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The subject index / Maltese Order

Maltese Order

Categories / Religion. Church/Reigious Organizations

MALTESE ORDER (the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Johnnits, hospitaliers, knights of Rodos), a monastic knightly order. It was named after the hospital (travelers’ home) in Jerusalem. At the time of the first crusade the brotherhood of hospitaliers was transformed into a monastic order, and the eight-point cross became its emblem. In 1310, the order conquered the island of Rodos, in 1530, the knights landed on Malta, which became their refuge and gave the name to the order. In 1697, Malta was visited by the tsar's servant P. A. Tolstoy, and in 1698 the knights were visited by B. P. Sheremetev, diplomatic relations between Malta and Russia were established in 1770. At that time Russian officers were sent to Malta with a purpose of studying "naval art", and gain "experience in naval science" with the knights. D. Lotta then came to Russia, later becoming a Russian citizen. During the reign of Emperor Pavel I the Convention between Russia and the Maltese order on the foundation of the branch of the Order in Russia was signed on 4 January 1797. Pavel I set up the Russian priorate with ten knight commanders selected from representatives of the noblest families. Many knights moved to Russia from Malta and other European countries. The Vorontsov Palace, where the architect J. Quarenghi built the Maltese chapel, was presented to the order in 1797-1800. The hospital for aged members of the order was built on Kamenny Island and the Cemetery with the Church of the Nativity of John the Baptist was arranged; the Palace of the Priorate was erected in Gatchina. On 10 September 1798, Emperor Pavel I took the Maltese order under his patronage, and in November he honoured himself with the title of the Great Grandmaster. Pope Pius VII confirmed Pavel I in his new role. Russia became the official centre of the Maltese order, and St. Petersburg became the residence of the Grandmaster. In 1798-99, relics of the Maltese order were transferred to St. Petersburg, among them the hand of St. John the Baptist, the Icon of Our Lady of Filermo and a part of the Life-Giving Cross. In the architecture of Mikhailovsky Castle one can see the motif of the palace being the residence of not only the Emperor, but of the grandmaster as well. From 10 August 1799, the Maltese cross was included in the emblem of the Russian empire (the bronze emblem of this pattern was placed on the central wall of the main staircase of Mikhailovsky Castle). During Pavel I’s reign, the Maltese Cross was awarded for military chivalry (instead of the order of St. George, abolished by Pavel). Three "Maltese" thrones of Pavel I have survived to this day; they are kept in the Hermitage, in the Gatchina Palace and in the Armoury in Moscow. The crown of the grandmaster of the Maltese order which belonged to Pavel I is exhibited in the Armoury. After the death of Pavel I (1801) Emperor Alexander I kept the title of the protector of the Maltese order until 1803. By the decree of 18 April 1801, the symbol of the Maltese Order was excluded from the state emblem, and the title of the Grandmaster was excluded from the imperial title. On 26 February, 1810 the finances of the Maltese order were transferred to the Imperial treasury, on 20 November 1817, the Russian priories were abolished, and the Russian subjects were forbidden to bear Maltese crosses. The administration of the Maltese order moved to Rome. At the beginning of the 20th century symbols of the Maltese order were used as an emblem of the Page Corps (housed in Vorontsov Palace) and of the military units formed at the time of Pavel I. In 1913, the Grand Prince Alexander Mikhailovich set up "The Russian Orthodox Order of St. John" (since October 1917, the Order has been abroad).

Reference: Перминов П. В. Под сенью восьмиконечного креста: (Мальтийский орден и его связи с Россией). М., 1991; Император Павел Первый и орден Св. Иоанна Иерусалимского в России: Сб. ст. СПб., 1995; Мальтийский орден в России. СПб., 1998.

N. L. Korsakova.

Alexander I, Emperor
Alexander Mikhailovich, Grand Prince
Lotta D.
Paul (Pavel) I, Emperor
Pius VII, the Pope
Quarenghi Giacomo
Sheremetev Boris Petrovich, Count
Tolstoy Peter Andreevich, Count

Перминов П. В. Под сенью восьмиконечного креста: (Мальтийский орден и его связи с Россией). М., 1991
Император Павел Первый и орден Св. Иоанна Иерусалимского в России: Сб. ст. СПб., 1995
Мальтийский орден в России. СПб., 1998

The subject Index
Vorontsov Palace
Maltese Chapel
Nativity of St. John the Baptist Church
Prioratsky Palace (Gatchina)
Mikhailovsky Castle
Page Corps
Page Corps


Maltese Chapel

MALTESE CHAPEL, Maltese Chapel of St. John the Baptist located at 26 Sadovaya Street. An architectural monument of the Classicist style. Designed in 1797-1800, (architect G

Nativity of St. John the Baptist Church

NATIVITY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH, located at 7 Kamennoostrovsky Avenue. An architectural monument, built on Kamenny Island in 1776-78. The construction of a red brick church in Neo-Gothic style by architect Y. M

Vorontsov Palace

VORONTSOV'S PALACE (26 Sadovaya Street), monument of Baroque architecture. Built in 1749-57 (architect F. Rastrelli) for Count M.I. Vorontsov (see Vorontsov Family)