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Rome Reports

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The lone knight who guards a Maltese castle and aids Ukrainian refugees


The Hospitaller Knights of the Order of St. John, also known as the Order of Malta, have been on this island for more than 260 years. This castle, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, was their first fortress until Napoleon Bonaparte conquered the island in the 18th century.

FRA’ JOHN E. CRITIEN
Knight of the Order of Malta
This castle, together with all our possessions in the island, were confiscated or were lost or were abandon here when we were obliged to leave the island in 1798.

Since then, the Order of Malta has had its headquarters in Rome. But the Maltese government gave them part of this fortress. It is guarded by one knight, John Cretien, who leads an isolated life in the middle of a big city.

FRA’ JOHN E. CRITIEN
Knight of the Order of Malta
I’m very rarely on my own. Because people visit the castle, friends come and see me, fortunately. My family lives on the island, so I also see them. No, I’m very rarely on my own.

Outside Fort Saint Angelo, Critien is supported by lay people in the Order living with their own families. 

FRA’ JOHN E. CRITIEN
Knight of the Order of Malta
I’m the only knight living in Fort Saint Angelo, but we have a national association of around 90 knights, dames, in other words lady members, and chaplains from the order.

Together they have collected funds to help refugees from Ukraine and assist them with adjusting to life on the island.

FRA’ JOHN E. CRITIEN
Knight of the Order of Malta
There has been, again, a successful initiative to accommodate some of the Ukrain[ians] coming to the island. Some members had an apartment which happened to be empty, for one reason or another, has offered it to a family coming from the Ukraine and so on and so for[th]. So we are doing well.

Throughout the island, the Order of Malta's heritage can be seen in the great palaces, churches and castles that make this pearl of the Mediterranean shine. 

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