47th Ceremony of Investiture of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (KMFAP) between 25-26 November 2022 in Chateau Belá, Slovakia

A Ceremony in Christmas Spirit and Emotion

On 25-26 November 2022, on mild autumn days, the 47th solemn investiture of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Federation of the Autonomous Priories (KMFAP) was held in Slovakia at the gorgeous Chateau Belá, which earned the prestigious award “Most Romantic Chateau of Europe 2022”. The Heritage Hotels of Europe awards are given each year to exceptional hotels among Europe’s historic hotels.

The ceremony was co-organised by the Hungarian and Slovak Grand Priories, attended by our knights, dames, postulants and guests coming from 22 countries (Slovakia, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, USA, North Macedonia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, Angola, Albania, Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Italy, Vietnam, Australia, Türkiye, Romania, Sao Tomé and Príncipe, United Arab Emirates, Austria, Czech Republic).

It is worth mentioning that more than 10 years ago we started cooperation with Chateau Belá, thanks to Lady Maria Czellárikova, Dame Grand Cross of Malta (Slovakia), member of the International Organising Committee and the Admission Board of KMFAP. We are very grateful to her for providing us this excellent venue idea and we continue this outstanding professional and mutually fruitful partnership with Chateau Belá in close contact with Mrs Katka Dubecová, Event Manager and the new Director, Mr. Ján Kolkus.

Upon arrival, guests were very impressed to see that the entire chateau with its garden was already beautifully decorated for Christmas, which has been around the corner. The postulants, their families and all attendees enjoyed the Christmas splendour and high emotional atmosphere in all parts of this unique place, where for the 19th time our Order hosted the 2-day solemn event, free of COVID restrictions imposed by health authorities.

Day of Honour: 25th November 2022, Friday

The “Day of Honour”, dedicated to the Postulants by the General Chapter of Knights, took place in the Conference room, a 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, based on the following agenda:
• Welcome by Prince José, Grand Master of the 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, emphasising the great donations (300.000) of gas masks by Sir Marjan Molek (Slovenia) and his son, Sir Klemen Molek to Ukraine, representing the value of 1,200,000 Euros and the shipping costs of 50,000 Euros (following another important mask donation to Angola)
• Presentation about the FEMERAID International Air Rescue
• Presentation of the KMFAP Embassy in Benin
• Presentation about the FEMERAID International Ambulance Service
• Introducing the postulants by themselves or by their godfathers or godmothers
• Handing over the Postulant Diplomas and the Code of Chivalry
• Video presentation about the knighting process step-by-step for the postulants

The General Chapter of Knights meeting, was followed by the Watch of the Arms, preserved as an ancient and very intimate tradition of knights, dating back to their origins and inherited from our great predecessors. Aiming to get acquainted the postulants with the symbols of the Order and their meanings – the 8-pointed cross, the red cape – that they receive when being knighted, the requisites used at the knighting act: the Sword by the Grand Master and the Spur, referring to the equestrian past of the knights, the customs and rules that they have to respect, obey and preserve, while meditating on the changes in their life after this important event coming up next day: the Investiture.

The participants attended the traditional Official Banquet, which started with the cake cutting ceremony, celebrating our Order, in honour of the Postulants, our Dames and Knights and all distinguished Guests. The cake, specially created at our request for our Order many years ago, was again prepared by the famous and historical MŰVÉSZ Café in Budapest according to our design with the KMFAP coats of arms on the top, and the text was a timely message: Peace to the World, and while the cake was cut by the Grand Master and the Lieutenant General, the participants could listen the timeless song by John Lennon, Imagine. The evening was accompanied by nice ambiance music performed by the talented Slovak musician Sir Kristian Varga, Knight of Malta, who became member of our Order at the October ceremony in Malta, which he earned with his generous humanitarian and charity activity to help the needy, practicing for many years in his home region.

Day of Investiture: 26th November 2022, Saturday

The solemn investiture of the Postulants started at 11.00 am in the presence of high-ranking guests, representatives of friendly orders in the marvellous Orangerie, its classical wall paintings were decorated with flags in the Red-White colours of our Order.

After the fanfare sound the Processional Entrance began on the music of Mozart, led by the Masters of Ceremony, Sir Zoltán Hossó and Sir István Gyenes. Then came the Greeting of the Investing Sword, and the 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 commemorated the knights, who have passed away since the last ceremony. While also praying for the recovery and good health of the Order’s sick members, we could listen Ave Maria by the Gibraltarian guitarist and composer, 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 Kristóf Svajcsik – guitar from Hungary.

During the Several Acts by the Grand Master the following members were appointed:
- Appointment of Sir Bülent Cakmak (Austria) to Director of Malta Cross Foundation International for Austria
- Appointment of Ing. Martin Sládek (Slovakia) to Director of FEMERAID International Slovakia Hospitaller Unit

Knighthood Ceremonial – Investiture of the postulants:
This is the most substantial part of the event, 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 Speech to the Postulants is always holding a special message by the Grand Master, keeping the attention of the whole audience:

At this point the Speaker asked selected dames and knights to assist at the ceremony and present the Insignia of the Order to be used at the investiture of the knights: neck crosses for the gentlemen and bows for the ladies, capes, diplomas, sword, spur).

Lady Lívia Ághova – by singing Tosca’s prayer from Puccini’s opera with her beautiful voice – could virtually touch our souls and let prepare the postulants for their knighting.

Right before the investiture the Grand Master asked all 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 19 worthy postulants 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. 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 Masters of Ceremony – Sir Zoltán Hossó and Sir István Gyenes, and many other Knights and Dames, who did their best this time again.

According to our rules and traditions the children of our Knights and Dames can become Squires and Damsels of our Order on special requests by the parents. At this ceremony, we had the enormous pleasure to invest – on a special way – two children postulants:
- Miss Amira Cezarina GÁSPÁR (6 years old – Hungary) as Damsel of KMFAP
- Dominik BOGDAN (8 years old – Germany) as Squire of KMFAP
after receiving one touch on their shoulders by the Grand Master and their special red-white capes and diplomas.

As the final chapter of the ceremony, the Grand Master announced the Advancements to reward the merits and remarkable work of the knights and dames, done for the benefit of the Order and to make a difference. This time the following members received promotions:
• Sir Florentin TCHAOU (Benin) – Knight Grand Officer of Malta
• Sir Szilveszter TÁNCZOS (Hungary) – Knight Grand Officer of Cyprus

It was a particularly emotional moment when, closing the investiture, the knights and dames lined up for the family Photo Session and as they heard the Hallelujah, played by the guitar-flute duo, everyone started singing Leonard Cohen’s wonderful song at the same time in an improvised way. It was really a very impressive ending.

Then the Speaker took the floor again and 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 work and generous assistance to the success of the 47th investiture, held in excellent cooperation of the Slovak and Hungarian Grand Priories, organised with great professionalism by the Members of the KMFAP International Organising Committee.

We count on the work of all members of the Order to take part in our main and very useful activity that the whole world need: the humanitarian work 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 Orangerie, all participants and guests were invited for a lunch served in the salons of the Chateau.

Ball of Knights and Dames
The two-day event was topped by a festive Dinner in the salons of the Chateau, set with white tables, red roses and candle lights on, and a gorgeous Ball with live music in the illuminated Fresco Room of Chateau Belá.
It was a great evening full of music, dancing, fun, fine dinner in friendly spirit of Brotherhood, spent in joyful atmosphere and ended after midnight. This extraordinary experience left unforgettable memory in all participants’ hearts, new contacts, friendships and ideas were established to further develop our Order and strengthen the bonds of our members.


Dear Knights and Dames, let us meet again at the next Ceremonies of Investiture of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta to be held in 2023!

Wishing Merry Christmas to all our Dames and Knights and their Families and Friends!
Happy and Healthy New Year, Peace and Prosperity in 2023!

12th December 2022