About the Order The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization. The 13,500 Knights and Dames remain true to its inspiring principles – nurturing, witnessing and protecting the faith and serving the poor and the sick.
The American Association Founded in 1927 as the first association of the Order of Malta in the Americas, the association is headquartered in New York City with over 2,000 knights, dames and volunteers in 16 states working with the poor, sick and incarcerated and giving witness to the Catholic faith.
Spirituality Knights and Dames join the Order of Malta to pursue their spiritual growth over a path laid out by Blessed Gerard more than nine hundred years ago, seeking to nurture and witness the Faith and assist the sick and the poor.
Spirituality in Action Members are involved in hands-on work involving over one hundred organizations and ministries. Food banks, hospitals, pregnancy support centers, homeless shelters and mentoring at risk children are just some of the activities in which members engage.
Each May, Knights, Dames, Auxiliary, and volunteers from the Order of Malta travel to Lourdes, France as pilgrims, bringing with them sick and disabled from around the world. The Lourdes pilgrimage offers a unique opportunity to fully experience the charism of our Order, service to the sick and the poor, while joining together with members of the Order from across the globe in an international community of service and faith. The year 2019 marks the 61st anniversary of the Order of Malta’s first pilgrimage to Lourdes and the 161st anniversary of the apparitions.
Participating in the pilgrimage is an opportunity to learn firsthand what belonging to the Order of Malta really means – devotion, service, and fellowship. Linked as it is with hands-on service, the pilgrimage offers unique spiritual gifts to all. Knights, Dames, Auxiliary members and volunteers are assigned to small teams (“pods”), assisting a Malade each day from early morning into the evening on the weeklong pilgrimage. The schedule is full, but rewarding, and there is time for personal reflection and relaxation for all.
The History of Lourdes
In 1858, in a cave, named Massabielle, situated just outside the Village of Lourdes in the Pyrénées of southern France, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on eighteen occasions to Bernadette Soubirous, a very poor, 14-year-old girl. The first of the apparitions took place on February 11th and the last on July 16th.
“I saw a lady dressed in white, she wore a white dress, an equally white veil, a blue belt, and a yellow rose on each foot.” – Bernadette describes the first apparition of February 11, 1858
The lady – wearing a white dress with a blue sash and with gold roses at her feet -asked that a chapel be built on the site of the vision and told Bernadette to drink of the natural fountain in the Grotto. “Go, drink of the waters and wash yourself there.” Though no fountain was to be seen, when Bernadette dug at a spot designated by the apparition a spring began to flow.
A typical pod – Lourdes Pilgrimage 2019
Through God’s love and power, the water from this still-flowing spring has shown remarkable healing power, though it contains no curative property that science can identify. Since Bernadette’s apparitions in 1858, the Church has officially recognized 70 miracles—the last of which occurred in 2008. The International Medical Committee of Lourdes, a group of about 20 physicians, has certified another 2,000 inexplicable cures.
Following Bernadette’s death in 1879, she was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
Lourdes remains one of the world’s most popular pilgrimage sites, especially among the sick. While physical cures are relatively rare, many people, both Malades and pilgrims, experience interior miracles—people who are ill, even dying, who are able to leave Lourdes with an inner peace they did not before experience: “Anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never thirst again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring within them, welling up to eternal life.”- John 4:14