48th Ceremony of Investiture of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (KMFAP) between 16-17 June 2023 in Chateau Belá, Slovakia

A Ceremony in Midsummer Night’s Spirit

The knightly traditions, including the investiture, have a long and rich history, dating back to the Middle Ages. A knighting ceremony is indeed a highly prestigious occasion, a deeply emotional and momentous event in the life of a worthy candidate to be member of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Federation of the Autonomous Priories (KMFAP) that happens once in our life. It holds significant historical and cultural importance, a high recognition and honour. 
The process of becoming a knight was known as “dubbing” in the old times. A man who aspired to be a knight underwent rigorous training from a young age as a page and later as a squire in order to serve a more experienced knight. The dubbing ceremony, where a person became a knight, was a significant event and often involved a solemn vow to uphold the code of chivalry. The knights were seen as protectors of the realm, defenders of the weak, promoters of progress and patrons of the arts, while preserving the ancient traditions.

The 48th solemn investiture of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (KMFAP) took place between 16-17 June 2023 at the magnificent Chateau Belá in Slovakia.

The ceremony was co-organized by the Hungarian and Slovak Grand Priories and was attended by knights, dames, postulants and distinguished guests from 23 countries. 
The Chateau Belá, situated not far from the border with Hungary, where we had the privilege of holding our 20th knighthood ceremony, had been awarded the prestigious title of “The Most Romantic Chateau of Europe 2022” by the Heritage Hotels of Europe. This unique venue with its charming nature and elegant architecture was beautifully decorated for the summertime, creating a festive and emotional atmosphere for the attendees. 

 Day of Honour: 16th June 2023, Friday 

The very first act of the two-day event was the PRO-DEO State University (PDSU) – Doctor Honoris Causa Ceremony, held in the Gobelin room of the castle. The honorary title was bestowed for two candidates by the Rector Magnificus of PDSU in presence of the members of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Professors of PDSU.
  1. Mrs. Adela Hobotová Ivánová presented her Doctoral Ph.D. h.c. thesis: Examining the intersection of violence against women and domestic violence against children, and the possibilities and limitations of assistance in an emergency system. 
  2. Dr. Róbert Dobó presented his thesis to the leaders: Research in Political Marketing and Marketing Communications.

According to our traditions, the first day of the event, known as the “Day of Honour”, has always been dedicated to the “Postulants” (accepted candidates for knighthood).
It started with the General Chapter of Knights, an afternoon meeting in the Conference Room, where the supreme leaders: the Grand Master, the Lieutenant General and the Grand Prior of Slovakia welcomed the members of the Order, the Postulants, and presented various aspects of the Order’s activities. This included a historic survey about the 975-year history of the Order, which began in 1048 in the Holy Land, in Jerusalem, and its current humanitarian work in different countries and recognising the significant activities of the Knights and Dames, as well as the donations made by the members of the Order worldwide.
Presentations were also given on FEMERAID International Air Rescue, KMFAP Embassy in Congo-Brazzaville, KMFAP in Benin, FEMERAID Intl. Ambulance Service and FEMERAID Brazil.


The Postulants were introduced one-by-one generally by the knight or dame who recommended the postulant to be admitted to the Order.
They then received their Postulant Diplomas and the Code of Chivalry. The code of chivalry consisted of a set of moral and ethical guidelines that the knights were expected to follow in the medieval period. While the exact code may vary somewhat depending on the time and place, the core principles remain commonly upheld. To prepare the postulants for the next day’s investiture, a comprehensive video presentation was shown illustrating the knighting process.


Following the General Chapter of Knights meeting, the Watch of the Arms took place in the Hunting Room, also decorated with knightly symbols and colours. This very ancient tradition is a kind of meditation and preparation for the upcoming important event, the knighting. It also aims to acquaint the postulants with the symbols and requisites of the Order, such as the 8-pointed cross, the red cape, the sword and the spur, as well as their historical role and meaning. 

The day concluded with the traditional Welcome Banquet in the Orangerie, decorated with flags and the number 20, denoting a jubilee: the 20th inauguration ceremony at Chateau Belá. We celebrated the 20th anniversary with a beautiful and delicious cake, presented by the Chateau Management, which – in addition to the fireworks – was also enhanced by the singing of soprano Lady Lívia Ághova. The cake was solemnly cut by the Grand Master and the Lieutenant General. In the evening music was played by Slovak pianist, Sir Kristian Varga, Knight of Malta, who is not only an excellent musician, but he had been recognized for his humanitarian work and generosity for many years in his region. 


 Day of Investiture: 17th June 2023, Saturday 

On the second day, the long-awaited investiture of the postulants took place in the magnificent Orangerie Hall, adorned with the symbols of the Sovereign Order of Saint John (red) and the Sovereign Order of Cyprus (royal blue), rearranged in a manner suitable for the investiture ceremony.

The distinguished guests were seated in the room, including family members and VIP guests: the delegation of OSTSM (Sovereign Order of Templar Saint Martin, from Romania, led by the Grand Master, Aurelian Roland Boit and his wife), when the fanfare resonated through the air, announcing the commencement of the grand ceremony, and the Processional Entrance began. According to the official protocol based on hierarchy, led by the Masters of Ceremony Sir Zoltán Hossó and Sir István Gyenes, first the postulants, then all members, leaders, officers marched elegantly down the aisle, accompanied by music from Mozart, wearing their finest attire, red or blue capes for the knights and dames and black tie (tuxedo) or dress for the postulants. It was a magical moment when music and tradition merged into something truly extraordinary. During the marching in of all participants, the Grand Investing Officers closed the line: the Grand Prior of Slovakia Sir Alexander Czellarik, the Lieutenant General His Grace Count Sir George Popper, and the Grand Master H.M.E.H. Prince José, as they were honoured by those in the hall standing.

Then came up the Greeting the Investing Sword of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. 
It was followed by the Saluting the Flags: the Slovak, Hungarian, KMFAP and the Sovereign Order of Cyprus flag bearers entered on the sounds of the National Anthems of Slovakia, Hungary and KMFAP.

In Perpetuam Rei Memoriam: It is customary to commemorate and pay tribute to the deceased and sick knights and dames who lived and served in various roles. A moment of solemnity and respect is observed to honour these individuals who can not be physically present but remain forever an integral part of the Order. Gounod’s Ave Maria was performed in their memory by the famous soprano Lady Lívia Ághova, Dame Commander of Malta from Prague. In this way, the ceremony not only celebrates the present, but also pays homage to the past, keeping the spirit of chivalry and camaraderie alive for generations to come. 
We consider that the role of music, especially live music, is of paramount importance at the ceremony of investiture, being an integral part of the entire experience. It serves to elevate the occasion, add emotion, and reinforce the significance of the event. After moments of remembrance, the investiture proceeded with classical music performances by Ms. Zsófia Kristó – flute and Mr. Kristóf Svajcsik – guitar from Hungary. 

Several Acts by the Grand Master: 
  • Chateau Belá (Slovakia) received the KMFAP Medal of Merit Class Gold on the occasion of our 20th ceremony in Slovakia, which was handed over to Mrs. Katalina Dubecová. 

Knighthood CeremonialInvestiture of the Postulants: 
The investiture of postulants into knighthood was the centrepiece of the event and was eagerly awaited by the postulants themselves and their families, who gathered in the Grand Orangerie. The venue was meticulously prepared for the solemn occasion, adorned with the flags and symbols of the esteemed Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (KMFAP), evoking a sense of tradition and history. Before the investiture began, the Speaker formally addressed the Grand Master, reporting that the KMFAP Admission Board had thoroughly reviewed and approved all candidates to be knighted at this momentous ceremony. This is a compulsory act to confirm the authenticity and credibility to the proceedings.

Address to the Postulants by the Grand Master: 
We consider the Grand Master’s speech to be a pivotal moment during the ceremony. It is always followed with great attention as it provides essential guidance and instructions to the postulants about their roles, responsibilities, and the values they should uphold as members of the Order. The address also symbolizes the official acceptance of the postulants into the organisation, creating a sense of belonging and welcoming them into the prestigious community of knights. The Grand Master’s words are always inspiring and motivating for the postulants to be committed to the organisation’s ideals and to pursue their personal growth and humanitarian work within the context of the Order.
Text of the Grand Master's Address can be read here:

Right before the investiture the musical highlight of the whole event came up, adding a sense of drama and significance to the ceremony: Tosca’s Prayer – Vissi d’Arte by Puccini, a meaningful and powerful choice for its lyrical beauty and emotional intensity, which we always include in all ceremonies of investiture as a highly emotional and introspective aria from the extraordinary performance of Lady Lívia, aiming to prepare the postulants for the investiture in a spiritual dimension. 

Then the Grand Master asked all 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? 

Investiture to the Sovereign Order of Malta (KMFAP) 

The Speaker asked a selected group of Dames and Knights to come forward and assist during the knighting process, which was several times interrupted with emotional music pieces that enhanced the atmosphere and evoked powerful feelings during the ceremony. As music has power, it is a unique way of touching hearts and creating lasting memories. Therefore, choosing the right emotional music can add depth and meaning to our ceremonies. 
The Speaker called the postulants in alphabetical order, one-by-one, to stand up and follow the Master of Ceremony for investiture. At the same time telling the names of the Godfather(s), or Godmother(s), responsible for the new member, who entered the Order on their recommendation. 
The knighting ceremony was conducted by the Grand Master and the Lieutenant General, with the support of various knights and dames, and lasted over two hours. The postulants were presented with the Insignia of the Order, including the neck cross for gentlemen and bow for ladies, the red cape with the 8-pointed Malta Cross and the official Grand Diploma.

At the 48th International Ceremony of Investiture the knights, dames and guests were present from 23 countries and 4 continents of the world, and the Order received 9 new members, representing 7 countries. The new Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta will join their respective Priory or Grand Priory depending on their mother tongue and country of origin or residence. Please note: The Generosity is its own Reward. And the power of generosity is that it makes you happier. 

 Investiture of 2 Squires and a Damsel 

The practice of investing children as members of the Orders: “Squire” for boys and “Damsel” for girls is always a heart-warming and meaningful tradition that fosters a sense of continuity and family within the Orders. 
This custom not only honours the dedication of parents who have been members of the Orders for many years, but also encourages the younger generation to carry on the values and principles upheld by the Orders. By bestowing the title of “Squire of Cyprus” to Richard Bogdán and Dominik Bogdán (Germany), sons of Sir György and Lady Erika Bogdan, and the title of “Damsel of Malta” to Dorina Bodorová (Slovakia), granddaughter of Sir Robert Bodor, the Orders acknowledged their potential to grow into responsible and active members in the future. It is a way of passing on the legacy and teachings of the Orders to the next generation, ensuring that the values are carried on with pride and devotion.

Moreover, investing children as Squires and Damsels creates a sense of belonging and inclusivity within the Orders’ community. It allows the younger members to participate in events and ceremonies, fostering a deeper understanding of the Orders’ missions and traditions. This tradition can also have a positive impact on the children, as it instils a sense of responsibility, respect for tradition, and a commitment to upholding the values of the Orders. It offers them a unique opportunity to learn from their parents and other senior members, benefiting from their wisdom and experience.


In accordance with the traditions of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and the Sovereign Order of Cyprus, the Grand Master has the pleasure of giving awards and advancement of grade to the members, and also appoint the right members in various positions, who deserve it by their outstanding work for the benefit of the Order and to make a difference. 

  • Sir Augustin CERNIC (Hungary) – to Special Diplomatic Envoy to the Republic of Moldova 
  • Sir Ergys MUHAREMI (Switzerland) – to Brigadier General, and Commander of the Swiss and German Unit of the Magisterial Guard 
 and came also his Advancement, bestowed as recognition: 
  • Sir Ergys MUHAREMI – Knight Commander of Cyprus

  • Letter of Thanks to Ms. Zsófia KRISTÓ (Hungary) – flutist 
  • Letter of Thanks to Mr. Kristóf SVAJCSIK (Hungary) – guitarist 
  • Medal of Merit to Dr. Tamás KARIZS (Hungary) – videographer 

Before the end of the ceremony of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem the Speaker shared some important information with the participants: 
- Conveying heartfelt congratulations to the new Knights and Dames, being welcomed in the Order. The leadership would like to count on their active participation in the Order’s main task and activity - humanitarian work for the needy all around the world. 
- On behalf of the leaders of the Order all Knights and Dames who contributed to the success of this worthy event with their devoted and efficient work were thanked and their names were announced. 
- The anticipation for the next Ceremony of Investiture of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (KMFAP) to be held in Malta between 6-8 October 2023 was met with excitement and enthusiasm. 

The ceremony ended with the Closing Music, an aria from Mozart’s opera Nozze di Figaro, Porgi Amor, performed by Lady Lívia Ághova

Upon completion of the investiture ceremony and the marching out according to the official protocol, accompanied with music, the Official Photo Session (groups, families, individuals) took place in the garden on the stairs leading to the balcony of the baroque style Chateau.

The ceremony ended but the celebrations continued until late at night with a Garden Party, to which the attendees were kindly invited. The Garden Party at Chateau Belá was a truly enchanting and memorable closing dinner of the 2-day event. The setting with illuminated gardens, white tables, candle lights and white rose bushes has created a magical atmosphere. The live music added to the festivities, enhancing the joy and celebration of the occasion. 
The highlight of the evening was the huge cake adorned with the coats of arms of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta and the Sovereign Order of Cyprus, along with the good wishes that the whole world wants: PEACE and HOPE 2023, made by Művész Coffee House (Artist Café) in Budapest, symbolizing unity, togetherness and support among the members of the Order, cut by the Grand Master and the Lieutenant General. It was a beautiful way to honour the Order and its collective purpose and objectives while also welcoming the approach of Midsummer, a time when nature itself contributes to the magic with its moonlit nights. 
The merriment, music, dancing and joyful vibe that lasted until the late hours, as well as the warm summer weather created a sense of camaraderie and happiness among all attendees. The rich selection of fine buffet dinner further elevated the experience, making it a complete celebration of Midsummer spirit. 
Undoubtedly, both the Garden Party and the entire event left an extraordinary impression on all participants, leaving unforgettable memories in their hearts. Such events not only bring joy, but also create lasting bonds among the members of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and the Sovereign Order of Cyprus, under the umbrella of KMFAP. Moments like these make life special and worth cherishing.

Dear Dames and Knights,
it will be a great pleasure to see you soon in Malta between 6-8 October 2023 for the next Ceremony of Investiture! 

10th July 2023