THE 80th Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, described as having a “profound dedication to charitable work”, has died.
Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto a popular figure among the ancient order of knights worldwide, was 75 and had been diagnosed with an incurable disease several months ago.
He was elected Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta in 2018 and was credited with continuing constitution reforms to the ancient Order, “to adapt it to the development that the Order has experienced in recent decades.”
Australian Association president James Douglas, who met with the Grand Master last year described him as “a gentle, courteous man with a twinkle in his eye and an uncommonly warm presence”.
“One felt blessed by being in his company,” Mr Douglas, a former Queensland Supreme Court judge, said.
“He was focussed on others and interested in and supportive of the works we do with homeless people, students from poor families, through the Dili clinic and in palliative care.”
The Order of Malta Dili Clinic in East Timor opened in November 2017 and continues its mission in complementing the health care services across the tiny nation.
The knights – officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta – was founded in Jerusalem around the year 1048, and is a Catholic religious and lay order.
The Order’s mission is to bear witness to the faith and assist the poor and sick.
Today the Order of Malta is mainly active in health and social care and humanitarian aid, operating in over 120 countries.
Its 13,500 members are supported by 80,000 volunteers, with another 42,000 doctors, nurses and paramedics.
The Order manages hospitals, healthcare clinics, out-patient units, institutes for the elderly and disabled, terminal patient centres and volunteer corps.
Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s special relief agency, is always in the front line in natural disasters and to alleviate the consequences of armed conflicts.
The Order is engaged in the countries bordering Syria and Iraq to provide aid for the population fleeing from the violence.
Alongside the Italian units, the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps participates in first-aid operations for the boats loaded with migrants in the Strait of Sicily.
The Order of Malta is neutral, impartial and apolitical.
It has bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 States, official relations with another six States, and relations at ambassadorial level with the European Union.
It is a Permanent Observer to the United Nations and its specialised agencies and has representatives to the main international organisations.
Since 1834, the seat of the Order of Malta’s government has been in Rome, where it is guaranteed extraterritoriality rights.