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A Knight of the Maltese Order attended the Priory Palace at Gatchina

The Gatchina Museum-Preserve hosted the conference "The Order of Malta and Russia" as part of the series "The Imperial Gatchina." The conference was attended by researchers from the Gatchina Museum-Preserve, the Russian Museum, the St Petersburg Department of the Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the St Petersburg Central State Historical Archive, among others The presentations made at the conference covered a variety of issues regarding the relations between Russia and the Order of Malta in the area of diplomacy, arts and culture. Both the papers and presentations covered an extensive span of time ranging from the establishment of the Order to its activities during the Second World War.

A real knight from the Order of Malta attended the conference as a guest participant - Fra' John Edward Chrétien from the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem. We took this opportunity to ask him several questions.

Фра' Джон Эдвард Критьен — Fra' John, are you here for the first time in St Petersburg?

— No, this is my fourth visit and I hope to come here again.

— Would you, please, share your experience of the conference?

— It was an excellent conference that generated a lot of interest. I hope to be able to make a presentation next time I come here. I would be happy to be invited again. I think it is important that the presentations and papers delivered at the conference should be translated into English to make them available across the world. It is necessary that Russian researchers should be known outside of their country, we need to exchange information, share research in the international context.

— Could you tell us about the current activities of the Order?

— The Order is full of energy; our resources are entirely used for charity purposes. We also strive to protect the environment, an area that is in need of our assistance. We are confident that we can assist and serve the public. The focus of our activities is to bring people together of different skin color and ethnic backgrounds. Our message is that whatever your religion, skin color, ethnicity, if you are in need of help, we are here to help. In other words, we returned to the origins of the Order – the brotherhood that was founded in Jerusalem in the early 11th century and originally known as the Order of the hospital of St. John and those who joined it took a vow "to serve as slaves and servants to their lords who are the week and the sick".

— Who can join the Order of Malta today?

— Most importantly, one should be a devoted and ardent Catholic, a role-model for others. Those who intend to join the Order maintain close contacts with it as friends, assistants, and volunteers; they assist in the Order's activities in their country. If, over time, the volunteer is found to be suitable, he is invited by the local Order to join. In other words, he should not and cannot ask for membership, he should wait to be invited.

Dear Visitors! You can buy the materials of the conference "The Order of Malta and Russia" in the museum shop to familiarize yourself with presentations and papers of the conference.

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