Knights of Malta
(Also known as the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem)
(Source for the following is an article from Covert Action, Winter 1986, "The Sovereign Military Order of Malta,")
by Francoise Hervet.
"Already in existence at the time of the first Crusade in 1099, in 1113 the Order of St. John was given its independence by Pope Pascal II, permitted to elect its own Grand Master, and soon the Order began military participation in the Crusades along with the Knights Templar and Teutonic Knights. The Order of St. John recruited successfully among the European aristocracy and soon controlled extensive estates throughout the continent, assimilating those previously belonging to the Knights Templar which it had helped crush during the first two decades of the 14th century, with the Templar leadership burned alive as heretics."
The Order was driven from Jerusalem in 1187, fled to Acre, Cyprus, and finally to Rhodes. At Rhodes they set up a military dictatorship and for the first time were a sovereign territory. By 1530 they were driven from Rhodes and moved their headquarters to Malta. On that island they built a powerful naval force and fought many naval actions. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) was a major military force in the Mediterranean until their defeat by Napoleon in 1789. The Order was given protection by Russian Emperor Paul I, and by 1834 had moved its headquarters to Rome with help from Pope Leo XIII.
The American Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of Malta, SMOM) was founded in 1927. "By 1941 Francis Cardinal Spellman was listed as the 'Grand Protector' and 'Spritual Advisor' of the Order, with John J. Raskob as Treasurer. Members included John Farrell, then President of U.S. Steel, Joseph P. Grace, and John D. Ryan. In 1934 Raskob, inspired by the French fascist Croix de Feu, and working closely with Morgan Bank's John Davis, had been a principal financier in the plot to organize a fascist coup in the U.S. The plan failed when General Smedley Butler, who had been set up to lead the project, denounced it." His Eminence Cardinal Spellman, "Grand Protector" of the Knights of Malta, worked with Pope Pius XII to help Nazi war criminals escape justice. According to Frederic Laurent (*L'Orchestre Noir. Pairs: Editions Stock, 1978).
The order holds observer status at the United Nations and maintains diplomatic relations with 92 countries. Its 11,000 knights and dames contribute time and money to the needy, enjoy social prestige, and on occasion get to wear some very snazzy uniforms.
Grand Masters of the Order
The Knights of Malta - A legend towards the future
The Cross of Malta
A Short History of the Knights of Malta
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta
Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem from the Catholic Encyclopedia
Yahoo! Directory links for Knights of Malta
Initial Membership List of the Knights of Malta