Fra’ John Dunlap has been elected Prince and 81st Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. He is the first Professed Knight from the Americas to be elected as head of the Order of Malta.
The Council Complete of State, the elective body, met in Rome in the Magistral Villa, one of the two institutional seats of the Order of Malta, and elected him by an absolute majority of votes. There were 99 voters from 18 different countries. Fra’ John Dunlap communicated his election to Pope Francis with a letter written in his own hand and was sworn in in the Church of St. Mary on the Aventine, thus entering into the fullness of his powers.
The Grand Master is the head of the Order of Malta and is elected to office for a period of ten years according to Article 13 of the Order’s Constitution. The States with which the Order of Malta has diplomatic relations recognise the Grand Master with the sovereign prerogatives, immunities and honours reserved for Heads of State. He resides at the Order of Malta’s government seat, the Magistral Palace in Rome.
Fra’ John, a corporate lawyer by profession, was born in Ottawa, Canada, on 16 April 1957. He was admitted to the Order of Malta in 1996 and took his solemn vows as a Professed Knight in 2008. In 2009, he was elected for a five-year term as a member of the Sovereign Council and re-elected for another five-year term by the Chapter General in 2014 and 2019. He has led the Order of Malta as Lieutenant of the Grand Master since June 2022, following the death of Fra’ Marco Luzzago.
The new Grand Master, addressing the members of the Council Complete of State, said: “I accept this office with a profound spirit of service and with the solemn promise of a constant commitment. I thank each of you for having placed your trust in me and for having shown your great love for, and dedication to, our Order by your presence here today. There are many challenges that await us, but united in the awareness of our mission of Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum (witnessing the faith, helping the poor), I am sure that we will be able to face them together united and cohesively, in the same spirit that guided Blessed Gerard, founder of the Order over 900 years ago.”