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Knights of Malta ArmorialThe Order of Malta in Poland

The Order Today


Today the Order has about 13,000 members worldwide; 80,000 permanent volunteers; and 20,000 medical personnel including doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and paramedics in more than 120 countries.  The goal is to assist the elderly, handicapped, refugeed, children, homeless, those with terminal illness and leprosy in five continents of the world, without distinction of race or religion. In several countries—including France, Germany and Ireland—the local associations of the Order are important providers of first aid training, first aid services and emergency medical services. Through its worldwide relief corps—Malteser International—the Order is also engaged to aid victims of natural disasters, epidemics and armed conflicts.

In February 2013, the order celebrated its 900th anniversary recognising the Papal bull of sovereignty "Pie Postulatio Voluntatis" formerly issued by Pope Paschal II dated on February 15, 1113, with a general audience given by Pope Benedict XVI and a Holy Mass celebrated by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone at Saint Peter's Basilica.

In the post-WWII communist dominated East European countries the Order was prohibited from carrying out its charitable work and many of its members were either banished or expelled from their home countries.

Following the decades of struggle in communist Poland by Solidarity (Solidarność)  which was the first independent labour union in a Soviet-bloc country, organised in August 1980, at the Lenin Shipyards (now Gdańsk Shipyards),  it became the catalyst for a dramatic social and political revolution which rapidly spread across the rest of the Soviet-bloc countries of Eastern Europe. Shortly afterwards Poland begins to open up for humanitarian assistance from the West, with Malteser Hilfsdienst arranging transport of relief goods through Polish churches.  Malteser Hilfsdienst also providing humanitarian aid for thousands of East German refugees who had fled to Budapest, Hungary.

Timeline of the Order in Poland during the transition from communism to re-established democratic sovereign nation.

Pre 1980
The Order was prohibited from working in the communist countries, and many of its members were wither banished or expelled.

198089 (Solidarity Period)
Poland begins to open up for assistance from the West, with Malteser Hilfsdienst arranging transport of relief goods through Polish churches.

19891990 (The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe)
The Order responds to countless pleas for help with an extensive programme of relief to Poland and many countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Re-developing a presence in Poland in 1990, as a Charity which exemplify the faith and serve the poor and suffering.  Supplies of medicines and other relief aid are intensified.  Financial and diplomatic relations are both stepped up as local partnerships develop.

The momentum continues...

HE Aleksander_TarnowskiH.E President of the Polish Association, Count Aleksander Tarnowski, Knight of Honour and DevotionPresidents of Polish Sovereign Order of Malta 1920-2013

Interbellum Poland

• Ferdynand Fryderyk Prince Radziwiłł,  1920–1926
• Bogdan Hutten Czapski,  1926–1937
• Alfred Chłapowski,  1938–1939


• Janusz Prince Radziwiłł (ad interim) 1939–1948
• Emeryk Hutten Czapski, 1948–1975
• Władyslaw Poniński, 1975–1990
• Jan Badeni, 1990 –1992


• Władyslaw Tarnowski,  1992 –1997
• Juliusz Ostrowski,  1997 –2002
• Andrzej Potworowski,  2002–2012
• Aleksander Tarnowski,  2012 –to present