Enroute to invade Egypt with his huge fleet of warships and the army of revolutionary France, Napolean landed large army forces on the shores of Malta, and then entered the great harbor of Valetta with his fleet on 12 June 1798. The Order’s elderly Grand Master, Von Hompesch, had foolishly permitted Napolean to misuse the Order’s historic humanitarian policy of allowing access to its facilities and the providing of water and supplies to anyone requesting this courtesy. After 268 years of freedom and glory, the Order’s magnificent homeland had fallen without a major battle or siege.
In disgrace, Von Hompesch withdrew to Trieste and abdicated the office of Prince Grand Master. At the same time, the Knights of the Order, from throughout Europe and the Outremer, assembled in St. Petersburgh, Russia, accepting the protection and support of Czar Paul I who had been named Protector of the Order in November 1797. Shortly thereafter, the Knights elected Czar Paul Grand Master of the Order (see history, The Order In Russia). Given the beautiful Vorontov Palace which was renamed the Palace of Malta, the Order remained in Russia until the bloody anti-Christian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
Thus, if any order of Saint John is to have any claim whatsoever to historic continuity and validity, it must have its roots in Russia, as well as in Malta, Rhodes and the Holy Land. The Sovereign Order has both historic and very personal evidence of its Russian Connection as demonstrated by the official proclamation seen below: