The Decree of the order's sacred Council seeking
the appointment of a new Grandmaster.
Source: Boisgelin, Louis De, Knight of Malta, ANCIENT AND MODERN MALTA, G & J Robinson, London, 1804, Volume 3, Book 3, Appendix No XXI
DECREE OF The SACRED COUNCIL of the Sovereign Order of ST JOHN of JERUSALEM.
IN order to contribute as soon as possible to the restoring of a grand-master
and the primitive constitution to the order of St. John of Jerusalem, the
sovereign council of the said order, in the meeting of the 22d of June, 1801,
has enquired into the form of a convocation of a general chapter, and finds
that the statutes are as follow on that subject:
"A general chapter must consist of the grand-master, the bishop of Malta, the prior of the church, the conventual bailiffs or pilliers of the languages, the grand-priors or capitular bailiffs who have a decisive vote, a solicitor for the knights of each language, and a solicitor for the commanders of each priory."
The sovereign council, in consideration that all the elements of a general chapter are dispersed, and knowing that, in the present situation of things, it would be impossible to assemble them, according to the form expressed in the statutes, has resolved to adopt a mode of election which shall differ as little as possible from the ancient one, prevent delay, spare the priories all unnecessary expence and inconvenience, and immediately fix upon a chief for the sovereign order to govern it, and take possession of the island of Malta, whenever circumstances, shall make it possible so to do.
For this purpose, the sovereign council enjoins all the grand-priors, immediately
to convene their chapters, and to carry before them the following propositions:-
I. The provincial chapter shall mark out, among the professed knights of every language, those whom they think most capable of filling the dignity of grand-master with proper courage and firmness. The grand-priors shall acquaint the sovereign council as soon as possible with this opinion, that a list may be formed from all the different priories of those who are candidates for the grand-mastership.
II. The council proposes to send this list to the court of Rome: and his holiness, as supreme chief of the Romish church, as superior of all religious orders, shall be entreated to choose a grand-master from among the candidates; specifying it the same time, that this is only the case on this one occasion, and without derogating in any degree from the rights and privileges of the sovereign order.
His holiness shall also be requested to notify this election to all Catholic countries by a pontifical brief, commanding the knights to obey the grand-master thus chosen, according to the statutes of the holy obedience.
All the sovereign chapters shall be summoned by their grand-priors to declare their opinions formally and with precision, on the question of referring to the pope to elect a grand-master from the number of professed knights pointed out by the different priories.
By these means the order will be assured of having a grand-master of its own choice, and from among its own members; and the sovereign council may proceed with confidence, according to the wishes and opinions of all the capitular chapters.
Moreover, the sovereign council represents to all the grand-priors, that it is more important than ever to employ all their authority and prudence to prevent every kind of division and intrigue, to choose a candidate truly worthy of the sovereign command, endowed with the necessary qualities to make the order of general utility and to restore a severe discipline.
Lastly, the sovereign council has in its wisdom judged that this was the only method to conciliate the members in general, to avoid all pretences for schisms, and to unite all the scattered knights of the order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Given at St. Petersburg, the 20th of July, 1801.