The Patron of the Maltese Nobility is Fra Matthew Festing.
His Most Eminent Highness Fra Matthew Festing was elected 79th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.
Although it is sovereign the Order of Malta is also a religious order of the Catholic Church and so this election needed the approval of His Holiness the Pope, which was obtained on the 11th April following. By tradition, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta takes precedence in the Roman Catholic hierarchy immediately following the most junior Cardinal of the Church.
The Council Complete of State of the Order of Malta, whose sole function is the election of the Grand Master, is composed of the Grand Priors and representatives of the Grand Priories, professed Regents of Sub-Priories, professed Bailiffs of the Order, professed members of the Sovereign Council and twelve representatives of the forty three National Associations of the Order throughout the world.
Assisted by various officers, the Grand Master oversees the numerous international charitable activities of the Order, which now has observer status at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.