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Darius von Guttner (ACU)

Knights Hospitaller were among the most revered Christian warriors in the Middle Ages. For a group of Australians, the call to knighthood – and the service it entails – is a present-day reality. Source: ACU.

While they no longer wear protective chain mail or defend themselves with shields or swords, the members of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, or simply the Order of Malta, make up the world’s oldest charity and is a religious order of the Church. 

The Order of Malta’s roots lie in the pioneering service of the Knights Hospitaller, a confraternity that regarded the poor and sick as their “lords” and served pilgrims in the Holy Land. This tradition continues, surviving major upheavals over nearly a millennium.

Established in Jerusalem before the crusades and recognised by Pope Paschal II in 1113 as a religious community, the Order has drawn thousands of men and women since its inception, inspired by its mission.

The Australian Association of the Order of Malta has more than 300 members (known as knights and dames) and is among the youngest in the world, forming only five decades ago. 

Associate Professor Darius von Güttner, a historian at Australian Catholic University, aims to bring new insights on this confraternity devoted to service.

He will present the history of the Order and document the story of how one of the world’s oldest religious orders came to Australia. This account of the Order of Malta will be developed into an online course, as part of a research project funded by ACU’s Stakeholder-Engaged Scholarship Unit.


Uncovering the history of Australia’s modern hospitaller tradition (ACU)