DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     December 9, 1998     vol. 9, no. 238

from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO


          VALLETTA, Malta (CWNews.com) - The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta celebrated its 900th birthday on Saturday by receiving the gift of a fort where it once fought off the encroachment of the Ottoman armies on Europe.

          The Maltese government announced on Friday that it would return a small fort in Valletta's harbor to the Hospitallers where Grand Master Jean de La Valette turned back a Turkish siege in 1565. The relationship between the small island nation and the Order dates back centuries when the knights took over the island given to them by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, built huge fortresses and grand palaces, and guarded the Mediterranean approaches to Europe.

          The order was founded in the 12th century by Europe's leading families to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. After Muslims expelled the Crusaders from the Holy Land, the Order moved first to Cyprus and then Rhodes before holding the line at Malta. Today, the Order is based in Rome and now has 11,500 members and 80,000 permanent volunteers from all over the world. The group maintains diplomatic relations with 81 countries and carries out humanitarian work on every continent, such as running hospitals in the Middle East.

          The agreement for the handover of Fort St. Angelo, announced by Maltese Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami on Friday, will allow the order to use the building "for international humanitarian and cultural activities." The fort has remained unused since it was turned over to Malta by the British government in 1979 after having been used as a base for the British navy for two centuries.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 9, 1998       volume 9, no. 238


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