Sunday, November 21, 2021

The last true knight on Malta - BBC Travel

The last true knight on Malta - BBC Travel

The last true knight on Malta

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The Order of Malta, founded as the Knights Hospitaller around 1099 in Jerusalem, is a Roman Catholic chivalric society that received the Maltese Islands in a perpetual lease in 1530 from Charles I of Spain in exchange for the promise of one Maltese falcon a year. Grand Master Jean de la Valette, along with his knights, began created the country's new capital, which would later be described by former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli as "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen". Today, Fra Critien is the only remaining knight on the archipelago who has taken the Order's full vows, making him the last true Knight of Malta on Malta.

Fra Critien and I strolled through the upper part of Fort St Angelo, a honey-hued medieval bastion rebuilt in the 16th Century. It served as the Maltese seat of the head of the Order, who was known as the grand master, as well as the Order's headquarters during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 when the Ottomans tried to invade the archipelago. While the bulk of Fort St Angelo is always open to public tours, limited numbers of travellers were able to also tour Fra Critien's secluded section of the fort this year in conjunction with Valletta's status as the 2018 European Capital of Culture, though Fra Critien is in negotiations with The Malta Heritage Trust to allow visitors continued access beyond 2018. He also hopes to create a small museum dedicated to ongoing knightly projects.  

We settled in his capacious living room where the walls were adorned with oil paintings of grand masters past, and I straightened my shoulders to match Fra Critien's noble posture. Given de la Valette's vision to create a city for gentlemen, I wanted Fra Critien to reflect on what exactly it means to be a gentleman in the eyes of the Order.

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