Sovereign Military Order of Malta | Ordo Ksatria Yang Setingkat Negara Berdaulat

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Hubungan Diplomatik Ordo Ksatria Malta Dengan 80 Negara Internasional

Ordo Ksatria ini seperti sebuah negara , memiliki duta besar atau perwakilan diplomatik di lebih dari delapan puluh negara, dan menikmati status Permanent Observer di Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa Majelis Umum. Memiliki 12000 anggota , 80000 sukarelawan tetap , 20000 personel medis.

Ibukota :Magistrar Palace Roma.

Bahasa Resmi Italia .

Kepala Pemerintahan : Grand Master

Mata Uang : Scudo Euro

Didirikan : 1099

Mereka di kenal sebagai The Knights Hospitaller , the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, Order of St. John, Knights of Malta,  Chevaliers of Malta. Dalam bahasa Italia disebut sebagai Cavalieri dell’Ordine dell’Ospedale di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme atau Cavalieri di Malta. Dalam bahasa Prancis disebut  Ordre des Hospitaliers, Maltese: Ordni ta’ San Ġwann. Mereka sudah terbentuk jauh sebelum mereka memerintah di Malta. Ordo yang didirikan pada tahun 1085 sebagai sebuah komunitas biarawan bertanggung jawab untuk merawat orang sakit di Rumah Sakit St John di Yerusalem. Mereka kemudian menjadi menjadi pemerintah militer, tentara salib membela wilayah di Tanah Suci dan menjaga rute berbahaya yang diambil oleh para peziarah abad pertengahan. Kesatria itu diambil secara eksklusif dari keluarga bangsawan

Para ksatria datang ke Malta pada tahun 1530, setelah dikeluarkan dari tempat mereka sebelumnya di Rhodes oleh Turki pada tahun 1522. Charles V, Kaisar Romawi Suci, memberi mereka pilihan Malta atau Tripoli sebagai basis baru. Maka dipilih Malta sebagai markas mereka. Setelah memilih Malta, Kesatria tinggal selama 268 tahun, mengubah apa yang mereka sebut ‘hanya batu batu pasir yang lembut’ ke pulau yang maju dengan pertahanan yang kuat dan ibukota didambakan oleh kekuatan-kekuatan besar di Eropa. Ordo diperintah oleh seorang Grand Master yang bertanggungjawab hanya kepada Paus. Ksatria dipilih dari keluarga bangsawan Perancis, Italia, Spanyol, Inggris dan Portugal. Pada penerimaan ke dalam Ordo mereka bersumpah untuk selibat, kemiskinan dan ketaatan.

Rektor pertama dari apa yang menjadi dikenal sebagai “Orde Rumah Sakit” adalah the Blessed Gerard . Ordo Ksatria ini  didedikasikan untuk pelindungnya, Saint John the Baptist. Sri Paus meletakkan Orde di bawah perlindungan langsung dan otoritas gerejawi Tahta Suci Vatican. Gerard sendiri meninggal pada 1120, tetapi pekerjaan rumah sakit yang menampung dua ribu pasien terus berlanjut. Pada 1126, Ordo mulai berperan militer dalam pertahanan bagi peziarah di Tanah Suci, membangun istana dan benteng-benteng lain di seluruh Palestina dan akhirnya jatuh di tahun 1271. Benteng yang megah masih berdiri hari ini.
Ordo Bait Allah,  OrdoTeutonik  dan Ordo Santo Lazarus didirikan segera setelah Ordo Hospital ini. Masing-masing ordo  ini mempunyai tujuan sendiri, dimana pertahanan militer adalah salah satu tujuannya.

Anggota paling awal Ordo diambil dari seluruh Eropa. Sebagian besar keturunan bangsawan, sebagai anak-anak muda dan ksatria feodal lainnya. Mereka terdiri dari  tiga tingkatan, yaitu ksatria,  keturunan bangsawan dan rohaniwan.

Pada awalnya, jubah kesatria Ordo terbuat dari kain hitam kasar membawa salib Latin sederhana putih. Beberapa saat kemudian salib  ini bercabang pada ujungnya, adan muncul istilah “salib Moline,” sehingga terkenal sebagai salib Malta. Pada 1126, The Blessed Raymond du Puy, Grand Master kedua dari Ordo, mengadopsi itu sebagai lambang khas Salib putih Malta, yang mewakili poin delapan Sabda Bahagia. Hal ini tampaknya telah digunakan untuk beberapa tahun sebelum persetujuan oleh Paus Innosensius II pada 1130, dan umumnya dianggap lambang tertua  yang digunakan oleh pemerintah Eropa yang berdaulat.

Selama periode awal ini, meskipun dapat dikatakan telah menjadi organisasi internasional, Ordo menarik sejumlah besar para ksatria dari Perancis dan dari wilayah yang diperintah Norman-Inggris dan Sisilia, dan bahasa yang umum di gunakan adalah bahasa Prancis. The Order of the Hospital tumbuh dalam kekayaan dan kekuasaan di seluruh Eropa. Kerajaan Latin Yerusalem diserbu oleh Saladin pada 1187, dan Yerusalem sendiri dikuasai setelah serangkaian pertempuran berdarah. Dalam lima tahun, Santo Yohanes dari Acre, benteng terakhir kota Kristen di Palestina, telah jatuh ke pasukan Islam.

1187-1523

Ordo pindah ke Siprus dimana ia melanjutkan perang melawan Islam di wilayah laut. Siprus pada tahun 1310 diduduki ksatria Rhodes. Tahun 1343, Ordo menaklukkan Smirna, dan terus dikuasai selama enam dasawarsa. Kesatria Malta mengambil bagian dalam pertempuran di Mesir dan Suriah, dan mendukung Armenia ‘dalam pertahanan mereka yang gagah berani melawan kaum muslimin.

Meskipun Orde menjadi kekuatan angkatan laut penting di timur Mediterania, para kesatria tetap diharapkan untuk melakukan tugas-tugas melayani orang sakit sebagai tambahan untuk tugas militer dan angkatan laut. Inilah peran yang telah bertahan hingga saat ini. Namun, tidak semua orang yang terkait dengan Orde kesatria. Ada rohaniwan, ahli bedah dan ahli medis lainnya.

Di Rhodes, Ordo diserang bertubi-tubi oleh pasukan muslim  mundur pada 1440, 1444, 1469, dan  berhasil dipukul mundur selama pertempuran yang sangat sengit di tahun 1480. Abad Pertengahan itu sudah hampir berakhir, dan penemuan benua baru memberi isyarat baru bagi perubahan tatanan dunia, tetapi Mediterania masih fokus perdagangan maritim untuk Eropa, Asia Barat dan Afrika utara. Pertempuran tahun 1522 Ordo terlibat pertempuran desisif. Suleiman the Magnificent melancarkan serangan dengan 400 kapal dan sekitar dua ratus ribu prajurit. Setelah melakukan pertahanan gagah berani selama enam bulan oleh beberapa ribu kesatria dan pasukan lain, Ordo menyerah pada Malam Natal dan kesatria diizinkan untuk keluar dari wilayan mereka pada tanggal 1 Januari 1523.

Meskipun tanpa wilayah aktual, Ordo Santo Yohanes itu masih diakui sebagai kekuasaan yang berdaulat. Selama beberapa tahun berikutnya, itu didirikan pemerintahan sementara di Kreta dan di tempat lain.


1523-1600

Tahun 1530, Kaisar Romawi Suci Charles V, sebagai Raja Sisilia, menyerahkan pulau Malta pada Ordo. Dan  juga termasuk pulau-pulau terdekat Comino Gozo dan dianggap sebagai perdikan dari Kerajaan Sisilia. Itu alasan inilah feodal pajak tahunan dibayar, meskipun sebagian besar simbolis. Ini termasuk, misalnya, sebuah “Maltese elang.” Ordo akan tetap menjadi ketergantungan militer Kerajaan Sisilia sampai 1798, meskipun, seperti pajak feodal yang diberikan kepada Raja, ini akan menjadi sangat simbolis dalam prakteknya selama berabad-abad.

Maka Ordo menjadi dikenal sebagai “Order of Malta.” Mengadopsi sebutan baru cukup sederhana; mengembangkan tanah yang keras ini akan lebih sulit. Meskipun strategis jelas penting. Malta adalah wilayah berbukit dan di beberapa pulau yang memiliki sumber daya alam selain zaitun, ladang-ladang gandum dan produk perikanan. Kesatria mulai mengembangkan pulau-pulau mereka yang telah diberikan.

Rumah sakit  adalah proyek pertama yang dilakukan di Malta, di mana segera Prancis menggantikan Italia sebagai bahasa resmi (meskipun penduduk asli terus berbicara Malta, bahasa yang dekat dengan dialek Sisilia). Kesatria juga membangun benteng-benteng, menara jaga dan, tentu saja, gereja-gereja. Akuisisi Malta menandai awal Orde baru aktivitas laut. Perdagangan maritim sangat berkembang; memang menjadi sarana utama perkembangan ekonomi. Ordo ksatria ini juga berperang dengan bajak laut di Mediterania Barat karena aktifitas bajak laut sangat meresahkan.

Ordo Ksatria kembali terlibat perang menentukan di antara tahun 1551 dan 1644. Di tahun 1565 terjadi Pengepungan Besar (Great Siege). Kekuatan Ottoman Turki menyerang dengan kekuatan 180 kapal perang yang membawa hampir 30.000 orang itu. Grand Master Jean de la Valette hanya punya kekuatan  600 ksatria dan beberapa prajurit dan 6.000 sukarelawan pemberani. Bantuan akhirnya datang dari Eropa. Kekuatan Ottoman Turki berhasil di halau dan hanya 15000 dari 30000 yang berhasil pulang dengan selamat ke Turki.

Knights of Malta bertempur kembali dalam “Pengepungan Candia” (di Kreta) pada tahun 1668, dan pada saat Penaklukan Beograd pada tahun 1689. Dan berakhir dengan kekalahan. Perhatian Ordo mulai bergeser ke dataran filosofis yang diwujudkan oleh Kontra Reformasi.

1600-1834

Perluasan dan benteng Valletta, dinamai la Valette, dimulai pada 1566, segera menjadi pelabuhan Mediterania dengan angkatan laut paling kuat. Rumah sakit di pulau diperluas juga. Rumah Sakit utama bisa menampung 500 pasien dan terkenal sebagai salah satu terbaik di dunia untuk anatomi dan farmasi. Valletta sendiri terkenal sebagai pusat seni dan budaya. Gereja St John the Baptist, selesai pada 1577,berisikan karya Caravaggio dan lain-lain.

Pada tanggal 9 Juni 1798, dalam perjalanan ke Mesir, Napoleon Bonaparte menyerang armada Malta. Dan jelas angkatan laut Ordo bukan tandingan bagi kekuatan Perancis dengan 29.000 prajurit. Meskipun secara resmi bersikap netral terhadap kekuatan Kristen, Malta adalah protektorat militer Kerajaan Napoli, yang diwajibkan oleh perjanjian untuk membela pulau. Sayangnya, Raja Napoli dan Sisilia telah berangkat Palermo Napoli selama enam bulan sebelumnya ketika Perancis menduduki Italia selatan, dan tidak berada dalam posisi untuk memenuhi kewajibannya. Dan yang lebih buruk lagi,  Spanyol menolak untuk berperang dan bersekutu dengan Prancis. Di tanggal 12 Juni, 250 kesatria menyerah dan meninggalkan negara pulau mereka.

Jika ia tidak dapat membela kesatria, Raja Napoli setidaknya bisa memberi mereka perlindungan di kerajaan. Dalam dekade berikut pengusiran mereka dari Malta,  ‘kantor administrasi para kesatria didirikan di Sisilia (di Catania dan Messina) sampai 1826. Grand Magistry masih terletak di Palazzo di Malta, di Via Condotti dekat Piazza di Spagna, di mana ekstrateritorial menikmati kedaulatan sebagai salah satu dari tiga penguasa Italia  (yang lainnya adalah Kota Vatikan dan Republik San Marino).

1834-Now

Ordo, yang melanjutkan misi membela orang miskin dan orang sakit, adalah entitas yang berdaulat menikmati hubungan diplomatik dengan delapan puluh satu negara (meskipun tidak dengan Inggris Raya atau Amerika Serikat). Baru-baru ini, The Order of Malta memiliki status pengamat di Majelis Umum PBB, menandatangani kesepakatan dengan pemerintah Malta untuk penggunaan Fort Sant’Angelo.
Grand Master, yang diambil dari ksatria  telah mengambil sumpah  kemurnian religius, kemiskinan dan ketaatan, berdarah bangsawan  Ksatria dan setara dengan Kardinal dalam hirarki Gereja Katolik. Dewan penguasa mengadakan pertemuan setiap lima tahun, dan yang mempertimbangkan baik kebijakan umum dan hal-hal seperti amandemen terhadap Anggaran Dasar Ordo. Bab Umum yang terdiri dari wakil-wakil dari grand priories dan asosiasi nasional bersama-sama dengan anggota Dewan Sovereign. Grand Master juga menganugerahkan penghargaan Order of Merit. Penerima ordo ini “Pro Merito Melitensi” adalah individu yang telah membuat kontribusi luar biasa bagi The Order of Malta atau bekerja tidak seperti ksatria  itu sendiri, yang berada di Order of Merit tidak perlu mengakui iman Katolik. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta memperingati hari raya Saint John’s Day, 24 Juni.

Sekarang , The Order of Malta memiliki duta besar atau perwakilan diplomatik di lebih dari delapan puluh negara, dan menikmati status Permanent Observer di Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa Majelis Umum. Memiliki 12000 anggota , 80000 sukarelawan tetap , 20000 personel medis


The Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (to give their full name) were formed long before their reign on Malta. The Order was originally established in 1085 as a community of monks responsible for looking after the sick at the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem. They later became a military order, defending crusader territory in the Holy Lands and safeguarding the perilous routes taken by medieval pilgrims. The Knights were drawn exclusively from noble families and the Order acquired vast wealth from those it recruited


The Knights came to Malta in 1530, having been ejected from their earlier home on Rhodes by the Turks in 1522. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, gave them the choice of Malta or Tripoli as a new base. Neither was to their liking, but nothing, they thought, could be worse than Tripoli.

Having chosen Malta, the Knights stayed for 268 years, transforming what they called ‘merely a rock of soft sandstone’ into a flourishing island with mighty defences and a capital city coveted by the great powers of Europe.

The Order was ruled by a Grand Master who was answerable only to the Pope. Knights were chosen from the aristocratic families of France, Italy, Spain, England and Portugal. On acceptance into the Order they were sworn to celibacy, poverty and obedience.

I
The first rector of what was to become known as the “Order of the Hospital” was the Blessed Gerard. With his Bull of 15 February 1113, Pope Paschal II sanctioned the establishment of the Hospitallers’ order, dedicated to its patron, Saint John the Baptist. The Pontiff placed the Order under the direct protection and ecclesiastical authority of the Holy See. Pope Callixtus and subsequent Pontiffs granted the Order additional privileges over the next century. Gerard himself died in 1120 but the work of the hospice, which at one point was said to house two thousand patients, continued. By 1126, the Order had begun its military role in the defence of pilgrims in the Holy Land, building castles and other fortifications throughout Palestine. Their seat was the vast Krak-des-Chevaliers, acquired in 1142. Built upon an older Arab structure, it was the knights’ chief stronghold by 1144 and finally fell during a siege in 1271. The imposing fortress still stands today.

The Order of the Hospital was not only the first military-religious order of chivalry, but indeed the first order of knighthood of any kind. Previously, knights did not serve in corporate bodies other than the armies of particular sovereigns. The Order of the Temple, the Teutonic Order and the Order of Saint Lazarus were founded soon after the Order of the Hospital. Each of these orders had its own purposes, of which military defence was but one. Until this time, most knights had been minor feudatories obliged, as part of the feudal system, to undertake military service for a prescribed number of days each year; some were full time soldiers who served in garrisons.

Even at this early date, the Order of Malta was both a religious order and a military brotherhood. Today, its Grand Master is accorded the singular style “His Most Eminent Highness” and accorded a precedence in the Roman Catholic hierarchy immediately following that of the most junior cardinal. There are still professed knights of the Order, from among whose number Grand Masters are elected, who take religious vows namely celibacy, obedience and poverty.

The earliest members of the Order were drawn from throughout Europe. Most were of noble birth, being the younger sons of enfeoffed knights and other feudal lords. They belonged to one of three ranks, namely knights, who were of noble birth, chaplains, and serving brothers. Much later, the Order instituted the practice of investing as knights worthy gentlemen who, though not of noble birth, were received by the grace of the Grand Master. In our own times, this has become a specific grade of the Order (that of Magistral Grace), and the one into which into which the majority of knights and dames are accepted. This is due in part to the three American associations which do not demand noble proofs of candidates.

To arrive in Palestine, postulants might travel over land across the Balkans. More often, however, they would travel by land down the length of the Italian peninsula to Calabria, the toe of Italy, then cross over to Messina to board a galley for Palestine. Each aspirant would pay his own passage. Thus was instituted the tradition of making a monetary donation (droit de passage) upon entering the Order.

At first, the surcoats and habits of the knights of the Order were of coarse black cloth bearing a simple Latin cross in white. A little later this was forked at the ends, what a herald terms a “cross moline,” when later still the cross had straight sides, so famous as the cross of Malta. In 1126, the Blessed Raymond du Puy, second Grand Master of the Order, adopted as its distinctive emblem the white Cross of Malta, whose eight points represent the Beatitudes. The heraldic insignia, on which the flag of the Order was based, became a plain white Cross of Malta on a red field. This appears to have been used for some years before its approval by Pope Innocent II in 1130, and is generally considered the oldest extant vexillogical device used by a sovereign European government.

During this early period, though it could be said to have been an international organisation, the Order drew a large number of its knights from France and from the Norman-ruled territories of England and Sicily, and within its ranks the spoken language was French. So famous was the Order of the Hospital that it became known simply as “The Religion.” Sometimes called the Order of Saint John (after its Heavenly Patron), the Order of the Hospital grew in wealth and power throughout Europe. Toward the middle of the twelfth century, it was introduced in England, where a number of Hospitaller structures still stand, particularly the Gate House of Clerkenwell.

The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was invaded by Saladin “the Great” in 1187, and Jerusalem itself was captured following a series of bloody battles. Within five years, Saint John of Acre, the last fortified Christian town in Palestine, had fallen to the forces of Islam.

1187-1523

It was at this point that the Order of the Hospital moved to Cyprus, establishing its seat at Limasol, from whence it continued its war against Islam –on land but now also at sea.

The King of Cyprus would not grant the Order any genuine form of sovereignty, and in 1310 the knights occupied Rhodes. It was at Rhodes that the eight Langues, or tongues, were formed, with knights divided into national branches, each under the administration of a Bailiff.

In 1343, the Order conquered Smyrna, which it held for six decades. The knights of Malta took part in battles in Egypt and Syria, and supported the Armenians’ in their valiant defence against the Muslims.

Though the Order was becoming an important naval power in the eastern Mediterranean, the knights were expected to perform hospitaller tasks in addition to their military and naval duties. It is this role that has survived to the present. However, not everybody associated with the Order was a knight. There were chaplains, surgeons and serving brothers, as well as soldiers and sailors, men-at-arms who were not invested as knights but known as sergeants-at-arms.

At Rhodes, the Order was attacked by Muslim forces that it successfully repelled in 1440, 1444, 1469, and during a particularly fierce battle in 1480. The Middle Ages were nearly at an end, and the discovery of a new continent beckoned, but the Mediterranean was still the focus of maritime commerce for Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. It was the battle of 1522 that proved decisive to the Order. Suleiman the Magnificent launched an attack with 400 ships and, according to the best estimates, some two hundred thousand soldiers. Following a courageous defence for six months by a few thousand knights and other troops, the Order surrendered on Christmas Eve and the knights were allowed to depart on 1 January 1523.

Though without actual territory, the Order of Saint John was still recognised as a sovereign power. During the next few years, it established temporary seats at Crete and elsewhere.

1523-1600

In 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as King of Sicily, ceded to the Order the island of Malta. At first, the Order’s Maltese dominion, which also included the nearby islands of Gozo and Comino was considered a fief of the Kingdom of Sicily, its Grand Master a vassal. It was for this reason that an annual feudal tax was paid, though it was largely symbolic. It included, for example, a “Maltese falcon.” The Order would remain a military dependency of the Kingdom of Sicily until 1798, though, like the feudal tax rendered to the King, this was to be largely symbolic in actual practice during the centuries to follow. Pope Clement VII sanctioned this act in with a Bull of 7 May 1530, and the Order established its grand magistry on the island later in the year. The Order was also granted Tripoli, which it relinquished in 1551.

Thus did the Order become known as the “Order of Malta.” In deference to its origins in the Holy City, it was known as the Hierosolymitan Order of Malta well into the twentieth century. Adopting a new appellation was simple enough; developing this harsh land would be more difficult. Despite its obvious strategic importance, Malta was, for the most part, a hilly and deforested island having few natural resources other than olive groves, wheat fields and good fishing waters. It was, and is, similar to Pantelleria, Lampedusa and some parts of Sicily. The knights set about developing the islands they had been granted.

Not surprisingly, hospitals were among the first projects to be undertaken on Malta, where French soon supplanted Italian as the official language (though the native inhabitants continued to speak Maltese, a language related to Sicilian). The knights also constructed fortresses, watch towers and, naturally, churches. Its acquisition of Malta signalled the beginning of the Order’s renewed naval activity. Maritime trade greatly developed; indeed it became a primary means of economic support.

Because such trade was increasingly hindered by marauding corsairs, the knights were to become better known for bringing the sea crusade to the western Mediterranean. In this they were supported by sympathetic sovereigns and new orders of chivalry, most notably the Piedmontese Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus and, in 1561, the Tuscan Order of Saint Stephen. Since Malta occupied a strategic position between the Christian and Muslim worlds, the Order of Malta emerged as the most important obstacle to Islam’s encroachment into the heart of Christendom. It must be said, however, that the initial goals of the grand masters and the Italian princes were more commercial than ideological, as the pirates’ activities seriously threatened trade.

Serious Ottoman assaults occurred between 1551 and 1644. The most famous, the Great Siege, took place in 1565. An attacking Turkish force of 180 warships carrying almost 30,000 men was repelled by 600 knights and some 6000 soldiers and volunteers led by the intrepid Grand Master Jean de la Valette. Assistance eventually arrived from Europe. Only about 15,000 attackers survived to return to Turkey, while very few of the defenders went uninjured.

The Siege of Malta was, in the first instance, a defensive battle, and certainly a bloody one. The knights would encounter Muslim forces again at the Battle of Lepanto, in 1571. Knights of Malta fought at the Siege of Candia (in Crete) in 1668, and at the Conquest of Belgrade in 1689. With the defeat, at least for the time being, of Christendom’s most serious foes, the Order’s attention began to shift to the philosophical plain embodied by the Counter Reformation.

1600-1834

The expansion and fortification of Valletta, named for la Valette, was begun in 1566, soon becoming the home port of one of the Mediterranean’s most powerful navies. The island’s hospitals were expanded as well. the main Hospital could accommodate 500 patients and was renown as one of the finest in the world. At the vanguard of medicine, the Hospital of Malta boasted Schools of Anatomy, Surgery and Pharmacy. Valletta itself was renowned as a center of art and culture. The Church of of St. John the Baptist, completed in 1577, boasted works by Caravaggio and others.

The Grand Master was created a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, styled Serene Highness, in 1607. He was confirmed as a Prince in both Austria and Italy. In 1630 he was granted ecclesiastical precedence equal to that of a Cardinal. To this day, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta is styled His Most Eminent Highness.

In Europe, most of the Order’s hospitals and chapels survived the Reformation, but not in Protestant countries. In Malta, meanwhile, the Public Library was established in 1761. The University was founded seven years later, followed, in 1786, by a School of Mathematics and Nautical Sciences. Despite these developments, some of the Maltese themselves grew to resent the Order, which they viewed as a privileged caste. This even included some of the local nobility, who were not admitted to the Order.

On 9 June 1798, on his way to Egypt, Napoleon Bonaparte’s fleet attacked Malta. It was immediately obvious that the Order’s navy was no match for the mighty French force of 29,000 men. Though officially neutral toward the Christian powers, Malta was a military protectorate of the Kingdom of Naples, which was obliged by treaty to defend the island. Unfortunately, the King of Naples and Sicily (later the Two Sicilies) had departed Naples for Palermo six months earlier as the French occupied southern Italy, and was in no position to meet his obligation. What was worse, the Spanish brethren refused to fight (Spain being allied with France) and the Maltese made it clear that their loyalty was tenuous indeed. On 12 June, the 250 knights capitulated and departed their island state.

Not all of the brethren were in agreement with the surrender of Malta, and it was a decision which, several years later, prompted the removal of the Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim. This was an event virtually unknown in the Hierosolymitan Order, whose Grand Masters, like Popes, usually served for life once elected.

If he could not defend the knights, the King of Naples could at least grant them refuge in his dominions. In the decades following their expulsion from Malta, the knights’ administrative offices were established in Sicily (at Catania and Messina) until 1826. In 1834, following a sojourn at Ferrara, the Order established itself in Rome. The Grand Magistry is still located in Palazzo di Malta, in Via Condotti near the Piazza di Spagna, where it enjoys extraterritorial sovereignty as one of the three sovereign governments within Italian borders (the others being Vatican City and the Republic of San Marino).

1834-1999

The Order, which continues its mission of defending the poor and the sick, is a sovereign entity enjoying diplomatic relations with eighty-one nations (though not with the United Kingdom or the United States). It maintains national associations (and in some cases also priories) in various countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Ireland, the United States and many others. Recently, the Order of Malta, which has observer status at the United Nations General Assembly, signed an agreement with the Maltese government for the use of Fort Sant’Angelo.

Since 1988, the Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta has been Frà. Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie, born in London in 1929. He is the seventy-eighth Grand Master, having succeeded Frà. Angelo de Mojana de Cologna, born at Milan in 1905, who was elected in 1962. [A list of grand masters appears on another page.]

The Grand Master, drawn from the knights of justice, who have taken the usual religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, must have the nobiliary requirements of a Knight of Honour and Devotion. Ranking as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, he is elected for life and is assisted by a Sovereign Council on which sit, amongst others, the Great Officers who are: The Grand Commander, the Grand Chancellor, the Hospitaller, and the Receiver of the Common Treasure.

The Sovereign Council is elected by the Chapter General, which usually meets every five years, and which considers both general policy and such matters as amendments to the Statutes of the Order. The Chapter General is composed of representatives of the grand priories and the national associations together with members of the Sovereign Council.

A grand priory consists of professed knights erected into a monastic body with the approval of the Grand Master and the Holy See. Since grand priories usually reflect national boundaries, the jurisdictions of some older ones coincide with the territories of states or regions which no longer exist as distinct countries. In Italy, for example, there are three grand priories that were erected long before the nineteenth-century unification of that nation, namely those of Naples and Sicily, Lombardy and Venice, and Rome. The Grand Priory of England has recently been revived.

Associations are corporate charitable bodies which embrace all of the knights and dames in a certain area. Such associations are usually, but not always, chartered on a national level. That for the United Kingdom is the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (BASMOM), formed in 1875. In the United States, however, there are three distinct associations, namely the American Association founded in New York in 1927, the Western Association established in San Francisco in 1953, and the Federal Association formed in Washington in 1974. The Order has associations in 37 nations.

Today, there are some 11,000 knights and dames of the Order of Malta worldwide, 240 of them in Britain, presided over by the Grand Master and Sovereign Council based in Rome.

In the New World the majority are knights and dames “of magistral grace,” although not in Britain and European countries with a nobiliary tradition where a large number belong to ranks traditionally reserved to members of the aristocracy. Worldwide, about 50 are knights of justice who have taken the full religious vow of profession. Others, the knights of obedience, have taken a lesser promise of obedience to their religious superior, usually their Grand Prior. There are also many clergy who serve as chaplains of the Order.

In addition to honours bestowed in these ranks, the Grand Master confers an Order of Merit. Recipients of this Order “Pro Merito Melitensi” are individuals who have rendered outstanding service to the Order of Malta or its works; unlike knights and dames of the Order itself, those in the Order of Merit need not profess the Catholic Faith. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta observes as its feast day Saint John’s Day, June 24th.

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The Order of Malta has ambassadors or diplomatic representatives in more than eighty nations, and enjoys Permanent Observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.

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