Order of Malta Performs Great Service
Having family in Colorado, I was very pleased to read the fine article: "Order of Malta extends presence in Colorado" by Fr. Jim Baron in the Sept 1 issue of the Colo Catholic Herald. I am a papal knight in the Equestrian Order of Knights the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Additionally, I am a member of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard, which is the relief arm of the Order of Malta. I am proud of all these groups. As Fr. Baron correctly pointed-out, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, began in the year A.D. 1048 and was officially recognized in A.D. 1113 by Pope Paschal II establishing Blessed Gerard as Founder and First Grand Master of the Order; and he and other Christian Crusaders helped recover Jerusalem from the Muslim conquest of the year 637 A.D.
The papal orders down through the years were tasked with a defensive posture in preserving Christianity. The Knights Templar mainly protected Christian pilgrims en route to make pilgrimages to The Holy Land by land. The Templars also developed a precursor to our modern banking system. Some scholars even credit the invention of 'bank cheques = our modern bank checks' to them. The Knights in the Order of Malta likewise protected Christian pilgrims, yet they were sort of a nomadic guard who fought battles. the won some, and lost some. They were essentially driven from Jerusalem to places such as Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete,and Sicily, as well as Malta and principally in the cities of Birgu and Valetta in Malta. The knights also had a presence in diverse places such as England, Denmark, Germany, Russia and even in the Western Hemisphere in the Caribbean Islands.
Today's modern Knights of Malta engage in charitable works to help the sick and poor. The yearly pilgrimage to Lourdes provides hope and inspiration for the sick as well as members of the Order. Various hospitals and clinics have been established by the Order of Malta, including the "Holy Family Hospital" in Bethlehem, Palestine which provides maternity-care in a region that so desperately needs it.
I am thankful to Colorado Springs Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Sheridan for his spiritual support to the Orders and encouraging them to thrive in the Colorado Springs Diocese. I am especially grateful to Bishop Sheridan for visiting my mother's twin-sister, Dolores (Riedl) Myers just a short time before her death from multiple heart-attacks and strokes. The Bishop truly exemplified knightly courtesy by going to her side and praying with her at her home. I wish the current Knights and Dames in Colorado continued prosperity as they work by the motto: "Defense of the Faith, and Service to the Sick and Poor". God Bless You.
Sir James A. Marples, KHS