and Museum of the Order of Malta

Museum of the Order of Malta

The Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, subsequently known as the Order of Rhodes and finally the Order of Malta, was founded in 1090 by a religious man called Gérard whose home was in Provence, France.


The creation of this Order was approved by Pope Pascal II in 1113. At its inception the only purpose of this Order was to look after the poor and the sick among the pilgrims travelling from Europe to pray on Christ’s grave in Jerusalem. However, it soon became necessary to take up arms to defend the Christians against the Muslims. Thus the Order took on a military role.


These are the two aspects of the Order which one finds throughout its history: in the Holy Land between 1187 and 1291; in Cyprus from 1291 to 1310; in Rhodes from 1310 to 1522 and Malta from 1530 to 1798. Legends of heroic deeds of the Order, fighting under the banner of religion against the infidels are part of history.


Having been a sovereign power in Rhodes for 210 years and then in Malta for 268 years, the Order still retains a moral sovereignty acknowledged by many countries around the world. Of the 78 Grand Masters who held office up until the French Revolution, half were French and France has provided the Order with the greatest number of Knights. When they were thrown out of Malta by Napoleon Bonaparte, The Order became homeless for many years before settling in The Holy city of Rome where its headquarters remain to this date.


Nowadays the principal activities of the Order are to provide charitable help and support, particularly for lepers, the handicapped, the victims of war or natural disasters, whilst at the same time performing and international diplomatic function which grows year by year.