Dear confreres and consoeurs, dear professionals, volunteers and supporters of the Order of Malta around the world,
In this unprecedented moment that is uniting over 150 nations worldwide in facing the same grave challenges, my most profound gratefulness goes to the Order of Malta’s associations, volunteers and relief corps who have been contributing in supporting the national health systems in several of the countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our medical staff and volunteers are providing assistance to the elderly who are forced to quarantine at home, by regularly delivering food and medicines, and health teams are deployed to administer tests to the population and to manage some mobile medical units which are equipped to handle the virus, strictly following the sanitary guidelines. Their indefatigable dedication is witness of the Christian message and faith which underlies all the charitable activities of the Order of Malta.
I also wish to express my deepest appreciation to all those medical professionals who – since the onset of the virus – have been working round the clock to assist people affected by this disease.
Every day we read in the news distressing reports on the conditions of the people who’ve been hospitalized, many in intensive care, some intubated. We must pray for the Malades who, by experiencing isolation, suffer this loneliness the most. Our thoughts also go out to their families: being denied from attending or even saying goodbye to your loved ones is a pain nobody should endure, and I want to express my sympathy to all those people living this dreadful condition. To them and to all the doctors, nurses, health workers go my prayers and my full and wholehearted gratitude.
With deep regret, it was decided to cancel the 62nd Order of Malta’s International Pilgrimage to Lourdes, one of the most significant moments in the life of the members and volunteers of the Order of Malta. This decision was a very painful one.
Given the rapidly worsening of the situation in France, for the first time in over 160 years the Marian sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes has been closed to the public. It is my hope that many members and volunteers will be able to reunite for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land programmed next November, on the occasion of the 900 anniversary of the death of Blessed Gerard, our founder, trusting that the world will have by then turned this dramatic page in history.
With its over 900 year of Hospitaller tradition in assisting the poor and the sick, the Order of Malta remains close to those in need and those who are suffering in this terrible moment and will continue reaching out to whoever is in need. I would like to recall Pope Francis’ words just a few days ago: “United to Christ, we are never alone”, and I renew the appeal of the Pontiff to ask everyone “to pray for the elderly who are suffering, in a particular way from interior solitude”.
I wish you all a blessed lent,
Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto