40th Jubilee Ceremony of Investiture of the Knights of Malta (KMFAP) on the 23rd February 2020 in Florida, USA
On the 23rd February 2020, a historic knighthood ceremony was held at the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, Florida, USA, on the occasion of the 111th anniversary of the founding of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Federation of the Autonomous Priories (KMFAP).

It is a well-known fact that in 1798 Napoleon and his soldiers – on their way to Egypt – occupied the Maltese islands (Malta, Gozo, Comino). Thus, the knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem lost their territory, from which they were forced to leave after 268 years. (In Malta, members of the Order are still called Knights of St. John and not Knights of Malta.) To this day, countless great buildings and European-renowned facilities are reminiscent of the state, founded by the knights on the island, whose legitimacy and statehood were guaranteed in principle by the Treaty of Amiens of 1802, but its contents were never fulfilled. The Order did not regain the territory offered to the Knights of the Order of St. John by the German-Roman Emperor Charles V in 1530, after they were also expelled from Rhodes - after Jerusalem, Acre and Cyprus - where they lived between 1308-1523.
In Malta, the Knights established a well-organized and prosperous knightly state and a new capital, named Valletta (after Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette). The knights began to build the new fortified capital after the Great Siege, launched by the Ottoman Empire in 1565 and successfully repulsed by the Maltese knights, and later heroically defended it also from the ongoing Turkish invasion in the Mediterranean. In 1789, with the French occupation, the life of the Order in Malta ended sadly and quickly, the knights dispersed, but some priories who did not join the Vatican retained their independence. At the beginning of the 20th century, members of these independent priories saw the time had come for unification and reorganization. At the end of several years of negotiations, in 1909 in the USA, they agreed, established and registered the Union of Independent Priories of the Order of St. John, today known as the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Federation of the Autonomous Priories (KMFAP), as the legitimate successor to the nearly thousand-year-old Order, founded in Jerusalem in 1048. After the merger, the official status of the KMFAP was confirmed by numerous court judgments in disputes with other Maltese or St. John's Orders, such as in St. Petersburg in 1898, then in Rome in 1955, and on several other occasions.

The Order of St. John, to which the Sovereign Order of Cyprus (a.k.a. the Knights of Sword and Silence) also joined as its military branch, was incredibly strengthened and renewed in the United States in the 20th century. In the spirit of this, it eliminated all forms of discrimination, so that ladies and gentlemen of any religion, origin, identity could become members of the Order if they proved worthy. In these decades of the Golden Age, the U.S. Congress dealt with our Order three times at its meetings: in 1967, 1973, and 1984, in connection with some illustrious persons who became knights, as reported in the official “Congressional Record” in our possession.

As the venue for this year’s jubilee investiture, the Ancient Spanish Monastery was chosen by Sir James Angleton, Grand Prior of KMFAP for Florida, who took a significant part in the local organisational work in collaboration with the KMFAP Ceremonial Corps – the International Organising and Protocol Committee. The Monastery, this 860-year-old monument of the Order of St. Benedict originates near Segovia, Spain, from where in 11,000 boxes in pieces it was shipped to the U.S. and then built in its original form on its current site in a large exotic vegetation garden.

Knights and Dames from Hungary, Portugal, Malta and the US state of Indiana also attended this significant event and took an active part in the preparation and conduct of the ceremony. The Grand Master of the Order, Prince José, inaugurated 12 new knights and dames from numerous states of the USA (Florida, Utah, Texas), including successful businessmen, lawyers, and other high-ranking leaders.

New Knights and Dames of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem:
• Lady Constance Delis Angleton
• Sir James J. Barresi
• Miami-Dade Commissioner Sir Jose „Pepe” Diaz
• Sir Lewis Robert Elias
• Sir Michael T. Fay
• Sir Owen B. Harvey
• Lady Gail Hubert
• Sir Christian Mahé de Berdouare
• Sir Dr. Hector Mirabile
• Sir Garry M. Paxinos
• Sir Stephen H. Schott
• Sir John M. Ziglar

Congratulations and we are proud of our new knights and dames, who – without exception – are great and extremely successful people with their lives and achievements, so far to be worthy of this honourable acknowledgment. Dear new dames and knights, be welcome among your Brethren!

Grateful thanks to all the fellow knights and dames, who contributed to the preparation and conduct of this successful and memorable event: Lady Anna Popper, Lady Erika Macsári, Sir James Angleton, Ms. Viktória Pozmann, Sir Szilveszter Tánczos, Sir Péter Polyák, Sir Zoltán Hossó, Sir Jonathan W. Wallace, Lady Natalia B. Wallace, Sir Roberto Munoz, Sir Manuel Gonzalez, Sir Alejandro Mendieta, Mr. Miklós Andrássy, Mrs. Gabriela Alvarez. Thanks also to Mrs. Fanni Sárközy, a well-known Hungarian pianist-singer living in Florida, who provided the live music accompaniment.

After the knighthood ceremony, from the Monastery the line of cars was escorted and secured by the police – being the top police escort provided to the highest state leaders – to the gala dinner venue, the Trump International Beach Resort’s ballroom. During their stay in Miami, the leaders of KMFAP were welcomed by senior executives of several important U.S. offices, organizations, and world companies, and festive meals were organised in their honour.

In recent years, it has been the 5th Ceremony of Investiture of the Order in the United States, to where it returned reinforced after several years of pause, retaining the recognition and prestige it enjoyed in the U.S. during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Here, too, the dames and knights actively continue the goal set at the founding of the Order, to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, which is still the main activity of KMFAP today. In the spirit of this moral principle and in accordance with the needs of today, our knights and dames provide selfless help to people in need in various forms, in many parts of the world, regardless of any discrimination, by offering their own financial resources, they do not seek or accept state or public funding anywhere.
For them, the humanitarian slogan of the Order is decisive: “The reward of generosity is generosity itself”.

30th March 2020