Visiting the last true knight of Malta

Visiting the last true knight of Malta

Legendary Hospitallers, the knights of Malta built his capital as a “city for the noble gentlemen,” but the survival of chivalry in the modern era? And what it means to be a real knight?


When one Sunday of October at 21:00 I called brother John Kritienu, he was not happy about it. At this hour, the gentleman would not call a knight without prior arrangement, he said dryly. On and ended our conversation.

But I did not give up and immediately sent him an email where he explained that he had come to Malta just for this — to learn good manners of the legendary knights of the Sovereign military Hospitaller order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.

This time the response was more favorable for me. The answer came next morning:

Well, I guess that being a gentleman also means trying to provide a service to others — even after they’ve caught you off guard on Sunday evening.

And on Tuesday afternoon we met in one of the oldest buildings in Malta, Forte Sant’angelo, located in the centre of the Grand harbour in the capital of Malta, Valletta, where, since 1998, brother John Critien — only inhabitant closed to the public upper part of the fortress.

(1998-the order owns the Fort Sant Angelo, with extraterritorial status for 99 years after the conclusion of the Treaty with the government of the Republic of Malta. — Approx. interpreter.).

Cream shirt-Polo, yachting shoes, knight greeted me with a warm smile and pointed: “Here.” And we started to climb the ramparts.

The order of Malta, a chivalrous religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, the oldest in the world (has the status of observer organization at the United Nations and the Council of Europe, diplomatic relations with 107 countries. — Approx. translator).

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As a military-religious order was founded after the occupation of Jerusalem by Christians in 1099 during the First crusade (he was entrusted with the duty to protect and defend the Holy land).

The Maltese Islands went to the Hospitallers in perpetual lease from the Spanish king Charles I in exchange for a promise every year to send him the Maltese Falcon.

Grand master Jean de La Valette built in Malta new capital, which later British Prime Minister (XIX century) Benjamin Disraeli says: “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”, the noble lords to the noble lords.

Now brother Cretien — the only knight in the archipelago, which observes all the vows of the order, which makes it the last real knight of Malta, Malta. (The headquarters of the order with a status of extraterritoriality is located in Rome. — Approx. interpreter.).

We went with brother Kritiena on the ramparts of Fort St Angelo, a medieval Bastion, rebuilt in the XVI century.

Then there was the headquarters of the Grand master of the Order, and it was at the time (1565) the Great siege of Malta when the knights Hospitallers from may to September, heroically repelled the attack of the army of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire of Suleiman I. (the Turks fled when the island came the army of the Spanish Viceroy of Sicily. — Approx. interpreter.).

A large part of Fort Sant Angelo is open to public visitors, but few tourists could visit the closed section of brother Kritiena only this year, due to the fact that Valletta received the title of Cultural capital of Europe 2018.

About the permission to tourists to visit all parts of the Fort and after 2018 with brother Critenon is currently in talks with Maltese heritage Foundation. Knight hopes to create a small Museum dedicated to the chivalric project.

We settled down in the spacious living room with portraits of past Grand masters on the walls, and I tried to sit up, straightening his shoulders to match the pose of a noble brother Kritiena.