Parish News

Knights of Cyprus and Rhodes

After the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1291 (the city of Jerusalem had fallen in 1187), the Knights were confined to the County of Tripoli and, when Acre was captured in 1291, the order sought refuge in the Kingdom of Cyprus. Finding themselves becoming enmeshed in Cypriot politics, their Master, Guillaume de Villaret, created a plan of acquiring their own temporal domain, selecting Rhodes to be their new home, part of the Byzantine Empire. His successor, Foulques de Villaret, executed the plan, and on 15 August 1310, after over four years of campaigning, the city of Rhodes surrendered to the knights.
At Rhodes, and later Malta, the resident knights of each nation group were headed by a baili. The English Grand Prior at the time was Philip De Thame, who acquired the estates allocated to the English langue from 1330 to 1358. In 1334, the Knights of Rhodes defeated Andronicus and his Turkish auxiliaries.
On Rhodes the Hospitallers, by then also referred to as the Knights of Rhodes, were forced to become a more militarised force, fighting especially with the Barbary pirates. They withstood two invasions in the 15th century, one by the Sultan of Egypt in 1444 and another by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1480.
The Knights have never forgotten their roots as a Hospitaler Order and built the beautiful imposing hospital in Rhodes. The plans were made by Antoine Fluvian River who was the grand master from 14221-1437.

Therefore it is no surprise that ever after many centuries the Order still cares for the sick and the needy. In 2012 and in fact in November this year, the Austrian Knights of Malta brought the sick and handicapped for a well deserved pilgrimage and holiday to Rhodes. There were about 200 Knights and Dames with 50 handicapped. All the handicapped had a personal nurse. All of this was organized and planned so well by Moritz Röttinger und Bernhard Supp. The local Greek community was delighted to see the nurses in full uniform pushing their charges in wheel chairs along the streets. It created a very positive impression. The compassion shown towards the sick was obvious and almost tangible. Everyone was talking about their visit and the love that they were showing towards their patients.
They were accompanied by Bishop Stefan and their chaplain. They celebrated Mass at Sancta Maria and thereafter had lunch in the monastery garden as they had done in 2012. It seems all of them really enjoyed themselves and we are glad of this as Katharina one of the Dames, whose father had been Austrian Ambassador to Greece, wrote:
“I am very sure, that the days of the Order in Rhodes must have been wonderful!
All the young members of the Order of the Knights of Malta we have since met in Vienna during the last week are shining with the delight of having experienced the week in Rhodes, I can feel from how they are speaking about it, what a precious time it must have been!!! It is also with thanks to you and your Parish. I remember Rhodes as being incredible days of joy, presence of solidarity a gift
to all the participants in 2012 and 2019. Everybody was very tired by the end, but filled with love and hope and joy!