Eightieth Prince & Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta
It is with great sadness that we received news from the Grand Magistry of the death of our Grand Master, His Most Eminent Highness, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto. He died in Rome on Wednesday 29th April 2020. He had been ill for some time.
Fra’ Giacomo was born in Rome on 9th December 1944. As a graduate in Literature and Philosophy from the University of La Sapienza, Rome, he enjoyed a distinguished scholarly and academic career as medieval art historian and Christian archaeologist. He lectured at the Pontifical University of Urban VIII, or Urbaniana as it is more generally known (founded in 1627). While there, he also held the positions of chief librarian and archivist-curator of its most important collections.
In 1985, he was admitted to the Sovereign Order of Malta as Knight of Honour and Devotion, and later in 1993, he took solemn vows as Knight of Justice. Between 1994 and 1999, he served as Grand Prior of Lombardy & Venice, and was a member of the Sovereign Council. In 2004, at the Chapter General of the Order, Fra’ Giacomo was elected Grand Commander. Following the death of the 78th Grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie on 7th February 2008, he became Lieutenant ad Interim (governor of the Order during an interregnum). Between 2008 and 2017, he served as Grand prior of Rome. On 29th April 2017, the Council Complete of State (the Order’s parliamentary assembly) elected him Lieutenant of the Grand Master following the resignation of the 79th Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, On 2nd May 2018, Fra Giacomo was elected 80th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order.
Even though he held high office, Fra’ Giacomo rolled-up his sleeves regularly to serve meals to the homeless around Rome’s railway stations of Termini and Tiburtina, or to assist wheelchair-users or to carry the ill or injured on stretchers at the shrines of Lourdes, Loreto or Assisi. His personal warmth and sensitivity for the feelings of others was reciprocated by the great affection that he received from the young people with special needs as well as their youth cadet and volunteer assistants. Whenever he made state or official visits as Grand Master, he always made a point of visiting local charitable and humanitarian facilities operated by the Order as he wanted to show his solidarity and personal support for both the service users and the staff. Whether he was in the company of popes, presidents, princes, prelates or paupers, Fra’ Giacomo treated all of them equally with genuine affection, respect and dignity.
As our Association’s President, H.E. Richard Duc de Stacpoole, wrote in his letter of condolence on behalf of the Association to the Lieutenant ad Interim & Grand Commander of the Order:
‘In Ireland, we have such fond memories of him during our annual pilgrimage to Lourdes over the last
couple of years. We will always remember and appreciate his paternal support, goodness and kindness,
and his effective leadership of our Order through difficult times.’
The Grand Magistry in Rome summed-up perfectly the personality of Fra’ Giacomo and the impact that he had on all who came into contact with him:
‘A marked humanity and a profound dedication to charitable works have always inspired the 80th
Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, who will be remembered by all who knew him for his
human qualities and his cordial and affectionate manner.’
Requiem Aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei