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Salem Community Patriot | October 28, 2011 - 7 A Knight- continued from front page

there own diplomatic order. When Todesca was knighted in March, he took on a whole new, albeit, partially symbolic role in the community. He was now the State of New Hampshire’s Diplomat to the Knights of Malta. As a diplomat, he has been able to meet a lot of people worldwide. He has met high-ranking officials from European Nations, and has traveled all over the world. Proud of what he has accomplished, Todesca

Todesca being presented with a certificate from the Prince of Malta

in the order by the King. He became a member about a decade ago. On March 19, 2011 he was knighted in the Order, a prestigious honor only attained by a few people worldwide every year. There are about 23,00 members of the order

worldwide. All of them entered the order because the King of Malta decided they exemplified all the qualities needed to be a member. the eight qualities are signified by the order’s eight point cross. The necessary virtues are: loyalty, piety, generosity, bravery, glory and honor, contempt of death, helpfulness towards the poor and sick, and finally, respect for the church. The Knights of Malta were established during the crusades, as a joint effort between the King of Malta and the Pope. The Knights were established to offer protection to the King, the Pope and all those who need protection including the sick and the poor. Although they were part of the warrior class, only the best were knighted. That tradition still stands true nearly 1,000 years later. “They only Knight in Valletta,” Todesca said.

The sea surrounds Valletta, Malta’s capital city. The Knights were posted there because it was a very vulnerable part of Malta during the Crusades. Now, the Knights are spread through out the world, with their two major outposts being in St. Petersburg, Russia and Valletta. Keeping with tradition, jubilations only happen in Valletta at the former fortress. Todesca was used traveling to Valletta to attend other member’s jubilations. As far as he knew, his trip last March was going to be like any of his other visits. He had no idea he was going to be an honored guest. “The photographer asked me for a picture because he said it was going to be my ‘special day’ the next day. I did not know what he was talking about.” Todesca said. For all he knew,

he was in Valletta with his wife to watch other members of his order get knighted. Flash-forward to the next day, and Todesca was among 40 other people professing their rites, and preparing to be knighted. Knights of Malta have been knighted in the same building for as long as the order has been in existence. The building, located near the sea, was at one time a fortress. The hall is also much like a museum. Wax figures of monks and knights creep along the winding halls. Whole battles are reenacted with figurines, allowing a visitor to get a glimpse of the order’s grandiose history. According to Todesca, the jubilation ceremony has not changed much in its nearly 1,000 years. They still wear bright red robes. They recite a passage, wash their hands, light a candle and touch the Prince’s sword. Women can take place in the ceremony. They are not knighted, as they are not considered to be part of the Warrior class. They take on a more matronly position. They ordained as Damas. As Damas, they are the ones who take care of the sick and the dying. The idea is that, while the mean were out fighting for the King with the Pope’s blessing, the women were the ones taking care of the wounded and grieving for the dead under the direction of the Pope. Women participate in the same ceremony as the men, with only one exception: They are not allowed to touch the Prince’s sword. Since the Crusades are no longer going on, the Knights of Malta have a much more humanitarian purpose. “We have built schools in Brazil and Cameroon,” Todesca said. Charity has always been at the core of value of the Knights. Their original mantra was to protect the Pope, the King and the poor. The Knights of Malta are considered to be

Lighting of the candles

has covered the lobby of the Colosseum with plaques and certificates. He has commemorations from the Italian Government, The Knights of Malta, and even the late Pope John Paul II. He has accomplished a lot, and the proof is everywhere. His work with the Knights have allowed him to visit the world, whether it be erecting schools in poverty stricken areas around the world, or even stateside. In September, the Knights held a meeting in Miami, Florida, a far cry from the ancient walls of Valletta. At this meeting, Todesca showed his fellow Knights what it meant to be in America. “I invited someone to sing the National Anthem, she had the most beautiful voice. I told them if we were in America, we had to sing the national anthem.” And so they did.

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