Source: National Library, Malta. Arch 2196. 1798.
Pages 77-85. English
Translation: The Association of the Russia Grand
Priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Tiziana Ferri. Amendments by:
The Reverend Michael Foster. © The
Reverend Michael Foster 1997.
To his Eminence and Sacred Council.
THE treaty, so joyfully drawn up between our Sacred Order and His Majesty, Emperor of all Russias had, not only our Sacred Order, but the entire world as an admiring audience of the prompt and honourable justice with which His Imperial Majesty responded to the requests, which our Sacred Order humbly placed at the foot of His throne, of reintegrating us in the enjoyment of His Rights over the Goods of the Order of Ostrog which passed under His dominion with the division of Poland.
They also admired His generosity and munificence well suited to the greatness of His spirit, with which He dealt with this Sacred Order, granting it more than double its requests, and finally above all shone the singular benevolence of this Great Monarch towards our Order, whilst in order to reassure him against the unfortunate events which are currently afflicting him, He deigned to assure several times our Venerable Ambassador that He would be his Protector and supporter, and so as to reawaken in the all the States of the World that consideration which the correct impartiality of our institute so justly deserved, there is no kind of honour that was not heaped upon him. But the magnanimous actions of this August Monarch did not cease here, knowing full well of the very serious losses incurred by the Order, which must have caused Him such anguish as to imperil His existence, He did not wish to defer by an instant providing the most prompt and effective assistance which on top of that provided by the founding of the Priory for the Catholic Nobility in His state, and with the limitless capacity for raising funds conceded to the Nobility of the same Priory which will not be inconsiderable, and will benefit the Common Treasury with very advantageous conditions, the very Zealous and Venerable Ambassador desired the Benefice. His Majesty provided us with another very great aid and saw to its increase by calling upon all the Greek Nobility of His Vast States, without altering our Constitution, our method or our internal regime. Seconding, therefore, to His Imperial Majesty all the general votes of the entire Greek Nobility of His vast Dominions, in order to have the Decoration of our Cross, which in that Empire has acquired a new lustre and in order to keep alive this tie for all future time.
He made our Sacred Order another considerable donation of 200 thousand Roubles annually, on top of the rights established in favour of the Common Treasury, the endowment awarded to our Sacred Hospital, for the defense of the Island and for the maintenance of these fortifications, He wished that the remainder be divided into 84 pensions, that these be known as Commanderies and would be issued by the Ministry of the Order to those of the Greek Nobility who fulfilled the necessary requirements, notably those of proof of Nobility in the form which shall be prescribed, payment into the Common Treasury of the corresponding passage fee, and also whatever may appear in the Plan drawn up by the Venerable Bailli, Ambassador to the Plenipotentiaries of His Imperial Majesty. The Plan will clearly reveal to this Sacred Council, that our Constitution remains completely unaltered, even more so its Fundamental Maxims, and its perfect neutrality towards all Christian Sovereigns and States, our ancient system and Regime remains unchanged, and it can actually be truthfully said that this new establishment is in substance an aggregation of Crosses of Devotion, of which there are examples for the whole period that these have been awarded to Persons of Cults other than Ours, and in fact the Venerable Ambassador having communicated his Plan to Monsignor Archbishop of Thebes, His Holiness' Ambassador to His Imperial Majesty, who confirmed on receipt that it was compatible with our principles.
Reading of this said plan will reveal to your Eminence and this Sacred Council the considerable advantages it brings to our Common Treasury, however we consider it our duty to outline here a summary. The Sovereign Intent of His Imperial Majesty is that such a donation will take effect from the first of July of this year and that on the 21 of December a donation of 100 thousand Roubles be made to the Common Treasury. The 84 new Commanders will immediately have to pay their passage, fixed at 1200 Roubles each, which brings a total of 100,800 Roubles, and the other 84 Knights destined to succeed them to the Commanderies will only pay half of their passage which amounts to 50,400 Roubles, the three sums amounting to a total of 251,200 Roubles, which the Sacred Order will receive in full next December. It is understood that those 84 Knights destined to take over the Commanderies, who will now only pay half their passage, will have to pay in full in order to acquire them. From the first of January of next year the Common Treasury will begin to enjoy the yearly income from the Sureties at 25% over each Commandery, which in total bring a sum of 41,350 Roubles, and another 10 thousand Roubles earmarked for the Sacred Hospital, and the other 10 thousand Roubles destined for the defense of the Island and maintenance of the Fortifications which make the considerable total of 61,350 Roubles annually, independent of passage fees, Rights of Nobility, which cannot be calculated until several years later.
There will also be another annual income fixed by the Sureties, for the foundation of which His Imperial Majesty gave ample licence, and the bonus they will bring will be a subject for much consideration, reassuring the Venerable Ambassador that there will be more than a few similar Foundations, the example of the Sovereign having inspired in all the Nobility a sincere attachment to Our Order, and an ardent fervour for its robes.
Reflecting now upon this truly great Generosity which the Beneficent Monarch has already shown and will show to Our Order, one can but see the Hand of God at work, who in the midst of all the bitter troubles which afflict us, having seen fall under attack the properties which were bought with so much sweat and blood spilt by our Seniors in the service of Christianity, reassures so greatly our spirits with the powerful protection of such a Monarch, and all the imminent obligations that this entails, and however much good we can see in this it is very difficult for us to express it, and certain that the entire Order is of the same sentiment, we join ourselves with it in asking your Eminence to act as our interpreter to His Imperial Majesty and to present as homage from the entire Order, our ardent prayers that He may not cease, now or in the future, to turn to the Most High for His continuing prosperity, and that of His August Family and happy Country.
The superior zeal with which the Venerable Ambassador Bailli Count of Litta worked for the best interests of the Mother House during these very important negotiations, and the intelligence with which he carried them out, the remarkable circumstances of not having incurred the minimal expense to ourselves but acquiring considerable profit on our behalf, must not be left unknown to your Eminence and this Sacred Council. We are certain his Superiors' appreciation would be deemed by him sufficient reward, but we take the liberty of adding, that as the circumstances of this Order do not allow this Act to be accompanied by a proportionate demonstration, we estimate that at the least he could be presented with a Diamond Cross such as to be found in the Conservatory of Your Eminence's choice, in the meantime, with the profoundest respect,