Order of St. John – Knights of Malta

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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”.

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The Institution of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller (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.

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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.

Vision & Mission


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As a Knight / Dame of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem
we are committed to our Motto:

“Pro Fide – Pro Utilitate Hominum”

 

Vision:

  • 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.

 

Mission:

  • 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:

  1. To know the history and traditions of the Order.
  2. To work with dedication in Christian, Ecumenical Matters.
  3. To be aware of the need existing among fellow human beings.
  4. To be kind, open minded and obliging.
  5. To personally concentrate on ethic and moral demands so as to improve our own attitudes.
  6. To be responsible and respectful to all others.
  7. To help, relieve and comfort those who are in need.
  8. To work voluntarily for the Order in charitable and administrative duties.
  9. To be loyal, faithful and respectful to the Order.
  10. 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:

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Grand Master


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.


Grand Masters

  Name Title Period
  Gerard Tunc Founder 1087-1120
01 Raymond dePuy Master 1120-1158/60
02 Auger de Balben Master 1158/60-1162/3
03 Arnaud de Comps Master 1162/3
04 Gilbert d’Assailly Master 1163-1169/70
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
14 Guerin Lebrun Master 1231-1236
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
  Alexander I Protector 1801-1825
  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.

Empress Maria Feodorovna OstJ