Religious superior and Sovereign of the Order of Malta
The Grand Master is elected for ten years by the Council Complete of State.
According to the Constitution, as the religious Superior and Sovereign, he must fully dedicate himself to the development of the works of the Order and set an example of living by Christian principles to all the members of the Order. He is vested with supreme authorities.
The Grand Master, together with the Sovereign Council, is responsible for issuing legislative measures not provided for by the Constitutional Charter, promulgating government acts and ratifying international agreements. He administers, through the Receiver of the Common Treasure, the Order’s assets and convenes the Chapter of Professed and the Chapter General.
The States with which the Order has diplomatic relations recognise the Grand Master with the prerogatives, immunities and honours reserved for Heads of State.
The Grand Master resides at the Order’s seat of government, the Magistral Palace in Rome.
Grand Master, Fra’ John T. Dunlap
Born in Ottawa, Canada, on 16 April 1957, after studying in Nice University, John Dunlap graduated from the University of Ottawa and then obtained a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Western Ontario. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in Public Service by John Cabot University in Rome.
Fra’ John Dunlap is a member of the New York State Bar and the Ontario Bar Association in Canada. In 1986, he joined the New York legal firm Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller in New York City, becoming a partner in 1993. He specializes in corporate and immigration law. An internationally respected lawyer, since 1997 he has been legal adviser to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.
Fra’ John Dunlap approached the Order of Malta and found his religious vocation in the mid-1980s during his volunteer work with patients suffering from AIDS and other diseases at the Cardinal Cooke Medical Center in Harlem (New York). He has volunteered in that hospital every week for the past 30 years.
Admitted to the Order of Malta in 1996, he took his solemn vows as a Professed Knight in 2008. For over a decade he has served the Order of Malta as Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Names and Emblems and Representative to the Alliance of the Orders of St John.
In 2009 Fra’ John Dunlap was elected for a five-year term as a member of the Sovereign Council. He was re-elected for another five-year term by the Chapter General in 2014 and then in 2019. He led the Order of Malta as Lieutenant of the Grand Master since June 2022, following the death of Fra’ Marco Luzzago. He was elected Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta on 3 May 2023.