What is the Order of St. John, Knights Hospitaller (Malta)?
The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller, founded in 1099 AD, is among the oldest Orders of Chivalry in existence today, the third oldest religious order, and has continuously served the sick and poor for 965 years. It is now, and has always been, considered an “Order of Malta”.
The person generally considered to have founded the hospital of St. John was Gerard (de Tenque or de Martingue) believed to be from Auvergne. He is now referred to as the “Blessed Gerard” and is credited for laying the foundation of the Order in its infancy and proposed that the brothers should organize into a constituted body, taking on the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. This proposed structure was, up until that time, unknown in the West. It was Brother Gerard who insisted that members devote themselves to the service of the sick and poor for the rest of their lives.
Subsequent Kings of Jerusalem beginning with Baldwin I in 1104 confirmed the “Brotherhood of the Hospitallers” and, in 1110, the Patriarch of Jerusalem began to accept the vows of new ‘Hospitallers’. Pope Pascal II in a Papal Bull dated February 15, 1113, Pie postulatio voluntaris, recognized the group’s statutes and approved its religious rule.
Being among the oldest religious Orders, the Rule of the Order has always been important to its members. In its early days, the papacy granted OSJ members special rights and privileges while demanding loyalty, fealty, obedience, and often military service and financial support. In recognition of its great devotion and service and, in gratitude for its valiant achievements, churches and nations of Europe and the Near East continued to grant the Order many rights, privileges and prerogatives. Over the centuries, these special grants and unique, sacred rights were formally set forth in concordats with the Vatican, the Orthodox Patriarchs, and the Church of England. More than 90 Popes as well as the sovereigns of Europe and Russia have recognized and attested to the Order’s significance and place in history.
Many of the Founder’s principles, traditions, and customs guide the organization to the present day. Thus, over the years, the character of the OSJ has remained solid as religious and civilian leaders alike contributed much to its overall character and supremacy of the Order as a Hospitaller (charitable) force in the world.
The Order’s Royal Charter and Constitution lay out its fons honorum (royal right to grant knighthood) as well as key tenets to its organizational structure. Rules of conduct regarding all members of the OSJ, the rules concerning eligibility to membership, the establishment of constituent branches, details of the insignia, and other daily operational guidelines revert to the Charter and Constitution for guidance of the generations of the Order’s knights and dames.
One cannot join the Order as one may join other charitable, philanthropic or service entities. Membership is offered strictly by invitation only. While the obligation to prove generations of aristocratic lineage is no longer required, members are invited to join the Order because they have already demonstrated through a life of service the same commitment that the original members were required to exhibit, namely: a strong Christian faith life and devotion to the well-being of their fellow man. Today’s knights and dames of the order add their names to the institutional memory of the OSJ by pledging their allegiance to the immutable principles upon which the Order was founded when taking the solemn oath of knighthood at Investiture.
Ecumenical and democratic principles guide today’s Order. The Order is open to members of all Christian faiths and its leaders are democratically elected. The OSJ ascribes to the United Nations’ Universal Rights of Man and has universally equality and fair treatment for who are admitted to membership.
The OSJ enjoys excellent relations with the U.N. and several governments, the European Commission and NATO. These relationships have greatly facilitated the distribution of humanitarian aid secured by OSJ members and their supporters.
As a Knight / Dame of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem
we are committed to our Motto:
“Pro Fide – Pro Utilitate Hominum”
- To be known in our local society and church community as The Humanitarian Organisation, having the ability, the competence and the commitment to work for people in need.
- To be known as a Christian Ecumenical Order with roots deep into the history of knighthood, which have given us the inspiration to work as an Order in modern times adjusted to the society of today.
- To unify under the Constitution of King Peter II. of Yugoslavia all Units and Orders which, because of historical fragmentations, are now separated from one another.
- To create that common front, which will make the Order recognizable all over the world.
- To ensure fundamental values, such as a Christian lifestyle, loyalty to the Order, compassion and charity to others.
- To work on our projects with dedication so as to ensure results of a high standard..
- To make the white Maltese Cross known as the symbol of our historical Christian roots.
- To continue to work for unifying separate Units and Orders under the Constitution of King Peter II.
- To work for homogeneity in mantle, insignia and ceremonies whilst respecting cultural diversity.
- To encourage and ensure a humble attitude for all work done for the Order and for its motto and not for fulfilling personal ambitions.
Codex of Knighthood:
- To know the history and traditions of the Order.
- To work with dedication in Christian, Ecumenical Matters.
- To be aware of the need existing among fellow human beings.
- To be kind, open minded and obliging.
- To personally concentrate on ethic and moral demands so as to improve our own attitudes.
- To be responsible and respectful to all others.
- To help, relieve and comfort those who are in need.
- To work voluntarily for the Order in charitable and administrative duties.
- To be loyal, faithful and respectful to the Order.
- To live a Christian lifestyle and to feel honoured for having the privilege of wearing the white Maltese Cross.
World Head Quarters of Order of St. John in Valleta:
The person elected to fill the Office of the Grand Master is the foremost personality and leader in the Order. A longstanding principle of the OSJ is that its Grand Master is primus inter pares (first among equals).
The incumbent is nominated to Office by the Bailiffs of the Order who receive nominations from the Order’s Grand Priors and Priors.
The process of obtaining recommendations from the Grand Priories and Priories involves discussions with all members within their jurisdictions in a meeting called the Chapter General. The nominations are then considered by the Sovereign Council, which accepts or rejects the nominees. It is in the Sovereign Council that the Grand Master of the Order is elected for life by a majority vote of two-thirds as specified in the Constitution of 1964.
The Office of Grand Master carries many and varied responsibilities that are specified in the Constitution. Since 1099, there have been 74 Grand Masters of the OSJ.
|02||Auger de Balben||Master||1158/60-1162/3|
|03||Arnaud de Comps||Master||1162/3|
|05||Gaston de Murols||Master||1170-1172|
|06||Joubert of Syria||Master||1172-1177|
|07||Roger de Moulins||Master||1177-1187|
|08||Garnier de Naplous||Master||1189/90-1192|
|09||Geoffrey de Donjon||Master||1192/3-1202|
|10||Alphonse de Portugal||Master||1202-1206|
|11||Geoffroy le Rat||Master||1206-1207|
|12||Garin de Montaigu||Master||1207-1227/8|
|13||Bertrand de Thessy||Master||1228-1231|
|15||Bertrand de Comps||Master||1236-1239/40|
|16||Pierre de Vieille-Brioude||Master||1239/40-1242|
|17||Guillaume de Chateauneuf||Master||1242-1258|
|18||Hugues de Revel||Grand Master||1258-1277|
|19||Nicolas Lorgne||Grand Master||1277/8-1284|
|20||Jean de Villiers||Grand Master||1285-1293/4|
|21||Odon de Pins||Grand Master||1294-1296|
|22||Guillaume de Villaret||Grand Master||1296-1305|
|23||Foulques de Villaret||Grand Master||1305-1319|
|24||Helion de Villeneuve||Grand Master||1319-1346|
|25||Dieudonne de Gozon||Grand Master||1346-1353|
|26||Pierre de Corneillan||Grand Master||1353-1355|
|27||Roger de Pins||Grand Master||1355-1365|
|28||Raymond Berenger||Grand Master||1365-1374|
|29||Robert de Juilliac||Grand Master||1374-1377|
|30||Jean Fernandez de Heredia||Grand Master||1377-1383|
|31||Ricardo Caracciolo||Grand Master||1383-1395|
|32||Philibert de Naillac||Grand Master||1396-1421|
|33||Antoine Fluvian de la Riviere||Grand Master||1421-1437|
|34||Jean de Lastic||Grand Master||1437-1454|
|35||Jacques de Milly||Grand Master||1454-1461|
|36||Pierre Raymond Zacosta||Grand Master||1461-1467|
|37||Jean-Baptiste Orsini||Grand Master||1467-1476|
|38||Pierre d’Aubusson, Cardinal||Grand Master||1476-1503|
|39||Emery d’Amboise dit Chaumont||Grand Master||1503-1512|
|40||Guy de Blanchefort||Grand Master||1512-1513|
|41||Fabrice del Carretto||Grand Master||1513-1521|
|42||Philippe Villiers de l’Isle-Adam||Grand Master||1521-1534|
|43||Pierre del Ponte||Grand Master||1534-1535|
|44||Didier de Saint-Jaille||Grand Master||1535-1536|
|45||Jean de Homedes y Coscon||Grand Master||1536-1553|
|46||Claude de la Sengle||Grand Master||1553-1557|
|47||Jean Parisot de Valette||Grand Master||1557-1568|
|48||Pietro Ciocchi del Monte San Savino||Grand Master||1568-1572|
|49||Jean l’Evesque de la Cassiére||Grand Master||1572-1582|
|50||Hugues Loubenx de Verdale, Cardinal||Grand Master||1582-1595|
|51||Martin Garzes||Grand Master||1595-1601|
|52||Alof de Wignacourt||Grand Master||1601-1622|
|53||Luis Mendes de Vasconcellos||Grand Master||1622-1623|
|54||Antoine de Paule||Grand Master||1623-1636|
|55||Jean-Baptiste Lascaris de Castellar||Grand Master||1636-1657|
|56||Martin de Redin y Cruzat||Grand Master||1657-1660|
|57||Annet de Clermont de Chattes Gessan||Grand Master||1660|
|58||Rafael Cotoner y de Oleza||Grand Master||1660-1663|
|59||Nicholas Cotoner y de Oleza||Grand Master||1663-1680|
|60||Gregorio Carafa della Roccella||Grand Master||1680-1690|
|61||Adrien de Wignacourt||Grand Master||1690-1697|
|62||Ramon Perellos y Rocafull||Grand Master||1697-1720|
|63||Marcantonio Zondadari||Grand Master||1720-1722|
|64||Antonio Manoel de Vilhena||Grand Master||1722-1736|
|65||Ramon Despuig y Martinez de Marcilla||Grand Master||1736-1741|
|66||Manuel Pinto de Fonseca||Grand Master||1741-1773|
|67||Francisco Ximenez de Texada||Grand Master||1773-1775|
|68||Emmanuel de Rohan de Polduc||Grand Master||1775-1797|
|69||Ferdinand Von Hompesch zu Bolheim||Grand Master||1797-1798|
|70||Paul I Emperor of Russia||Grand Master||1798- 1801|
|Bailiff Count Nicholas Soltykoff||Lt Grand Master||1801-1803|
|Nicholas I of Russia||Protector||1825-1855|
|Alexander II of Russia||Protector||1855-1881|
|Alexander III of Russia||Protector||1881-1894|
|Nicholas II of Russia||Protector||1894-1917|
|71||Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch||Grand Master||1913-1933|
|Colonel William Sohier Bryant||Lt Grand Master||1933-1951|
|Baron de Engelhardt-Schellenstein||Lt Grand Master||1951-1955|
|Count Frederick H. Graf von Zeppelin||Lt Grand Master||1955-1960|
|Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac||Lt Grand Master||1960-1962|
|72||Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac||Grand Master||1962-1964|
|73||King Peter II of Yugoslavia||Grand Master||1964-1970|
|Prince Serge S. Troubetzkoy||Lt Grand Master||1969-1977|
|74||Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia||Grand Master||1977-1990|
|Grand Commander Victor Xuereb||Regency||1990-1999|
|Bailiff Victor Xuereb||Lt Grand Master||1999-2007|
|Bailiff Michel Bohé||Lt Grand Master||2007-2015|
|Bailiff Peter Gabrielsen OSJ||Lt Grand Master||2015-|
The office of Grand Master remained vacant after the death of Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia in 1990.