30 January 2009

The Jerosolimitan Nuns of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

In the earlier days of the Order of St. John there were numerous convents of nuns affiliated with the Order. Today there is only one that I am aware of and it is located on the island of Malta. In fact it is the only part of the Order to have maintained a continuous existence there although they were separated from the Order itself from the time of Napolean until a few years ago when they were officially absorbed back into the Order. They are officially known as the Jerosolimitan Nuns of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta. Here is a little bit about them from their web page.

Who are we? We are a small community of only 15 nuns, the only Jerosolimitan contemplative community in the world!

Our charisma is intercessory prayer for our families, friends, benefactors, the Maltese archipelago and the world. Our Monastery is located in the heart of Valletta in St Ursula’s Street.

We were founded by Grand Master Hughes de Loubenx Verdalle towards the end of the sixteenth century. Ever since then it has seen vast changes both inside and outside. Now we are currently restoring our fa├žade which was literally falling to pieces. So far two-thirds only of the project have been completed due to lack of funds. This historic monastery has been in existence for over 420 years. Its history has been published just three years ago. The first publication in Maltese, the second being in Italian. Now we are waiting for the third translation in English. Our work varies: our primary 'work' is prayer, however we have to do kitchen, cleaning, sacristan and portress duties and take care of the sick nuns. We also do various sorts of crafts, such as embroidery and devotional objects amongst others. Staff organisation changes once every 3 months.

Today the monastery is sui juris, that is to say it recognizes none other than the Holy See and the Archbishop of the Diocese as its immediate Superiors.
During his visits, the Archbishop oversees regulatory discipline in accordance with the laws of the Church [CJC, can. 615; 628, § 2, n.1; 630, § 3; 630; 667, §§ 2, 3]. Presented by the nuns and chosen by the Archbishop, the monastery chaplain also holds the post of Rector of the Church annexed to the monastery. In accordance with Church law [can.561], none can celebrate the Eucharist, administer the Sacraments or carry out any other functions without his permission.

Contact between the Order and the monastery was officially terminated upon the Order’s departure from Malta. When the numbers of Maltese Chaplain Priests serving the Order dwindled and eventually finished, the monastery became dependant on the services of priests of the Diocese and other Maltese religious. Even after recovering its lost recognition, the Order of St John in Rome failed to re-establish solid contact with the monastery “that always held dear its Johanniter identity and charisma”, and the members of which unconditionally declared themselves living heritage “of the Knights” in Malta.

In June 1960, the Group of Maltese members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta was founded. The Maltese National Association of the Order, made up of ad honorem members of different degrees, and of whom some showed interest in the monastery, was founded in 1965.

A circular issued by the Curia [n.183] dated 29th September 1987, prohibited ‘Knighthood conferments’ by a ‘number of Chivalric Orders existing on the Island’ in churches. The time had come to define the proper affinity with the Order that rightly called itself ‘The Order of St John, of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta’. Our efforts and those of the then President of the Maltese Association Architect Roger Degiorgio resulted in the issuing of a Magisterial Decree [n. 2247/31805] by Grandmaster Fra Angelo de Mojana, through which the historical affinity between the Order and the monastery was re-established and recognised by the Holy See. This step also helped accredit the Order with Ambassadorial links with the Government of Malta.

For more information on these nuns and there work you can visit their website.

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