45th Ceremony of Investiture of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (KMFAP) between 17-18 June 2022 in Chateau Belá, Slovakia

On sunny summer days, between 17-19 June 2022, the 45th solemn investiture of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Federation of the Autonomous Priories (KMFAP) was held in Slovakia, at the gorgeous Chateau Belá (named the “Most Romantic Chateau of Europe”), co-organised by the Hungarian and the Slovak Grand Priories. It was the 18th time that the Order had its knighting ceremony in Slovakia, attended by knights, dames, postulants and guests coming from 24 countries (Slovakia, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, USA, Angola, Serbia, Iraq, North Macedonia, Venezuela, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, Albania, Italy, Turkiye, Israel, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Tunisia, and France).

At this point we have to recall and mention the fact that more than 10 years ago we started a cooperation with Chateau Belá, thanks to the help of Lady Maria Czellarikova, Dame Grand Cross of Malta (Slovakia), member of the International Organising Committee and the Admission Board of KMFAP. We are very thankful to her providing us this excellent idea for a venue and we continue this outstanding professional and efficient partnership with Chateau Belá, in close contact with Mrs. Katka Dubecova, Event Manager.

Day of Honour: 17th June 2022

The very first act of the 2-day event was the PRO-DEO State University (PDSU) – Doctor Honoris Causa Ceremony, held at the Gobelin Room. The honorary title was bestowed by the Rector Magnificus of PDSU for two candidates:
• Mgr. Zsolt BEKE, a Roman catholic priest for his Doctoral – PhD.h.c. – Dissertation title: Judging Euthanasia in light of the Revelations of the Catholic Church, that was highly appreciated by Lady Maria Czellarikova in her eulogy
• Mr. Richárd CZIELESZKY, for his lifetime achievements in the field of security and safety
in presence of the members of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Professors of PDSU.

The “Day of Honour”, dedicated to the Postulants by the General Chapter of Knights Meeting, was held in the Conference Room, 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 – and it contained:
− Announcing Lady Dr. Mária Czellárikova – Special Commissioner for Medical Safety of the State Ceremonial Organisational Committee
− Welcoming by Prince José, the Grand Master of KMFAP

− Presentation of a historic survey and summary about the multifaceted activity of the Order, with special regard to its humanitarian work in various countries

− Presentation about FEMERAID International Air Rescue
− Presentation about FEMERAID International Ambulance Service
− Introducing the Postulants by themselves or by their godfathers or godmothers
− Handing over the Postulant Diplomas, the Code of Chivalry and the 1 Tari coin of the Order

− Awarding the KMFAP Medal of Merit to Dr. Tamás Sipos for his continuous support by providing security services during our ceremonies

− Information about the extraordinary humanitarian activity of Sir Luís Cruz, Bailiff of Mozambique, praising his devoted work to help the poor in his country, especially the orphans by establishing a movement: Feed the Children
− It was also announced that a significant donation of 300.000 gas masks was offered by Sir Marjan Molek (Slovenia) and his son, Sir Klemen Molek to Ukraine, representing the value 1.200.000 Euro, and the shipping cost of 50.000 Euro (following another important mask donation to Angola).
− Signing an Agreement of Cooperation with OSTSM (Sovereign Order of Templar Saint Martin, from Romania, arriving with a 7-member high delegation).

The meeting was followed by the Watch of the Arms, an ancient and very intimate tradition of the knights dating back to their origins, inherited from our great predecessors, aiming to have the postulants get acquainted with the symbols of the Order 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.

The participants attended the traditional Official Banquet, with nice ambiance music performed by the Slovak musician, Kristian Varga (KMFAP Postulant).

Day of Investiture: 18th June 2022

The solemn investiture of the Postulants started at 11.00 am in the presence of high ranking guests, representatives of friendly orders in the nicely decorated Orangerie with the symbols of the Order.

After the fanfare sound the 45th Knighthood Ceremony began with the Processional Entrance under the guidance of the Masters of Ceremony, Sir Zoltán Hossó and Sir István Gyenes, on the music of Mozart. Then it came up the Greeting the Swords of Knighting and Saluting the Flags: entering the Slovak, Hungarian, KMFAP and the Sovereign Order of Cyprus flag bearers, on the sounds of the National Anthems of Slovakia, Hungary and KMFAP.

In Perpetuam Rei Memoriam:
We remembered the knights, who passed away since the last ceremony. To our great regret, we faced again enormous loss of lives of our knights. While also praying for the recovery and the good health of the sick members of the Order, we could listen Ave Maria by the Italian composer, Mascagni, performed by Lady Lívia Ághova, Dame Commander of Malta, famous soprano of the Prague Opera, Czech Republic.

According to the traditions the whole ceremony was accompanied by classical music pieces, performed by Miss Zsófia Kristó – Flute and Mr Péter Oravecz – guitar from Hungary.

Several Acts by the Grand Master:
- the Gold Cross of Honour of KMFAP / Class 5 decoration was handed over to the OSTSM Grand Master, H.E. Aurelian Roland Boit (Romania)
- the KMFAP Grand Master, Prince José received the Meriti Crux decoration from the OSTSM Grand Master
- Sir Michael Bock (Germany) was awarded with the decoration of Knight of Cyprus

Knighthood Ceremonial – Investiture of the postulants:
This is the most substantial part of the event that was preceded with big anticipation by the postulants and their families present in the Orangerie, set for the solemn occasion and decorated with the flags and symbols of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. The Speaker reported to the Grand Master that the KMFAP Admission Board approved all candidates to be knighted at the present ceremony.

The Grand Master’s Speech to the Postulants was followed with great attention.

It was followed with the Blessing of the Insignia of the Order (neck crosses and bows for the ladies, capes, diplomas, sword, spur) and was performed by our professed knight, Fra Constantin, Sir Ottó Hoffmann, member of the Board of Religious Counsellors and Interfaith Pluralism.

Lady Lívia Ághova – by singing Tosca’s prayer from Puccini’s opera with her beautiful voice – was able to virtually 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 13 worthy postulants – 1 new Dame and 12 Knights – were admitted to the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta from 11 countries, under their merits and human qualities, on the recommendation of two Knights or Dames, as their godfathers and godmothers.

Then we continued the ceremony with 2 Knights (1 member of the Knights of Malta and 1 member of the Sovereign Order of Cyprus), who received already the cape, decoration and other documents last year, but due to the pandemic and their absence, the official knighting, signing of the Oath and the Grand Diploma were missing, so they were inaugurated officially as well.

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 Masters of Ceremony, Sir Zoltán Hossó and Sir István Gyenes, and many other Knights and Dames, who did their best this time again.

As the final chapter of the ceremony, the Grand Master announced the Advancements to reward the merits and remarkable work of the knights, done for the benefit of the Order and to make a difference. The following members received promotions:
• Sir Attila Kotlár – Knight Grand Officer of Cyprus
• Sir Ferdinand Sterzinger – Knight Commander of Malta
• Sir Mehmet Gülkanat – Knight Commander of Malta

At the end of the ceremony the Speaker expressed the gratitude 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 45th 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 lunch served in the salons of the Chateau.

The 2-day-event was topped by the Garden Party with live music in the illuminated gardens of Chateau Belá, set with white tables and candle lights on the emerald green grass with white rose bushes.
At the beginning of the dinner a huge cake – decorated with the crests of the Order of Saint John and the Order of Cyprus, with our good wishes for all members featuring on its top: Health and Peace 2022, was brought in, celebrating our Order, the Dames and Knights and the approaching Midsummer, when the moonlight creates a magical atmosphere already some days earlier. The merry-making, music and dance ended after midnight in warm summer weather.

It was a great evening full of music, dancing, fun, fine dinner in Midsummer spirit. It was an extraordinary experience for all participants, leaving unforgettable memory in their hearts.

Let us meet again at our next Ceremony of Investiture to be held in Valletta, Malta: 30 September – 2 October 2022!

12th July 2022