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Are the Knights of Malta
Members of Freemasonry?

Dear Atila,

Thank you once again for all you do for our Catholic Church.

We have a question for which we cannot seem to find an answer. Are the Knights of Malta, as we know the organization to be affiliated with the Catholic Church, part of Freemasonry, or is the name just similar to that listed in the York Rite/Scottish Rite of the Freemasons?

We certainly understand that, just as the Church has been infiltrated, so too are many of her organizations, but it continues to be a point of discussion from time to time and I would like to have a definitive answer.

Hoping you can help.

     In His Holy Will,

     James Ward

Freemasonry - Malta


The Editor responds:

Dear James,

Thank you for your encouraging words.

To give you a straight answer to your question, it is: No. The Order of Malta as founded in the bosom of the Catholic Church has nothing to do with Freemasonry. The latter organization, which should be taken seriously when it comes to its conspiracy against the Catholic Church and Christendom, should not be taken seriously in many of the degrees it grants to its members. It is very easy for it to place in its hierarchy a degree with the title “order of Malta” and then say that Freemasonry does not need to give any historical proof of its authenticity because it is a secret organization.

As far as I know, there is no accessible link in the historic records between the Catholic Order of Malta and Freemasonry. Obviously, I am not saying that a member of the Order of Malta never entered Freemasonry, or a member of the latter never infiltrated the former. I am saying that, as far as I can trace, the true Order of Malta has never merged with Freemasonry.

If my assertion is true, the Masons’ allegation that the Order of Malta is one of their ranks is arbitrary.

At this point, you or your friends might ask: What are you referring to as the true Order of Malta? Are there false organizations with the same name that could have been in contact with Freemasonry? If so, which ones are they?

These questions, which normally come to the mind of one who is trying to evaluate this topic, oblige me to draft a historical outline, as brief as possible, of the true Order of Malta. Here is my synopsis, based on several sources:
  1. The Order was founded in Jerusalem around 1048 before the 1st Crusade under the name of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem by a man called Geraudo or Gerald – most probably an Italian from the city of Amalfi. Its first goal was to shelter pilgrims and cure the sick; hence the Order’s name: Hospital. It received the approval of Pope Paschal II in 1113. With the 1st Crusade it grew in fame and received many donations, which allowed the Order to purchase properties in many places in the Holy Land and Italy.

  2. knights hospitaller 

    Knights of St. John of Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades

    Gerald’s successor was Raymond of Puy from Provence (1120-1160). He gave a specific rule to the institution, which continued to grow. He also established an armed escort to protect arriving and departing pilgrims. Here, for the first time the term knight appears. This escort became a veritable army, which required hierarchical ranks. A heavy cavalry and a light cavalry called Turkpoles (because they were armed like the Turks) were set up and used to defend the Holy Land.

    The first time the military goal of the Order was mentioned in its statutes was in 1200 under Grand Master Alfonso of Portugal. Thenceforth, its members were divided into military and infirmary brothers; the chaplains, who celebrated the divine service, were the third class. The Order adopted the white eight-pointed cross that is still its symbol today.

  3. The members had the three vows – obedience, poverty and chastity – and the Order, along with the Order of the Temple or Knights Templar, was placed in charge of the defense of the Holy Land. They were granted great privileges, including absolute independence from any spiritual and temporal authority, reliance solely on the Pope; exemption from all taxes; the right to have their own chapels, clergy and cemeteries.

  4. In the 13th century, the Order owned more than 140 places in the Holy Land and about 1,900 in Europe.

  5. After the fall of Jerusalem (1187), the Hospitallers retired to their possessions in Tripoli on the east coast of Palestine, where they stayed for more than one century until the fall of St. John of Acre and the loss of the Holy Land (1291). They retired to the Kingdom of Cyprus where the King gave them a large property for their headquarters. Here, they changed their way of waging war and became a naval power.

    They conquered the Island of Rhodes and moved to it and took the name the Knights of Rhodes (1309-1522). The Grand Master assumed the rank of a temporal prince, sovereign of the island.

    When the Knights Templar were shut down in 1312, all their goods were transferred by the Pope to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, with the exception of those in Portugal and Aragon. This greatly increased the wealth of the Order.

  6. Grand master La Valette - Order of Malta

    Grand Master La Valette led a heroic defense against the Ottoman attack

    After two centuries in Rhodes, the Knights Hospitallers suffered a prolonged siege by the Turks (440 ships and 140,000 men) and lost the island in 1522. Emperor Charles V gave them the Island of Malta in his Kingdom of Sicily. They recovered the status of a Sovereign State in 1530. They became known as Order of Malta and had a small naval fleet. In 1565 it resisted a formidable four-month siege by the Ottoman fleet, which was put to flight by a Spanish task force that came expressly to assist the heroic effort of Grand Master La Valette. The Order of Malta took part in the Battle of Lepanto (1571), which definitively broke the Muslim power in the Mediterranean.

  7. With the end of the Muslim danger, the aggressive military role of the Order greatly diminished, its action being reduced to expeditions to liberate Catholic captives from slavery and to chase corsairs in the Mediterranean. They would remain on the island for more than two centuries until 1798.

  8. When Protestantism was established, some parts of the Order adhered to it in German and Anglo-Saxon countries. When this adherence was not given, the properties of the Order were confiscated by Protestant Princes and the Order suppressed. In England, the King confiscated all its properties and named himself Grand Master. This fake order became a royal honorific order that exists to this day.

  9. In the 17th and 18th centuries the Order of Malta decayed; its discipline and vows were relaxed; its ideals were practically forgotten; its sovereignty almost disappeared as the local branches of the Order became more and more dependent upon the temporal monarchs.

  10. The French Revolution of 1789 abolished the Order in France and confiscated its properties. In the Island of Malta the Order took a position of rejection of the French Revolution by sheltering the nobles who left France to escape death and by supporting the countries in war with France: England, Spain and Russia.

  11. In 1798 Napoleon, on his way to Egypt, stopped his fleet of 600 ships in Malta. On June 10, he took the Island of Gozo and part of the Isle of Malta under strong cannon fire from the knights’ fortress. In the evening, however, negotiations for an armistice were established. The Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch completely capitulated on June 12, negotiated with Napoleon to receive a good settlement and went to Trieste; 300 French knights were taken prisoners and sent to the Antibes; many knights of other nationalities were sent to England and Italy.

    Napoleon abolished the Order of Malta and confiscated its treasure, ships, artillery and properties. He sent its standards and regalia as trophies of war to the Directory. The Island was governed by the French military until a rebellion of the people supported by the English navy drove the French away in 1800. From then on Malta belonged to England. In 1964 it became an independent republic in the Commonwealth. The Order of Malta would never recover the Island of Malta.

  12. Since 1797 the Order of Malta had been negotiating with Russian Tsar Paul I to establish a branch of the Order in that country. The final accord had been signed some days before Napoleon’s attack. The Tsar gave many properties and privileges to the Order but maintained virtual control over the Order of Malta in Russia. After Tsar Paul’s death, Pope Pius VII named a Grand Master for the Russian branch, but after the death of the latter, the Russian branch did not accept any further orders from the Pope and declared itself entirely dependent upon the Tsar. This act marked the end of the short existence of a branch of the Order of Malta in Russia recognized by the Pope.

    Grand Master Andrew Bertie - Order of Malta 

    Above, late Grand Master Andrew Bertie, below, the present day Grand Master Matthew Festing; this is the only true Order of Malta

     Grand Master Matthew Festing - Order of Malta
    This schismatic Russian branch, according to some, was later incorporated into the honorific orders of the Communist State after the Revolution of 1917; according to others, it was relocated to the United States in 1917. In the U.S. it presents itself as ecumenical, combining both a schismatic branch and a Catholic branch. Neither branch is recognized by Rome. It is not the authentic Order of Malta although it uses its name, colors and symbols.

  13. A German branch of the Order of Malta, which was eradicated after the Protestant Revolt, was restored by Fredrick Wilhelm IV of Prussia in 1852 under the name of the “Evangelical Johannites.” It is a royal order charged with assisting hospitals. It has nothing to do with the true Order of Malta, although it wears its habits and uses its symbols.

  14. After being expelled from Malta in 1798, the Order settled its headquarters in Sicily (Catania and Messina) until 1826, when it moved to Ferrara and, in 1834, to Rome, where it continues to this day. It is recognized by the Pope as the only authentic Order of Malta and enjoys the status of a sovereign nation, holding diplomatic relations with 104 nations. For the official declaration of its authenticity and the Vatican’s non-recognition of the many imitations of the Order of Malta, click here.

  15. Pope Paul VI reformed the statutes of the Order of Malta in 1966, abolishing its militant character and vowing it only to the service of the poor and sick.
This overview, James, may help you to understand my previous assertion that there is no accessible historical proof that the true Order of Malta has ever merged with Freemasonry. I do not know whether or not some of the subdivisions of the schismatic order of Tsar Paul I became part of Freemasonry or if some of the branches that had previously adhered to Protestantism or were usurped by Protestant princes did so. What I am saying is that the authentic Order of Malta, which is essentially Catholic and recognized by the Roman Pontiffs, never entered Freemasonry.

UNiforms of the Order of MlataUniform of Order of Malta 

Uniforms of the true Order of Malta

In Portuguese and Spanish there is a saying: “Freemasonry is the ape of the Church.” Indeed, it is always trying to mimic the Church in its honors and orders, pretending to assume for itself some of the enormous prestige of the Catholic institutions.

A complementary rhyme says:

Por más que se vista de seda,
La que era mona,
Mona se queda.

Which translates:

No matter how much she puts on silk dresses,
One who is an ape,
Remains an ape.

So also with Freemasonry, ape of the Church, it can put on as many “orders of cavalry” it wishes to appear prestigious; it will never stop being the ape that it is.

Therefore, the “order of Malta” of Freemasonry is counterfeit, phony and preposterous; it could be considered a Mardi Gras representation.

The same could be said of the Order of the Temple, or the Knights Templar. Freemasonry pretends to have an “order of the Temple” degree as well. Again, without any base in history. The true Knights Templar will always be Catholic.

I have received correspondence from some poorly informed readers accusing the knights of the Order of Malta who wear their habits in solemn ceremonies of being Freemasons. Those who spread these opinions give proof of their blatant historic ignorance. If they were a little more educated, they would do precisely the opposite. They would send their letters to the Freemasons and tell them that they are stealing the honors that belonged solely to the Catholic Order of Malta, the only institution allowed by the Church to wear its glorious symbols.

I hope this will help you and your friends to resolve the doubt you mentioned.




Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted October 14, 2014


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