The Sovereign Military Order of Malta disassociates itself from a court case which was featured on the 22 March edition of this newspaper, and which involves a dispute between two would-be grandmasters of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.
The two individuals concerned both claimed to be the order’s grandmaster, but the case was thrown out by Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco who noted that Malta does not recognise titles of nobility and that the court could not thus recognise their claims.
It does, however, recognise the SMOM as a sovereign entity – the order has established diplomatic relations with over 100 countries. Its Malta embassy is St John’s Cavalier in Valletta.
A member of the Maltese Association of the Order of Malta told this newspaper that the association wanted to make clear that the SMOM is in no way associated with the court dispute, and that the SMOM did not recognise the SSOJJ as a legitimate successor of an order which ruled Malta from 1530 to 1798.
The SMOM is considered to be the direct continuation of the Knights Hospitaller, a chivalric order established in Jerusalem in 1099 during the crusades. The order subsequently moved to Cyprus, Rhodes and eventually Malta.
Following the loss of Malta, the order was dispersed but eventually established new headquarters in Rome in 1834. Its main activity once again became what they had been at its establishment: providing care for the poor and for the sick.
The SMOM currently operates in over 120 countries, relying on around 13,500 members, 25,000 employees and 80,000 volunteers. Its latest project in Malta involves providing €200,000 in assistance to the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation.
However, many orders claim to be a legitimate continuation of the Knights Hospitaller, including the SSOJJ.
The Roman Catholic SMOM actually recognises the claims of four Protestant orders – based in the UK, Germany the Netherlands and Sweden – but none of these orders recognises the claim of any other.