Fra’ Matthew Festing, the Order of Malta’s 79th Grand Master, pictured on Feb. 18, 2013, at the order’s headquarters in Rome. / Estefania Aguirre/CNA.
Valletta, Malta, Nov 18, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).
Fra’ Matthew Festing, the 79th Grand Master of the Order of Malta, will be buried in the crypt of a cathedral in Malta’s capital city following his funeral on Dec. 3.
Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, Pope Francis’ special delegate to the Order of Malta, will celebrate the Requiem Mass and Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta will concelebrate.
Fra’ Marco Luzzago, Lieutenant of the Grand Master, will attend the ceremony.
Television Malta reported that Festing will be the order’s 12th Grand Master to be buried in the crypt and the first for hundreds of years.
The website of St John’s Co-Cathedral says that the crypt, located beneath the high altar, houses the remains of the 11 Grand Masters who led the order from 1522 to 1623.
Those buried in the crypt include: Fra’ Philippe de Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, the 44th Grand Master, who brought the order to Malta in 1530; Fra’ Jean de La Vallette-Parisot, the 49th Grand Master, who led the resistance at the Great Siege of Malta in 1565; and Fra’ Jean l’Evesque de La Cassière, the 51st Grand Master, who commissioned the church that would become St John’s Co-Cathedral.
Festing served as the Grand Master of the lay religious Catholic order, founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century, from 2008 to his resignation in 2017.
The order’s Grand Magistry said on Nov. 12 that the Englishman felt ill after attending a solemn profession of religious vows in St John’s Co-Cathedral on Nov. 4. He was admitted to hospital, where he later died.
“On the day of the funeral, the flags of the Sovereign Order of Malta will fly at half-mast on the buildings of the order’s institutions and works around the world,” the order said in its Nov. 17 statement.