The Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House occasionally receives inquiries from individuals and organizations about its relationship to groups that refer to themselves as the “Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” including so called “Orthodox” and “Russian” “Orders of Malta,” “Priories,” “Commanderies,” and so on.

In each such instance, it is necessary to clarify that no one has the legal right to use modified names or symbols of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (hereinafter referred to as the Sovereign Order of Malta), which has a unquestionable historical and legal continuity from the moment of its founding, and which is recognized as a sovereign entity under international law, and which maintains diplomatic relations with more than 100 States around the world.

The Orthodox Russian Grand Priory was founded by Emperor Paul I in 1798 and was abolished by Emperor Alexander I in 1817. Since then no legitimate authority has reestablished it. Local attempts to revive its activities on a legal basis have not been successful, and all “Orthodox Order of St. John” organizations are illegitimate and offer a means of deception, including the trafficking in false “knighthoods.”

Unfortunately, sometimes members of ancient Russian noble families, some of whose ancestors were members of the genuine Sovereign Order of Malta, have taken part (presumably out of ignorance or carelessness) in the activities of some of these pseudo-Order of Malta organizations. This is especially regrettable because it discredits historic traditional values, and damages the good name of these ancient families and the reputations of their descendants in Russia and the world over.

Therefore, taking into account the long-standing historical and friendly relationship between the Russian Imperial House and the Sovereign Order of Malta, the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House considers it necessary to provide the following detailed clarification of the legal and historical position of the Sovereign Order of Malta over the centuries.

The birth of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta dates back to 1048, when Merchants from the ancient Marine Republic of Amalfi obtained from the Caliph of Egypt the authorisation to build a church and monastery in Jerusalem in honour of St John the Baptist and Forerunner of God. In 1070, the Order built a hospice and hospital at their monastery of St. John for pilgrims coming to the Holy Land.

In 1113, during the tenure of the first Master, Blessed Gerard, Pope Paschal II placed the Order under the aegis of the Church, granting it the right freely to elect its superiors without interference from other lay or religious authorities. By virtue of the Papal Bull, the Hospital became a lay-religious order. The second Master, Raymond du Puy, transformed the originally monastic order into a religious military order. From this point on, the Order added a military role to its previous charitable and medical functions. Its members were divided into three categories: knights engaged in the military struggle to liberate the Lord’s Sepulchre, chaplains who performed religious services, and the brethren who ministered to the needs of pilgrims, the sick, the wounded, and so on.

Gradually, the Order of St. John, which enjoyed the special patronage of the Popes of Rome, grew in fame and became a wealthy and influential organization, owning properties in many Catholic countries of Europe. After the defeat of the Crusaders and the capture of Jerusalem in 1189 by Sultan Saladin, the seat of the Order of St. John moved to Acre, then to Cyprus in 1291, and then to the island of Rhodes in 1310. The members of the Order were then called the Knights of Rhodes. They fought against the Turks but, in the end, in 1522, during the tenure of Grand Master Philippe de Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, the knights were driven from Rhodes after a long and stubborn resistance against Sultan Suleiman II.

In 1530, Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Spain, gave the islands of Malta, Comino and Gozo to the Order of St. John. Since then, the members of the Order began to be called Knights of Malta, a name they continue to be known by to this day.

During the Reformation, the Sovereign Order of Malta lost its possessions in those countries that adopted various forms of Protestantism (England, the Netherlands, and the nations of Scandinavia). But the greatest blow that fate delivered to the Sovereign Order of Malta was the loss of its citadel — the islands of Malta — and the threat to its very existence during the French Revolution and the subsequent revolutionary and Napoleonic wars in Europe. It was at this difficult moment that the Sovereign Order of Malta received life-sustaining support from the Russian Empire.

Relations between the Knights of Malta and Russia existed even before the accession to the throne of the House of Romanoff, and diplomatic ties between Russia and Order were established during the reign of Peter I the Great.

The first contact between the two was in 1697, when the courtier (stol’nik) P. A. Tolstoi visited Malta to offer his congratulations to the newly-elected Grand Master, Ramon Perellos y Roccaful. In 1698, on instructions from Tsar Peter I, the boyar B. P. Sheremetev travelled through Europe in an attempt to form an alliance of Christian states against the Ottoman Empire, visiting Pope Innocent XII; the Doge of Venice, Silvestro Valiero; and other rulers, including Ramon Perellos y Roccaful of the Sovereign Order of Malta, who twice received Sheremetev in audience. In recognition of his respect for Russia, the Grand Master presented the tsar’s emissary with a diamond encrusted insignia of the Order of Malta, and so B. P. Sheremetev became the first Russian Orthodox honorary knight of the Roman Catholic Order of Malta.

Since then, diplomatic relations between the Russian Empire and the Sovereign Order of Malta were maintained and continued to evolve. During the reign of Catherine II the Great, a military alliance was formed, though there were never at that time any directly coordinated military operations. Even so, Russian sailors trained on the Sovereign Order of Malta’s ships, and several knights of the Order volunteered to enter Russian service. Among these volunteers was the famous Count Giulio de Litta, who rose to the rank of a Russian Vice-Admiral and was awarded the Russian Order of St. George IV Class.

It was Count de Litta who led the Sovereign Order of Malta’s negotiations with Russia during the reign of Emperor Paul I, who ascended the throne after the death of his mother in 1796. Europe at that time was being rocked by war, which had broken out after the French Revolution in 1789. In 1792, the French National Convention deprived the Order of its properties inside France, which greatly depleted the Order’s resources. The knights of the Order turned to Russia for protection and patronage. In turn, the Emperor Paul I, who was enchanted by the romance of the chivalric order, became interested in the idea of creating out of the Sovereign Order of Malta an outpost of Christian civilization in Europe, which would stand in opposition to the spread of anti-Christian revolution. Filled with these lofty ideals, Paul I enthusiastically agreed to become the Order’s patron.

Originally, the idea was to create Priories in the Russian Empire to provide financial support for the Order, and to name the Russian emperor the patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta. In January 1797, a convention containing these provisions was signed.

When, in 1798, the revolutionary army of France under the command of General Napoleon Bonaparte seized the island of Malta, Emperor Paul I was extremely outraged and offended. Given these circumstances, Paul I ordered the Russian naval squadron in the Mediterranean Sea, which was commanded by Admiral St. Feodor Feodorovich Ushakov, to “act in concert with the Turks and the English against the French, who are a violent race, and who have exterminated within the boundaries of their nation the Christian Faith and all laws established by God.” In this way, there arose the paradoxical situation where the defence of the Catholic Order of Malta was taken up, at least on the level of pleas and exhortations, by Russian Orthodox, English Protestants, and Muslim Turks, the last of these being most extraordinary given the fact that the Knights of Malta had for so many centuries fought against them.

Meanwhile, the Knights of Malta deposed Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, who had been ineffective as the Grand Master of the Order, and they decided on October 27, 1798, to recognize Paul I not only as Protector of the Order, but as its 72nd Grand Master.

Strictly speaking, the election of the Orthodox and married Emperor Paul I as Grand Master of a Catholic Order, and the creation of an Orthodox Priory, contradict the Charter of the Order, which could be modified only with the approval of the Pope of Rome. These actions thus violated both the Order’s own internal laws and international law, and were only possible because of the extraordinary circumstances of a Europe that was plagued by revolution and war.

Of course, these acts were entirely legal in the Russian Empire inasmuch as the Emperor holds the Supreme Power and is the very source of law. However, in order for the Sovereign Order of Malta to be able to continue its mission in the global arena, all these decisions had to be later recognized as legal on an international level.

It is possible that, through persistent diplomatic efforts, this international recognition would have been obtained in time, if not for the tragic death of Paul I and the subsequent reversal of his policy on the Sovereign Order of Malta by his son and successor, Emperor Alexander I.

In any case, Count Giulio de Litta was unable to convince Pope Pius VI and his advisors to recognize Emperor Paul I as Grand Master. The next Pope, Pius VII, who was elected in 1800, also refused to recognize Paul I’s election as Grand Master.

Nevertheless, on November 13, 1798, Emperor Paul I accepted the position of Grand Master, and on November 29, 1798, he added the Order of Malta to the Chapter of Russian Orders of Chivalry. Moreover, the insignia of the Order became part of Russia’s State symbols and began to be depicted on the State Coat of Arms and State Seal. Paul I intended to make the title of Grand Master hereditary in his own House, and he included it in the list of his full titles as Emperor of Russia.

Both Russian Priories of the Order — the Orthodox and Catholic ones — received significant properties in Russia, the incomes from which went to supporting the Order’s various activities. With the permission of the Emperor, the knights were permitted to establish noble (that is, hereditary) commanderies, the founders of which and their heirs were required to pay a tithe to the treasury of the Order. Persons not of the required ancient noble ancestry could become honorary commanders and knights of the Order, and others of common birth could be receive as Donats.

For a short period, the Order of Malta became the most prestigious order in the Russian Empire. But on March 11, 1801, Emperor Paul I fell victim to a conspiracy and was murdered. His son, Alexander I, issued a Manifesto on March 16, 1801, in which he took on the title of Protector of the Order and gave his permission for St. Petersburg to be the “main headquarters of the Sovereign Order of Malta until such time as circumstances permit the selection of a Grand Master in accordance with its ancient statutes and decrees” [Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii, hereafter PSZ, № 17794]. The notion of a hereditary Grand Master was immediately rejected by the new Emperor. The insignia of the Order of Malta were quickly removed from the State symbols of the Russian Empire [see the Imperial decree “Concerning the use of the State Coat of Arms without the Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” in PSZ, № 19850]. In an effort to resolve the issues with the Order in Russia as quickly as possible, Emperor Alexander I insisted that, if the election of a new Grand Master could not be conducted fully in accord with the Order’s “ancient statutes and decrees,” then the Pope would decide who the next Grand Master would be. In 1803, Pope Pius VII appointed Giovanni Battista Tommasi as Grand Master. That same year, Emperor Alexander I resigned as Protector of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

On February 26, 1810, Emperor Alexander I stripped the Order of Malta of its wealth and palace in Russia [see the Imperial decree to General-Field Marshall Count N. I. Saltykov “Concerning the disposition of funds of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” in PSZ, № 24134]. In essence, it was then, in 1810, that one can consider the Russian Orthodox Priory and generally of all activity of the Sovereign Order of Malta in the Russian Empire to have ended. Later decrees concerning Emperor Paul I’s abandoned “Maltese project” merely follow up on or clarify decisions about the Order that had been made earlier.

On November 20, 1811, by a decree issued by the Senate entitled “Concerning the noble estates of family in the Commandery of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” the noble (hereditary) Commandery was abolished [see PSZ, № 24882]. On January 20, 1817, a Policy Statement by the Council of Ministers, which was approved by the Emperor, entitled “Concerning the disallowance of those who have received the Order of St. John of Jerusalem at the present time to wear said Order” [PSZ, № 26626] set forth the final terms under which the Sovereign Order of Malta would exist in the Russian Empire. Honorary knights and commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta, who had received this honour previously, would not be deprived of membership of the Order, but it was also clarified that “after the death of commanders of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, their heirs will not inherit membership in the Order and will not wear its insignia, inasmuch as the Order no longer exists in the Russian Empire.” Henceforth, the Sovereign Order of Malta was viewed in Russia as an exclusively foreign Order. Eventually, subjects of the Russian Empire who were knights of the Order of Malta “at the present time” were no longer allowed even to wear its insignia.

As for the history of the Sovereign Order of Malta subsequently, events developed in the following way:

After the death of Giovanni Battista Tommasi in 1805, the Knights of Malta attempted to elect their next Grand Master. But Giuseppe Caracciolo, who had been elected Grand Master by the knights, was not confirmed by Pope Pius VII and was therefore not recognized as Grand Master, even on a de facto level. In 1805, Pius VII appointed Innico Maria Guevara-Suardo as Lieutenant of the Order. Lieutenants, rather than Grand Masters, governed the Order until 1879, when Lieutenant Giovanni Battista Ceschi a Santa Croce was confirmed as Grand Master by Pope Leo XIII.

Attempts by the Sovereign Order of Malta to return to Malta after the collapse of Napoleonic France were unsuccessful. The island was handed over to England by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

However, despite all the blows of fate that struck it in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Sovereign Order of Malta preserved its sovereign rights and was recognized as an entity under international law by the Congresses of the Holy Alliance in Aachen (1818) and Verona (1822), and was also recognized as such in numerous other international treaties.

In the 19th century, the Order settled in Rome (in 1834, in the Magistral Palace on the Via Condotti) and came to include four Priories: Rome, Venice, Naples, and Prague.

Relations between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Russian Empire up until the revolution of 1917 were friendly and mutually respectful. Emperors Alexander I, Nicholas I, Alexander III, and Nicholas II were all Bailiffs Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Order of Malta. Emperor Alexander II was the only Russian monarch of the 19th century who was not a knight of the Order of Malta, but with his permission, his heir — Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich, the future Alexander III (in December 1875) — and then two of his other sons — Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Pavel Alexandrovich (in February 1881) — were made knights of the Order of Malta. In February 1891, with the permission of Emperor Alexander III, the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich, the future Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II, was made a Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion. In April 1896, the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was made a Dame Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion.

In accepting the title of Bailiff of the Order of Malta, the Russian Emperors wholly recognized the legitimate continuity and all the historical rights of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

After the revolution of 1917, relations between the exiled Russian Imperial House and the Order of Malta was for a time necessarily carried out through semi-official and personal correspondence and face-to-face contacts. Full and official relations were restored by H.I.H. Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, and Grand Master Angelo de Mojana di Cologna, who headed the Sovereign Order of Malta from 1962 to 1988.

In 1961, Grand Master Angelo de Mojana di Cologna revived the tradition of elevating the Heads of the Russian Imperial House to the rank of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Order of Malta. Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich accepted the title of Bailiff, and his wife, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, accepted the title Dame Grand Cross of Merit. In 1963, Grand Master Angelo de Mojana di Cologna was awarded the highest Russian order of chivalry, the Imperial Order of St. Andrew the First-Called.

In 1994, there was a symbolic exchange of honours between Grand Master Andrew Bertie, who led the Sovereign Order of Malta from 1988 to 2008, and the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, who inherited the rights and responsibilities of Head of the Russian Imperial House on the death of her father in 1992. The Grand Master became a knight of the Imperial Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, and the Grand Duchess became a Dame Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

On April 3, 2014, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and her son and heir, H.I.H. the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia, met in Rome at the Magistral Palace with Grand Master Matthew Festing, who has led the Sovereign Order of Malta since the passing of Andrew Bertie in 2008. The Grand Duchess awarded him the Imperial Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, and the Grand Master made Grand Duke George of Russia a Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion.

Of course, the cooperation between the Russian Imperial House and the Sovereign Order of Malta is not limited to ceremonial indications of mutual honor and recognition. As far back as the 1990s, the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna were able to offer substantial charitable aid to medical institutions in Russia thanks to the assistance of the Sovereign Order of Malta. Collaboration between the House of Romanoff and the Sovereign Order of Malta on a range of charitable endeavours continues to grow and evolve today.

As for the Russian Orthodox Grand Priory, it existed only for a few years and ceased entirely to exist during the reign of Emperor Alexander I. There were some residual hints in court ceremonies of a “Maltese” presence in Russia, including the red liveries at the Imperial Court and the miniature Maltese Cross worn by the graduates of the Corps des Pages academy, which was located in the Vorontsov Palace, which had been confiscated from the Order of Malta in 1810 — none of which constitutes “proof” of an on-going “hidden” or “secret” continuation of the former Orthodox Priory of the Order of Malta. Some writers who attempt to make a case for the continuation of the Order of Malta in Russia fail to distinguish between the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Malta and the Prussian Order “Pour le Mérite.” They present photographs of Emperor Alexander II wearing the “Pour le Mérite” as proof of their fantastical theories of the "continuation of the Russian Orthodox Grand Priory“—Alexander II, who was the only emperor after Paul I who was not a member of the Order of Malta!

A Public Policy Statement from the Council of Ministers, affirmed by the Emperor and dated January 20, 1817, clearly states that the Order of Malta “does not exist in Russia” [PSZ, № 26626]. However, after the revolution of 1917, there was an attempt by Russian emigrants to revive the Orthodox Chapter of the Order of Malta that had been abolished over a century earlier. Several descendants of the (formerly) hereditary noble Commanders — all members of Russian aristocratic families — sought to restore the Orthodox Russian Grand Priory, citing their desire to take “actions founded on self-denial and sacrifice.” They sought approval not from the Head of the Russian Imperial House, the Emperor-in-Exile Kirill I, and not even from the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, who was recognized as a political “leader” by a certain part of the Russian emigration, but from a member of the most junior branch of the House of Romanoff, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, who was asked to take the life-long title of “Grand Prior of Russia”, and to take steps to resurrect the “Russian Grand Priory.”

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich was favourably disposed to this undertaking, but refrained from taking the title “Grand Prior” and limited himself only to offering his patronage to the newly-formed organization. The Orthodox Priory of the Order of Malta displayed discretion, naming their association not the “Russian Grand Priory” (as they had originally proposed to do), but the “Russian Philanthropic Association of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta.” As this name implies, the members of this organization were not claiming to be “hereditary Commanders” themselves, and understood that, without the approval of the Sovereign Order of Malta, they could only become a purely memorial association of descendants of Commanders, and not themselves be Commanders of a “Orthodox Russian Grand Priory.” They did not claim to be Knights of Malta.

In 1929, the members of the “Russian Philanthropic Association of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta” worked through Baron M. Taube to attempt to “obtain the permission of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Rome to recreate the Russian branch of the said Order” [Letter of September 29, 1929, from Baron M. Taube].

In response to this request, the Secretary of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Baron Bistrem, on instructions from Grand Master Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere, in a letter dated February 13, 1932, unequivocally rejected the idea, emphasizing that members of the Sovereign Order of Malta must belong to the Roman Catholic Church.

As a historical memorial association of descendants, the “Russian Philanthropic Association of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta” had every right to exist, and it enjoyed the support of Grand Duke Andrei Wladimirovich, who became the organization’s patron after the death of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich in 1933, and later, the support of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich. The Sovereign Order of Malta itself also had a positive relationship with the descendants of Russian Orthodox Commanders of the Order, as organized as “Russian Philanthropic Association of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta.” The Secretary of the Union of Noble Descendants of Commanders, Iu. S. Rtishev, even was made a Knight of Honour and Devotion, and so became a member of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

Unfortunately, in 1973 the formerly measured and entirely reasonable position of the “Union of Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders and Knights of the Grand Priory of the Russian Order of Malta” were abandoned. Count N. A. Bobrinskii, who was living in the USA in the 1970s, formed an association called the “Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights-Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem,” and began calling himself “Grand Prior.” The Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, did not approve this action. The Grand Duke’s position did not disturb the members of this new organization, who had embarked on a completely new and arbitrary course of fiction that led them away from the historical Order of Malta. A “Protector” for this new organization was found in the person of Prince-of-the-Imperial-Blood Andrei Alexandrovich, a member of the most junior branch of the House of Romanoff who then was not on good terms with the lawful Head of the Dynasty. After his death, Prince Andrei Alexandrovich’s younger brother, Prince-of-the-Imperial-Blood Vasilii Alexandrovich, became the new “Protector.” And when Prince Vasilii died, Andrei Alexandrovich’s son, Mikhail Andreevich Romanoff (who was born of Prince Andrei’s morganatic marriage with Elisabetta von Frederici, born Princess Ruffo), became the organization’s “Protector.”

The so-called “Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights-Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem” has never had any continuity with the Orthodox Russian Grand Priory, which was abolished more than 150 years earlier by Emperor Alexander I. This alleged “revival” received no sanction from either the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, or from the Head of the Russian Imperial House. The so-called “Protectors” of this organization after its re-founding in the 1970s were not individuals who by right could have held the position of Protectors of the Order of Malta; instead, they were simply the first people who, out of a careless disregard for the historical facts, agreed to participate in this illegitimate enterprise out of ambition and the need for money.

Soon a whole gallery of exotic organizations appeared all calling themselves the “Russian Order of Malta.” At best, these were fanciful mock associations, and at worst, fraudulent societies trading in false “passports of the Sovereign Order of Malta,” false “knighthoods,” and other fraudulent “activities.” Particularly harmful have been those cases when the names and emblems of the Sovereign Order of Malta have been exploited for financial gain and political purposes, especially when dishonourable and irresponsible persons, claiming themselves to be representatives of the Order, have interfered in internal political conflicts in various countries. Unfortunately, the activities of these fraudulent “Orders of Malta” have sometimes led to ill feelings toward the genuine Sovereign Order of Malta, which has complicated its important and vast charitable activities around the globe. The Sovereign Order of Malta avoids assiduously any politicization of its activities and enjoys and deserves the respect it has earned from governments, traditional religious groups, royal dynasties, and other reputable historical institutions.

In conclusion, the following points should be emphasized:

1. The founding of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta occurred before the formal schism of the Church into the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in 1054, but all of its history and activities are connected with the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Paschal II formally recognized the Order and placed it under his protection in 1113. In this way, the Sovereign Order of Malta has always been and remains a Catholic Order. All assertions that the Order of Malta is “non-denominational” and “inter-confessional,” or that it is “Masonic” and so on, are absurd and do not stand up to scrutiny.

2. Emperor Paul I of Russia was elected to the position of Grand Master at the most critical moment in the history of the Order of Malta. He saved it from destruction and sought to make it not only an Order of Chivalry of the Russian Empire, but also an influential global force in the struggle for the values of Christian civilization that are common to Orthodox and Catholics. That election, however, never received the necessary legal confirmation on an international level. Some violations of procedures in his election (for example, the inability of a large number of electors to participate in the election, as required by the Statute of the Order) could be considered insignificant and not affecting the legitimacy of the outcome of the election, especially in view of the extreme situation in a Europe that was then being torn apart by revolution and war. Even so, the lack of any formal recognition of the legality of the election of Paul I by Pope Pius VI and Pius VII makes it impossible to consider him Grand Master de jure. He is properly honoured as the Protector of the Order and as de facto Grand Master only.

3. The Orthodox Grand Priory of Russia, and the activities of the Order of Malta inside the Russian Empire, were entirely abolished in 1817 by Emperor Alexander I, and there has not been any legitimate restoration.

4. Attempts by descendants of the Russian Orthodox Noble (hereditary) Commanders of the Order of Malta to revive the “Orthodox Grand Priory of Russia” after 1917 have not been successful. The historical memorial association that was established after the Russian Revolution was formed legitimately and for a time even enjoyed the support of the Russian Imperial House and the Sovereign Order of Malta. However, unauthorized actions by this organization in the 1970s deprived it of recognition from the House of Romanoff and the Sovereign Order of Malta.

5. All so-called “Orthodox” and other false “Orders of Malta” are, at best, a kind of childish game and, at worst, a source of fraud and political provocation. The philanthropic slogans of such organizations serve only as a cover for harmful activities. Belonging to a false order conveys no rights or duties of any sort, and certainly none of the rights or duties belonging to genuine knights of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

6. Protestant Orders of St. John (in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Great Britain) share the same historic tradition and the same mission of the Sovereign Order of Malta: giving assistance to the sick and the poor. These four orders have gained recognition by virtue of their having been instituted by the legitimate hereditary sovereigns of these nations, and by the subsequent recognition of them by the Sovereign Order of Malta. There is no possible comparison between these Protestant Orders of St. John and the clearly false “Orthodox Orders of Malta.”

7. Any person who elects to enter one of the false “Orders of Malta” or who supports any contact with them, risks becoming a victim of deception and of suffering reputation or financial loss.

All questions relating to the legitimate Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, which maintains formal and friendly relations with the Russian Imperial House, should be directed to the following address:

Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta

Magistral Palace
Via Condotti, 68 — 00187 Rome — Italy
Tel. +39.06.67581.251
Fax +39.06.6797.202
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Official Webpage:

In Russia:
Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta in the Russian Federation

ul. Volkhonka 6,
str. 1, ofis 18
119019 Moscow Russian Federation
Tel. +7 (495) 787.24.12
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A.N. Zakatov
Director of Chancellery of H.I.H.

April 30, 2014

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