THE SOVEREIGN ORDER OF THE KNIGHTS OF SAINT JOHN OF JERUSALEM AND OF MALTA OSJ
A NATION WITH NO TERRITORY
The three elements that constitute a nation state are: Sovereignty, Population and Territory. The Order of Saint John of Jerusalem – Knights of Malta O.S.J. is indubitably its own state to all intents and purposes and as such is a nation recognized by other nations, by the United Nations and other International Organizations, despite not possessing territory at this present time.
However, it was not always this way: in its time the Order of the Knights of Malta OSJ possessed its own territory and its Sovereignty was bestowed upon it by the Emperor Charles V.
Since the times of the Crusades the Order of the Knights of Malta OSJ became composed no longer solely of Hospitallers, but of Cavaliers in arms in the defense of pilgrims and was organized as a state with its own Ministers and Councilors. In 1104 Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, recognized the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem OSJ as an International Organization; in 1113 Pope Paschal II sanctioned its Constitution.
With the dismantling of the Knights Templar in 1291, the Seat was transferred first to Cyprus from 1292 to 1310, then to Rhodes from 1311 to 1523, and finally to Malta, the islands which the Order received by Order of Emperor Charles V, along with Sovereignty over said islands.
The Knights of the Order of Malta OSJ remained on the islands of Malta until 1798 when the islands became occupied by Napoleon.
Following the occupation, the majority of the Knights took refuge in St. Petersburg and the Czar Paul I, now protector of the Order, accepted his new status as its Grand Master. In the meantime the Order had entered into the international spotlight, obtaining important recognition thereby confirming its Sovereignty. In 1794 the Order had sanctioned a treaty of alliance and reciprocal recognition with the United States of America represented by the future President Monroe; in Amiens in 1802 a peace treaty was signed between the Order and the European Powers which further decreed that the Order should indeed have been returned to Malta and additionally this same treaty foresaw and established the perpetual Neautrality, Liberty, Independence and Sovereignty of the Order.
In practice, in this way the Order of the Knights of Malta OSJ maintained all of its prerogatives and privileges of Sovereignty even though it remained, in status, without territory. From this year (1803) until 1890 the Order went immediately into the hands of Protectors designated by the Czar, since his nomination of Grand Master had been subordinated by the Treaty of Amiens upon the return to Malta.
Making use of the situation, on February 9th 1803 the Papacy created its own Military Sovereign Order (SMOM) which was none other than a Papal Order, often confusing above all for having the long-standing pretext of being the direct descendent of the Order of Saint John although in reality it is not by any means.
Following the Russian Revolution, the Order OSJ transferred itself for restructuring in the United States of America and the Grand Duke Alexander Mikailovitch, direct descendent of the Czar Paul I, was nominated the 71st Grand Master.
Finally, in 1976, the Seat of the Order was returned to Malta, where the Grand Priory of Malta was rebuilt. In the meantime, in February of 1961 it was granted acceptance to the United Nations thanks to the intervention of His Excellence Charles Habib Malik who was at the time Knight and Secretary of the State of the Order as well as the President of the UN and Minister of the Exterior of Lebanon.
The Council of the Order was led by Colonel Charles L. Thourot Pichel while H.R.H. Prince Don Roberto Paternò Castello of Carcaci, direct descendent of the Aragonese dynasty, succeeded Crolian William Edelen de Burgh as the new Grand Master.
H.R.H. Don Roberto Paternò Castello of Carcaci succeeded H.R.H. the Royal Prince Don Thorbjorn Paternò Castello of Carcaci in the role of Grand Master, who initiated the amendment and revision of the ancient statutes of the Constitution and the current Government of the Order which extended its presence in the world arena, particularly regarding Territories in the Middle East and Eastern Europe from which the Order of Malta traces its roots and origins.
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