Feast of Blessed Gerard
October 13 2022
Holy Mass was today celebrated at St Ursula Monastery in Valletta at 6:30 pm, to commemorate the feast of the founder of the Order of Malta, Blessed Gerard.
This feast, which is so dear to the Maltese Association, started with a procession from the sacristy to the church, which was led by the President, Marchesino Daniel de Petri Testaferrata, together with the members of the clergy and association members.
The Jerosolimitan Nuns of St. Ursula, who are also members of the Order, were all in attendance within the church, where they led the congregation with their beautiful singing to the accompaniment of two young ladies playing the organ and clarinet.
Fr. Ramon Farrugia was the main celebrant and gave an excellent homily on Blessed Gerard whilst the Principal Chaplain, Mgr Lawrence Gatt and the Ecclesiastical Master of Ceremonies, Mgr Paul Vella, concelebrated. Archbishop Emeritus Mgr Paul Cremona, also attended this event.
The skull of Blessed Gerard is kept and revered on the right side of the main altar in the monastery.
The Blessed Gerard
Circa 1040 – 1120
The founder and first Grand Master of the Order was born around 1040 in Scala, a village a few kilometres from Amalfi in southern Italy. In the second half of the 11th century, he went to Jerusalem where he began to work in the hospital next to the church of St. Mary Latin, built by Amalfi merchants to receive pilgrims and tend to the sick.
Legend has it that in 1099, during the Siege of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, Blessed Gerard threw bread to them from the walls but when he was arrested the bread had miraculously turned into stones.
To build up the institution he ran, Blessed Gerard transformed it into a religious order dedicated to St. John Baptist. On 15 February 1113, Pope Paschal II officially recognised the monastic community of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. The pope’s document gives an indication of the role and importance of the Order’s founder and demonstrates the significance of the service offered to the pilgrims and the poor in the Jerusalem hospital. It also gives a list of its hospitals and hospices in France and Italy, proving that the order established by Blessed Gerard – a few decades after its foundation – was not limited to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem but already had a European dimension.
Blessed Gerard died in Jerusalem on 3 September 1120. His directions and his example constitute the basis for the Order’s first written Rule issued by Fra’ Raymond de Puy – second Grand Master – between 1145 and 1153. The Catholic Church venerates him as blessed and remembers him on 13 October.
More photos of the event are available at the gallery below: