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Fra’ Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie

Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Guardian of the Poor of Jesus Christ, Veteran of the Scots Guards, Humanitarian, Teacher for 23 Years, Cultivator of Oranges

THE DEATH OF Fra’ Andrew Bertie brings to a close one of the most successful reigns of any Grand Master of the Order of Malta. Fra’ Andrew was admitted to the Order in 1956, took solemn religious vows in 1981, and was elected head of the Order in 1988. His reign as Prince and Grand Master witnessed continued modernization, as the oldest chivalric order in the world adapted to contemporary needs of humanitarian aid and the relief of suffering around the globe. Despite the continual adaptation and modernization, the Order refused to unnecessarily disregard tradition, and has continued to recall the primacy of the spiritual over the temporal. Fra’ Andrew was the first Grand Master of the Order called forth from the English-speaking world since Hugh Revel in 1258, and he oversaw the commemoration of the 900th anniversary of the Order in 1999.

The Prince & Grand Master reviews volunteers in St. Peter’s Square in 1999, the Order’s ninth centenary.

Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie was born in London on May 15, 1929 to Lt. Cdr. the Hon. James Bertie and Lady Jean Crichton-Stuart. His paternal grandfather was the 7th Earl of Abingdon, while his maternal grandfather was the 4th Marquess of Bute, and so Andrew Bertie was the great-grandson of the famous Catholic convert and benefactor of myriad causes (including, memorably, the University of St Andrews), John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, the 3rd Marquess of Bute.

Fra’ Andrew had received Cardinal Ratzinger at the Magistral Palace, and upon the latter’s elevation to the Papacy it was Benedict XVI’s turn to receive the Grand Master, traditionally every June 24, the Feast of St. John.

Bertie (whose surname is traditionally pronounced “Bartie”) was educated by the Benedictines at Ampleforth Abbey, and graduated from Christ Church Oxford with a degree in Modern History, later studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. The English member of a Scottish family, he appropriately served in the Scots Guards, leaving as a commissioned officer in 1949. After a brief stint as a financial journalist in the City of London, he moved to the school at Worth Abbey in Sussex, where he taught French and Spanish for twenty-three years.

Andrew Bertie became Fra’ Andrew in 1981, and the newly-professed Knight of Justice was appointed to the Sovereign Council of the Order. The Order of Malta is unique in that, unlike any other military, chivalric, or religious order, it is juridically sovereign. The Order’s sovereignty dates to when, like other sovereign entities such as France, Canada, or India, it ruled over a geographic territory, originally the Greek island of Rhodes, and later the Mediterranean island of Malta. Of course, the Order has become permanently associated with the island of Malta despite having lost control of it in 1798 when Napoleon took advantage of the fact that the Order forbade itself from fighting against fellow Christians. After the fall of Napoleon, Malta became a British colony. Though its territory was lost, the Order has continued to maintain its sovereignty, and as such enjoys diplomatic relations with several states (with ambassadors exchanged) and has official governmental relations with others.

Fra’ Andrew is depicted receiving the standard of the Order from St. John the Baptist, it’s patron on one of the coins minted by the Knights.

The Order eventually found itself at Rome, where it is still headquartered to this day, and continued its numerous charitable activities for the poor and the sick. Fra’ Andrew continued the modernization undertaken by his predecessor, Fra’ Angelo de Mojana di Cologna in transforming the Order’s charitable activities to suit the present-day needs of humanitarian relief. The official motto of the order is Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum, “Defense of the Faith and Service of the Poor”, but another motto used frequently by the Order is Seigneurs, Malades, “Our lords: the sick”.

At the Order’s International Pilgrimage to Lourdes, May 2006.

Fra’ Andrew commented that ever since the foundation of the first hospital in Jerusalem, the purpose of the Order has remained: “The other military orders were there to fight the Saracens and to save Spain or the Holy Land or Prussia from the pagans. But we always had this special commitment to the poor and the sick. Our aims today are exactly the same as they were in 1099, the sanctification of our members through service to the sick.”

On an official state visit to Budapest, May 2004.

Under Fra’ Andrew’s guidance, the number of countries with which the Order of Malta has diplomatic relations has doubled, and now stands at 100 (some of them non-Catholic countries). The Order has 12,500 Knights and Dames, 93,000 volunteers (80,000 of them specially-trained), and 13,000 employees (overwhelmingly doctors, nurses, and stretcher-bearers), with a presence in 120 countries.

Exhibiting the Church of Santa Maria del Priorato to the Romanian President, October 2004.

The operations of the Order today are astounding. With the collapse of the Iron Curtain in the early years of Fra’ Andrew’s reign, the Order of Malta rapidly expanded its charitable works in Central and Eastern Europe. Irish knights founded an ambulance corps in the 1920s and since that time the Order has become a major provider of first-aid training, ambulance transport, and community care services. In Scotland, the Order supports Dial-A-Journey, a charity that helps to keep the elderly mobile and help them get around. Hospitals were, of course, the very first work of the Order, and it maintains hospitals today throughout the world. The hospital in Rome specializes in neurological treatment and rehabilitation. “John & Lizzies”, the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth in St. John’s Wood, London, has a unit specializing in the treatment of the terminally ill.

The Order of Malta’s humanitarian relief station at a refugee camp, Kosovo, 1999.

Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem is the only provider of Western-quality health services for pregnant women in the Palestinian West Bank. The French Association of the Order of Malta runs hospitals in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Madagascar, and Togo. The Order runs leprosy care centers in Senegal and Cambodia, as well as Brazil. In France there are nine specialized centers for the disabled, and there are similar institutions run by the Order in Hungary, Poland, Lebanon, Ecuador, and the United States. One of the most prominent works of the Order with the disabled is their help in bringing the disabled to Lourdes. (Andrew Bertie was Hospitaller of the Sanctuary of Lourdes). These are just a sample of the works carried out under the auspices of the Order of Malta; there are also orphanages, centers for youth and adolescents, kindergartens for the poor, shelters for the homeless, rehabilitation centers for drug addicts, and rapid reaction humanitarian relief teams to care for the survivors of natural disasters and war, and for the accomodation of refugees.

“To be a member of the order is not an honor. It’s not about being able to dangle a nice cross around your neck. It’s not a question of sending in a check once a year. It’s about working with the sick and the poor,” the late Grand Master once said. “Our aim is to help the poor and the sick, that is and always has been our primary aim”.

Fra’ Andrew was also a black belt in Judo and organized as well as taught Judo courses to the young in Malta. He was Patron of the Malta Judo Federation, which has announced that the Under-20 international tournament they organize will now be named the Andrew Bertie Memorial Tournament. The Federation released a statement which said that they will greatly miss Fra’ Andrew.

The normally reserved Grand Master takes a few moments to chat with one of the Order’s volunteers acting as stewards and first-aid responders in Rome after the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI.

In a statement to Bailiff Frà Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, the Grand Commander of the Order who has been named Lieutenant ad interim until a new Grand Master is elected, Pope Benedict XVI mourned Fra’ Andrew and praised “the work of this man of culture and of his generous commitment in the fulfillment of his high office, especially in favor of those most in need, and for his love for the Church and for his luminous testimony of the principles of the Gospel”.

“When you spoke to him, you felt you were in the presence of a serene, humble person,” said Dr. Fenech Adami, the President of the Republic of Malta. “He was a very holy man who loved Malta a lot, especially for its ties with the Order”. As the official statement from the Magistral Palace stated, Bertie spent a great deal of time in Malta, “where he was very involved in organising and teaching judo courses for children as well as tending his farm, whose four different varieties of oranges were a constant source of pride in good weather and anxiety in bad.”

The earthly remains of Fra’ Andrew Bertie are now lying in state in the Chapel of Santa Maria del Priorato on the Aventine Hill in Rome. The Grand Master was received into Santa Maria del Priorato on Friday afternoon by his brother Peregrine Bertie, the members of the Sovereign Council, and some of the Grand Master’s colleagues. The Chapel will remain open every day between 10:00am and 6:00pm until Friday February 15. The Chapel will be reserved for members of the diplomatic corps to pay their respects between 10:30 and 12:30 on the 11th and 12th.

The funeral will take place at the Basilica of Santa Sabina at 11:30 on Saturday, February 16. The official state funeral will take place 30 days after the death, on March 8.

Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie
Prince and Grand Master
of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John

of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta
Most Humble Guardian of the Poor of Jesus Christ

May 15, 1929 – February 7, 2008

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.

Category: Order of Malta

This post was published on Saturday, February 9th, 2008 12:00 pm. It has been categorised under Order of Malta and been tagged under .
9 Feb 2008 3:25 pm

Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis tuis in æternum, quia pius es. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis.

9 Feb 2008 7:58 pm

RIP from the shores of his troubled Britain…

Beautiful post, Andrew.

Jovan Weismiller, T.O.Carm.
9 Feb 2008 8:41 pm

Thank you for the post, Andrew. May he rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon him.

10 Feb 2008 6:46 am

Thank you Andrew… Such an interesting post. What a man he was. May he rest in peace.

10 Feb 2008 8:10 am

A great tribute for a great man who shall be missed by many. Thank you.

10 Feb 2008 8:24 am

May Fra’ Andrew rest in peace and, God willing, may he intercede for us.

Patrick Jago
10 Feb 2008 3:00 pm

Fra Bertie, you taught me at school and I shall never forget your kindness and humour.

Fabrizio Ratto-Vaquer
10 Feb 2008 4:55 pm

Dear Fra’ Andrew your youths of all groups
belongings to the Order of Malta,
and the very youngs “Scudieri di Malta”,
will never forget the example of you, a holy man.

Requiescat in pacem

The Monarchist
11 Feb 2008 12:25 am

What a splendid tribute. Simply splendid.

Old Dominion Tory
11 Feb 2008 11:50 am

Thank you, Andrew, for a superb tribute to an extraordinary and fine Catholic gentleman. Requiescat in pacem, Fra Bertie.
I pray that the Knights’ new leader will be as good and effective a leader as Fra Bertie obviously was.
Again, thanks for this, Andrew.

Roderick Blyth
11 Feb 2008 5:09 pm

Fra’ Andrew Bertie taught me at school: he combined dignity, kindness and humour in equal measure. In his life he served God by serving man.

Victor Szudek
12 Feb 2008 6:24 am

You allowed a lazy
fifth-former, trying to
fill-up his timetable,
to come to your home to learn Tibetan and Arabic:
instead I learnt about Life on the broadest of canvasses and was stunned by your intellect.

As a sixth-former, I lodged in your home, where you shared your thoughts on the religions of the world
and your intimate and often very surprising knowledge of The Church and its workings.

A quarter of a century later and from 10,000 miles away, you offered guidance on matters of importance to me.

Across a room, hazy from Café Crèmes and fine port,
or across continents, I knew that I was in the presence of A Great Man.

I’m sorry I shan’t be seeing you at Easter.

Victor Szudek,
Worth 1977-1984

Marcus Elwes
12 Feb 2008 12:19 pm

May you be singing in the corridors of paradise. I am glad to have known you.

edward henry
12 Feb 2008 4:58 pm

He had wit and a sense of mischief. The call to prayer was bellowed by this Muezzin manque in Arabic – to wake surly schoolboys from their beds. He could see through a fake – he had vision and discernment. An adolescent, struggling to strike “an attitude” could sometimes find this alarming. He was somewhat of a mystic. Above all he had a sense of reverence – graced with a profound faith he respected all paths to God – Islam,The Gita,Gurdjieff. May he rest in peace.Thank you for commemorating him. North Lodge 79-80

Dermot Woolgar
13 Feb 2008 10:57 am

Among my many cherished memories of Andrew Bertie, none is more precious – and I believe none more revealing of his true nature – than that which I have of a particular “A” level French lesson at Worth, more than 25 years ago now. Under his supervision, and as had been his practice for many years, taking turns with different parts, we had been reading aloud Rostand’s eponymous play about Cyrano de Bergerac. Andrew himself took the part of Cyrano for the final scene. In this scene, moments before his death, Cyrano reveals his love for Roxane by pretending to read from the last love letter supposedly written to Roxane by her deceased husband Christian. Cyrano reveals himself to have been the real author of the letter, and indeed all the many letters before it, because, despite the gloom of the dusk, he can read it faultlessly: Roxane realises that Cyrano is remembering his own words, and she then acknowledges her love for him. School legend had it that we would see Andrew moved to tears in this scene. I remember that his voice grew a little quieter, it is true, but it did not falter. He remained dignified and stood at the front of the class with his characteristically immaculate bearing. But his distress was obvious. Tears filled his eyes. Someone else noticed this, and, perhaps embarrassed, mocked him for it. But he continued to read. I have looked up the text again. I better understand now why Andrew was so profoundly moved.

J’ai fait votre malheur ! moi ! moi !

Vous ?… au contraire !
J’ignorais la douceur féminine. Ma mère
Ne m’a pas trouvé beau. Je n’ai pas eu de soeur.
Plus tard, j’ai redouté l’amante à l’oeil moqueur.
Je vous dois d’avoir eu, tout au moins, une amie.
Grâce à vous une robe a passé dans ma vie.

Dr. H.-U. Giesen
13 Feb 2008 3:01 pm

We are very honored getting to know you. Just prior to the election as grand master during a vistit to Malta and then several times serving in the german volonteer corps. His kindness and devotion will never end to impress me. RIP

Kathleen Rock
14 Feb 2008 12:58 am

That makes me sad because I grew very fond of that order and recieved so much hospitality form them in m journeys through Spain this summer.

Vernon Quaintance
14 Feb 2008 6:51 pm

Photographs of the 7th day Requiem Mass for Fra Andrew Bertie celebrated at the Order’s Conventual Church in London (“John & Lizzies”) are now online at

Stephen Jenkins
19 Feb 2008 3:18 pm

‘For he was late y-come from his viage,
And wente for to doon his pilgrimage.’

I thank you for your appreciation of Fra Andrew Bertie.

I knew you Andrew, first as a friend of my parents when, as a dinner guest, you would help me with my latin prep. Later I knew you as a wise and courteous friend, and a kind and considerate correspondent, especially after the death of my father. When Anne and I were last in Rome you kindly asked us to visit. Thank you again for lunch, conversation and your reassuring presence. As you saw us to the gate of the Palazzo Magistrale, I did not think that I would not see you again. When I think back to that moment I am aware that I moved, as always, from the cool calm of the entrance way to the lively bustle of the world, a world you did so much to serve. Quite simply, I am better for having known you.

Fra Andrew pray for us.

‘He never yet no vileinye ne sayde
In al his lyf un-to no maner wight.
He was a verray parfit, gentil knight.’

Mrs Thelma Hewitt (nee Jenkins)
25 Feb 2008 9:53 am

I have known and loved my dear friend Andrew since the 1970’s at Worth School. My first husband and I (Stephen Jenkins- who died in 1992) spent many happy hours with Andrew and Fra Stephen Ortiger. He and I corresponded by letter and e-mail on a regular basis. I will miss him deeply, his warmth and his humanity. A long time great friend who I

mrs thelma hewitt (Nee Jenkins)
25 Feb 2008 9:57 am

I lost the remainder of my comments (Just posted) – I simply want to add that he will remain in my heart for the rest of my own life.
I know he will be granted
eternal peace.

‘his end in this life is his
beginning in eternity.’

Richard Collingwood
27 Feb 2008 7:17 pm

Peaceful. Always peaceful. That is how I remember conversations with Andrew Bertie. Conversations I remember after nearly thirty years. Thank you Fra Andrew. North Lodge ’81.

J. Michael Dwyer, KHS
9 Mar 2008 1:08 pm

Rest in peace, good and faithful servant!

Janet Trevisan.
17 Mar 2008 5:58 am

Andrew was a close and wonderful friend for over 25 years, His interest in Tibetan and Esoteric psychology was remarkable,as were his spiritual accomplishments. Sadly missed, especially on Sunday evenings. We will meet again.
Mrs. Janet Trevisan. Malta .

Tibor Bucek
27 Feb 2009 12:43 pm

Your web is perfect.God bless you.Tibor- Donat

Chris Anton
9 Nov 2009 3:14 am

Later I knew you as a wise and courteous friend, and a kind and considerate correspondent, especially after the death of my father. When Anne and I were last in Rome you kindly asked us to visit. Thank you again for lunch, conversation and your reassuring presence…

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