The Order of Malta

The world's oldest charitable organization, defending the sick, the poor, and the vulnerable for over 900 years

  The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta — more commonly known as the Order of Malta — is one of the oldest institutions in the world. Founded circa 1048 and recognized by Pope Paschal II in 1113, it is a Catholic religious lay order that by tradition, is at the same time military, chivalrous, and nobiliary. It is a sovereign subject of international law maintaining diplomatic relations with 107 states and the European Union, as well as permanent observer status at the United Nations. It is neutral, impartial, and apolitical.

     Today, the Order of Malta is active in 120 countries, caring for people in need through its medical, social and humanitarian works. Day-to-day, its broad spectrum of social projects provides a constant support for forgotten or excluded members of society. It is especially involved in helping people living in the midst of armed conflicts and natural disasters by providing medical assistance, caring for refugees, and distributing medicines and basic equipment for survival. Across the world, the Order of Malta is dedicated to the preservation of human dignity and the care of all those in need, regardless of their race or religion.

     Founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century, the Order of Malta is the world's oldest surviving order of chivalry. Its 900-year history of service to the vulnerable and the sick is reflected by its motto, "tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum" — defense of the faith and service to the poor.


The Order of Malta operates through 12 Priories, 47 national Associations, 133 diplomatic missions, 1 worldwide relief agency and 33 national volunteer corps, as well as numerous hospitals, medical centers and specialist foundations. It comprises 13,500 knights and dames, 80,000 volunteers, and 20,000 employed medical and relief professionals. It does not pursue any economic or political goal and does not depend on any other state or government. Since 1834 the Order of Malta’s government seat has been in Rome, where it is guaranteed extraterritorial rights.


Its current head is the 80th Prince and Grand Master,

His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto

— Adapted from and Regulations and Commentary, Sovereign Military Order of Malta (2011)