Proclamation appointing the Emperor Paul as Grand-Master of the Order of St. John.
We, the Bailiffs, Grand-Crosses, Commanders, Knights of the Grand-Priory of Russia, and all other members of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, present in this imperial city of St. Petersburg, reflecting on the disastrous situation of our Order; its total want of resources, the loss of its sovereignty and chief place of residence, the dispersion of its members, wandering through the world without a chief or any fixed spot of rendezvous, the increasing dangers by which it is threatened, and the plans formed by usurpers to invade its property and win it entirely; being desirous and in duty bound to employ all possible methods to prevent the destruction of an Order equally ancient and illustrious, which has ever been composed of the most select nobility, and which has rendered such important service to the Christian world; whose institutions were founded on such excellent principles as must not only be the firmest support to all legitimate authority, but tend to its own preservation and future existence; animated by gratitude towards His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias for the favours bestowed on our Order, penetrated with veneration for his virtues, and confidently relying on his sacred word” that he will not only support us in our institutions, privileges, and honours, but that he will employ every possible means to re-establish our Order in its original independent situation, where it contributed to the advantage of Christendom in general, and of every different state in particular.”
Knowing the impossibility in our present circumstances, the members of our Order being generally dispersed, of preserving all the forms and customs prescribed in our constitution and statutes; but being nevertheless desirous to secure the dignity and the power inherent to the sovereignty of our Order, by making a proper choice of a successor to D’Aubusson, L’Isle Adam, and La Valette:
We, the Bailiffs and Grand-Crosses, the Commanders and Knights of the Grand-Priory of Russia, and all other members of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, assembled at St. Petersburg, the chief place of residence of our Order, not only in our own names, but in those of the other languages, grand priories in general, and all their members in particular, who shall unite themselves to us by a firm adhesion to our principles, proclaim His Imperial Majesty the Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, Paul I., as Grand-Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
In virtue of this present proclamation, we promise, according to our laws and statutes, and that by a sacred and solemn engagement, obedience, submission, and fidelity to His Imperial Majesty, the Most Eminent Grand-Master.
Given at St. Petersburg, the residence of our Order, this present Wednesday, the 27th October 1798.
A History of the Knights of Malta, Vol 2., Porter, Wintworth., (c) 1858, Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts, London.