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Presence of Knights in Malta

November 24, 2019



As you set foot on the island of  Malta, you will very quickly notice testimonies of the presence of the Knights of St. John.


Who are they and why did they come to Malta?
Established in the 11th century under the order of the papacy, the Order of Saint John is a religious, hospital and military order. Following the First Crusade, the Holy Land became christian and the Knights Hospitaller settled down there to defend it as well as take care of people who went there for pilgrimage. As a Hospitaller Order, they also assisted any person in need.


But in 1187, Saladin takes over Jerusalem, so the knights are forced to leave the Holy Land. The order go through many changes and displacement. They settled in Cyprus, then in Rhodes until 1522, date in which the Island fell into the hands of Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The Knights had to find a new refuge again.


With the assistance of Pope Clement VII, they received from  Charles V in 1530, the islands of Malta, Gozo and the city of Tripoli. In exchange, they should protect the islands, as well as Sicily and Naples from the Ottoman threat. The Knights Hospitaller of the Order of Saint John took the name of Knights of Malta.


They organized the defense of Malta, designated Birgù as capital (more strategic than Mdina which is located in the interior of the island), renovated or built several fortifications like the F