Posted by Murrisk on April 28, 2001 at 03:37:00:
In Reply to: Re: Knights of Malta posted by max on April 27, 2001 at 22:54:45:
Information from a magazine in a doctor's waiting room: the Soverign Military Order of Malta is an ancient order of Chivalry and the fourth oldest religous order of the Roman Catholic Church (after Basilians, Augustinians and Domenicans). Its purpose is twofold - defence of the Catholic faith and service to the sick and poor. It is headquartered in Rome in an area which is neither Italian nor Vatican territory. It is recognized as a sovereign state by more than 75 countries with whom it exchanges Ambassadors and in 1994 became a Permanent Observer of the U.N. General Assembly. It issues its own passports, coins its own currency and prints its own stamps. The criteria for joining the Order are: must be a Roman Catholic because its a religous Order -about 40 have taken vows - and have either hereditary nobility or personal nobility (in its Constitution it is traditionally a noble Order). When founded the Order was obliged to assume military functions for the protection of the sick, the pilgrims and Christian territory which the Crusades had won back from the Muslims. The Knights were and are a religous Order and are bound by three monastic vows of Obedience, Chastity and Poverty. (The Knights are the core of the Order and the many thousands of members and volunteers do not take these vows).
The Order's relevance today is directly attributed to its original aims: the sanctification of its members through their work for the poor and the sick. Assistance given by the Order in the humanitarian field is immense - 12,500 members, 70,000 permanent volunteers, 1 million regular donors, over 9,000 employed in charitable works and present in over 130 countries.
Historically, the Order was founded in 1099 by the armies of the First Crusade; gained sovereignty over the island of Rhodes in 1310 following the fall of Acre to the Ottomans in 1291; lost Rhodes to Suleyman the Magnificent in 1522; gained control of Malta and other islands in 1530 and lost it to Napoleon in 1798; settled in the Palace of Malta in Rome in 1834 where it remains to this day.
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