The Russian Grand Priory
Order of St John of Jerusalem

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The Russian Grand Priory

Essential facts on the foundation of the Russian Grand Priory


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In 1798 following Napoleon's taking of Malta, the Order of Malta (Order of St John of Jerusalem) was dispersed, but with a large number of refugee Knights sheltering in St Petersburg, where they elected the Russian Emperor, Paul I as their Grand Master - a rival Grand Master to Ferdinand Hompesch then held in disgrace. Hompesch abdicated in 1799 leaving Paul as the only Grand Master.
As de-facto Grand Master, Paul I of Russia created a Russian tradition within the Hospitaller Order - the "Russian Grand Priory" open to all Christians - which whilst it could not be accepted as a canonical part of the Roman Catholic Order, it was never-the-less a de-facto part of the ancient Order.

Following Imperial Decrees of Alexander I of Russia in 1810/1811, a fiscal and legal separation of the Russian tradition of St John from the main Roman Catholic HQ was created. The Russian Order was now akin to the German JohanniterOrder, a Johannine tradition, but legally separate.

This Russian Hospitaller tradition of St John continued within the Russian Empire, and then into Exile following the Revolution in 1917.

Paul I had created under Russian Laws Family Commanders of the Russian Grand Priory with Hereditary Rights. It is the descendants of these Commanders who have, with the support of members of the Imperial family, continued that Russian tradition in exile.

There are many "Orders" who have sought to claim that they are part of this Russian tradition, but these claims are based on mythical histories with their origins in a self-styled "Order" created in the USA. by a Charles Pichel in the mid 1950s. These can be found via the "Self-Styled Order" Web Page.


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