On that date, the primary European Powers (including Great Britain, who was currently in possession of the islands) signed the Treaty which, among other things, recognized the “status quo ante” of the Maltese islands.  Their independence and sovereignty on the part of the order were established (v. article X, paragraphs 1,2,3,6,7 and article XXI) with some conditions: perpetual neutrality, independence, sovereignty, recognition of the Maltese language, and the election of the successive Grand Master upon the Knights’ return to Malta after the withdrawal of the English troops at the behest of Alexander I.

The Treaty, though ratified, was never applied. Nor was it ever revoked.  From this may be made the logical and juridical conclusion that the Treaty is still at the base of the rights of the Order, since a non-executed right (in this case sovereignty and possession) on the part of the holder of such right, independent of his volition, does not determine its forfeiture.

With the seat of the Order remaining in St. Petersburg, the czars continued to oversee the Order. Nicholas I ordered the restoration of the two chapels (Catholic and Orthodox) in the Palais de Malte in the city. During their reigns, Alexander II and Alexander III confirmed the right of the Order to use the insignia of the Hereditary Knights (among whom were the Troubetzkoys). At the funeral of Alexander II in March of 1881, the crown of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem was placed in a prominent position of great honour. Czar Nicholas II authorized numerous members of his family to accept the office of Bailiff of the Grand Cross and also authorized the Corps des Pages to bear the octagonal cross of the Order.

In the meantime, the few Knights remaining in Italy under the protection of the Pope united under the direction of Giovanni Battista Tommasi, who nominated himself as their Grand Master. He had obtained the backing of Pope Pius VII, who wanted to create an exclusively Catholic Order (hereafter referred to as SMOM) under his leadership. This nomination and consequent claim of direct descent from the original Order was not recognized during this period (e.g. in the Treaty of Amiens). Thus, it may be legitimately stated that Tommasi was not the 71st Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem – as the Church claimed he was in order to affirm the direct descendence of the original Order. He was, instead, the 1st Grand Master of the newly created Military Order (whose history is not of interest to the present text).

Historically, the SMOM may not consider itself anything other than a chivalrous organization reserved exclusively for Catholics. It is different from the ecumenical character of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem – the Knights of Malta – who had even had as its leader the Orthodox and married czar Paul I. The SMOM is a chivalrous organization created by the Catholic Church and successively recognized as autonomous in its own decisions. It has no historical-juridical connection with the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem – the Knights of Malta.


<< Indietro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Avanti >>

Order Of The Knights Of Saint John Of Jerusalem - OSJ

Privacy Policy - Cookie Policy