The Order of Malta is one of the few Orders created in the Middle Ages and still active today. It is also the only one that is at the same time religious and sovereign. This is due to the fact that most of the other Orders of chivalry lacked the hospitaller function which characterises the Order of Malta, so they disappeared as soon as the military purposes that represented the reasons for their existence ceased.
The Knights of Malta
The knighthood nature explains and justifies the maintenance of the noble nature of the Order, as most of its Religious Knights came from chivalrous and noble Christian families. Today the majority of Knights of Malta belong to all classes of society. The members of the Order may be defined as Catholics enlivened by altruistic nobleness of spirit and behaviour. All Knights of Malta must meet the traditional requirement for the bestowing of knighthood: distinguish themselves for special virtues. The knighthood nature of the Order has kept its moral value, characterised by the spirit of service, sacrifice and discipline of today’s Knights of Malta. Battles are no longer fought with swords, but with the peaceful tools of the fight against disease, poverty, social isolation and intolerance, as well as witnessing and protecting the faith.
Wherever they settled, the Knights Hospitallers always established first a Hospital and Hospice and then, if necessary, built defence fortifications. In the Third Millennium being a Hospitaller means dedicating oneself to easing suffering and to bringing the balm of Christian charity to the sick, anywhere in the world, not only in hospitals but also in private homes and nursing homes in the shantytowns of destitute populations. The Order does not only dedicate itself to the sick, but also to the socially isolated, the victims of persecution and the refugees of any race and religious faith.
All the 13,500 Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta shall conduct themselves so as to give Christian example in their private and public lives, thus putting into effect the tradition of the Order. It is incumbent on them to collaborate effectively in its hospitaller and social works.
Membership of the Order of Malta is by invitation rather than application; each person wishing to join must be sponsored by two members. The qualifications for membership and the spiritual and other obligations are set out in the Code and Regulations of the Order. The main qualifications sought in those invited to join are to be a Catholic in good standing – to be verified by Church authorities – and to be committed to meet the spiritual and other duties of membership. In addition, membership reflects standing as a person of integrity and demonstrated concern for others.
Each new aspirant to membership is required to engage in a twelve-month probation before membership is finally submitted to Rome. During this period, an aspirant is encouraged to inform himself or herself about the history and objects of the Order and to participate in its activities.
For more information on membership please email the Communications Office on firstname.lastname@example.org