The Order of Malta has been a religious Order since 1113, the year it was recognised by Pope Paschal II. As a religious Order, it is linked to the Holy See, but at the same time it is independent as a sovereign subject of international law.
The Order of Malta is a lay religious Order according to Canon Law, where some of its members are religious and others have taken a special vow of obedience, while the great majority of the knights and dames are lay members.
According to the Constitution, all members are required to uphold exemplary Christian behaviour in their private and public life, contributing to the maintenance of the Order’s traditions. The Order emphasises the development of the spirituality of its members who come together at regular Vigils, Branch Masses, for important Feast Days and for an Annual Memorial Mass for Deceased Members.
Spiritual retreats are organised each year and a magnificent Investiture Mass is held at least every two years during the National Assembly.
The Australian Association actively participates in the international annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, a world-wide event around the first weekend of May. For those Australians unable to make the journey to Lourdes, a Lourdes Day Mass is organised locally by the Branches.