H.E. the Lieutenant of the Grand Master,
Fra’ Marco Luzzago
There was widespread shock and sadness at the unexpected death of His Excellency the Lieutenant of the Grand Master, Fra’ Marco Luzzago, at Villa Ciccolini, Sforzacosta, near Macerata in the Marche region on 7th June 2022. He had recently participated actively in the Order’s International Pilgrimage to Lourdes between 28th April and 3rd May. His death, within two years and two months of the previous Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo dalla Torre del Tiempo Sanguinetto (d. 29 April 2020), whom he had succeeded as the elected head of the Order ad interim for one year (which was extended) came at a critically important time in the Order’s 900 years’ old history, as it is currently undergoing a major reform of its Constitutional Code.
Fra’ Marco was born into a Lombardic noble family in Brescia in 1950. He was a cousin of the late Pope Paul VI ( Giovanni Montini, 1963-1978), and a collateral descendant of the Venerable Alessandro Luzzago (1551-1602), who had written an Instruction for the Knights of Malta – a spiritual guidebook based upon the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola. Interestingly this was published in 2014 in an edited collection of his works (Alessandro Luzzago, Alchimia Santa, edited by Vincenzo Peroni (Rome: Studium, 2014). Some might perceive a certain significance in this connection between the Venerable Alessandro and his collateral descendant, Fra’ Marco, who was deeply engaged in the spiritual renewal of the Order of Malta, as well as in its current Constitutional reformation.
Fra’ Marco had been educated at Liceo Sientifico Statate Annibale Calini, a Franciscan-run secondary school, before proceeding to medical studies at the universities of Padua and of Parma. However, filial duties obliged him to forgo a medical career and instead to manage his familiy’s properties and retail distribution business interests.
In 1975, he entered the Order of Malta as a Knight of Honour & Devotion attached to the Grand Priory of Lombardy & Venice. Later, when the next generation of his family took over the management of their patrimonial estates and businesses, he professed solemn vows as a Knight of Justice in 2003. By 2010, he was appointed to govern one of the Order’s commanderies in The Marche (the region between the Apennines and the Adriatic, northeast of Rome and Florence). In 2011, he became Commander of Justice in the Grand Priory of Rome, where he had charge of its valuable library, and from where he acted as delegate for the Northern Marche region. Between 2017 and 2020, he was a member of the Presidential Council of the Italian Association of the Order.
On 8th November 2020, the Council Complete of State elected Fra’ Marco Luzzago as Lieutenant of the Grand Master for a period of one year. This was extended to facilitate the on-going reform of the Constitutional Code subject to ratification by the Council Complete of State. Quite apart from being engaged in the aforesaid constitutional reforms, and in the daily governance of the Order and in official and ceremonial duties, Fra’ Marco provided a calming stability and reassurance in guiding the Order in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the outbreak of war in Ukraine and their associated challenges during the past two years of his leadership of the Order.
His vast experience, his diligent application to work, his judicious and diplomatic character, his deep faith, and his warm-hearted and generous personality, were deeply appreciated and highly respected. As Pope Francis noted in tribute to Fra’ Marco, he was a “shining Christian witness”.
On Tuesday 14th June, the Solemn Requiem for Fra’ Marco Luzzago took place in the Basilica of Santi Bonifacio e Alessio on the Aventine Hill in Rome. Attended by family and friends of the deceased, and by diplomatic corps and members of the Order, His Eminence Silvano Maria Cardinal Tomasi officiated, and he was assisted by His Eminence Giovanni Batista Cardinal Re, Prefect of the College of Cardinals, and His Excellency Monsignor Jean Lafitte, Prelate of the Order. On 15th June, the final obsequies were observed as Fra’ Marco Luzzago’s mortal remains were laid to rest among his ancestors in the family mausoleum in Brescia.
Lux Aeterna Luceat Ei, Domine