Ancient and Illustrious Order Knights of Malta

Information Booklet:
Rembower, J. T. and Gray, Frank, Ancient and Illustrious Order Knights of Malta 1048 1915,
Supreme Grand Commandery, Ancient and Illustrious Order Knights of Malta, Philadelphia USA, 1915.

Declaration of Principles

THE Order of KNIGHTS OF MALTA is a body of men banded together, under most binding forms, to comfort one another in the practice of the Christian religion; to offer mutual assistance in time of need; to promote Protestant unity; to defend the Protestant faith against all foes whatsoever; to ever defend civil and religious liberty; to exercise the fullest toleration and charity toward all men; to practice benevolence, and to maintain a universal Protestant fraternity.

It is neither a national, political nor sectarian association.

It is the most ANCIENT KNIGHTLY in existence, and is the legitimate descendant of the illustrious, religious and military order of the Middle Ages; heir to its greatness, and fully endowed with all its ancient rites and ceremonies.

It is FRATERNAL, and its obligations bind to secrecy and mutual protection

It is MILITARY, but drilling and uniforming are optional.

It is a RELIGIOUS, and welcomes all Protestants, by whatever name known, who love our Lord Jesus Christ, to enlist under its banner.

It is BENEFICIAL, paying both sick and funeral benefits.


The History of the Crusaders and Knights of St. John of Jerusalem has been written by many learned and able historians of the past six hundred years, the number of such works being over one hundred, published in many languages. In compiling this condensed work we have had access to several of these histories published in the English language, and have confined ourselves principally to three, viz: "History of Knights of St. John of Jerusalem," by Sir Pierre Marie Louis de Boisgelin de Kerdu, a member of the Order who was on the Island of Malta at the time it was surrendered to the French, 1798; "History of the Knights Hospitalers of St. John of Jerusalem," afterward called Knights of Rhodes, and at present called Knights of Malta, by L'Abbe Vertot; also, '"Achievements of the Knights of Malta," by Alexander Southerland, Esq., and by the author in his preface dedicated to "His Imperial Majesty Nicholas, Emperor of Russia, under whose immediate predecessor the Knights of Malta found refuge when all the other monarchs of Christendom denied them an asylum." This history is that of a fraternity of Hospitalers which afterward became a military society, and at last a sovereign order, instituted from motives of charity. and prompted by a zeal for the defense of the Holy Land to take up arms against the infidels. These bits of history which have been collected are of peculiar interest to us who retain the name and endeavor to teach the principles of the Illustrious Knights of St. John, who dwelt in the Holy City of Jerusalem over eight and one-half centuries ago.


Though the days of chivalry are gone, and the achievements of those valiant Knights are merely historical, the cause for which they fought-the Cross of Christ-is just as dear to us in this day as it was to them, and in the history of their achievements will be found much which should encourage every follower of the Cross. Of all the conquests gained by these infidels, none more sensibly affected the Christians than that of the holy City of Jerusalem. From the time of Constantine it had been the custom of the Greek and Latin Christians to make frequent pilgrimages to the Holy City, in the belief that their greatest sins would be remitted at the foot of the Saviour's tomb. Up to this time access to the city had been comparatively easy; but when the Holy Land fell into the hands of the infidels it was far more difficult. Though the infidels revered Christ as a prophet, they scrupled not to impose a tribute or tax upon all who knelt at the Holy Sepulchre. But all this oppression did not dampen their ardor and zeal, and for nearly three hundred years Christians from all parts of the West continued to journey to .Jerusalem. Each pilgrim carried a staff and a leather scrip or bag, and as they left their homes to set out on this long and toilsome journey their friends and kindred would bid them godspeed with benedictions and tears. On their return they carried with them to their homes, hundreds arid thousands of miles, the sacred palm leaf or branch from the palm tree of the garden of Abraham, as a trophy of their journey, and hung it over the altar in their parish churches at home. Early in the eleventh century infidel rulers who were masters of Palestine allowed some of the Greek and Latin Christians to settle in Jerusalem, and in order that they might not mingle with


Mussulmans, assigned them quarters near the Holy Sepulchre. For a time these Christians gave food and shelter to the pilgrims; but often they could not provide for all, and as a consequence they suffered greatly, being footsore and weary from their long journeys. About the middle of the eleventh century, some of the Latin merchants of the city and natives of the kingdom of Naples undertook to provide accommodations for the pilgrims. Their business called them once a year to Egypt, and by means of some useful and costly presents they obtained audience with the infidel rulers and from them obtained permission to erect a church and house of entertainment. On their return the Governor assigned them a piece of ground, on which they erected a chapel and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin under the name of Saint Mary of Latinos, and at the same time two hospitals or houses of reception for pilgrims of both sexes were erected and dedicated- one for males to St. John the Almoner, and one for females to St. Mary Magdalen, Several pious pilgrims then in the city gave up the plan of returning to their homes and agreed to occupy these hospitals and devote their time and services in caring for the sick and destitute pilgrims who were continually arriving in Jerusalem. The expense of maintaining this work was met by collections, principally from Italy, the native place of the merchants who founded the church and hospitals. All Latin pilgrims were sheltered and fed without distinction as to nation or condition. Some were plundered by robbers while on their way and their clothing taken from them. At the hospitals they were reclothed and cared for with tenderness and skill, if sick, and those who


died were buried with Christian rites.
This hospital of St. John the Almoner was the cradle of the illustrious order which we now represent; and who as Knights of St. John, of Rhodes and of Malta, continued for over seven hundred years to be the sword and buckler of Christendom in its defense of the cross of Christ. History fixes the year 1049 as the time when the church and the two hospitals were erected, consequently that year has been selected as the date when the order was founded and started on its mission of love
For a time all went well and all worthy pilgrims enjoyed the hospitality of the aforesaid institution, but ere long a terrible calamity befell the city. The Turcomans invested Palestine; surprised the City of Jerusalem and cut the garrison in pieces.
This was in the year 1065. No description, can portray the cruelty then committed. Numbers of Christians were butchered; the hospital was plundered. The infidels' hatred of everything that bore the name of Christian was intense; they laid still heavier taxes or tributes upon them than ever, so that many, of the pilgrims, after having spent all their money in the course of so long a journey, or being stripped by the robbers and worn out by hunger and miseries of all kinds, at last, for want of ability,to discharge such excessive tributes, perished at the gates of Jerusalem, without being able to obtain the consolation of seeing, before they expired, the Holy Sepulchre; the only object of their vows and the end of so tedious a pilgrimage.
Those who escaped these cruel oppressions and returned to Europe gave most touching descriptions of their sufferings.
They stirred up the people until thousands stood ready to go to Palestine and avenge the shedding of the pilgrim's blood. At the name of Palestine


every Christian warrior grasped his lance, and a chief to lead alone was wanting.
At length Peter, surnamed the Hermit, resolved to embark in an enterprise which no one else seemed willing to undertake.
He had personally experienced the suffering of the pilgrimage and indignities which the unbelievers heaped upon the Christians.
Taking with him letters of introduction he proceeded to Rome and threw himself at the feet of Pope Urban II, who then occupied the papal chair. The heart of the Pope was touched and he bade Peter travel through Europe and arouse the people. In a few years all Christendom was awakened, and a formidable army was raised, "There was," says the historian, "no nation of people but what responded to the call."The Welshman, the Scotchman, the Dane and the Norwegian rallied to arms, some being so enthusiastic as to burn the sign of the cross upon their flesh. A more glorious army the sun never shone upon. The army, numbering nearly 100,000 men, marched on, city after city was captured, and on June 7, 1099, it encamped before the walls of Jerusalem; but by this time it was so greatly reduced in numbers that little more than, 20,000 were left fit for service.
The army of infidels within the walls of the city numbered 60,000. After a siege of a few weeks Jerusalem was captured.
Thus, after upward of 400 years of Saracen rule, the Holy City was rescued from the Mohammedan yoke.
Hitherto the Hospital of St. John had been merely a secular institution,but Gerard, the manager, to whom was intrusted the large sums of money received for the benefit of the hospital, suggested that "in order to attain greater perfection;" they should become religious fraternities, and


formally dedicate themselves at the altar as the servants of the poor and of Christ. They accordingly abjured the world and assumed the regular habit, which was a black robe having a white linen cross of eight points fastened upon the left breast. Their action was soon after approved by Pope Paschall II, as head of the Church. The Pope also exempted the hospital from the payment of tithes or taxes and gave the Hospitalers the privilege of electing their own Superior. The news of the great success achieved in reclaiming Jerusalem from the control of the heathen had in the meanwhile spread throughout all Europe, and many set out to travel to the Sepulchre of our Lord. In many cases. they reached Jerusalem wayworn and sick, and the hospital of St. John was constantly crowded with them. On their return they gave glowing descriptions of their treatment, and so popular did the Hospitalers become throughout Europe that many large bequests were made to help maintain the work. In order to extend their sphere of usefulness and cement the interest taken in it by the people of Europe, it was decided to build several hospitals in the principal nations of the West. These were the first Commanderies of the Order, [Vide Enc. Brit. et Chambers's Enc., Art. John (St.) of Jerusalem, Knight of; or Art. Hospitalers. ]
They were stopping places for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, where they obtained information, and, if necessary, guides to show them on their journey.
In due time Gerard, the venerable father and manager of the Hospital, died.
From Proctor's History of the Crusaders, Thalheimer's Mediaeval History, and Mill, we learn that a distinctly Scottish branch came into existence in 1163 under David I, as Grand Prior or


Master. This branch had a separate and individual organization from that of England so long as Scotland was an independent kingdom.
The Pope having granted the Hospitalers the privilege of electing their Superior, they therefore at once proceeded to an election, the choice falling upon Raymond du Puy, and the title of Grand Master was conferred upon him. This was in the year 1118, and Raymond du Puy was the first elected head of the Order, Gerard having been appointed as Rector by the original founders of the hospital. One of the first acts of Raymond du Puy was to combine the duties of a monk with those of a soldier, thus making it a military order. To give protection to the pilgrims, it was deemed necessary to instruct the Hospitalers in the use of the lance and spear as well as in the duties of the hospital.
Raymond du Puy organized the warrior monks into three classes. The first consisted of men of high or noble birth, the second of priests, and the third of serving brothers. The first class, or the Knights of Justice, as they were called, were to bear arms, and from them all ofFicers were to be chosen. The second class, of priest or chaplain, performed the service of religion both in the church and in the camp, and attended to the sick in the hospital. The third class served either as soldiers in the field or assistants in the sick-room, as was required of them. No candidate could be received into the first class unless he was of noble birth, which qualification was not required of the second or third class. At his initiation each brother took the usual vows of chastity, obedience and poverty; to advance the true faith, and to defend with his sword the Christian name. The banner was a write cross on a red field, and it was declared that any Knight who should abandon it


or otherwise dishonor himself in war should be publicly stripped of the sacred sign and the robe of the Order.
The Order had now become firmly established and its revenue was large. The Knights were soon called upon to show their power as a military organization. Three powerful tribes of infidels were preparing to advance upon the Holy City and drive the Christians from Palestine. At length the infidel army appeared before the Walls of the city and a terrible battle followed. It is said by the historian that the Knights of St. John fought nobly in their first grand engagement. The Hospitalers threw themselves into the thickest of the fight and routed the infidels with great slaughter.
About this time (1119) the success and popularity of the Order of St. John suggested a new institution for similar purposes. One was accordingly organized, and adopted the name of "Templars."
I would here remark that it has been claimed by some that the Order of the Templars is more ancient than that of the Hospitalers. Such, however, is not the case, the Hospitalers having been instituted in 1048, or seventy-one years previous to the Templars, and had won its first general engagement ere the Templars were heard of.
Our claim of being the most ancient military order in existence at the present day can not be successfully disputed.
The reign of service of Raymond du Puy as the first Grand Master of the Hospitalers was a very important one. There is little space here for details. Suffice it to say that during his term of office the Knights were engaged in several important battles. The cities of Antioch, Odessa, Ascalon and Sueta had been captured from the infidels, and at each place the Hospitalers and the Templars both took important parts. In the last battle, that


of Sueta, fought in 1158, it is said that six thousand infidels lay dead on the field. The Grand Master was now old, having served at its head for forty years, and he died in the hospital of the Order two years after (1160), honored and revered not only by the brothers of the Order but by all Christians.
Sir Knight Auger de Balben was elected the next Grand Master by the chapter or council of the Order. He, however, died three years after, and Arnaud de Combs was elected his successor.
We now pass over the terms of office of several Grand Masters, During which the Order continued to carry on its work of caring for the poor and weary pilgrims Meanwhile the infidel armies were preparing to invest Palestine.
Again an appeal was made to the sovereigns of Europe, where the seven languages of the Order were established, but with little success. Several of the cities in the Holy Land were captured and, at last the infidel army laid siege to Jerusalem and demanded its surrender. The demand was rejected, but the Holy City was doomed, and in fourteen days a treaty of surrender was signed by which the Christians were allowed to march out unmolested. It was stipulated in the treaty that ten Hospitalers be allowed to remain for one year, or until all sick and disabled Knights then in the hospital be cured. This surrender occurred on October 2, 1187. Eighty-eight years from the time it was captured from the Mohammedans, It passed again into their control.
The Hospitalers and the Templars moved from place to place. Vast sums of money were raised in Europe, and money and men were sent to aid in the recapture of Jerusalem. One after another of the Grand Masters died and others were elected. Many rich Lords and monarchs had died and left


their large estates to the Knights of St. John, so that the Knights received large revenues therefrom. In the year 1228 Jerusalem was again taken and the banner of the cross floated over the city, and the Knights commenced to repair its walls. But their possession of the Holy City was of short duration. Another infidel army came down upon it and the city was captured, never more to be regained. The infidel victory was complete, and the Christian Knights fell one by one around their banner. The Grand Masters of both Orders were slain, and it is said that only thirty-three Templars and sixteen Hospitalers survived. This fatal battle was fought on the eve of St. Luke's Day, in 1244, and completed the destruction and downfall of the Holy City of Jerusalem. Had it not been for the European Commanderies the Order would, without doubt, have died at thia time, never more to rise again. We will now pass over a long interval, during which the Knights of St. John drifted from place to place. They would locate themselves at a certain town or city only to be driven away at the point of the sword, the infidels being determined to destroy them entirely. About the year 1290 the King of the Island of Cyprus offered the two Orders an asylum on his shores, and to that place they fled as their last hope of having a habitation where they would be undisturbed. The Knights had been engaged in war for one hundred and ninety-four years, and it was hoped that in this retreat at Cyprus they could have rest. But in this they were doomed to disappointment. The King of the island proved very unfriendly to them. He laid a tax upon them, and in many other ways made their sojourn there unpleasant. They looked about for some better place for settlement,


and the island of Rhodes seemed to be a proper one. The Grand Master went to France and laid his plans before the King. T he Pope also was in France on a visit to the King at the same time, and they both approved of the Grand Master's plans, advanced ninety thousand florins toward raising an army, and aroused the peoPle in the work. Many gentlemen of rank and distinction enrolled under the banner of St. John, among them the Grand Prior of Germany. So many volunteers offered themselves that the fleet could not take them all. The ship set sail in the spring of 1308, and the Pope gave his blessing to the expedition. The fleet halted at Cyprus and took aboard the Knights then on that island, together with the effects of the Order. The expedition then set sail for Rhodes, where were landed the troops, provisions, etc., with little opposition. The natives, though taken by surprise, rallied together and attempted to drive the intruders away. A war, not of days or weeks but years, followed, the Christian Knights resolutely maintaining the footing they had gained, and four years elapsed ere the banner of the Order was firmly planted on the island.
The conquest of Rhodes filled all Christians with admiration and joy. The Hospitalers were lauded to the skies as a band of heroes.
We now pass hastily over a period of one hundred and seventy years. During this time the Knights remained at Rhodes. Several attempts were made to drive them away, but without success.
At last the news reached the city that a large fleet was being fitted out by the Mohammedan nation to set forth and capture the island, and in April, 1480, it sailed into the bay. This fleet, says the historian, amounted to one hundred and sixty high-decked vessels independent of smaller ones,


and eighty thousand men.
The number of Knights is not given, but there were sixteen thousand soldiers who had been hired by the Hospitalers to assist them :n the defense of the place. The superior numbers of the foe compelled the defenders to retire within the walls of the town. A long and bloody siege followed, lastIng eighty-one days, at the end of which, finding themselves unable to capture the place, the infidels betook themselves to the ships and departed, having lost nine thousand men in the attempt. Comparative quietude followed for a period of fort.y-two years, when another Mussulman army sailed into the bay before Rhodes This was the year 1522. The defenders of the city consisted of but six hundred Knights and five thousand soldiers. The Mussulman army was thirteen days landing its stores and guns.
Another siege followed. We have not space to enter into details of the heroic defense made by the soldiers and the knights of St. John; but at last they were compelled to surrender and agree to a treaty of capitulation, by the terms of which the, were allowed to go on board their ships and evacuate the island. On the morning of January 1, 1523, they sailed out of the bay. It was an hour of sorrow and woe to the Christian Knights, who for two hundred and twenty years had held possession of the island.
News of the fall of Rhodes war transmitted over the Christian world, and great sorrow  was expressed that an army had not been sent to its defense before it was too late. The fleet bearing the surviving Hospitalers and all their worldly possessions sailed for Candia, thence to Sicily, and there entered the harbor with the standard of the Order flying from the topmast. Here they were received with marked distinction. and remained for a short


time, but the place was not suitable for a permanent residence.
Again they set sail, and after stopping at several places the Grand Master decided to visit Pope Clement VII, who at one time had been a member of the Order, and seek his aid and counsel. The pope, after hearing from the Grand Master an account of their misfortunes, selected for them a place called Viterbo, about forty miles from Rome, as a suitable temporary stopping place. Emperor Charles V. of Germany and I. of Spain tendered as a gift the island of Malta.
After a time the negotiations were successful, and on March 24, 1530, the deed was signed which conveyed to the Grand Master and religious fraternity of St. John, in absolute title and fee simple, the Island of Malta forever.
The island of Malta, which in Scripture is called Melita, lies in the Mediterranean Sea, about fifty miles south of Sicily. It is about eighteen or twenty miles long by ten or twelve miles wide, and produces figs, melons and other fruits.
In the year 1517 the great Protestant Reformation became an historical fact. Luther's teachings and doctrines reached the farthest civilization of the world. As far back as 1463 the Knights of St. John held intercourse with the English and Scottish Knights under Grand Master Knolls. The branches that refused to accept the Protestant faith ceased to exist or had but a precarious existence for a few years, then passed away. Even the Latin or rather the heterogeneous branch that lived until 1789 on this island was weakened by Protestant Knights deserting to Scotland and England in 1557. [Vide Vertot's Histoire des Chevaliers Hospitalers de S. Jean de Jerusalem, et Enc. Brit.]
The island was taken by Bonaparte in the outset


of his expedition to Egypt, June 12, 1798. He found in it 1,200 pieces of cannon, 200,000 pounds of powder, 2 ships of the line, a frigate, 4 galleys, and 40,000 muskets, besides an immense treasure collected by conscription; and 4,500 Turkish prisoners, whom he set at liberty. Malta surrendered to the British under Pigot, September 5, 1800. At the Peace of Amiens it was stipulated that it should be restored to the Knights. The British, however, retained possession, and war recommenced; but by the Treaty of Paris in 1814 the island was guaranteed to Great Britain. La Valetta, the capital, was founded in 1557 by the Grand Master, La Valetta, and completed and occupied by the Knights August 18, 1571. The Protestant College was founded in 1846.
Through these years, it will be observed, the Knights from the island of Malta not only held intercourse but actually, affiliated with those of England and Scotland.
Thus the Scottish branch was able to purify and correct its work and sustain its sometimes struggling life.
During the period of Reformation the Sixth Language accepted the doctrine of the reformed faith; and, under the leadership of Sir James Sandilands, of Scotland, assisted the sainted John Knox in establishing Protestantism in Scotland.
On the 7th day of March, 1853, the Grand Lodge of Scotland did by public proclamation establish its right to the supreme government of the Religious and Military Order of the Knights of MAlta, and has since been known as the Imperial Parent Grand Black Encampment of the UNiverse, with headquarters at Glasgow, Scotland. The claim to this title has never been challenged; and the sixth language is being perpetuated at the present day in Scotland by this body.


In the year 1870 the Order was first introduced into America, an encampment being chartered in  Toronto, Canada, from which it soon spread to the United States, and in 1875 the Supreme Encampment of America began its career under a grant issued by the Imperial body of Scotland; but a few years later the charter or grant was revoked by the Imperial body, and the members expelled, for violation of obligation, ceasing to be a Protestant fraternity, destroying the degree work and ancient landmarks, defying the authority of the Imperial body, changing the name and objects of the Order.
Some of the subordinate commanderies, however, remained loyal to the Imperial Encampment. They continued to carry on the work, and in 1884 formed themselves into a Grand body. Their growth was most remarkable, and on June 1, 1889, the "Supreme Grand Commandery of the Continent of America" was chartered by the "Imperial Parent Grand Black Encampment of the Universe," and under this charter the Supreme Grand Commandery of America is granted the sole power on the American Continent to issue charters to Grand and Subordinate bodies, is made the final arbiter in all questions of dispute, and is given unlimited authority on this continent so long as it maintains Protestantism, civil and religious liberty and the ancient landmarks of the Order.
The splendor of its ritualistic work, the marvelous history of its glorious past, the deep religious significance of the institution, and the fact that it is the oldest Knightly Order having a continuous existence, are some of the reasons why the Order is growing with such remarkable rapidity. It la destined to play an important part in the history of America's progress; it is intensely patriotic, and its influence must always be for the beat interests of country.



From Eight Centuries


The Knights Hospitalers of St. John, afterward called Knights of Rhodes, and now known as Knights of Malta, were originally established in A. D. 1048, or earlier, in Jerusalem. Several authors agree in the statement that property was conveyed to the Order as early as A. D. 1025. The ancient records of the Order were seized by Napoleon, stored in one of his vessels, and shortly after burned with the vessel off the coast of Egypt. There is, therefore, no record in existence for verifying the date of earliest organization.


At first the Order w·as only charitable and religious, and its sole object was the maintenance and care of a Hospital in Jerusalem, where pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre were received and cared for.


In A. D. 1118, Raymond du Puy was elected Grand Master, and because of the awful treatment of Christian pilgrims by Turks and infidels, he successfully petitioned the Patriarch of Jerusalem to constitute the Hospitalers a military as well as a charitable and religious order.


Instances of the religious fervor or the heroic achievements of the Knights of St. John are to be found on every page of the chronicles of the Crusades, and in every poem and romance that attempts to describe that marvelous era in the world's history.



Driven from Jerusalem and from Syria, the Knights found an asylum on the Island of Cyprus, and afterward on the Island of Rhodes. Driven from Rhodes, the Order was given a deed of the Island of Malta by Charles V. of Germany, and remained in undisturbed possession until traitorously surrendered to Napoleon while on his way to Egypt.


Throughout its marvelous career to the time just referred to the Order was constantly in receipt of moneys and lands, and its Commanders were recognized with special honors by all the sovereigns of Europe. Its members were princes and nobles.


The Order has enjoyed an unbroken existence up to the present time, and presents a successive line of Grand Masters. Henry VIII., who was disposed to despoil the Knights of their property in England, relented and received the Grand Master, L'Isle Adam, "with the attention inspired by the first view of a prince whose conduct and valor had rendered him equally celebrated both in Europe and Asia. He spoke of the defense of Rhodes as more glorious than the conquest of an entire province, promised him every assistance in his power toward its recovery, lodged him in his own palace, and at his departure presented him with a basin and cup of gold enriched with precious stones." Originally the Order was divided into eight languages. The English, or Sixth Language, found refuge in Scotland and adopted the doctrines of the Reformation, under the leadership of Sir James Sandilands. It was from this body, now known as the Imperial Parent Grand Black Encampment of the Universe that the Supreme Grand Commandery


of the Ancient and Illustrious Order Knights of Malta on the Continent of America received its Grand Charter.


The Order was introduced into America in 1870, but was reorganized under the present Imperial Charter in 1889, since which time it has steadily grown in numbers and influence. Only Good men are desired; Bad men feel lonesome. The Order is Religious, Fraternal, Military and Beneficial.


The Supreme Grand Commandery is now the sole repository of the rites and ceremonies practiced during the Middle Ages, preserved in their entirety, but presented in more exquisite style by the aid of modern invention. The Degrees are of extraordinary beauty and sublimity, and have been extensively copied by modern fraternal orders. They are twelve in number.


The Supreme Grand Commandery of the Continent of America has its headquarters at Broad and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., where the Supreme Recorder is directing the work of ~ organization, and Commanderies are being stationed at the rate of more than two per month within the jurisdiction, which includes the United States and Canada. The growth is phenomenal yet the membership is carefully chosen. The entire body is filled with loyalty and enthusiasm, and its officers are full of confidence in the great future that is dawning upon the Knights of Malta in America.
The celebration June 24, 1898, by 200 Commanderies of the 850th anniversary of the Knights Hospitalers of St. John of Jerusalem, afterward called Knights of Rhodes, and now known as


Knights of Malta, though it was an event of great importance in the annals of fraternal orders, and was of immediate interest to the 26,000 members of the Order in the jurisdiction of the Supreme Grand Commandery of America, was not commented upon by the editors of the great dailies, nor was it considered worthy of more than passing notice in the local columns of the newspapers printed in the smaller cities and towns of Pennsylvania where the Order has a firm footing.


Malta Jubilees

For the enlightenment of those who delight ii the antique, here follows a summary of the movement and progress of the Order during eight hundred and fifty years, arranged in seven periods.


First period, 70 years. From 1048 in Jerusalem, under the patronage of St. John the Almoner, conducted by associate pilgrims until 1090, when Gerard became rector of the Hospital. In 1099 he became Grand Master, which position he held until 1118, when he died, aged about 70 years.


Second period, 172 years. Continued in Jerusalem until 1187, in Margat until 1191, and in Acre, Palestine, until 1228, when they returned to Jerusalem, which they held for sixteen years, until in 1244 they were almost annihilated by the Mahommetans, and the remnant were obliged to lead a nomadic life for forty-six years. In the meantime a branch of the Order was established in Scotland by David I.


Third period, 18 years. At the King's request, in 1290 they located on the Island of Cyprus, hoping to there find a permanent habitation after having been engaged in warfare against the enemies of Christianity for 194 years. The King proved unfriendly, and in the spring of 1308 they sailed for Rhodes.



Fourth period, nearly 215 years. Occupied the Island of Rhodes, which they successfully defended against their hereditary foes, the Saracens, who constantly harassed them, until on January 1, 1623, they were obliged to evacuate the island.


Fifth period, 7 years. Having no home, they found temporary residence in Candia, Gallipoli, Messina, Civita Vecchia and Viterbo from 1523 to 1530.


Sixth period, 268 years. Permanently located on the Islands of Malta and Gozo from 1530 to 1798.


Seventh period, 100 years. Priories continued in England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Russia, and North America, under the supervision of Grand Masters, Supreme Commanders and Lieutenants of the Magistry from 1798 to 1898.
The seven periods referred to cover 850 years of actual history-not tradition and legendary tales.
The first and second jubilees were celebrated with headquarters in the Holy City of Jerusalem; the third and fourth at Acre, in Syria; the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth on the Island of Rhodes; the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth on the Island of Malta; the sixteenth in England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Russia; the seventeenth in all the above countries, and, for the first time, on the continent of America.


The Order was a sovereign institution for 481 of the 860 years above referred to. It still continues to be sovereign as a royal, princely, efficacious, paramount Order, and there is no reason why it


should not hold this position in some parts of the world, if not in all, for centuries yet to come.
The government of this Order for some centuries past has been that of empire, kingdom and republic; hence it is adapted for all nations and ages. It is not only royal and princely in its constitution and gifts, but it also holds out a helping hand to every man of worthy ambition, Christian endeavor and self-respect.
Small wonder that the seventeenth jubilee of such an institution should awaken in every loyal heart the profoundest respect for the past heroes whose names are inscribed upon the tablets of the ages with the indelible chisel of that master sculptor, Time!
They were defenders of the faith, protectors of the Cross, apostles sent forth not only to defend but to preach the Kingdom of God with a very pronounced force and with equal effect In a very large measure we are indebted to the Illustrious Order Knights of Malta for the Christian privileges we enjoy to-day.


Twelfth to Seventeenth


King David I, whose reign extended over a period of twenty-nine years (1124-53), founded St. John's Preceptory in Linlithgowshire, and its repute became so great that in 1463 the honor of ordination was conferred on Sir William Knolls by the Grand Master at Rhodes. During fifty years he governed, and in the battle of Flodden Field (September 9, 1613) fell with King James IV. Sir George Dundass, who was appointed his successor, was followed by Sir W. Lindsay. On the death of the latter the government of the Order devolved upon that great and good reformer, Sir James Sandilands, who was installed in 1538. History records that in early life he accepted the Reformed faith and was excommunicated by the Pope. Far from being dismayed by the curses of the Pope showered upon the head and brain and limbs and arma and all the organs of the body of their Grand Master, the Knights joined in his views.


The new religion gained ground so rapidly that on August 24, 1660, an act was adopted by Parliament declaring that no subject should acknowledge the authority oF the Pope, and the Crown assumed sole power to present and appoint preceptors and Grand Masters. Sir James Sandilands was continued in office, and frequently represented his sovereign in foreign states. When John Knox returned to Scotland from a missionary tour, he resided


with Sir James, better known then as Lord St. John because he was chief in Scotland of the Order of Military Knights, and venerable for his gray hairs as well as for his valor, sagacity and morals. Sir James had long been a friend oP the Reformed faith, and had contributed greatly to its preservation in Scotland. In 1548 he had presented to the parsonage of Calder, John Spotteswood, afterward the Reformed superintendent of Lothian, who had imbibed the Protestant doctrines from Archbishop Cranmer in England, and who instilled them into the minds of his parishioners and of the nobility and gentry that frequented the house of his patron. Among them were Archibald, Lord Lorne, the Earl of Argyll, a most zealous reformer; John, Lord Erskine, who commanded the Fortress of Edinburgh Castle during the wars between the regent (Earl of Lennox) and the Protestants, and who afterward became Earl of Mar, and died regent of Scotland; James; Lord Stuart, also regent during the minority of James VI, and prior of St. Andrew's. The first Protestant sacrament of the Lord's Supper in Scotland after the Reformation was administered in Sir James Sandilands' house in 1658. The barons drew up a formal petition to the regent, which was presented by Sir James in Holyrood Palace, in the presence of a great number of the nobility and bishops. It contained five bequests :


1. Liberty to read the Scriptures.
2. That any difficulty in interpreting the same might be cleared up by the most godly in the land.
3. That the holy sacrament of baptism be administered in the vulgar tongue.
4. That the sacrament of the Lord's Supper be administered in the vulgar tongue.


5. The the flagrant and insufferable abuses which prevailed in the Church of Rome should be corrected and the violence of the clergy restrained,*
In consequence of the treaty of Edinburgh, and in compliance with the ordinary forms of business, it became necessary to lay the proceedings of Parliament before the King and the Queen. To carry out this purpose Sir James Sandilands, Lord St. John, was appointed to repair to France.
*"Life of John Knox" by Thomas McGree, D.D.  Knox's History of Scotland and State Papers.

Malta at.the present time

IN the foregoing pages the nobility of the great  Order of Malta is fully set forth; its matchless unbroken record thrills us with admiration for the fortitude and suffering the Knights of old endured for their fellows; but in this busy, whirling age, the first question asked by one solicited to become a companion of the Order of Malta is, What benefit is it to me? Why should I join this organization?  Very briefly, from a practical standpoint; let us answer; first; Because Malta is a Christian institution; it seeks; first of all, to impress upon men's minds the great lesson of pure, moral lives, and by its teachings creates a better; higher standard of citizenship. The power that will develop and promote this is not only a positive help to the individuals, but a blessing to the community. Why? Because purer morals beget cleaner conditions; less crime, less pauperism. Hence we maintain; from this point alone; that our Order is a decided asset to the community in which it is established.


It is fraternal; and by fraternity we mean that the lessons taught in Malta create that brotherhood of man, that closer comradeship, that broad, far-reaching helpfulness that we need at times; that knowledge that here is a brother to whom you may pour out your heart, upon whose breast you may rest, upon whose confidence and valor you can safely trust; yes, that fraternity that renders help when help is needed. Not charity. No! Malta will not permit that word to be used in its work of succor to its companions, whether the distress be that of misfortune, illness or death; whether it be in guarding the widow and orphan. The help is a right which belongs to every true Sir Knight of Malta. It is a beneficial Order, paying sick and death benefits, but it is optional with the Subordinate Commandery.
The Order is at all times alert to every commendable movement of genuine practical value to fraternal organizations; it adopts the best; it is thoroughly up to date; and among its many rightful claims to recognition is the fact that its business management, from the Supreme Commandery through to the Grand Commandery, and finally to the Subordinate Commanderies, is based upon the most conservative, prudent and yet progressive business lines. No other Order upon the American Continent can boast of a more healthful existence and growth, both from a financial as well as a numerical standpoint, than that experienced by the Order of Malta since its foundation here in 1889. It is, has been, and will continue to be a perfect Gibraltar in stability. Its ritualistic work is divinely sublime and of great beauty, with possibilities of elaboration and impressiveness almost beyond comprehension.


In none of its work does it in the slightest degree conflict with that of any other Order. In our ranks are thousands of Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of  Pythias and members of kindred orders. Its obligations are broad and inspiring, and the most liberal-minded American can consistently accept its teachings. If a Commandery of this great Order is not already established in your community, it will be our purpose to institute one very soon. Think these matters over very carefully, aid us to establish in your midst an organization, having for its sole purpose morality, fraternal and beneficial helpfulness, under any and all conditions, to those within its ranks and those dependent upon them. Preliminary meetings will shortly be held in some hall in your community, notice of which will be sent to you, and the excellence of the Order, together with the information necessary to institute Commanderies, will be fully explained by representatives of the Supreme Grand Commandery.


Chronological History of the
Knights of Malta

1048 Established at Jerusalem; a charitable and religious Order.
1099 The first Crusaders enter Jerusalem.
1118 Choose the first elected Grand Master-Raymond Du Puy.
1119 Order of Knights Templars established at Jerusalem.
1158 The last of a series of victories over the infidels.
1169 Raymond du Puy died, after 40 years' service as Grand Master.
1187 Jerusalem surrendered to the Mohammedans.
1228 Jerusalem recaptured by the Knights.
1244 The infidels recaptured Jerusalem after a terrible combat.
1244 Only 16 Hospitalers and 33 Templars survived.
1290 The two Orders found an asylum on the Island of Cyprus.
1310 They besieged and finally captured the Island of Rhodes.
1314 Knights Templars disbanded and their property given to Hospitalers.
1480 Infidels failed in their attempt to capture Rhodes.
1522 The Moslems succeeded in capturing Rhodes.
1523 Knights Hospitalers and forty-second Grand Master leave Rhodes.
1530 Charles V of Germany gave the Island of Malta to the Knights.


1530 The Knights unfurled their banner on Malta's fortress.
1560 The Hospitalers accepted the doctrine of the Reformation.
1798 Malta seized by Napoleon while on his way to Egypt.
1798 Emperor Paul of Russia elected seventieth Grand Master.
1798 Standard of St. John hoisted permanently on the bastions of the Admiralty of St. Petersburg, where it continues unfurled to this day. 1800 The sixth language (English) becomes the sole one in existence.
1889 Supreme Grand Commandery, Continent of America, chartered by the Parent Grand Black Encampment of the Universe, with headquarters at Glasgow, Scotland, conveying full power on this continent.
1892 Grand Commandery of Penna. instituted.

For further information, please address any of the following:


FRANK GRAY, P. S. C., Supreme Recorder,
Room 36, German-American Building.
N. E. Corner Broad and Arch Streets,
Philadelphia, Pa.


Headquarters of the Grand Commandery of Pennsylvania.

Room 38, German-American Building,
N. E. Corner Broad and Arch Streets,
Philadelphia, Pa.

Headquarters of the Grand Commandery of
New Jersey.

R. D. Dover, N. J.

Headquarters of the Grand Commandery of

100 Boylston Street, Boston, Mass.

Headquarters of the Grand Commandery of
Maine and New Hampshire.

45 Exchange Street, Portland, Maine.

Headquarters of the Grand Commandery of
New York.

32 Wadsworth Street, Rochester, N. Y.

Created 3rd May 2004
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