Tuesday, December 17, 2013

900th Anniversary of the order of Malta

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic Order of Chivalry whose 900th anniversary is celebrated this year, is a unique and unusual example of a Sovereign Order unwaveringly dedicated to its Mission. In this sense, the Order has pledged to defend the Catholic Faith and provide assistance to the poor, the sick and all individuals whose circumstances cause them to suffer, without making any distinctions based on ethnicity, political opinions or social status.

Founded on 15 February 1113 through the Bula Piae Postulatio Voluntatis, signed by Pope Paschal II, the Order of St. John the Baptist, as it was known at the time, was granted its own Rule, having continued to pursue its Mission of practising christian charity.

Its presence together with the Military, Hospitaller and Religious actions, were hugely relevant, in the Mediterranean. From its successive military bases, first in Cyprus, then on Rhodes and finally in Malta, the Order fought tirelessly to defend christian principles and values.

The History of the Order of Malta was profoundly influenced by four Portuguese princes and grand masters, namely Frei Dom Afonso of Portugal, Frei Dom Luis Mendes de Vasconcellos, Frei Dom António Manoel de Vilhena and Frei Dom Manuel Pinto da Fonseca. Of particular relevance was the leadership of the last two grand masters, whose remarkable skills as Statesmen and unwavering Faith played a decisive role in the expansion of the Order and in its mission of spreading Western Christian civilisation.

Currently based in Rome, the Order of Malta, whose extraterritorial status and sovereignty are recognised by the Italian government, is governed by HMEH Prince and Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, assisted by the Sovereign Council, from the Magistral Palace, located at Via dei Condotti. The Order boasts approximately 14 thousand members and 90 thousand volunteers in all five continents, in its many Priories, Sub-Priories and 46 National Associations, as well as accredited Ambassadors in the governments of 105 International States and Organisations. The octagonal cross, commonly known as the cruz de Malta (Maltese cross), is undeniably recognised as a universal and timeless symbol of Peace, Communion, Human Dignity and Christian Love.
The Assembleia dos Cavaleiros Portugueses da Ordem Soberana Militar de Malta (Assembly of the Portuguese Knights of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta), founded in 1899, is the legitimate heir and follower of the spiritual, symbolic and hospitable traditions of the Order of Malta in Portugal. The Order of St. John, present in Portugal since the founding of the nation, takes pride not only in the rich history of the Order of Malta and its important contribution to the founding, building and consolidation of the Portuguese nation, but also in its current, active role against the new forms of poverty, always in Defence of the Faith and in aid of «our lords the sick and the poor», honouring its tradition while simultaneously embracing modernity and focusing on the future.

Therefore, the Conselho Diretivo da Assembleia Portuguesa (Governing Board of the Portuguese Assembly) would like to praise this initiative of CTT- Correios de Portugal and express their gratitude for this tribute paid to the Order of Malta in Portugal, recalling the importance of the Convenção Postal
(Postal Convention) once opportunely signed between the Order of Malta and the Portuguese Republic in order to facilitate the exchange of mail between both States, thus highlighting the crucial role of Communications throughout the ages.

Technical Details
Date of Issue: 27 September 2013
Values: stamps of 0,36€, 0,70€, 0,80€ and 1,00€.
€0,36 Grão-Mestre Afonso de Portugal, col. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Direção Geral do Património Cultural, foto Mário Cerdeira.
€0,70 Grão-Mestre Luís Mendes de Vasconcelos, col. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Direção Geral do Património Cultural, foto Mário Cerdeira.
€0,80 Grão-Mestre António Manoel de Vilhena, óleo s/tela, col. particular.
€1,00 Grão-Mestre Manuel Pinto da Fonseca, por/by Favray, col. National Museum of Fine Arts, Valleta.
Souvenir sheet with stamp of 1,95€.
“Barca do Grão-Mestre Pinto da Fonseca”, col. National Library of Malta.
Acknowledgments: Lourenço Vilhena de Freitas Assembleia dos Cavaleiros Portugueses da Ordem Soberana Militar de Malta Direção Geral do Património Cultural Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros National Museum of Fine Arts, Valleta National Library of Malta
Designer: A F Atelier
Printer: Cartor
Process: Offset
Size: stamps: 30,6 x 40,0 mm
Souvenir sheet: 125 x 95 mm
Perforation: 13 x 13 with Cross of Christ
Paper: FSC 110 g./m2
Sheet: with 50 stamps

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