Grand Master of the Order of Malta

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Grand Master's flag

The Grand Master of the Order of Malta is the supreme power of the Sovereign Order of Malta . Until 1267 he held the title of master .

The office and dignity of a grand master is given to a professed knight with perpetual vows. Under canon law , the Grand Master of the Order of Malta has the rank of cardinal , but is not allowed to participate in the conclave as a layperson . The title of the Grand Master is His Highness and Eminence, the Prince and Grand Master . The powers of the Grand Master are regulated by the Constitution of the Order. The Grand Master resides at the seat of the Order in Rome, Via Condotti.

Choice of the grand master

The Grand Master is elected for life by the Grand Council of State .

The following exceptions were made to this rule:

  • In 1169/70 Gilbert de Aissailly was deposed and replaced by Gaston de Murols.
  • In 1305 Guillaume de Villaret gave the title to his younger brother Foulques de Villaret. He died in 1307.
  • In 1319, Foulques de Villaret was deposed and replaced by Helion de Villeneuve.
  • 1383–1395: The rival Grand Master Riccardo Caracciolo also claimed the title of Grand Master.
  • 1798–1801: In gratitude for the granting of refuge in Russia, the knights deposed their Grand Master Hompesch and declared the (non-Catholic!) Tsar Paul Grand Master; after his assassination (1801) a Roman Catholic Grand Master was again duly elected in 1803.
  • 1805–1879: During this time, the order was led by lieutenants (governors) placed below the hierarchy.

Requirements for the election to the grandmaster

Article 13 of the Constitution of the Order reads:

  • § 1
The Grand Master is elected for life by the Grand Council of State. Professed knights with at least ten years in perpetual vows are eligible, provided they are under 50 years old; For older professed knights three years in perpetual vows are sufficient, provided they have been members of the order for ten years.
  • § 2
The grand master and the governor of the grand master must meet the requirements stipulated for inclusion in the category of knights of honor and devotion.
  • § 3
Before taking office, the person elected as Grand Master must inform the HI. To inform father of his choice by letter.

The Grand Master's Oath

After informing the Pope that the election has taken place, in accordance with Article 14 of the Constitution of the Order, the person elected to the dignity of the Grand Master takes the following oath in the presence of the Cardinal Patron at a solemn session of the Grand Council of State:

“I, NN, solemnly promise and swear by this holy wood of the cross and God's holy Gospels, Constitution, Codex, Rule and the praiseworthy habits of our Order and to conduct its affairs conscientiously. God help me with this. And if I miss it, it is at the risk of my soul's salvation. "

Directory of Grand Masters

Jerusalem (until 1142)

Krak des Chevaliers (1142–1271)

Acre (1271-1291)

Cyprus (1291–1307)

Rhodes (1309-1522)

Malta (1530–1798)

Petersburg (1799–1803)

Messina / Catania (1803-1805)

Rome (from 1834)

Directory of governors (lieutenants) of the Grand Magisterium

Rome (1805-1826)

  •  1. Innico Maria Guevara-Suardo (1805-1814)
  •  2. André Di Giovanni (1814-1821)

Ferrara (1826-1834)

  •  3. Antoine Busca (1821–1834)

Rome (1834–)

List of Deputies of the Grand Master

  • Pio Franchi de 'Cavalieri (1929–1931) (during the illness of the 75th Grand Master)
  • Ernesto Paternò Castello di Carcaci (1955–1962)


  • Eugène Harot: Essai d'armorial des Grands-Maîtres de l'Ordre de Saint Jean de Jérusalem . Collegio Araldico, Rome 1911. ( available on fr: Wikisource )
  • Pierre d'Avity / Johann Ludwig Gottfried : Archontologiae Cosmicae . Book III Dissertatio De Ordine Equitum Melitensium . Frankfurt am Main 1628, pp. 18-45 .
  • Louis François: Monumens des grands-maîtres de l'Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem . JJ Blaise, Paris 1829. ( Google Books )

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Constitution of the Order (PDF; 391 kB) , accessed on January 15, 2011.
  2. Constitution of the Order (PDF; 400 kB)
  3. Knights of Malta elect Fra 'Giacomo Dalla Torre as Grand Master , The Tablet , May 2, 2018, accessed May 2, 2018
  4. SMOM. È deceduto il Gran Maestro Fra 'Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto on from April 29, 2020 (it.)