Location: Rome

Dear Confreres, Consœurs, employees, volunteers and supporters of the Order of Malta throughout the world,

Never before have I felt so strongly the desire and the need to make you feel my closeness: it is true that we are far away. But we are not alone.

Never before have I felt so strongly the desire and the need to make you feel my closeness: it is true that we are far away. But we are not alone. We are united in our mission of faith in the great family of the Order of Malta. We live in an unprecedented situation, which worries and frightens us, which isolates us, but at the same time unites us in our efforts to face the great challenge represented by this pandemic.

Holy Week and Easter Day represent hope and resurrection. After sharing Christ’s suffering, let us ensure that His resurrection gives us the energy to continue to fight this battle and to look to the future with renewed hope.

“We have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything”, said the Pontiff a few days ago in a deserted St. Peter’s Square, “we carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick”. The exhortation addressed that day by Pope Francis to “new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity” stimulates us in our mission, which for 900 years has been the essence of the Order of Malta: “Tuitio fidei et Obsequium pauperum”.

For this reason, I would like to renew my message of gratitude and admiration to our Priories, Associations, Relief Corps and numerous volunteers who have been contributing – for several weeks now – to support the people who suffer most with a thousand initiatives of solidarity. Every little help, every smile, every prayer is like the gesture of Veronica who, when seeing Jesus’ passion whilst carrying the cross, cleans his face with a cloth. Similarly, our doctors and nurses working in hospitals, our volunteers who assist the elderly or the sick forced into quarantine at home, who help the homeless on the streets, who deliver medicine or food, bear witness to the Order of Malta’s Christian message with their tireless commitment.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Monsignor Jean Laffitte, Prelate of the Order of Malta, for the Easter video message and for the historic act of consecration of the Order to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I invite everyone to watch the video message on the website www.orderofmalta.int

I am very sorry that after the pilgrimage to Lourdes we were forced to postpone the international pilgrimage to the Holy Land scheduled for next November. I assure you that the appointment with the places that saw the birth of our Order is only postponed.

Even more than in the past, I would like to invite you to pray for our Lords the Sick and for all those who are committed to alleviating their suffering and difficulties.

I wish you all a Holy Easter and I assure your constant remembrance in my prayers.