth? So fictional accounts appeared, which though the Church taught were untrue, became popular. Perhaps, the most famous is the Gospel of Thomas where, for example, the child Jesus struck dead a fellow child who accidentally hit Him. In this apocryphal Gospel St Joseph is depicted as a bad carpenter – after all, who was St Joseph to teach the Son of God? - and Jesus must intervene. For example, when Joseph cuts a plank too short for furniture, Our Lord stretches it to the right length. In many ways, for a long time, Joseph was reduced in the popular imagination to a pretend husband, and even more pretend father.

Yes, many who have gone before us, thought he was not a real man because his marriage was not consummated and he was not the biological father of Jesus. Yet, St Augustine, in one of his sermons, says of St Joseph, ‘He was so much more truly the father as he was virginally the father’ (51.26). How is this so? Augustine thinks of Joseph as having adopted Jesus and when we adopt, we are saying ‘Yes’ to a child, who, in some way, we have come to know unlike most other parents who when they become parents – that is, create a new life – have not chosen a particular child who they have come to know. They must wait nine months and more to see what sort of child they have conceived. Therefore, Augustine says, the father who adopts has chosen the child with his heart not simply created him from his loins.

It is perhaps easy for us to see Our Lady as a two-dimensional figure. a character in salvation history whose lines were written for her. We forget that she did not have to say, ‘Thy will be done.’ She was free to say, ‘No,’ however much that would have violated her devotion to God. If we reduce Mary, how much more so can we do it to the one to whom she was espoused. If we do that, however, we lose St Joseph’s own example of devotion. He chose Jesus.

Having discovered his espoused was pregnant and knowing that he was not the father, Joseph planned to divorce Mary quietly. But, in a dream, an angel appears to him and says, ‘Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1.20b-21).

What is most important here is that Joseph will be the one who names him. Not think of the name. A name that means the one who saves us from our sins was beyond the expectations of any Jew. They knew God as one who saved Israel by removing sinners. Now, however, sinners themselves will be saved. No, coming up with the name would be beyond any Jew, however faithful. But Joseph’s role is to declare what the name is. This is the action of a father and, in law, one who adopts is no less of a father than one who creates. The immediate significance of this is that, through Joseph, by adoption, Jesus is of the House of David.

Being Irish, I tend to say a person’s name quite often in conversation. A Celtic way of connection. But any of us, when we love someone, delight in saying the person’s name frequently. As God says in Isaiah: ‘I have called you by your name; you are mine’ (43.1). My parents knew who my best friend of the time was because their name would appear frequently in my conversation. And when we fall in love, but have not shared that love, we can find ourselves pausing after we have said the beloved’s name, fearful that we have given ourselves away. Timothy Radcliffe recalls that a child of four once said, ‘You can tell someone loves you by the way they say your name, because if they love you, your name is safe in their mouth.’

However, too frequently, we are a child in love with the sound of our own name. But Joseph taught us a name we can rely on. Only because of Joseph, can I call out to my saviour. Only because of him, can I say, ‘Jesus.’ It is why the thief could even ask on the cross, ‘Jesus, remember me’ (Luke 23.42). When we know someone’s name, we can draw them to us,make a claim on them. And Joseph can rightly claim that he helped to save us. This is why St Bernadine of Siena, the fifteen-century Franciscan wrote: ‘It is beyond doubt that Christ did not deny to Joseph in heaven that intimacy, respect, and high honour which he showed him as to a father during his own human life, but rather completed and perfected it.’ No wonder we can crown St Joseph.

When the English martyr, St Ralph Sherwin, was executed at Tyburn, his final words were, ‘Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus!’ That is ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be for me Jesus.’ In the porch of the church of my home parish, there is a framed document from about a hundred years ago, promising every parishioner a plenary indulgence should they, in their final hours, have the name of the Lord on their dying lips.
Every year, on 3 January, we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. As the Collect or Opening Prayer for the Mass of that day says: ‘Give your people the mercy they implore, so that all may know that there is no other name to be invoked but the Name of your Only Begotten Son.’ There is no other name to be invoked because as the angel said to Joseph: ‘You must name Him Jesus, because He is the one who is to save His people from their sins.’

We do not want to say the Lord’s name casually, which is why we often refer to Him as ‘the Lord.’ And we certainly do not want to say His name as an expletive. But I, quite purposefully, say the Lord’s name in my preaching and when talking about Him. Because saying the name of Jesus makes Him present among us: ‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20). You and I will transform moments and spaces should we allow ourselves to bring the name of Jesus into conversation. His name is not one to be kept hidden – the name of Jesus saves. In the earliest days of the Church, when a lame man asked St Peter for some money, the Apostle replied: ‘I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk’ (Acts 3.6). We need that freshness, that excitement at the name of Jesus.

Perhaps the most moving words concerning Joseph as the father of Jesus are said by Mary in Luke’s Gospel. On finding the missing twelve-year-old in the Temple, His mother says, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously’ (2.48b). At one level, Jesus distances Himself from Joseph. Mary has placed Joseph at the head of her statement but her son responds, ‘How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my father’s house?’ (2.49). This is understandable. Jesus’ mission is to do God the Father, his Father in Heaven’s will. At the same time, however, Mary reveals the significance of Joseph in Jesus’ life and, as Luke recounts, after this incident Jesus returns to Nazareth and is obedient to both. Joseph is fathering Jesus, helping to raise the child into the man.

For each one of us, in Joseph’s devotion to God, we have a model for ourselves – men and women. However, for us men, whatever our state of life, Joseph can be a particular example. I have just returned from Ireland after a two-week holiday on the west coast. I was there during the Feast of Our Lady of Knock, that silent apparition, which included the appearance of St Joseph. On the day, I concelebrated Mass in the parish church of Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare. The priest considered each aspect of the apparition and told us men that in a time where the qualities of masculinity were questioned St Joseph was an example to us and that we should ‘man up.’ I am not sure if that language would work in Cambridge but, of course, he was right in this way: Jesus needed Joseph as a father not first because He lived in a socially conservative time – Christ was happy to eschew social conventions – but because He needed a man in his life as He grew up. Joseph reminds us that fatherhood is something essential, which each man can exercise as a father, a professed knight, or a priest. We should look to Joseph and seek his prayers. May men may be able to flourish as men.

In Room 30 of the National Gallery is a marvellous Counter-Reformation picture by the seventeenth-century Spaniard Murillo. He painted it at the very end of his life while working for the Capuchins in Cadiz, where, it is said, a fall from scaffolding led to his death some months later. This painting, therefore, is a consummation of his career. Known as the Pedroso Murillo it depicts at the top God the Father, holding a globe and blessing. He is surrounded by angels. Below Him is the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Then we meet Christ - perhaps as a four-year old child. His face forms the centre point of the picture. He stands on a carved stone. It looks a bit like an altar. His right hand is held by Mary, who kneels on one knee looking adoringly at Him. His left hand is placed on the palm of a kneeling Joseph. Together Mary and Joseph steady ‘their’ child. St Joseph looks at us, inviting us to approach. The painting’s title is ‘The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities.’

Balthasar Boehm, an Augustinian preacher of Eichstadt in the sixteenth century wrote: ‘Three persons possess the one Jesus as their son: God the Father sent the Divinity of the Son from Heaven; the virgin mother Mary contributed His holy body; and venerable Joseph supported his noble humanity by the work of his hands. That is, so to speak, the all-blessed new trinity which has appeared on this earth – Jesus as son, Mary as mother, and Joseph as father.’ I was in the Vendee at the beginning of the summer holiday, staying with friends whose first born, Ambroise, is my godson. We often went to the beach and he liked nothing better than to have his hands held above his head so that he could stand among the waves as they landed on the shore. If it was not his father holding him, he was very happy for me to do so. Joseph was not Jesus’ father and yet Jesus was fathered by him. We can do the same. Hold Jesus steady in our lives and the lives of others.

As the Holy Spirit of the Heavenly Trinity is more likely to be forgotten, so St Joseph can be overlooked. However, we can let him help us to approach the Lord. If we choose to be devoted to God as he was, we who, in faith and virtue, can be just like Joseph, we can be as close to Jesus as he is. In the earthly Holy Trinity, Joseph is us.

I mentioned that the first image of St Joseph to be canonically crowned was at Kalisz in Poland. Well, before and during the Second World War, the concentration camp at Dachau, was where the Nazis tended to imprison ministers of religion – both Protestant and Catholic. Among them it is estimated that 1,773 Polish priests and several bishops were imprisoned there. 868 of them were murdered.

As the impending defeat of Germany became more and more apparent in April 1945, the head of the camp ordered its destruction by fire and the killing of all its prisoners. Suspecting the intentions of the Nazi officer, the priests of the camp, many of whom were from the regions around Kalisz, began a novena imploring the protection of St Joseph. The novena ended just a few days before 29 April, the day on which the massacre was to take place. The American army planned to take control of the camp on 30 April – one day too late.

But as Providence would have it, without knowing the orders of the Nazi camp commander, a small group of American soldiers was sent out to scout the camp a day earlier than planned, exactly three hours before the planned destruction of the camp. One of the Polish priests later recounted: ‘The SS officers quickly surrendered when they saw the American soldiers because they thought it was a larger force from the U.S. Army. After the camp was liberated, everyone was convinced it was St. Joseph of Kalisz who saved us. We promised then that we would spread the devotion to St. Joseph of Kalisz. We had discovered that St. Joseph could save us just as he saved Baby Jesus while running away from King Herod to Egypt.’

After the war, the Polish Bishops’ Conference proclaimed April 29 as the National Day of Martyrdom for Polish Clergy under the Nazi and communist regimes. The hundreds of priests who survived Dachau continued to make pilgrimages to the shrine each year on this date to give thanks until their deaths. The last priest died in 2013. He was a hundred years old.

In our world of great difficulties, where God is often forgotten or dismissed, we need Joseph – for his example, his guidance, his prayers. As Pharoah said many thousands of years ago to the sons of the Patriarch Isaac: ‘Go to Joseph’ (Genesis 41.55).

Saint Joseph, pray for us
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us
Blessed Gerard, pray for us


Next Monday at 15.10 European time (14.10 BST) there is to be broadcast a film about our founder Blessed Gerard on RAI, the Italian television service.  Link HERE.  Our thanks to our brethren in the French Association for generously sending this information.

Blessed Gerard, pray for us


 With apologies for not posting yesterday, but you have until Midnight tonight!

Today is the day upon which every year we may gain the Portiuncula Indulgencefrom the afternoon on the 1st August to sunset on the 2nd.  This plenary indulgence may only be applied to the Souls in Purgatory, by the act of visiting a church following Confession and receiving Holy Communion. It is thus one of the greatest Acts of Charity we can perform, to release a soul from Purgatory. Why would one not do this?

The Indulgence was granted miraculously to Saint Francis on a night of great temptation, in which he is said to have rolled as mortification in a briar-bush which became a bush of sweet thornless roses.  Originally it required a visit to the cell where he died, now in the basilica at Portiuncula (see photo above) about a mile from Assisi, but by successive Popes, in their great mercy, has been granted more and more liberally until today any church may be visited to gain this indulgence. (This privilege has been finally established for an indefinite time by a decree of the S. Cong. of Indul., 26 March, 1911 (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, III, 1911, 233-4), and reformed and confirmed by Pope Paul VI in "Indulgentiarum Doctrina" (1967). This Apostolic Constitution established that a Plenary Indulgence may be gained only once a day.)

The obligations are the usual ones of Confession and Holy Communion, ideally on the day, and recitation of the Lord's Prayer and the Creed, and prayer for the Holy Father's intentions, carried out with the will to gain the indulgence, and a detachment from sin. That is all. The indulgence may be gained on each of the two days, thus twice, assisting two souls.

Please make the effort to do this wonderful charitable work today! This is gift to a soul in need!

For more information see HERE.


On this day in 1659, the feast of S Pantaleon, was achieved a great victory over the naval forces of the Turks by Cardinal Grand Master Pierre d'Aubusson. The day is traditionally commemorated in the Order as a first class Feast, with the following prayers added to the Mass.

Festum duplex Iæ. Classis

Cardinalem &c. Magnum Magistrum Rhodiorum : contra Turcas obtentam. 
As quod Officium Innocentius Octavus Pont. 

Deus in te sperántium 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 : supliciter deprecantes: ut solitá tuæ pietatis clementiá muniti, dextráque tuæ potentiæ defensi : ab hostium insidiis, omníque adversitate protegámur.  Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Filium tuum. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

Hostias tibi Domine placationis et laudis offerimus, suppliciter exorantes : ut qui nos de Fidei tuæ hostibus triumphare fecisti : clementer ab inimicorum insidiis, et omni periculo salves et munias.  Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Filium tuum. Qui vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

Sumptis redemptionis nostræ muneribus, quæsumus Omnipotens Deus : eorum celebratione tuæ protectionis auxilium : et famuli tui N. Hospitalis Hiersolomitani 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 Filium tuum. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

Ex Officia Propria Sanctorum Ordinis S. Joannis Hierosolimitani Melitensis in usum Domus Coloniensis SS. Joannis et Cordulæ.  Typis Antonii Metternich MDCLIX.


The annual Pilgrimage in honour of Blessed David Gonson, one of our three English Martyrs, took place on his feast day last Wednesday.

The Mass was celebrated at the church of Our Lady of la Salette, Bermondsey, with the 7th annual Martyr Sermon, preached by Father Gwilym Evans FSSP, former Director of Music of the Order in England, and ordained to the sacred priesthood last year. It was also the first time the chasuble newly adorned with Blessed David's arms has been worn for this Pilgrimage.
There followed the silent walk to the site of martyrdom, at St Thomas Waterings in the Old Kent Road, where we were joined by those who cannot walk the route. The evening ended with supper, with a conviviality worthy of Chaucer's characters.

It was good to see so many younger members of the Order and Companions, and many participating for the first time. It is fitting thus to honour and invoke our Martyr.

The text of Fr Evans' sermon is given below. We are extremely grateful to him.

The Vocation of Martyrdom

What would you have done…? That’s the question that I always end up asking myself, whenever I read about this country in the 1530s. What would I have done…?

Of course, we’d all like to think that we’d have been among the three percent of this country’s population who remained faithful, so as to give up their lives for the Faith. But, if we were faced with losing everything (friends, family, house, income — even the Sacraments, and ultimately our lives), what would have stopped us being like all the other Catholics (all the other bishops, priests, religious, and pious faithful) who ended up abandoning the Church that they had presumably loved and cherished…?

Why was it that only three of the English Knights of Malta—at the time of the Order’s suppression in this country—were crowned with the glory of martyrdom…? Three times the number of bishops, it has to be said; and three times the number of government ministers: Saints John Fisher and Thomas More being the only representatives of their class… And the Order is rightly proud of this supreme witness to the faith, when so many—who should have known better, who should have been leading their lambs to the slaughter—preferred convenience and comfort. But what would we have done…?

It’s true to say that there were others who suffered a ‘white’ martyrdom: Knights of Malta who suffered exile; those who died in prison; and the heartbreaking account of the then Grand Prior, William Weston, who was spared the gallows, but collapsed and died, on hearing the news of his beloved Order’s suppression. But what of all those other knights? What of those knights and professed chaplains who were later to be found in England, collecting their royal pension, and even in personal service to King Henry VIII? What about Fra’ Edward Bellingham, now Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, or Fra’ Ambrose Cave, soon to be Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster?

Or, to be more blatant, what about Fra’ Philip Babington, the former Knight of Justice who brought the accusation against the blessed martyr that we celebrate today — against his confrère in the Grand Priory? What made a Babington a Babington, and a Gunson a Gunson…?

It’s not as if one of them got lucky — as if one of them managed the ‘shortcut’ to Heaven — as if, had circumstances been different, it could have been otherwise… Gunson arrived in England after the Order’s suppression — and, indeed, after the double martyrdom of Fortescue and Dingley. He knew what was coming.

Martyrs are not martyrs because of the ‘incidental blood’ that was shed. The cause of their martyrdom—the cause of their blessedness, their sanctity—is not their death, but their life: the life that leads them to martyrdom. Martyrdom is an expression of a relationship that already exists; it is a fulfilment of a love for Christ and for His Church. Of course, it is only grace that can bring us to love to such an extent as to offer our lives for that love — to prove that fullness of love which is martyrdom. But that grace is there for us all.

We may not all be called to a martyrdom of blood, but we are all called to be martyrs (to be witnesses) of truth — to make that truth known, through our sufferings, through our sacrifices, but—most of all—through our love: through being holy.

To be holy is to live out one’s vocation — to answer God’s call to our own personal holiness. The vocation of the Knight of Malta is summed up by its famous twin charism; it’s enunciated in that well-known Prayer of the Order that we’ll all recite at the end of our pilgrimage this evening, at the very place where our martyr lived out his vocation to the full: first, “to practise and defend the Catholic, the Apostolic, the Roman Faith against the enemies of religion” (tuitio fidei); and thereby “to practise charity towards my neighbours, especially the poor and the sick” (obsequium pauperum).

Like all vocations, it’s a vocation of love: it’s a fulfilment of Christ’s double commandment of love — love of God (tuitio fidei) and love of neighbour (obsequium pauperum). And, in the words of Christ’s vicar on earth—our current Holy Father—to be holy is “to love as Christ loves”. To be holy is not to know something, nor to do something, not even to be something — but it’s to be some-one: to be Christ.

At Saint Thomas Waterings, 482 years ago today, Blessed David Gunson (the ‘Good Knight’, as he became known) loved as Christ loves. He consummated his vocation; he carried out the real work of the Order — which, as the late Pope once put it, is “not mere philanthropy, but an effective expression and a living testimony of evangelical love”. That is a love that turns a life of ‘tuitio fidei’ into a death ‘in odium fidei’. It’s a love that turns ‘obsequium pauperum’ into an ‘obsequium mortis’, an ‘obsequium crucis’ — an ‘obedience unto death’, an ‘allegiance to the Cross’. It’s a love that tells us what to do, and how to ‘be Christ’.

Blessed David Gunson, pray for us.


On this day, the ancient Octave day of the Feast of Corpus Christi, we are happy to share a video of the Homily preached by Cardinal Nichols at Mass of the Feast last Sunday, in the Diocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, the church of Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, in the presence of Fra' Max Rumney, Grand Prior of England. The Mass was followed by a Eucharistic procession around Covent Garden. (The video should start at the beginning of the homily at 21.23, which doesn't work in all browsers, and which lasts 15 minutes. If it doesn't work for you CLICK HERE)

O sacrum convivium!
in quo Christus sumitur:
recolitur memoria passionis eius:
mens impletur gratia:
et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.


 Today is the feast of Saint Fleur, one of our three illustrious Dame saints.

Saint Fleur (Flora in Latin) was born about 1300 at Maurs in France. At the age of thirteen, she took the veil in the convent of the Sisters of St. John of Jerusalem at Beaulieu, in the diocese of Cahors in France, where she devoted herself to tending the poor and the sick in the hospital attached to the convent, which served the Poor, travellers and orphans, as well as housing a noviciate. The monastic buildings were sacked in 1793, the Dames expelled and killed and the buildings destroyed, all that survives is the Chapter House.

Fleur subdued distractions and temptations in the love of God and in mystical experiences. She had a special devotion to the Passion of Christ Crucified, to Our Lady of the Annunciation, and to Saint John the Baptist, patron of the Order of Saint John. She died in 1347 and her relics were venerated in the Convent. The relics survived and were restored to the nearby parish church of Saint Julien in Issendolus (called Saint-Dolus before the Revolution) in 1852, since when there has been continuous veneration by the villagers as well as members of our Order.

We see in the photograph our friend and confrère Jacques de Saint-Exupéry carrying the relics of Saint Fleur in the annual procession on this feast in Issendolus, presided by the bishop of Cahors, with Madame Alix de Tourtier in front.

Sancta Flora, ora pro nobis.


At the Council Complete of State held at the Aventine villa today, Fra' John Dunlap was elected as Prince and 81st Grand Master of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.

The new Grand Master, addressing the members of the Council Complete of State, said: “I accept this office with a profound spirit of service and with the solemn promise of a constant commitment. I thank each of you for having placed your trust in me and for having shown your great love for, and dedication to, our Order by your presence here today. There are many challenges that await us, but united in the awareness of our mission of Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum (witnessing the faith, helping the poor), I am sure that we will be able to face them together united and cohesively, in the same spirit that guided Blessed Gerard, founder of the Order over 900 years ago." 

Born in Ottawa, Canada, on 16 April 1957, after studying in Nice University, John Dunlap graduated from the University of Ottawa and then obtained a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Western Ontario. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in Public Service by John Cabot University in Rome. 

Fra' John Dunlap is a member of the New York State Bar and the Ontario Bar Association in Canada. In 1986, he joined the New York legal firm Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller in New York City, becoming a partner in 1993. He specializes in corporate and immigration law. An internationally respected lawyer, since 1997 he has been legal adviser to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Fra' John Dunlap approached the Order of Malta and found his religious vocation in the mid-1980s during his volunteer work with patients suffering from AIDS and other diseases at the Cardinal Cooke Medical Center in Harlem (New York). He has volunteered in that hospital every week for the past 30 years.   

Admitted to the Order of Malta in 1996, he took his solemn vows as a Professed Knight in 2008. For over a decade he has served the Order of Malta as Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Names and Emblems and Representative to the Alliance of the Orders of St John.  

In 2009 Fra' John Dunlap was elected for a five-year term as a member of the Sovereign Council. He was re-elected for another five-year term by the Chapter General in 2014 and 2019. He has led the Order of Malta as Lieutenant of the Grand Master since June 2022, following the death of Fra' Marco Luzzago.

Ad multos annos!