Members of the Knights of Malta have made the democratic decision to follow the advice of the Holy See and have elected a lieutenant who will take the reins of the order for a year - rather than elect a permanent leader who would be in charge for life.
Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto (pictured), who most recently has been the grand prior in charge of the order's Rome chapter was voted lieutenant of the Grand Master, it was announced on Saturday (29 April). The new lieutenant will have exactly the same powers as a grand master.
The newly elected Lieutenant of the Grand Master will swear his Oath before the Pope’s Special Delegate to the Sovereign Order of Malta, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, and the members of the Council Complete of State tomorrow morning in the Church of Santa Maria in Aventino, according to the Order's official website.
"Pope Francis has been informed by letter of the election result," the Order said in a statement. "All the Order of Malta’s Grand Priories, Subpriories and National Associations around the world have been informed, as well as the representatives of the 106 countries with which the Order maintains diplomatic relations."
The decision by the members of the Council Complete of State eligible to vote means that the order will be able to take a breath before returning to Rome in a year to elect a grand master to replace Fra’ Matthew Festing, who was forced to resign at the beginning of the year.
The election follows a dramatic series of events that began in November with the removal and eventual reinstatement of Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, the order's grand chancellor.
Weeks of public tension between the order and the Vatican ended when Pope Francis requested that Matthew Festing resign his post as grand master on 24 January. The pope then named Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican substitute secretary of state, as his special delegate and sole spokesman to the Order of Malta.
Fra’ Giacomo was born 1944 in Rome. He graduated in Humanities from the University of Rome, specialising in Christian Archeology and History of Art. He took up academic posts at the Pontifical Urbaniana Institute, teaching classical Greek. He was also Chief Librarian and Archivist for the Institute’s important collections and has published a range of essays and articles on aspects of medieval art history.
He became a member of the Sovereign Order in 1985 and took his Solemn Vows in 1993. From 1994-1999 he was Grand Prior of Lombardy and Venice and from 1999 to 2004, a member of the Sovereign Council. At the Chapter General of 2004 he was elected Grand Commander of the Order and on the death of the 78th Grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, he became the Lieutenant ad interim. From 2008 Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre has held the post of Grand Prior of Rome.