His Most Eminent Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, Most Humble Guardian of the Poor of Jesus Christ
Zatlers to meet Grand Master of Order of Malta
(Riga, 28.10.2008) Today in Riga Castle, President Valdis Zatlers will hold a meeting with His Most Eminent Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.
After the meeting Zatlers and Festing will hold a joint press briefing, as the President’s Press Office informed LETA.
At 11 a.m. the Grand Master of Order of Malta, together with President, will lay a wreath of flowers by the Freedom Monument, at 7 p.m. Fra’ Matthew Festing will participate in a state dinner, organized in his honor by the president.
The president’s Chapter of Orders have decided to grant 10 Latvia’s state highest State Awards to members of the Order of Malta. The Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing will receive the First Class Order of the Three Stars.
Grand Master of the Knights of Malta Matthew Festing of Britain (L) shakes hands with Latvia’s President Valdis Zatlers during their meeting in Riga October 28, 2008.
The president’s public relation advisor, Maija Celmina, confirmed to LETA that the Order of the Three Stars will be bestowed during the framework of the Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing’s visit to Latvia, which will last until October 31.
Today, Cabinet of Ministers will review draft project on signing a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Latvia and the Order of Malta. On the side from Latvian government the memorandum of understanding will be signed by the Ambassador of Latvia to the Order of Malta Alberts Sarkanis.
The Latvian Foreign Ministry points out that signing the memorandum will enhance the development of cooperation between Latvia and Malta by diversifying cooperation in the social, humanitarian and health care sectors, as well as setting the framework and guidelines for further relations in the future.
This handout picture supplied by Observatore Romano shows Pope Benedict XVI greeting the new Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, Matthew Festing of Britain (R) during a meeting at the private library of the Pope in Vatican City on June 23, 2008.
Fra’ Matthew Festing, OBE, TD, DL, (born 30 November 1949) is the 79th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. His full title is His Most Eminent Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, Most Humble Guardian of the Poor of Jesus Christ. An Englishman, he has never married.
Fra’ Matthew is the son of Field Marshal Sir Francis Festing (Chief of the Imperial General Staff and also a knight of the Order of Malta) and of his wife, Mary Cecilia Riddell (elder daughter of Cuthbert David Giffard Riddell, of Swinburne Castle, Northumberland). His mother’s family are an old recusant family. He is also descended from the Blessed Sir Adrian Fortescue, a Knight of Malta, who was martyred in 1539. Fra’ Matthew has several brothers, Major Michael Festing and Andrew Festing (current President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters).
Fra’ Matthew received his early education at the English Roman Catholic public school, Ampleforth College. He graduated in Modern History from St John’s College, Cambridge.
Fra’ Matthew served in the Grenadier Guards and holds the rank of colonel in the Territorial Army. He was Acting Colonel of the Northumbria Army Cadet Force. In June 1998 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth, for whom he has served as a Deputy Lieutenant in the county of Northumberland.
Fra’ Matthew is a patron of the Sandhurst Foundation and a trustee of the Northumbria Historic Churches Trust. Until 2008 he was the Northumberland representative for the auction house Sotheby’s.
Fra’ Matthew was admitted to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 1977. In 1988 he became a Knight of Justice. In 1991 he took Perpetual Vows. In 1993 he was elected Grand Prior of England, the first since 1815.
On March 11, 2008, Fra’ Matthew was elected Grand Master during a conclave-style meeting at the Order’s villa on Aventine Hill in Rome. He is the third British Grand Master of the Order, immediately succeeding the second, Fra’ Andrew Bertie. (The first was Hugh Revel in 1258).
Valdis Zatlers and Islam Karimov
The two men also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, where Latvian soldiers are stationed as part of the NATO mission in the country. Without the support of Uzbekistan and the rest of the countries in Central Asia, a successful mission in the country is not possible, Zatlers pointed out.
The Three-Star Order (Order of the Three Stars) was established in 1924 to commemorate the founding of the Latvian State on November 18, 1918. The Order’s motto is Per aspera ad astra (Through thorns toward the stars), as testimony to the fact that great achievements are often attained in the face of adversity, toil and suffering. The Order is conferred in recognition of outstanding civil merit in the service of Latvia.
The Order has five classes (represented by enamelled crosses), which are followed by three grades of honour (represented by medals). The five classes of the Order are as follows:
I – Commander of the Grand Cross;
II – Grand Officer;
III – Commander;
IV – Officer;
V – Chevalier (Knight).
The cross of the Order is a white enamel Maltese cross set in gilded edges. A round, cobalt-blue enamel medallion with three golden, five-pointed stars encircled by a golden ribbon graces the centre of the cross. The reverse centre of the cross is a gilded medallion with the inscription LATVIJAS / REPUBLIKA / 1918. G. 18. NO-VEMBRIS (Republic / of Latvia / November 18, 1918). An encircling golden ribbon bears the motto PER ASPERA AD ASTRA.
The cross of the Order is suspended from a golden wreath.
Order of the Three Stars (Latvian: Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis) is order awarded for merits in service for Latvia. It was established in 1924 in remembrance of founding of Latvia. Its motto is “Per aspera ad astra”. The Order has five ranks and three grades of medals of honour.
The cross of the order is white enamel cross within gilded edges. In the center of the front side of the cross there is blue enamel medallion with three golden five-point stars on it. The reverse side has gilded medallion with inscriptions “Per aspera ad astra” and “Latvijas Republika — 1918.g.18. novembris” (English: Republic of Latvia – 18 November 1918). The order has five classes:
The Stars are first and second rate orders. The first rate order and the second rate order, (the great star and the small star, respectively) have similar design and differ only in size. The stars are in shape of five point star made of silver with blue enamel medallion with three golden five-point stars in its center. On its edge there is inscription “Par Tēviju” (English: For Fatherland).
Chain of the Order
Chain of the Order is awarded to Commander of the Grand Cross in exceptional cases. It has ten gilded links with alternately chiseled images of three stars, fire-cross, lion and griffin.
Medal of honour
Medal of honour is a round medal on front of which the cross of the order is depicted. The reverse side has inscription “Par Tēviju” with flaming heart below the inscription. It has wreath of oak leaves on its edge. The medal of honour has three grades – gold, silver and bronze.