42nd Ceremony of Investiture of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (KMFAP) between 25-26 June 2021 in Chateau Belá, Slovakia

On one of the hottest summer days of the year, the 42nd solemn investiture of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Federation of the Autonomous Priories (KMFAP) was held in the beautiful Chateau Belá (the “Most Romantic Chateau of Europe”), in Slovakia, co-organised by the Hungarian and the Slovak Grand Priories.
It was the 17th time that the Order had its knighthood ceremony in Slovakia, attended by knights, dames, postulants, family members and guests coming from 24 countries (Slovakia, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, USA, Angola, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, France, Senegal, Lebanon, Russia, Iraq, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia, Sweden, Finland, Albania, Austria, Serbia, North Macedonia, Romania) of 4 continents (Europe, Asia, Africa and America).

At this point we have to recall and mention the fact that thanks to Lady Mária Czellárikova, Dame Grand Cross of Malta (Slovakia), member of the Organising Committee and the Admission Board of KMFAP we started a fantastic and long lasting cooperation with Chateau Belá, and we will continue it in the future.

Although this year the circumstances – due to the COVID-19 pandemic – were very different from previous years, we took security measures and restrictions into account when preparing for the investiture, and asked participants to respect them throughout the ceremony for our common safety.

The very first part of the 2-day event was the PRO-DEO State University (PDSU) – Doctor Honoris Causa Ceremony at the Gobelin Room. The honorary title was bestowed to a high-profile candidate, Prof. Dr. Pierre Mallia (Malta), having important medical, scientific and academic background by the Rector Magnificus in presence of the members of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Professors of PDSU.

Day of Honour: 25th June 2021

The “Day of Honour”, dedicated to the Postulants by the General Chapter of Knights Meeting, was held in the Conference Room in the presence of the members of the Order, and it contained:
- Announcing Lady Dr. Mária Czellárikova – Special Commissioner for Medical Safety of the State Ceremonial Organisational Committee
- Meeting with the highest leaders and the members of the Order – the Grand Master, the Lieutenant General, members of the Government, knights and dames attending and assisting during the ceremony 
- Presentation of a historic survey and summary about the multifaceted activity of the Order, focusing on the humanitarian work in various countries
- Introducing the postulants by themselves or by their godfathers, godmothers
- Handing over the Postulant Diplomas and the “Code of Chivalry”

The meeting, that lasted more than 2 hours, was followed by an ancient and very intimate tradition of the knights dating back to their origins, inherited from our great predecessors: the Watch of the Arms, when the postulants got acquainted with the symbols and their meanings – the 8 pointed cross, the red cape – that they receive when being knighted, the customs and rules of knights that they have to respect, obey and preserve, while meditating on their future life and changes following this important event coming up next day: the investiture.

Following the traditions of the past, the evening was topped with a special dinner, the Official Banquet in the “Orangerie” – the main hall of the castle – where beautifully laid tables and walls decorated with the flags of the Order awaited the Postulants, the Knights and Dames of the Order and the guests. The dinner had a good atmosphere, offering delicious food and wine while live music was played.

Day of Investiture: 26th June 2021

The participants of the event had free morning followed by a lunch, served at the Vinoteka terrace. The solemn investiture of the Postulants started at 15.00 o’clock in the presence of high ranking guests, representatives of friendly orders in the nicely decorated Conference Hall with the symbols of the Order.
(As the weather was extremely hot, over 35 °C, we had to change our usual setting inside the castle, instead of the beautiful Orangerie we used the Conference Hall with air condition.)

Following the fanfare sound – the 42nd Knighthood Ceremony began with the processional entrance under the guidance of the Master of Ceremony, Sir Zoltán Hossó, with the background music of Mozart. After the postulants, the dames and knights of the Order, the religious leaders of KMFAP, the Vice Ministers, State Secretaries and Ministers of our Government, as well as the highest-ranking leaders and Grand investing officers of KMFAP entered the hall, we proceeded to the Greeting the Sword of Knighting and Saluting the flags on the sounds of the National Anthems of Slovakia, Hungary and KMFAP.

In Perpetuam Rei Memoriam:
We remembered the knights, who passed away recently, and we had enormous loss this year in many countries. While praying for the recovery and health of the ill members of the Order. This time we could listen Mascagni – Ave Maria, performed by Lady Lívia Ághova, Dame Commander of Malta, famous soprano of the Prague Opera.

Then, as a joyful moment, we read the names of the recently-born babies in the respective KMFAP families and we conveyed warmest congratulations to them. May God bless and watch over all members of those families.

According to traditions the ceremony was accompanied by classical music pieces, performed by Maestro Sir Vilmos Oláh, Knight of Malta – violin, Mr. Kristóf Svajcsik – guitar, and Miss Zsófia Kristó – flute.

During the Several Acts a Message of the KMFAP Grand Prior for Florida, Sir James Angleton was read, announcing that four new knights were inaugurated "virtually" in April 2021, due to the pandemic restrictions.
Then Sir Ergys Muharemi, Knight of Cyprus was appointed to the Magisterial State Guard – Switzerland Unit, and received the Magisterial Charter about it from the Grand Master.
It was also announced that a significant donation of over 4 million face masks was offered by Sir Marjan Molek (Slovenia) and his son, Klemen Molek to Angola, their receipt and distribution has been in progress. Similar donations to Benin as well as to Antigua and Barbuda are in progress, too.

The Ceremony of Investiture began with a very important moment, the Grand Master’s Short Address to the Postulants. The highest leader of KMFAP explained in his speech that one of the most significant prerequisites of becoming a knight is human values. Being a knight is an honour – associated with grand responsibility – that changes the individual’s life. Work will begin after, and active participation in the humanitarian activities of KMFAP can be expected from all members of the Knight Order.

Then the most substantial part of the event started, the Knighthood Ceremonial – investiture of the postulants. Blessing of the Insignia of the Order was performed by our professed knight, member of the Board of Religious Counsellors and Interfaith Pluralism: Sir Ottó Hoffmann Fra Constantin.

Lady Lívia Ághova – by singing Tosca’s prayer from Puccini’s opera with her extraordinary voice – was able to touch our souls and prepare the postulants for the coming investiture.

Right before the knighting act the Grand Master asked the postulants:
- Are you ready to serve your Home Land and obey the laws of your Government, and also to be loyal to our Sovereign Order and State, to its Grand Master and to its Government, to defend all those in need, or in danger, with no discrimination's whatsoever, and fight for Justice and for Peace?

This time 12 worthy postulants – 7 new Knights and 5 Dames – were admitted to the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta under their merits and human qualities, on the recommendation of two Knights or Dames, as their godfathers and godmothers. The knighting ceremony was administered by H.M.E.H. Prince José, the Grand Master of KMFAP and the Lieutenant General H.G. George Popper, assisted by the Grand Prior of Slovakia, the Minister of State from the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, and the Master of Ceremony, Sir Zoltán Hossó and many other Knights and Dames, who did their best this time again.

Then we continued the ceremony with 6 Knights, who received already the cape, decoration and other documents in November 2020, but due to the pandemic and the cancellation of that ceremony, their official knighting, signing of the Oath and the Grand Diploma were missing, so they were inaugurated officially as well.

From now on the salutation “Sir” is coming to all the newly invested knights, and the dames have the right to use the title of “Lady” – attached to first names (given names), as the Grand Master also called the new knights and dames for the first time after their inauguration, while the fraternal embrace was received.

The last part had a very special moment when 2 Damsels and 1 Squire of Malta were inaugurated and accepted to the Order of Saint John.

At the end of the ceremony the Speaker expressed the gratitude and thanks on behalf of the supreme leaders of the Order and conveyed sincere congratulations to the knights and dames, who contributed with their devoted and professional work to the success of the 42nd Ceremony of Investiture held in excellent cooperation of the Slovak and Hungarian Grand Priories. We count on the work of all members of the Order to take part in our humanitarian activity for the benefit of the societies of respective countries and helping the needy to make a difference.
Please note: The generosity is its own reward. And the power of generosity is that it makes you happier.

After the group and family photo session in the beautiful park of the castle all participants and guests were invited for a dinner. The 2-day event was topped by the Evening Garden Party with live music band in the illuminated gardens of Chateau Belá set with white tables and candle lights on the emerald green grass.
At the beginning of the dinner a nice huge cake – decorated with the coat of arms of the Knight Orders, with our good wish featuring on its top for all members: Stay Safe and Healthy 2021 – was brought in, so to celebrate the Order, the Dames and Knights and the midsummer day, when the moonlight created a magical atmosphere for all attendees. The merry-making, dance and music ended long after midnight. The great evening full of music, dancing, fun, fine dinner coincided with the Midsummer Eve.

It was an extraordinary experience for all participants, leaving unforgettable memory in their hearts.

20th July 2021