Jubilee of Mercy Manning of First Aid Stations in Rome – Maltese Association of the Order of Malta
16th – 23rd January 2016
The Maltese Association played its part in manning the First Aid Posts set up in St. Peter’s Square and at the other three major Basilicas in Rome the running of which has been entrusted by the Holy See to the Order of Malta throughout the Jubilee of Mercy. This is response to a call by the Grand Hospitaller.
A thirty nine strong delegation consisting of members and volunteers led by the President and the Hospitaller flew up to Rome on Air Malta’s Saturday 16th January early morning flight, serving for a full week on a roster basis at St Peter’s Square, as well as at the Papal Basilicas of San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo Fuori le Mura.
Lodgings were taken up mainly at the Caserma Luciano Manara, being the Italian military barracks in proximity of the Vatican State, which was an experience in austerity much in keeping with the spirit of pilgrimage. The overspill were booked into the central Hotel Quirinale, where our dear friend Johanna Fragano was the usual superb host.
The operation was conducted on a dual shift basis, each Team consisting of a medical doctor, a nurse and four volunteers. Thankfully only a very few minor incidents needed to be attended to, even though we were on a state of full alert throughout.
The Grand Magistry kindly organised guided tours at the Magistral Villa on the Aventine, also enjoying extraterritorial status, where those attending were presented with an informative booklet. One of the highlights must have been the visit to the Sala Capitolare, where Grand Masters are elected by the Council Complete of State, which contains portraits of all seventy eight deceased Grand Masters starting from Blessed Gerard and ending with Fra Andrew Bertie.
Fr. Savio also ensured that we all got to savour the experience of an audience with Pope Francis at the Pope Paul VI Hall, whilst others who woke up early enough also got to experience Holy Mass officiated by Fr. Savio Vella at St Peter’s Basilica, the highlight of which was the liturgy celebrated on the feast day of St Publius at the Polish Chapel down in the crypt.
Commemorative medals were presented to all participants by Fra John Critien at a ceremony held at the Visitors Centre of Palazzo Malta in the evening of Thursday 21st January. This was followed by dinner at Difronte a … in nearby Via Della Croce where we were honoured by the presence of Cardinal Prospero Grech, Fra John Critien and Monsignor Paul Vella.
This was undoubtedly a most memorable occasion in which the Maltese Association was proud to have participated. We are most grateful to all those doctors, nurses and volunteers who freely gave of their precious time and volunteered for this valuable hospitaller service.