Knights of Malta - Secret Society
Bring up an order that has been around since the Crusades and you will find more conspiracy theories than you can imagine. The mystery and injustice of the wars bring so many wild stories from the depths of history.If there is even an ounce of secrecy involved, the theories are abundant and wild.
The Knights of Malta have a long history is courage, protection of the Christian faith and as a secret society. It is that long history that has added to the rumors. Envy, ignorance, and lack of information were the fuels to the fire.
Mystery During the Crusades
The Crusades created a lot of drama and mystery that is still rampant today. The Knights Templar are the most famous mysteries known today. Stories seem to never stop growing about them, but they weren't the only groups with these mysteries. Any of the groups of knights that fought in the battles created a sense of mystery and awe to those back in Europe.
In 1048, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem was established with a church and a hospital to aid travelers to the Holy Lands. Many people were making pilgrimages to the birthplace of Christianity. As the numbers grew, many needs arose including spiritual and physical needs. The holy knights recognized this need and sought to met it.
All that were connected to the order were knights who had taken the monastic vows commonly known as poverty, chastity, and obedience. They adopted the white 8-pointed star as their official symbol.
Run Out of Holy Lands
The Crusades were a series of wars battled between Christians and Muslims over ancient Jewish holy lands. Each side had a religious stake in the area. It switched sides multiple times with horrifying acts on each side. Many people travelled to and from the areas during that time.
As Jerusalem fell for the last time in 1291, the order was run out of the Holy lands. They moved around nomadically for several years until in 1310 they established headquarters on Rhodes where they commenced to building a navy that helped to fight non-Christian nations. The order remained in Rhodes until 1523 when it had to surrender to the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent after a siege of about 6 months.
Setting Up Headquarters
After seven years of wandering again, the order found a home at Malta in 1530. This was a place of significant religious moments. This was where St. Paul had been bitten by a snake and survived. Holy shrines had been erected. This was a place the Knights could call home. It was religious and respected. It was far from the areas they had been threatened. Safe would be a good word for such a location in their situation.
They remained there and became known as the Knights of Malta. This was another home that was taken away from them in 1798 by Napoleon who wanted the location for a base of operations for his military campaigns. It was strategically good for him and religious knights were not to stand in his way. Once again, the order found itself without a home until 1834 where it settled in Rome and remains there today.
Rome was a good choice in that all the world had a connection to it and the power of the city was growing by leaps and bounds. It had a past and a future.
Currently there are about 13,000 members of the order that can be found worldwide. The order has unique political status as it is a sovereign entity and has political connections to many countries. It has a seat at the UN in a similar capacity as the Red Cross. It is this unique political status and its history from the Crusades that makes it a “popular target for conspiracy theorists”.
Alleged members have said to be CIA directors, CEO chairmen, and major political party members. Rumors have the order involved in the Kennedy assassination, influencing relations between the West and the Middle East, as well as being the cause of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Though one might scoff at these, there have been actual cases of members of the order being involved in espionage. One embassy worker in Cuba admitted being a spy for the CIA and for Cuba. This does not help the order get out from under the secret society umbrella.