This week marks the 900th anniversary of the Papal Bull Piae Postulatio Voluntatis that gave the Knights of Malta their sovereign status. That Papal Bull was issued on February 15, 1113 by Pope Paschal II. They were originally known as the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and began operations in 1099. The order started by running infirmaries in Jerusalem during the Crusades for poor pilgrims. Later it adopted a military function. Officially known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta it has been without land to govern since Napoleon pushed them out of Malta in 1798.
It still retains its sovereign status. The order engages in charitable work and has 13,500 members, 80,000 volunteers, and 25,000 doctors, nurses, and paramedics. The members are not priests, and traditionally came from European nobility. There are about 60 members who take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and live as monks. It still runs a hospital in Bethlehem as well. It is an observer at the United Nations and prints stamps, license plates, mints coins, issues passports, and has diplomatic relations with over 100 nations, and maintain their own courts and legal code.
The Law Office of Kurt T. Koehler, 308 1/2 S. State Street Ann Arbor, Michigan (MI) 48198 (Washtenaw County); Copyright 2012 by Kurt Koehler