In 1804 Chevalier Louis de Boisgelin published a History of the Order of Malta, which contained this description of the Reception of new Knights.
"Those who are determined to dedicate themselves to the service of the sick, and to the defence of the Catholic religion, in the habit of our Order, are received at their profession in the following manner :- They ought to be perfectly well acquainted that they are about to put off the old man, and to be regenerated; by humbly confessing all their sins; according to the established custom of the church; and, after having received absolution, they are to present themselves in a secular habit, without a girdle, in order to appear perfectly free at the time they enter into so sacred an engagement, with a lighted taper in their hands, representing charity; to hear mass, and to receive the holy communion."
They afterwards presented themselves most respectfully before the person who was to perform the ceremony, and requested to be received into the company of brothers, and into the holy Order of the Hospital of Jerusalem. He then addressed them in a short speech, to confirm them in their pious designs, to explain how salutary and advantageous it was to consecrate themselves to the service of the poor in Christ Jesus, to be constantly employed in works of mercy, and to devote themselves to the defence of the Christian faith-a favour which many had vainly attempted to obtain.
|He proceeded to point out the engagement they were to enter
into of perfect obedience;- the severity of the rules, which would no
longer permit them to act for themselves, which obliged them absolutely to
renounce their own will and pleasure, and implicitly to comply with that
of their superiors ; so that if ever they felt an inclination to do one
thing, they were, compelled by their vow of obedience to do another.
He next asked the candidate whether he found himself disposed to submit to all these obligations ; whether he had ever before taken the vows in any other Order; whether he had ever been married ; if his marriage had been consummated ; if he owed any considerable sums; and if he were a slave : because, if, after having taken the vows, it were discovered that he had done any of these acts, or had been in the last-mentioned situation; he would be immediately stripped of his habit with disgrace, as a deceiver, and given up to the master to whom he formerly belonged.
If he declared that he had contracted. no such engagements, the brother who received him presented him an open missal, on which he placed both his hands, and having answered all the above questions, made his profession in the following terms :
" Io N. faccia voto e prometto a Dio omnipotente, ed alla Beata Maria sempre Vergine, madre di Dio, ed a Sun Giovanni Battista di osservare peretuamente, con Iajuta de Dio, vera obedienza a qualunque superiore che unie sara dato do Dio, e dalla nostra religione, e di piu vivere senza proprio e d'osservar castita."
"I N. do vow and promise to Almighty God, to the holy eternal Virgin Mary, mother of God, and to St. John the Baptist; to render, henceforward, by the grace of God, perfect obedience to the superior placed over me by the choice of the Order, to live without personal property, and to preserve my chastity."
Having taken his hands from the hook, the brother who received him said as follows: "We acknowledge you as the servant of the poor and sick, and as having consecrated your self to the defence of the Catholic church: " To which he answered: "I acknowledge myself as such." He then kissed the missal, placed it on the altar which he likewise kissed, and brought it back to the brother who received him, in token of perfect obedience. Upon which, the brother took the mantle, and shewing him the white cross upon it, thus addressed him: " Do you believe, my brother, that this is the symbol of that holy cross to which Jesus Christ was fastened, and on which he died for our sins?" To which the new brother replied: "Yes, I do verily believe it." The other the added: "It is also the sign of our Order, which we command you to constantly wear." The new brother then kissed the sign of the cross; and the other threw the mantle over his shoulder in such a manner that the cross was placed on the left breast. The brother who had received him then kissed him, saying,: " Take this sign in-the name of the holy Trinity, of the holy Virgin Mary, and of St John the Baptist, for the increase of faith; the defence of the Christian name, and for the service of the poor. We place this cross on your breast, my brother, that you may love it with all your heart ; and may your right hand ever fight in its defence, and for its preservation ! Should it ever happen that in combatting for Jesus Christ against the enemies of the faith, you should retreat, desert the standard of the cross and take to flight. in so just a war : you will be stripped of this truly holy sign, according to the statutes and customs of the Order as having broken the vow you have just taken, and cut off from our body as an unsound and corrupt member."
He then put the mantle on the new brother; tied it with strings round his neck, and said : "Receive the yoke of the Lord, for it is easy and light, and you shall find rest for your soul. We promise you nothing but bread and water a simple habit and of little worth. We give you; your parents and relations a share in the good works performed by our Order, and by our brothers, both now and hereafter; through-out the world." To which the newly professed knight answered Amen, (that is to say) So be it. After which the brother who had received him, and all who were present on the occasion, embraced and kissed him in token of friendship, peace, and brotherly love. The priests, particularly he who said mass, then repeated the following prayers :
"Thou hast showered down thy mercy upon us, oh God ! in the midst of thy temple-Psalm. The Lord is great, he is worthy to be praised in the city of God, even upon his holy hill, &c.
"Behold how good and joyful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity, &c. Glory be to the Father, &c:
" Thou hast showered down, &c. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleision, Kyrie eleison. Our father; &c: Lead us not into temptation, &c. Save thy servant, oh God ! who putteth his trust in thee. Send him help from thy holy place, and from Sion. Defend him, and let the enemy have no advantage over him, nor the wicked one approach to hurt him. Be unto him, oh -Lord ! a strong tower from the face of his enemy, and from them that persecute him. Lord, hear our prayers, and let our cry come unto thee. The Lord be with you, and with your spirit.
"Let us pray.
" Oh. God ! who convertest the wicked, and desirest not the death of a sinner, we most humbly beseech thy divine Majesty to send the assistance of-thy heavenly grace upon this thy servant; who putteth -his trust only in thy mercy; and preserve him with thy continual help, that he may always serve thee truly, and never be led astray by any temptation, through Jesus Christ: our Lord. Amen.
"Let us pray.
" Oh almighty and everlasting God ! who alone workest great marvels, send down upon N. thy servant the healthful spirit of thy grace ; and, that he may truly please thee, pour upon him the continual dew of thy blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"Let us pray.
"The Lord receive thee into the number of the faithful ! and, whilst we his unworthy servants receive thee with our prayer, grant thee his grace to do well, with the will to persevere therein, and bring thee to the happiness of eternal life ! that, as brotherly love has united us on earth, the goodness of God, which invigorates that love has united us in heaven with his faithful servants. Grant this, oh Lord ! through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen."