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The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta ( it, Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rodi e di Malta; la, Supremus Militaris Ordo Hospitalarius Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani Rhodiensis et Melitensis), commonly known as the Order of Malta, Malta Order or Knights of Malta, is a
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
lay religious order, traditionally of a
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...
,
chivalric Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is an informal and varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220. It was associated with the medieval Christian institution of knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title A title is o ...
and noble nature. Though it possesses no territory, the order is a
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
entity of international law and maintains
diplomatic relations Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, negotiation, and other nonviolent means. Diplomacy usually refers to international relations carried out through the int ...
with many countries. SMOM claims continuity with the
Knights Hospitaller The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem ( la, Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller (), was a medieval and early modern Catholic The Catholic Church, ...

Knights Hospitaller
, a
chivalric order An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It ...
that was founded by the
Blessed Gerard The Blessed Gerard (c. 1040 – 3 September 1120) was a lay brother in the Benedictine order The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monast ...
in the
Kingdom of Jerusalem The Kingdom of Jerusalem ( la, Regnum Hierosolymitanum; fro, Roiaume de Jherusalem; Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middl ...
. The order is led by an elected Prince and Grand Master. Its
motto A motto (derived from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...

motto
is ''Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum'' (''defence of the faith and assistance to the poor''). The order venerates the
Virgin Mary According to the gospels Gospel originally meant the Christian message, but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set out; in this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrat ...
as its
patroness Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows on another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings, popes, and the wealthy have provided to artists su ...
, under the
title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
of
Our Lady of Philermos Our Lady of Philermos (also ''Phileremos, Philerme, Filerimos''; el, Εικόνα της Υπεραγίας Θεοτόκου της Φιλερήμου, russian: Филермская икона Божией Матери) is a Byzantine icon of the T ...
. Its modern-day role is largely focused on providing humanitarian assistance and assisting with international humanitarian relations, for which purpose it has had permanent observer status at the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
General Assembly A general assembly or general meeting is a meeting of all the members of an organization or shareholders of a company. Specific examples of general assembly include: Churches * General Assembly (presbyterian church), the highest court of presbyt ...
since 1994.United Nations General Assembly, Session 48, Resolution 265, Observer status for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in the General Assembly
, accessed 24 February 2017


Name and insignia

The order has a large number of local priories and associations around the world, but there also exist a number of organizations with similar-sounding names that are unrelated, including numerous fraudulent (self-styled) orders seeking to capitalize on the name. In the
ecclesiastical heraldry Ecclesiastical heraldry refers to the use of heraldry within the Christian Church for dioceses and Christianity, Christian clergy. Initially used to mark documents, ecclesiology, ecclesiastical heraldry evolved as a system for identifying people ...
of the Catholic Church, the Order of Malta is one of only two orders (along with the
Order of the Holy Sepulchre Order, ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness, a desire for organization * Categorization, the process in which ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated, and understood * Heterarchy, a system of organization wherein the elements have ...

Order of the Holy Sepulchre
) whose insignia may be displayed in a clerical
coat of arms#REDIRECT coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldry, heraldic communication design, visual design on an escutcheon (heraldry), escutcheon (i.e., shield), surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the fu ...

coat of arms
. (Laypersons have no such restriction.) The shield is surrounded with a silver
rosary The Holy Rosary (; la, , in the sense of "crown of roses" or "garland of roses"), also known as the Dominican Rosary, or simply the Rosary, refers to a set of prayers Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport ...

rosary
for professed knights, or for others the ribbon of their rank. Some members may also display the
Maltese cross The Maltese cross is a cross symbol, consisting of four " V" or arrowhead An arrowhead or point is the usually sharpened and hardened tip of an arrow, which contributes majority of the projectile mass and is responsible for impacting and penetr ...

Maltese cross
behind their shield instead of the ribbon. In order to protect its heritage against fraud, the order has legally registered 16 versions of its names and emblems in some 100 countries.


History of the Order of Saint John


Summary

The headquarters of the Order of Saint John or the Knights Hospitaller was located in Malta from 1530 until 1798. It was technically a vassal of the
Kingdom of Sicily Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. L ...

Kingdom of Sicily
, holding Malta in exchange for a nominal fee, but declared independence in 1753. The Order of Saint John was expelled from Malta under the French occupation in 1798 and, from 1805 to 1812, many of its possessions in
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
Europe were confiscated, resulting in the fragmentation of the order into a number of Protestant branches, since 1961 united under the umbrella of the
Alliance of the Orders of Saint John of Jerusalem The Alliance of the Orders of Saint John of Jerusalem is a federation of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria ...
. The
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) w ...

Congress of Vienna
of 1815 confirmed the loss of Malta. The seat of the order was moved to
Ferrara Ferrara (, ; egl, Fràra ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenance of local roads and ...

Ferrara
in 1826 and to Rome in 1834, the interior of Palazzo Malta being considered
extraterritorial In international law, extraterritoriality is the state of being exempted from the jurisdiction of local law, usually as the result of diplomatic negotiations. Historically, this primarily applied to individuals, as jurisdiction was usually clai ...
sovereign territory of the order. The grand priories of Lombardy-Venetia and of Sicily were restored from 1839 to 1841. The office of Grand Master was restored by
Pope Leo XIII Pope Leo XIII ( it, Leone XIII; born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci; 2 March 1810 – 20 July 1903) was the head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death in 1903. He was the oldest pope (living till the age of 93), w ...

Pope Leo XIII
in 1879, after a vacancy of 75 years, confirming Giovanni Battista Ceschi a Santa Croce as the first Grand Master of the restored Order of Malta. The
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
was established as a subject of international law in the
Lateran Treaty The Lateran Treaty ( it, Patti Lateranensi; la, Pacta Lateranensia) was one component of the Lateran Pacts of 1929, agreements between the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state that existed from 1861—whe ...
of 1929. In the following decades, the connection between the Holy See and the Order of Malta was seen as so close as to call into question the actual sovereignty of the order as a separate entity. This has prompted constitutional changes on the part of the Order, which were implemented in 1997. Since then, the Order has been widely recognized as a sovereign subject of international law in its own right. It maintains diplomatic relations with 110 states, enters into treaties and issues its own passports, coins and postage stamps. Its two headquarters buildings in Rome enjoy extraterritoriality , similar to embassies, and it maintains embassies in other countries. The ANSA news agency has called it "the smallest sovereign state in the world". The three principal officers are counted as citizens. Although SMOM has been a United Nations General Assembly observer since 1994, this was granted in view of its "long-standing dedication ..in providing humanitarian assistance and its special role in international humanitarian relations"; the same category is held by other non-state entities such as the
International Olympic Committee The International Olympic Committee (IOC; french: Comité international olympique, ''CIO'') is a non-governmental sports organisation based in Lausanne , neighboring_municipalities= Bottens Bottens is a municipalities of Switzerland, m ...
and
International Committee of the Red Cross The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC; french: Comité international de la Croix-Rouge) is a humanitarian organization An aid agency, also known as development charity, is an organization dedicated to distributing aid In int ...
. The Order has 13,500 Knights, Dames and auxiliary members. A few dozen of these are professed
religious Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...
. Until the 1990s, the highest classes of membership, including officers, required proof of noble lineage. More recently, a path was created for Knights and Dames of the lowest class (of whom proof of aristocratic lineage is not required) to be specially elevated to the highest class, making them eligible for office in the order. The order employs about 42,000 doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and
paramedic A paramedic is a health care professional whose primary role is to provide advanced for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency medical system. Not all ambulance personnel are paramedics. In English-speaking countries, there ...

paramedic
s assisted by 80,000 volunteers in more than 120 countries, assisting children, homeless, handicapped, elderly, and
terminally ill Terminal illness or end-stage disease is a disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or syst ...
people, refugees, and
lepers Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is a long-term infection by the bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain ...

lepers
around the world without distinction of ethnicity or religion. Through its worldwide relief corps,
Malteser International Malteser International is an international non-governmental aid agency for humanitarian aid Humanitarian aid is material and logistic assistance to people who need help. It is usually short-term help until the long-term help by the governmen ...

Malteser International
, the order aids victims of
natural disaster A natural disaster is a major adverse event An adverse event (AE) is any untoward medical occurrence in a patient or clinical investigation subject administered a pharmaceutical product and which does not necessarily have a causal relations ...
s, epidemics and war. In several countries, including France, Germany and Ireland, local associations of the order are important providers of
medical emergency A medical emergency is an acute Acute may refer to: Science and technology * Acute angle ** Acute triangle ** Acute, a leaf shape in the glossary of leaf morphology#acute, glossary of leaf morphology * Acute (medicine), a disease that it is o ...

medical emergency
services and training. Its annual budget is on the order of 1.5 billion euros, largely funded by European governments, the United Nations and the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, foundations and public donors.


Founding

The birth of the Knights Hospitaller dates back to around 1048. Merchants from the ancient Marine Republic of Amalfi obtained from the Caliph of Egypt the authorisation to build a church, convent, and hospital in Jerusalem, to care for pilgrims of any religious faith or race. The Order of St. John of Jerusalem – the monastic community that ran the hospital for the pilgrims in the Holy Land – became independent under the guidance of its founder, the religious brother
Gerard Gerard is a masculine forename of Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germanic origin, variations of which exist in many Germanic and Romance languages. Like many other Germanic name, early Germanic names, it is dithematic, consisting of two meaningfu ...
. With the
Papal bull A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by a pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the leaden Seal (emblem), seal (''bulla (seal), bulla'') that was traditionally appended to the end in order to auth ...
'''' dated 15 February 1113,
Pope Paschal II Pope Paschal II ( la, Paschalis II; 1050  1055 – 21 January 1118), born Ranierius, was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1. ...

Pope Paschal II
approved the foundation of the Hospital and placed it under the aegis of the Holy See, granting it the right to freely elect its superiors without interference from other secular or religious authorities. By virtue of the Papal Bull, the hospital became an order exempt from the control of the local church. All the Knights were religious, bound by the three monastic vows of
poverty, chastity and obedience In Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose coming as the was in the (cal ...
. The constitution of the Christian
Kingdom of Jerusalem The Kingdom of Jerusalem ( la, Regnum Hierosolymitanum; fro, Roiaume de Jherusalem; Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middl ...
during the
Crusades The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The term refers especially to the Eastern Mediterranean campaigns in the period between 1095 and 1271 that h ...

Crusades
obliged the order to take on the military defence of the sick, the pilgrims, and the captured territories. The order thus added the task of defending the faith to that of its hospitaller mission. As time went on, the order adopted the white, eight-pointed Cross that is still its symbol today. The eight points represent the eight beatitudes that Jesus pronounced in his
Sermon on the Mount The Sermon on the Mount (anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or ...
.


Cyprus

When the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land fell after the
Siege of AcreSiege of Acre may refer to: *Siege of Acre (1104), following the First Crusade *Siege of Acre (1189–1191), during the Third Crusade *Siege of Acre (1263), Baibars#Campaign against the Crusaders, Baibars laid siege to the Crusader city, but abandon ...
in 1291, the order settled first in
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
.


Rhodes

In 1310, led by Grand Master Fra'
Foulques de Villaret 250px, Imaginary portrait of Foulques de Villaret by Eugène Goyet, c. 1843. ''Salle des Croisades'', Versailles.">Salle_des_Croisades.html" ;"title="Eugène Goyet, c. 1843. ''Salle des Croisades">Eugène Goyet, c. 1843. ''Salle des Croisades'', Ve ...
, the knights regrouped on the island of
Rhodes Rhodes (; el, Ρόδος, translit=Ródos ) is the largest of the Dodecanese The Dodecanese (, ; el, Δωδεκάνησα, ''Dodekánisa'' , literally "twelve islands") are a group of 15 larger plus 150 smaller Greek#REDIRECT Greek Gre ...

Rhodes
. From there, the defense of the Christian world required the organization of a naval force; so the Order built a powerful fleet and sailed the eastern Mediterranean, fighting battles for the sake of Christendom, including Crusades in
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
. In the early 14th century, the institutions of the Order and the knights who came to Rhodes from every corner of Europe were grouped according to the languages they spoke. The first seven such groups, or ''Langues'' (Tongues) – from
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, ...

Provence
,
Auvergne Auvergne (; ; oc, label=Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, a ...

Auvergne
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
,
Aragon Aragon ( or , Spanish and an, Aragón , ca, Aragó ) is an autonomous community In Spain, an autonomous community ( es, comunidad autónoma) is a first-level political divisions of Spain, political and administrative division, created in acc ...

Aragon
(
Navarre Navarre (; es, Navarra ; eu, Nafarroa ), officially the Chartered Community of Navarre ( es, Comunidad Foral de Navarra, links=no ; eu, Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea, links=no ), is a Fuero, foral autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous co ...

Navarre
),
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
(with
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
and
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
), and
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
– became eight in 1492, when Castile and
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
were separated from the ''Langue'' of Aragon. Each ''Langue'' included
Priories A priory is a monastery of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or nuns (such as the Dominican Order, Dominicans, Augustinian Hermits, Augustinians, Franciscans, an ...
or Grand Priories,
Bailiwick A bailiwick () is usually the area of jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from ...
s, and Commanderies. The Order was governed by its Grand Master, the Prince of Rhodes, and its Council. From its beginning, independence from other nations granted by pontifical charter and the universally recognised right to maintain and deploy armed forces constituted grounds for the international sovereignty of the Order, which minted its own coins and maintained diplomatic relations with other states. The senior positions of the Order were given to representatives of different ''Langues''. In 1523, after six months of siege and fierce combat against the fleet and army of Sultan
Suleiman the Magnificent Suleiman I ( ota, سليمان اول, Süleyman-ı Evvel; tr, I. Süleyman; 6 November 14946 September 1566), commonly known as Suleiman the Magnificent in the West and Suleiman the Lawgiver ( ota, قانونى سلطان سليمان, Ḳā ...

Suleiman the Magnificent
, the Knights were forced to surrender, and left Rhodes with military honours.


Malta (Kingdom of Sicily)

The order remained without a territory of its own until 1530, when Grand Master Fra' Philippe de Villiers de l'Isle Adam took possession of the island of
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
, granted to the order by Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, french: Charles Quint, it, Carlo V, nl, Karel V, ca, Carles V, la, Carolus V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( ...

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
and his mother Queen
Joanna of Castile Joanna I (6 November 1479 – 12 April 1555), historically known as Joanna the Mad ( es, link=no, Juana la Loca), was ''nominal'' Queen of Castile from 1504 to 1555. She was married by arrangement to Philip the Handsome, Archduke of Austria o ...

Joanna of Castile
as monarchs of Sicily, with the approval of
Pope Clement VII Pope Clement VII (; ; born Giulio de' Medici; 26 May 1478 – 25 September 1534) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion bapt ...
, for which the order had to honour the conditions of the
Tribute of the Maltese Falcon The Grand Master of the Order of St John of Jerusalem had to pay an annual tribute Objects in the "Apadana" reliefs at Persepolis: armlets, bowls, and ''amphorae'' with griffin handles are given as tribute.">amphorae.html" ;"title="Persepolis ...
.


Protestant Reformation

The
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Cit ...
which split Western Europe into
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
and
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
states affected the knights as well. In several countries, including England, Scotland and
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
, the order was dissolved. In others, including the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
and Germany, entire bailiwicks or commanderies (administrative divisions of the order) experienced religious conversions; these " Johanniter orders" survive in Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden and many other countries, including the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
and
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
. It was established that the order should remain neutral in any war between Christian nations.


Colonies in the Caribbean

From 1651 to 1665, the Order of Saint John ruled four islands in the Caribbean. On 21 May 1651 it acquired the islands of
Saint Barthélemy Saint Barthélemy (french: Saint-Barthélemy, ), officially the , is an overseas collectivity The French overseas collectivities (''collectivité d'outre-mer The French overseas collectivities ('' collectivité d'outre-mer'' or ''COM ...
,
Saint Christopher Saint Christopher ( el, Ἅγιος Χριστόφορος, ''Ágios Christóforos'') is veneration, venerated by several Christianity, Christian denominations as a martyr killed in the reign of the 3rd-century Roman Empire, Roman emperor Decius ...
,
Saint Croix Saint Croix; nl, Sint-Kruis; french: link=no, Sainte-Croix; Danish and no, Sankt Croix, Taino: ''Ay Ay'' ( , ) is an island in the Caribbean Sea, and a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands The United St ...
and
Saint MartinSaint Martin may refer to: People * Saint Martin of Tours (c. 316–397), Bishop of Tours, France * Saint Martin of Braga (c. 520–580), archbishop of Bracara Augusta in Gallaecia (now Braga in Portugal) * Pope Martin I (598–655) * Saint Martin ...
. These were purchased from the French
Compagnie des Îles de l'AmériqueThe Company of the American Islands (french: Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique) was a French chartered company that in 1635 took over the administration of the French portion Saint-Christophe island from Compagnie de Saint-Christophe which was the o ...
which had just been dissolved. In 1665, the four islands were sold to the
French West India CompanyThe French West India Company (french: Compagnie française des Indes occidentales) was a French trading company founded on 28 May 1664, some 3 months before the foundation of its eastern company, by Jean-Baptiste Colbert Jean-Baptiste Colbert (; 2 ...
.


Great siege of Malta

In 1565, the Knights, led by Grand Master Fra' Jean de Vallette (after whom the capital of Malta,
Valletta Valletta (, mt, il-Belt Valletta, ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the gover ...

Valletta
, was named), defended the island for more than three months during the Great Siege by the
Ottomans The Ottoman Turks or Osmanlı Turks ( tr, Osmanlı Türkleri), were the Turkic people The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups of Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, North Asia, North and West Asia as well as parts of Europe an ...
.


Battle of Lepanto

The fleet of the order contributed to the ultimate destruction of the Ottoman naval power in the
Battle of Lepanto The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic states arranged by Pope Pius V Pope Pius V (17 January 1504 – 1 May 1572), born Antonio Ghislie ...

Battle of Lepanto
in 1571, led by
John of Austria John of Austria ( es, Juan, german: Johann; 24 February 1547 – 1 October 1578) was an son of . He became a military leader in the service of his half-brother, , and is best known for his role as the admiral of the Holy Alliance fleet at th ...

John of Austria
, half brother of King
Philip II of Spain Philip II) in Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption ...

Philip II of Spain
.


French occupation of Malta

Their
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
stronghold of Malta was captured by the
French First Republic In the history of France, the First Republic (French: ''Première République''), officially the French Republic (''République française''), was founded on 21 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the dec ...
under
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
in 1798 during his expedition to Egypt, following the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
and the subsequent
French Revolutionary Wars The French Revolutionary Wars (french: Guerres de la Révolution française) were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted French First Republic, France against Gr ...
. Napoleon demanded from
Grand Master Grandmaster or Grand Master may refer to: People * Grandmaster Flash, Joseph Saddler (born 1958), hip-hop musician and disc jockey * Grandmaster Melle Mel, Melvin Glover (born 1961), hip-hop musician * "Grandmaster Sexay", nickname for profession ...
Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim that his ships be allowed to enter the port and to take on water and supplies. The Grand Master replied that only two foreign ships could be allowed to enter the port at a time. Bonaparte, aware that such a procedure would take a very long time and would leave his forces vulnerable to British Admiral
Horatio Nelson Vice-admiral (Royal Navy), Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805), also known simply as Admiral Nelson, was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy. His inspirational ...
, immediately ordered a cannon fusillade against Malta. The French soldiers disembarked in Malta at seven points on the morning of 11 June and attacked. After several hours of fierce fighting, the Maltese in the west were forced to surrender. Napoleon opened negotiations with the fortress capital of Valletta. Faced with vastly superior French forces and the loss of western Malta, the Grand Master negotiated a surrender to the invasion. Hompesch left Malta for Trieste on 18 June. He resigned as Grand Master on 6 July 1799. The knights were dispersed, though the order continued to exist in a diminished form and negotiated with European governments for a return to power as part of the agreement between France and Holy Roman Empire during the
German mediatisation German mediatisation (; german: deutsche Mediatisierung) was the major territorial restructuring that took place between 1802 and 1814 in Germany and the surrounding region by means of the mass mediatisation and secularisation of a large number ...
. The Russian Emperor, Paul I, gave the largest number of knights shelter in
Saint Petersburg Saint Petersburg ( rus, links=no, Санкт-Петербург, a=Ru-Sankt Peterburg Leningrad Petrograd Piter.ogg, r=Sankt-Peterburg, p=ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk), formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), ...

Saint Petersburg
, an action which gave rise to the
Russian tradition of the Knights Hospitaller The Russian tradition of the Knights Hospitaller The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem ( la, Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller (), the Knights of Rhodes, ...
and the Order's recognition among the Russian Imperial Orders. The refugee knights in Saint Petersburg proceeded to elect Tsar Paul as their Grand Master – a rival to Grand Master von Hompesch until the latter's abdication left Paul as the sole Grand Master. Grand Master Paul I created, in addition to the Roman Catholic Grand Priory, a "Russian Grand Priory" of no fewer than 118 Commanderies, dwarfing the rest of the Order and open to all Christians. Paul's election as Grand Master was, however, never ratified under Roman Catholic canon law, and he was the ''de facto'' rather than ''
de jure In law and government, ''de jure'' ( ; , "by law") describes practices that are legally recognized, regardless of whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, ("in fact") describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally ...
'' Grand Master of the Order. By the early 19th century, the order had been severely weakened by the loss of its priories throughout Europe. Only 10% of the order's income came from traditional sources in Europe, with the remaining 90% being generated by the Russian Grand Priory until 1810. This was partly reflected in the government of the Order being under Lieutenants, rather than Grand Masters, in the period 1805 to 1879, when
Pope Leo XIII Pope Leo XIII ( it, Leone XIII; born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci; 2 March 1810 – 20 July 1903) was the head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death in 1903. He was the oldest pope (living till the age of 93), w ...

Pope Leo XIII
restored a Grand Master to the order. This signaled the renewal of the order's fortunes as a humanitarian and religious organization. On 19 September 1806, the
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...

Swedish
government offered the sovereignty of the island of
Gotland Gotland (, ; ''Gutland'' in the local dialect), also historically spelled Gottland or Gothland (), is Sweden's largest island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habita ...
to the Order. The offer was rejected since it would have meant the Order renouncing their claim to Malta.


Exile

The French forces occupying Malta expelled the Knights Hospitaller from the country. During the seventeen years that separated the seizure of Malta and the General Peace, "the formality of electing a brother Chief to discharge the office of
Grand Master Grandmaster or Grand Master may refer to: People * Grandmaster Flash, Joseph Saddler (born 1958), hip-hop musician and disc jockey * Grandmaster Melle Mel, Melvin Glover (born 1961), hip-hop musician * "Grandmaster Sexay", nickname for profession ...
, and thus to preserve the vitality of the Sovereign Institute, was duty attended to". The office of Lieutenant of the Magistery and ''
ad interim The Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it ...
'' of
Grand Master Grandmaster or Grand Master may refer to: People * Grandmaster Flash, Joseph Saddler (born 1958), hip-hop musician and disc jockey * Grandmaster Melle Mel, Melvin Glover (born 1961), hip-hop musician * "Grandmaster Sexay", nickname for profession ...
was held by the Grand Baillies Field Marshal Counto Soltikoff, Giovanni Tommasi, De Gaevera, Giovanni y Centelles, De Candida and the Count Colloredo. Their mandates complexively covered the period until the death of the
Emperor Paul Paul I (russian: Па́вел I Петро́вич; ''Pavel I Petrovich'') ( – ) was Emperor of Russia from 1796 until his assassination. Officially, he was the only son of Peter III of Russia, Peter III and Catherine the Great, although Cather ...
in 1801. The paper cited the ''Synoptical Sketch'' as the best source available for the subject matter. The text was identically repeated i
''The Freemasons' Monthly Magazine''
18 April 1863, p. 3.
The
Treaty of Amiens The Treaty of Amiens (French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily l ...
(1802) obliged the United Kingdom to evacuate Malta which was to be restored to a recreated Order of St. John, whose sovereignty was to be guaranteed by all of the major European powers, to be determined at the final peace. However, this was not to be because objections to the treaty quickly grew in the UK. Bonaparte's rejection of a British offer involving a ten-year lease of Malta prompted the reactivation of the British blockade of the French coast; Britain declared war on France on 18 May. The 1802 treaty was never implemented. The UK gave its official reasons for resuming hostilities as France's imperialist policies in the West Indies, Italy, and Switzerland.


History of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

After having temporarily resided in Messina, Catania, and Ferrara, in 1834 the precursor of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta settled definitively in Rome, where it owns, with
extraterritorial In international law, extraterritoriality is the state of being exempted from the jurisdiction of local law, usually as the result of diplomatic negotiations. Historically, this primarily applied to individuals, as jurisdiction was usually clai ...
status, the Magistral Palace in Via Condotti 68 and the Magistral Villa on the
Aventine Hill The Aventine Hill (; la, Collis Aventinus; it, Aventino ) is one of the Seven Hills on which ancient Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legend ...
. The original hospitaller mission became the main activity of the order, growing ever stronger during the 20th century, most especially because of the contribution of the activities carried out by the Grand Priories and National Associations in many countries around the world. Large-scale hospitaller and charitable activities were carried out during World Wars I and II under Grand Master Fra'
Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere Fra' Ludovico Chigi della Rovere-Albani (10 July 1866 – 14 November 1951) was Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order ...
(1931–1951). Under the Grand Masters Fra'
Angelo de Mojana di Cologna Fra' Angelo de Mojana di Cologna (13 August 1905, Milan, Italy Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city in Italy after Rome. Milan served ...
(1962–88) and Fra'
Andrew Bertie Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie (15 May 1929 – 7 February 2008) was Prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is ...
(1988–2008), the projects expanded.


Relations with the Republic of Malta

Two bilateral treaties were concluded with the
Republic of Malta Malta (, ; in Maltese: ; Italian: ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta) and formerly Melita, is a Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern subregion of Europe Europe is a continent ...
. The first treaty is dated 21 June 1991 and is now no longer in force. The second treaty was signed on 5 December 1998 and ratified on 1 November 2001. This agreement grants the Order the use with limited extraterritoriality of the upper portion of in the city of
Birgu Birgu ( mt, Il-Birgu , it, Vittoriosa), also known by its title Città Vittoriosa ("''Victorious City''"), is an old fortified A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, ...

Birgu
. Its stated purpose is "to give the Order the opportunity to be better enabled to carry out its humanitarian activities as Knights Hospitallers from Saint Angelo, as well as to better define the legal status of Saint Angelo subject to the sovereignty of Malta over it". The agreement has a duration of 99 years, but the document allows the Maltese Government to terminate it at any time after 50 years. Under the terms of the agreement, the flag of Malta is to be flown together with the flag of the Order in a prominent position over Saint Angelo. No asylum may be granted by the Order and generally the Maltese courts have full jurisdiction and Maltese law shall apply. The second bilateral treaty mentions a number of immunities and privileges, none of which appeared in the earlier treaty.


2010s

In February 2013, the order celebrated the 900th anniversary of its papal recognition with a general audience with
Pope Benedict XVI Pope Benedict XVI ( la, Benedictus XVI; it, Benedetto XVI; german: Benedikt XVI.; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, , on 16 April 1927) is a retired prelate A prelate () is a high-ranking member of the clergy Clergy are formal leader ...

Pope Benedict XVI
and a Mass celebrated by Cardinal
Tarcisio Bertone Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone (born 2 December 1934) is an Italian prelate and a Vatican diplomat. A Cardinal (Catholicism), cardinal of the Catholic Church, he served as Archbishop of Vercelli from 1991 to 1995, as Secretary of the Congregati ...

Tarcisio Bertone
in
Saint Peter's Basilica The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican ( it, Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano), or simply Saint Peter's Basilica ( la, Basilica Sancti Petri), is a Church (building), church built in the Renaissance architecture, Renaissanc ...

Saint Peter's Basilica
.


Crisis and constitutional reform

The Order experienced a leadership crisis beginning in December 2016, when
Albrecht von Boeselager Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager (born 4 October 1949) is a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see ...
protested his removal as Grand Chancellor by Grand Master
Matthew Festing Robert Matthew Festing (born 30 November 1949) served as Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Je ...
. In January 2017
Pope Francis Pope Francis ( la, Franciscus; it, Francesco; es, link=, Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State since 2013. Francis is the first pope to be a member ...

Pope Francis
ordered von Boeselager reinstated and required Festing's resignation. Francis also named Archbishop as his personal representative to the Order – sidelining the Order's Cardinal Patron Raymond Burke – until the election of a new Grand Master. The pope effectively taking control over the Order was seen by some as a break with tradition and the Order's independence. In May 2017, the Order named Mauro Bertero Gutiérrez, a Bolivian member of the Government Council, to lead its constitutional reform process. And in May 2018 when a new Grand Master was elected, Francis extended Becciu's mandate indefinitely. In June 2017, in a departure from tradition, the leadership of the Order wore
informal attire Informal wear, also called business wear, corporate/office wear, tenue de ville and (colloquially) dress clothes, is a Western dress code Western dress codes are dress codes in Western culture about what clothes are worn for what occasion. Cla ...
rather than
formal wear Formal wear or full dress is the Western dress code Western dress codes are dress codes in Western culture about what clothes are worn for what occasion. Classifications are divided into formal wear (''full dress''), semi-formal wear (''hal ...
full dress uniform Full dress uniform, also known as a ceremonial dress uniform or parade dress uniform, is the most formal wear, formal type of uniforms used by military, police, firefighter, fire and other public uniformed services for official parade (military) ...
s to their annual papal audience. When the Order's General Chapter met in May 2019, as it does every five years, the participants included women for the first time, three of the 62 participants. On 1 November 2020, Pope Francis named Silvano Tomasi to replace Becciu as his Special Delegate to the Order, reiterating the responsibilities of that office as his sole representative.


Organisation


Governance

The proceedings of the Order are governed by its Constitutional
Charter A charter is the grant of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social scie ...
and the Order's Code. It is divided internationally into six territorial Grand Priories, six Sub-Priories and 47 national associations. The six Grand Priories are: * Grand Priory of Rome * Grand Priory of Lombardy and Venice * Grand Priory of Naples and Sicily * Grand Priory of Bohemia * Grand Priory of Austria * Grand Priory of England The supreme head of the Order is the Prince and Grand Master, who is elected for life by the Council Complete of State, holds the precedence of a
cardinal Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Christianity * Cardinal (Catholic Church), a senior official of the Catholic Church * Cardinal (Church of England), two members of the College of Minor Canons of St. Paul's Cathedral Navigation * Cardina ...
of the Church since 1630 and received the rank of
Prince of the Holy Roman Empire Prince of the Holy Roman Empire ( la, princeps imperii, german: Reichsfürst, cf. ''Fürst ' (, female form ', plural '; from Old High German ', "the first", a translation of the Latin ') is a German language, German word for a ruler and is ...
in 1607. Fra'
Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto Friar, Fra' Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto (9 December 1944 – 29 April 2020) was the 80th List of Princes and Grand Masters of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of ...
was elected 80th Grand Master on 2 May 2018, a year after Fra'
Matthew Festing Robert Matthew Festing (born 30 November 1949) served as Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Je ...
resigned as Grand Master at the insistence of
Pope Francis Pope Francis ( la, Franciscus; it, Francesco; es, link=, Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State since 2013. Francis is the first pope to be a member ...

Pope Francis
. Electors in the Council Complete of State include the members of the Sovereign Council, other office-holders and representatives of the members of the Order. The Grand Master is aided by the Sovereign Council (the government of the Order), which is elected by the Chapter General, the legislative body of the Order. The Chapter General meets every five years; at each meeting, all seats of the Sovereign Council are up for election. The Sovereign Council includes six members and four High Officers: the Grand Commander, the Grand Chancellor, the Grand Hospitaller and the Receiver of the Common Treasure. The Grand Commander is the chief religious officer of the Order and serves as Lieutenant "ad interim" during a vacancy in the office of Grand Master. The Grand Chancellor, whose office includes those of the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the head of the executive branch; he is responsible for the Diplomatic Missions of the Order and relations with the national Associations. The Grand Hospitaller's responsibilities include the offices of Minister for Humanitarian Action and Minister for International Cooperation; he coordinates the Order's humanitarian and charitable activities. Finally, the Receiver of the Common Treasure is the Minister of Finance and Budget; he directs the administration of the finances and property of the Order.


Patrons of the order since 1961

The patron, who is either a
cardinal Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Christianity * Cardinal (Catholic Church), a senior official of the Catholic Church * Cardinal (Church of England), two members of the College of Minor Canons of St. Paul's Cathedral Navigation * Cardina ...
when appointed by the pope or soon raised to that rank, promotes the spiritual interests of the Order and its members, and its relations with the Holy See. # Paolo Giobbe (8 August 1961 – 3 July 1969) # Giacomo Violardo (3 July 1969 – 17 March 1978) # Paul-Pierre Philippe, O.P. (10 November 1978 – 9 April 1984) #
Sebastiano Baggio Sebastiano Baggio (16 May 1913 – 22 March 1993) was an Italian cardinal (Catholicism), cardinal, often thought to be a likely candidate for election to the Papacy, and the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State in 1984 an ...
(26 May 1984 – 21 March 1993) #
Pio Laghi Pio Laghi (21 May 1922 – 10 January 2009) was an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a ...
(8 May 1993 – 11 January 2009) #
Paolo Sardi Paolo Sardi (1 September 1934 – 13 July 2019) was an Italian Cardinal (Catholicism), cardinal of the Catholic Church who spent his career in the Roman Curia. He was patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta from 2009 to 2014. Early life a ...
(6 June 2009 – 8 November 2014) # Raymond Burke (8 November 2014 – present; sidelined since 2017)


Prelate of the order

The pope appoints the prelate of the order to supervise the clergy of the order, choosing from among three candidates proposed by the Grand Master. On 4 July 2015
Pope Francis Pope Francis ( la, Franciscus; it, Francesco; es, link=, Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State since 2013. Francis is the first pope to be a member ...

Pope Francis
named as prelate Bishop Jean Laffitte, who had held various offices in the
Roman Curia The Roman Curia ( la, Romana Curia ministerium suum implent) comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdi ...
for more than a decade. Laffitte succeeded Archbishop Angelo Acerbi, who had held the office since 2001. Laffitte's appointment followed the traditional meeting between the pope and the Grand Master, and an audience with the Grand Chancellor and others as well, held on 24 June, the feast of St. John the Baptist.


Membership

Membership in the order is divided into three classes each of which is subdivided into several categories: * First Class, containing only one category: ''
Knights of JusticeThe Knights of Justice form the first of the three classes of members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta together with the professed conventual chaplains. They make vows of Evangelical counsels, poverty, chastity, and obedience. "They are Catho ...
'' or ''Professed Knights'', and the ''Professed Conventual Chaplains'', who take
religious vows Religious vows are the public vows A vow ( Lat. ''votum'', vow, promise; see vote Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate, in order to make a collective decision or express an opinion usually following discussi ...
of poverty, chastity, and obedience and form what amounts to a religious order. Until the 1990s membership in this class was restricted to members of families with noble lineages. There are also three surviving enclosed monasteries of nuns of the Order, two in Spain that date from the 11/12th centuries and one in Malta, whose members hold the same rank in the Order as chaplains. * Second Class: '' Knight and Dames in Obedience'', similarly restricted until recently, these knights and dames make a promise, rather than a vow, of obedience. This class is subdivided into three categories, namely that of ''Knight and Dames of Honour and Devotion in Obedience'', ''Knight and Dames of Grace and Devotion in Obedience'', and ''Knight and Dames of Magistral Grace in Obedience''. * Third Class, which is subdivided into six categories: ''Knights and Dames of Honour and Devotion'', ''Conventual Chaplains ad honorem'', ''Knights and Dames of Grace and Devotion'', ''Magistral Chaplains'', ''Knights and Dames of Magistral Grace'', and ''Donats (male and female) of Devotion.'' All categories of this class are made up of members who take no vows and who grew to show a decreasingly extensive history of nobility. Knights and Dames of magistral grace need not prove any noble lineage and are the most common class of knights in the United States, where titles of nobility are not granted and the focus is upon "nobility of spirit and conduct." Within each class and category of knights are ranks ranging from bailiff grand cross (the highest) through knight grand cross, and knight – thus one could be a "knight of grace and devotion," or a "bailiff grand cross of justice." The final rank of ''donat'' is offered to some who join the order in the class of "justice" but who are not knights. Bishops and priests are generally honorary members, or knights, of the Order of Malta. However, there are some priests who are full members of the Order, and this is usually because they were conferred knighthood prior to ordination. The priests of the Order of Malta are ranked as Honorary Canons, as in the Order of the Holy Sepulchre; and they are entitled to wear the black mozetta with purple piping and purple fascia. Prior to the 1990s, all officers of the Order had to be of noble birth (i.e.,
armiger In heraldry Heraldry () is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology Vexillology () is the study of the history, symbolism and usage ...
ous for at least a hundred years), as they were all knights of justice or of obedience. However, Knights of Magistral Grace (i.e., those without noble proofs) now may make the Promise of Obedience and, at the discretion of the Grand Master and Sovereign Council, may enter the
novitiate The novitiate, also called the noviciate, is the period of training and preparation that a Christian ''novice A novice is a person who has entered a religious order and is under probation, before taking vows. A ''novice'' can also refer to a ...
to become professed Knights of Justice. Worldwide, there are over 13,000 knights and dames, of whom approximately 55 are professed religious. Membership in the Order is by invitation only and solicitations are not entertained. The Order's finances are audited by a Board of Auditors, which includes a President and four Councillors, all elected by the Chapter General. The Order's judicial powers are exercised by a group of Magistral Courts, whose judges are appointed by the Grand Master and Sovereign Council.


Relationship with other mutually-recognised Orders of Saint John

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta has collaborated with other mutually-recognized Orders of Saint John; for example, the SMOM is a major donor of the Saint John Eye Hospital Group, St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem, which is primarily operated by the Venerable Order of Saint John.


International status

SMOM has formal diplomatic relations with 112 states (including the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
) and has official relations with another five states and Sovereign Military Order of Malta–European Union relations, with the European Union. Additionally it has relations with the
International Committee of the Red Cross The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC; french: Comité international de la Croix-Rouge) is a humanitarian organization An aid agency, also known as development charity, is an organization dedicated to distributing aid In int ...
and a number of international organizations, including United Nations General Assembly observers#Other entities, observer status at the UN and some of the List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agencies. Its international nature is useful in enabling it to pursue its humanitarian activities without being seen as an operative of any particular nation. Its sovereignty is also expressed in the issuance of Sovereign Military Order of Malta passport, passports, licence plates, stamps, and coins. With its unique history and unusual present circumstances, the exact status of the Order in international law has been the subject of debate. It describes itself as a "sovereign subject of international law." Its two headquarters in Rome – the Palazzo Malta in Via dei Condotti 68, where the Grand Master resides and Government Bodies meet, and the Villa del Priorato di Malta on the Aventine Hill, Aventine, which hosts the Grand Priory of Rome – on the island of Malta, the Embassy of the Order to
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
, and the Embassy of the Order to Italy have all been granted extraterritoriality by Italy and Malta. Unlike the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
, however, which is sovereign over Vatican City and thus has clear territorial separation of its sovereign area and that of Italy, SMOM has had no territory since the loss of the island of Malta in 1798, other than only those current properties with extraterritoriality listed above. Italy recognizes, in addition to extraterritoriality, the exercise by SMOM of all the prerogatives of sovereignty in its headquarters. Therefore, Italian sovereignty and SMOM sovereignty uniquely coexist without overlapping. The United Nations does not classify it as a "non-member state" or "intergovernmental organization" but as one of the "other United Nations General Assembly observers, entities having received a standing invitation to participate as observers." For instance, while the International Telecommunication Union has granted radio identification prefixes to such quasi-sovereign jurisdictions as the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority, SMOM has never received one. For awards purposes, amateur radio operators consider SMOM to be a separate "entity", but stations transmitting from there use an entirely unofficial callsign, starting with the prefix "1A". The SMOM has neither sought nor been granted a top-level domain or Country calling code, international dialing code. There are differing opinions as to whether a claim to sovereign status has been recognized. Ian Brownlie, Helmut Steinberger, and :de:Wilhelm Wengler, Wilhelm Wengler are among experts who say that the claim has not been recognized. Even taking into account the Order's ambassadorial diplomatic status among many nations, a claim to sovereign status is sometimes rejected. The Order maintains List of diplomatic missions of Sovereign Military Order of Malta, diplomatic missions around the world and many of the states reciprocate by List of diplomatic missions to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, accrediting ambassadors to the Order (usually their ambassador to the Holy See). Wengler – a German professor of international law – addresses this point in his book ''Völkerrecht'' (1964), and rejects the notion that recognition of the Order by some states can make it a subject of international law. Conversely, professor Rebecca Wallace – writing more recently in her book ''International Law'' (1986) – explains that a sovereign entity does not have to be a country, and that SMOM is an example of this. This position appears to be supported by the number of nations extending diplomatic relations to the Order, which more than doubled from 49 to 100 in the 20-year period to 2008. In 1953, the Holy See decreed that the Order of Malta's quality as a sovereign institution is functional, to ensure the achievement of its purposes in the world, and that as a subject of international law, it enjoys certain powers, but not the entire set of powers of sovereignty "in the full sense of the word." On 24 June 1961, Pope John XXIII approved the Constitutional Charter, which contains the most solemn reaffirmations of the sovereignty of the Order. Article 1 affirms that "the Order is a legal entity formally approved by the Holy See. It has the quality of a subject of international law." Article 3 states that "the intimate connection existing between the two qualities of a religious order and a sovereign order do not oppose the autonomy of the order in the exercise of its sovereignty and prerogatives inherent to it as a subject of international law in relation to States."


Currency and postage stamps

The SMOM coins are appreciated more for their subject matter than for their use as currency; SMOM postage stamps, however, have been gaining acceptance among Universal Postal Union member nations. The SMOM began issuing euro-denominated postage stamps in 2005, although the Maltese scudo, scudo remains the official currency of the SMOM. Also in 2005, the Italian post agreed with the SMOM to deliver internationally most classes of mail other than registered, insured, and special-delivery mail; additionally 56 countries recognize SMOM stamps for franking purposes, including those such as Canada and Mongolia that lack diplomatic relations with the Order.


Military Corps

The Order states that it was the hospitaller role that enabled the Order to survive the end of the crusading era; nonetheless, it retains its military title and traditions. On 26 March 1876, the Association of the Italian Knights of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (''Associazione dei cavalieri italiani del sovrano militare ordine di Malta'', ACISMOM) reformed the Order's military to a modern military unit of the era. This unit provided medical support to the Italian Army and on 9 April 1909 the military corps officially became a special auxiliary volunteer corps of the Italian Army under the name ''Corpo Militare dell'Esercito dell'ACISMOM'' (Army Military Corps of the ACISMOM), wearing Italian uniforms. Since then the Military Corps have operated with the Italian Army both in wartime and peacetime in medical or paramedical military functions, and in ceremonial functions for the Order, such as standing guard around the coffins of high officers of the Order before and during funeral rites.


Air force

In 1947, after the post-World War II peace treaty forbade Italy to own or operate bomber aircraft and only operate a limited number of transport aircraft, the Italian Air Force opted to transfer some of its Savoia-Marchetti SM.82 aircraft to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, pending the definition of their exact status (the SM.82 were properly long range transport aircraft that could be adapted for bombing missions). These aircraft were operated by Italian Air Force personnel temporarily flying for the Order, carried the Order's roundels on the fuselage and Italian ones on the wings, and were used mainly for standard Italian Air Force training and transport missions but also for some humanitarian tasks proper of the Order of Malta (like the transport of sick pilgrims to the Lourdes sanctuary). In the early 1950s, when the strictures of the peace treaty had been much relaxed by the Allied authorities, the aircraft returned under full control of the Italian Air Force. One of the aircraft transferred to the Order of Malta, still with the Order's fuselage roundels, is preserved in the Italian Air Force Museum.


Logistics

The Military Corps has become known in mainland Europe for its operation of hospital trains, a service which was carried out intensively during both World Wars. The Military Corps still operates a modern 28-car hospital train with 192 hospital beds, serviced by a medical staff of 38 medics and paramedics provided by the Order and a technical staff provided by the Italian Army's Railway Engineer Regiment (Italy), Railway Engineer Regiment.


Orders, decorations, and medals

* Order pro Merito Melitensi


See also

*
Knights Hospitaller The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem ( la, Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller (), was a medieval and early modern Catholic The Catholic Church, ...

Knights Hospitaller
* Territorial possessions of the Knights Hospitaller * Order of Malta Ambulance Corps (Ireland)


Notes


References


Further reading

* * * Henry Sire, Colonna, Marcantonio, ''The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy'', Washington DC, Regnery Publishing, 2017–2018. * * * Patrick Levaye, ''Géopolitique du Catholicisme'' (Éditions Ellipses, 2007) . * * * Riley-Smith, Jonathan, ''The Atlas of the Crusades''. Facts on File, Oxford (1991). * * *


External links

*
Constitution of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

Permanent Observer Mission of the Order of Malta to the United Nations, IAEA and CTBTO in Vienna

Permanent Observer Mission of the Order of Malta to the United Nations in New York
* List of Italian knights of the Order of Malta from 1136 to 1713
Elenco dei cavaleri del S.M.Ordine di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme by Francesco Bonazzi (Napoli 1897)
* List of Italian knights of the Order of Malta from 1714 to 1907
Elenco dei cavaleri del S.M.Ordine di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme by Francesco Bonazzi (Napoli 1907)
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