The Sovereign Order of Malta and the Republic of Malta have still got huge potential to restore the historical link between them and, once again, work together to revive and keep alive the presence of the Order in Malta, President of Malta George Vella said at the opening of the second symposium in the Presidency Culture Symposia Series.
The symposium, under the theme ‘Malta and the Sovereign Order of Malta: Historical Relations, Future Histories’, took place in hybrid format at Sant’Anton Palace and via a video conferencing service, and was also broadcast live on the President of Malta’s official Facebook page. The Sovereign Order of Malta was the focus of a number of papers and interviews, discussions, and conversations seeking to explore the political, cultural, and institutional relationship between Malta and the Order of Malta, with a focus on the history of diplomatic relations and the history of the Order following its departure from Malta in 1798, the artistic and cultural patrimony of the Order of Malta today, as well as the function, role, and purpose of the Order of Malta. The Presidency Culture Symposia Series is aimed at spearheading conversations around cultural diplomacy and has also contributed to the fostering of better inter-State relations at the highest Office of the State.
The President recalled that, during its rule in Malta, the Order of St John gave the country its fortress identity with the ever-increasing construction of fortification lines which not only kept enemy and foe at bay but also securely held the cultural heritage treasures that were then, and still are today, the pride and joy of these islands. The Order also took Malta into the mainstream cultural and artistic developments that were taking place in mainland Europe. Much of Malta’s architectural, cultural and artistic heritage was bequeathed to the country by the Order of St John. The bonding of the Order with Malta did indeed lead to Malta giving its very name to the Hospitallier Order of St John of Jerusalem to become the Order of Malta. It is this legacy, he said, that binds Nation and Order together in the strongest of relations for posterity.
“It is with this thought that I welcome this symposium as a moment of reflection,” said the President.
“Indeed, the history of the Order of St John has its fundamental relevance and significance that continues to be underpinned, valued, and celebrated till his very day.”
The symposium was opened with a welcome message by Augusto Ruffo di Calabria, Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the Republic of Malta and by Sandro Debono, Adviser to the President on Cultural Affairs. The speaker lineup included George Buttigieg, Ambassador of Malta to the Sovereign Order of Malta. Special guests interviewed were Douglas Graf Saurma-Jeltsch, a member of the executive board of Malteser Hilfsdienst in Germany and former ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Lithuania, as well as Dominique Prince de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion in Obedience.