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"Real" Knights of Malta (Knights Hospitaller)

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DBlair View Drop Down
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    Posted: July/27/2011 at 5:39pm
 (I posted this in the general forum as I felt that it would be of interest to all and not merely York Rite Masons)
 
I wish to make a point of clarification regarding Knights of Malta (Knights Hospitaller) and incorrect information often mentioned in Masonic circles. (Consider this as a bit of Masonic Education)
 
 
Are the Masonic "Knights of Malta" the actual historical Order?
Short Answer: No-- but the historic Order does still exist today. (Read below...)
 
 
The York Rite Masonic Order may be modeled after the original Knights of Malta, but is NOT the internationally-recognized chivalric order that still exists (continually) today and was founded in the year 1048.
 
A common mistake I often hear our York Rite brethren make is citing the Knights of Malta (Knights Hospitalier) as part of the Knights Templar story, including having officially ceased to exist along with the KT, and that the Masonic "Knights of Malta" are the same as the actual historic Knights of Malta. 
 
This is absolutely not true. The Knights of Malta were not part of the Knights Templar, nor do they have any ties to the Knights of Columbus as I've also heard some mention.
 
The actual Order, known formally as the "Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta" (or as abbreviated "SMOM" or in discussion as "Order of Malta" or "Knights of Malta") still exists today and is recognized as the longest surviving chivalric order in the world-- and still holds status as a sovereign nation under international law, complete with Ambassadors, Embassies, and Diplomatic Passports (something the conspiracy theorists unfortunately have a field day in discussing) and the Grand Master holding the recognized status as a sovereign Prince, with (until 1990s) Noble blood for at least 100 years being among the requirements for any level of Knighthood. (Note: there are a ton of copycat organizations around the world using similar names, so if researching, be sure you are reading about the actual SMOM)
 
Although commonly confused, the Knights Templar and Knights of Malta were separate (although, closely linked) orders with the Knights of Malta being those who cared for the sick/injured, and started hospitals. While KT were persecuted as we all know, the Knights of Malta essentially flew beneath the radar and continued to exist through to the current day, with the full blessing of the Pope/Vatican.
 
Part of the confusion in based on KT using the maltese cross design in red/white and the Knights of Malta using the same maltese cross, but with black/white.
 
Indeed, legend has it that some KT did join the Knights of Malta during that time, and of course we all know the various legends regarding the KT being involved in early Freemasonry.
 
Who are the current Knights of Malta? They are usually wealthy/prominent individuals who personally contribute huge sums of money (in the range of the Shrine's total) towards charitable causes (usually health-related) around the world-- they do it for the charitable aspect, not the attention, and these acts are usually kept somewhat low-key, but I personally know of some of their 'projects' and I will say, they are truly deserving of applause.
 
How does someone become one of these Knights? As with all of the recognized orders of knighthood, this is completely by invitation-only (don't hold your breath as they are extremely selective), and involves a lengthy process of multiple years, before even being officially considered. This is not a "Knighthood" in the Masonic or Knights of Columbus manner, but a real Knighthood such as those awarded by European monarchs, etc, and current members include many of the world's Nobility/Royals and other such notable individuals.
 
Further Reading:
http://www.orderofmalta-federal.org/ (Scroll down for video)
 
 
I apologize for this lengthy post, but I felt it necessary to educate Brothers on this topic as it is something that bothers me (for various reasons) when I hear it incorrectly discussed.


Edited by DBlair - July/27/2011 at 6:20pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jaya Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/27/2011 at 8:46pm
Great information. The KT and Knights Hospitalier were two distinct groups that did not necessarily see eye to eye. The were somewhat competitive between each other.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edwmax Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/28/2011 at 8:36am

 You describe the Hospitallers that remain under the protection and held their allegiance to Rome and the Pope; and, the continued “Aristocratic” rank of that Order.   … There are three other protestant Orders of St Johns (Hospitallers) based in London, Jerusalem, and Posdam.

 What is forgotten is the fact the Royal Arch Knights Templars and Knights of Malta are the Templars that broke with Rome and fled to Scotland and England during the persecution (1307 –1314).  It is here the historical facts and their absorption into Royal Arch Freemasonry cannot be documented with certainty.

The Knights Templars and the Hospitallers both worked closely side by side during the Crusades. Both worked under a Decree (freemen) and held alliance to the Pope.  Their ranks blurred, as some of the Templars were Hospitallers too and/or was assigned duty to defend Hosptials.  Some of the Hospitallers traveled with the Templars.    ….  One was the fighting force and the other Medics and the difference of the Red & White Crosses.    The Hospitallers of the White Cross were the Medics & Hospitallers of the Red Cross were fighting Knights.  … There is also Hospitallers of the Green Cross!

By decree of the Pope Clemet V in 1312, the Knights Templars were disbanded. The remaining Templars and their property were transferred to the Hospitallers.

The above description of the Soveriegn Mititary Order of Malta is correct, but that is only one part of the "old" Order of St John (Hospitallers).  SMOM is a lay Roman Catholic religious order. It is sovereign because the Pope and the Vatican is sovereign.  

The Royal Arch 'Knights of Malta' cannot claim to be a member of SMOM; but neither can a member of SMOM claim to be a Royal Arch Mason.

 



Edited by edwmax - July/28/2011 at 9:27am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JLHSMITH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/28/2011 at 9:38am
The Knight Kadosh, or 30th degree of the Scottish Rite comes to mind.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DBlair Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/28/2011 at 11:49am
Originally posted by edwmax edwmax wrote:

 You describe the Hospitallers that remain under the protection and held their allegiance to Rome and the Pope; and, the continued “Aristocratic” rank of that Order.   … There are three other protestant Orders of St Johns (Hospitallers) based in London, Jerusalem, and Posdam.

 What is forgotten is the fact the Royal Arch Knights Templars and Knights of Malta are the Templars that broke with Rome and fled to Scotland and England during the persecution (1307 –1314).  It is here the historical facts and their absorption into Royal Arch Freemasonry cannot be documented with certainty.

The Knights Templars and the Hospitallers both worked closely side by side during the Crusades. Both worked under a Decree (freemen) and held alliance to the Pope.  Their ranks blurred, as some of the Templars were Hospitallers too and/or was assigned duty to defend Hosptials.  Some of the Hospitallers traveled with the Templars.    ….  One was the fighting force and the other Medics and the difference of the Red & White Crosses.    The Hospitallers of the White Cross were the Medics & Hospitallers of the Red Cross were fighting Knights.  … There is also Hospitallers of the Green Cross!

By decree of the Pope Clemet V in 1312, the Knights Templars were disbanded. The remaining Templars and their property were transferred to the Hospitallers.

The above description of the Soveriegn Mititary Order of Malta is correct, but that is only one part of the "old" Order of St John (Hospitallers).  SMOM is a lay Roman Catholic religious order. It is sovereign because the Pope and the Vatican is sovereign.  

The Royal Arch 'Knights of Malta' cannot claim to be a member of SMOM; but neither can a member of SMOM claim to be a Royal Arch Mason.

 
Agreed.
 
The protestant orders branched off much later along with the development of the protestant reformation, etc.
 
The SMOM's status and sovereignty is somewhat of a unique situation as they are actually not under/part of the Vatican (they are technically independent), but they have the blessing of the Pope and operationally are linked in both practice and philosophy.
 
The terminology of calling it a 'lay Roman Catholic religious order' is similar to a number of other chivalric orders in Europe being descriptive of what they are about, but not really an 'order' in the friar/monk/nun sort of way.
 
My point in posting this topic was due to hearing so many Brothers claim that the historic Knights of Malta ceased to exist and that the Masonic order is actually the same Order as in the SMOM is actually the Masonic order and visa versa, when in fact the historic order never actually ceased and still exists today and while  I've also heard some claim that Masonic Knights of Malta and SMOM are actually the same thing (as in members of the same exact order-- in a dual membership sort of way), and while perhaps linked at a distance, they are very different.
 
One is a Masonic order, whereas the other is a recognized order of chivalry with a long continuous history. I'm honestly not trying to discount the Masonic order, but rather just clarify of the two being very different in spite of having similar names, etc.
 
Apples and Oranges: Both are delicious fruit, but they are not the same. 
 
 


Edited by DBlair - July/28/2011 at 11:52am
Hillsborough Lodge #25, F&AM (MM)
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