Vail Daily letter: Moral courage, too
I enjoyed reading the Vaily Daily column “Business of Knights” by Benjamin A. Gochberg. His historical analysis is spot on in which he noted the wisdom of Jean Parisot de Valette, the grand master of the Knights Hospitaller, later known by its formal name of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta — an ancient papal order which received sanction and whose heroic deeds along with the ancient Knights Templar helped defend and preserve Christianity in mainland Europe and along the Mediterranean.
Mr. Gochberg noted that the knights’ “business … was war.” Well, that is partially correct. The Knights Templar protected pilgrims venturing to and from Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land. The Knights Hospitaller likewise assisted but they were charged to protect the old, sick and infirm — essentially as medics. Once on the island of Malta, the “Knights of Malta” minted their own monetary currency. They had copper, silver and gold coins. I only have a few examples of such in my possession. However, I am most impressed with their coins, which feature an image of “the clasped hands of friendship” and the motto: “Non aes sed fides,” which roughly translates to “Not mere money, but solid faithful trust.” I think that speaks volumes as to their courage, but their fiscal integrity, too.
It is amazing to note that the Knights of Malta had inflicted over 35,000 casualties from a force of only 600 knights as defenders of the island. Even more startling is that about one-third of the knights had perished.
I am a member of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard, the relief arm of the Order of Malta. Today, the Knights of Malta perform charitable acts and live up to their current motto: “Defense of the faith and assistance to the poor.” Both in ancient times and in modern times, the knights have had courage, but I applaud their fiscal integrity, too, by minting coins and stamps and helping the less fortunate by operating clinics and hospitals. Moral courage in humane areas of life is just as heroic as courage on any battlefield.
James A. Marples
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