The Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra ’Giacomo Dalla Torre, died on Wednesday April 29, shortly after midnight, two years to the day after his election, the Order announced. The 75-year-old was diagnosed with an “incurable disease” a few months ago.
In accordance with the constitution of the Order, which, without having its own territory, enjoys all the attributes of a sovereign state, the great commander Fra ‘Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas, 80, will assume the functions of lieutenant acting until the election of a new grandmaster.
Coming from a large Trevisan family very attached to the Holy See – his uncle Giuseppe was director of The Roman Osservatore from 1920 to 1960 and his brother, also named Giuseppe, was until last October president of the Court of the Vatican City – Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto had studied literature and history before turning to the archeology.
“Our lords the sick”
He entered the Order of Malta in 1985 and made his solemn religious vows there in 1993 and became, in 1994, grand prior of Lombardy and Veneto. A member of the Sovereign Council (the government of the Order) in 1994, he was elected Grand Commander in 2004, acting in the interim after the death of Grandmaster Fra ’Andrew Berthie in 2008.
Grand Prior of Rome in 2008, he is regularly seen participating in Order activities for the most disadvantaged, such as distributing meals to the homeless at Termini or Tiburtina stations, even on the coldest nights.
“I serve the Order of Malta and those in need”, said the one who, during the pilgrimages, insisted on the figure of “Our lords the sick”, according to the formula consecrated in an Order where the access to the highest functions is made according to the districts of nobility.
“Soft, full of authority and determined”
This engaging and highly spiritual man was recalled in 2017 as an acting lieutenant after the forced departure of Grandmaster Fra ’Matthew Festing who tried to put the Order in opposition to the Pope, triggering an unprecedented internal crisis.
Elected among the only 12 professed knights then meeting the requisite conditions, he had succeeded him in 2018, working from then on on the revision of the constitutions of the Order and on its in-depth renovation according to the wish of Pope Francis, while making sure to absorb the deep fractures born of the crisis.
“Fra’ Giacomo’s gentle yet at the same time authoritative and determined temperament has allowed the Order of Malta to turn the page and begin a new phase of renewal and evolution “, the Order underlines a press release.
The Order of Malta very committed against the Covid-19
No details were given on the funeral of the grand master – considered a head of state – no more than details on the election of his successor: two events that could make problematic the current pandemic of coronavirus against which l ‘The Order, dedicated to the poor and the sick, is also very committed from the start.
Founded around 1048 in Jerusalem, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta is a religious order which enjoys international legal personality and maintains diplomatic relations with 110 states.
Headquartered in Rome, serving the poor and sick, its 13,500 members, 80,000 volunteers and more than 42,000 doctors, nurses, and paramedics work in more than 120 countries.