Mission of the Order

Upholding human dignity and caring for people in need

The Sovereign Order of Malta is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. A lay religious order of the Catholic Church since 1113 and a subject of international law, the Sovereign Order of Malta has diplomatic relations with over 100 states and the European Union, and permanent observer status at the United Nations. It is neutral, impartial and apolitical.

Today, the Order of Malta is active in 120 countries caring for people in need through its medical, social and humanitarian works. Day-to-day, its broad spectrum of social projects provides a constant support for forgotten or excluded members of society. It is especially involved in helping people living in the midst of armed conflicts and natural disasters by providing medical assistance, caring for refugees, and distributing medicines and basic equipment for survival. Across the world, the Order of Malta is dedicated to the preservation of human dignity and the care of all those in need, regardless of their race or religion.

Founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century, the Order of Malta has a long history of service to the vulnerable and the sick. This 900-year history is reflected in its full name: Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. Since 1834 the Order of Malta’s government seat has been in Rome, where it is guaranteed extraterritorial rights.

The Order of Malta operates through 12 Priories, 47 national Associations, 133 diplomatic missions, 1 worldwide relief agency and 33 national volunteer corps, as well as numerous hospitals, medical centers and specialist foundations. It does not pursue any economic or political goal and does not depend on any other state or government.

Characteristics of the Order
The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law, with its own constitution, passports, stamps, and public institutions. The Order has diplomatic relations with 104 countries – many of which are non-Catholic – and missions to major European countries, as well as to European and international organizations. The Order of Malta is neutral, impartial and non-political, which is why it can successfully act as a mediator between States.

The Order and the Republic of Malta
The Order has recently returned to Malta, after signing an agreement with the Maltese Government that granted the Order the exclusive use of Fort St. Angelo for a term of 99 years. Located in the town of Birgu, the Fort belonged to the Knights from 1530 until the island was occupied by Napoleon in 1798. Today, after restoration, the Fort hosts historical and cultural activities related to the Order of Malta.