This Historical Sketch of the Canadian Association of the Order of Malta is a comprehensive story of its 50 years in Canada. Beginning with some of the early Knights of the Order, who played important political roles in New France in the 1600s, Dr. Pichette relates how the modern Association had its origins in 1948 at Quebec’s Eucharistic Congress with Count Nicola Nasalli Rocca and Alberto Garabelli of the Grand Priory of Rome. In cooperation with leading Canadian Catholics, the founding efforts of these gentlemen resulted in the incorporation of the Canadian Association in 1953.
Dr. Pichette tells how the early foundations provided both the energy and financial support for many Catholic charities right across the country. It also received considerable assistance from Count Emeric Hutten-Czapski, President of the Polish Association as well as numerous distinguished Canadian clerics, such as Mons. Olivier Maurault, p.s.s., PA, CMG, President of the Université de Montréal. Such efforts suited perfectly both the native Canadian and the burgeoning immigrant Catholic community’s needs. The history documents some of the generous donors (e.g. Louis Odette, Cardinal Léger, etc.) to the Order’s mission.
The Canadian Association has a long track record of assisting the poor and the sick as part of its fundamental mission. This history admirably captures that story. Cooperation with CIDA and special missions to South America, the care offered orphans, schools, shelters for the homeless and care for the handicapped at the recent World Youth Day in Toronto and many other remarkable efforts are related clearly and succinctly in both English and French, Canada’s two official languages.
In addition to the story, valuable historical photographs illustrate the personages, who gave so much to teach the faith and help the poor and sick on behalf of the Order of Malta in Canada.
The last section of this work consists of an armorial of the coats of arms of all the knights and dames of the Order known to have been legitimately granted by a recognized heraldic authority. The black and white line drawings are by John J. Fitzpatrick Kennedy and are followed by the record of their “blazon” or heraldic description, which gives the colours appropriate to each achievement. Earlier clerics of the Order have often assumed arms “motu proprio” (permissible in Canon Law), but since the institution of the Canadian Heraldic Authority in 1988, more have begun to obtained Grants of Arms from legitimate heraldic authorities. The armorial is clear and brisk in style and appropriate for colouring. It provides a clear heraldic record of members both past and current who have used heraldry, though many knights and dames have not. It confines the achievements to simply the arms, helmets, mantling and crest, or in the case of clerics their clerical hats and tassels and crosses, if applicable, and the appropriate riband and cross for their grade within the Order. Thus some knights, for example, two of the former Lieutenants Governors of provinces, who are entitled to Supporters, do not have them illustrated, though their description is included in the blason’s text. Many arms of immigrant families were entitled to coronets of rank within their nation of origin and these have been allowed by courtesy, though would technically need to be approved for regular use in Canada. Also, motto scrolls are uniformly omitted, but again included in the blazon’s text. This permits a uniform code of heraldic presentation for all members, irrespective of social rank, grade or standing.
Letters from Fra Andrew Bertie, the Grand Master of the Order, Theodore J. Arcand, President of the Canadian Association and from Robert D. Watt, Chief Herald of Canada introduce the work and letters from the Chancellor, Charles Weld of the British Association of the Order of Malta, have called it a “splendidly detailed and informative publication”.