PROCLAMATION Appointing PAUL I. to the Grand-mastership.
WE, the bailiffs, grand-crosses, commanders, knights of the grand-priory of Russia, and all other members of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, present -in this imperial residence of St. Petersburg, reflecting on the disastrous situation of our order; its total want of resources; the loss of its sovereignty and chief place of residence; the dispersion of its members, wandering through the world without a commander or any fixed spot of rendezvous; the encreasing dangers by which it is threatened; and the plans formed by usurpers to invade its property, and ruin it entirely: being desirous, and in duty bound, to employ all possible methods to prevent the destruction of an order equally ancient and illustrious, which has ever been composed of the most chosen nobility, and which has rendered such important service to the Christian world; of an order, the institutions of which, were founded on such good principles as must not only be the firmest support to all legitimate authority, but tend to its own preservation and future existence: animated by gratitude toward his imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias, for the favours bestowed on or order; penetrated with veneration for his virtues and confidently relying on his sacred word, "that he will not only support us in our institutions, privileges, and honours, but that he will employ every possible means to re-establish our order in its original respectable situation, when it contributed to the advantage of Christendom in general, and to every different state in particular:"-
Knowing the impossibility in our present circumstances the members of our order being generally dispersed, of preserving, all the forms and customs prescribed in our constitution and statutes; but being nevertheless desirous to secure the dignity and the power inherent to the sovereignty of our order, by making a proper.choice of a successor to d'Aubusson, l'Isle-Adam, and La Valette:- We, bailiffs and grand-crosses, commanders, knights of the grand-priory of Russia, and all other members of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, assembled at St. Petersburg, the chief place of residence of our order, not only in our names, but in those of the other languages; grand-priors in general, and all their members in particular who shall unite themselves to us by a firm adhesion to our principles, Proclaim his Imperial Majesty the EMPEROR and AUTOCRATOR of all the Russias, PAUL I. GRAND-MASTER of the order of St. John of Jerusalem.
In virtue of the present proclamation, we promise, according to
our laws and statutes, and that by a sacred and solemn engagement, obedience,
submission, and fidelity, to his imperial majesty the most eminent grand-master.
Done at St. Petersburg, the residence of our order, this present Wednesday the 27th of October, 1798.
His imperial majesty condescended to accept this mark of respect and confidence in his goodness, and answered by the following
WE, by the grace of God, PAUL I. emperor and autocrator of all the
Russias, &c. &c. &c.
In consideration of the wish expressed to us by the bailiffs, grand-crosses, commanders, knights of the illustrious Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of the grand-priory of Russia, and other members assembled together in our capital, in the name of all the well-intentioned part of their confraternity, we accept the title of grand-master of this order; and renew on this occasion the solemn promises we have already made, in quality of protector, not only to preserve all the institutions and privileges of this illustrious order for ever unchanged in regard to the free exercise of its religion, with every thing relating to the knights of the Roman-catholic faith, and the jurisdiction of the order, the seat of which we have fixed in our imperial residence ; but ,also we declare that we will unceasingly employ for the future all our care and attention for the augmentation of the order, for its re-establishment in the respectable situation which is due to the salutary end of its institution, for assuring its solidity, and confirming its utility. We likewise declare, that in taking thus upon us the supreme government of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, and considering, it our duty to make use of every possible means to obtain the restoration of the property of which it has been so unjustly deprived, we do not pretend in any degree, as emperor of all the Russias, to the smallest right or advantage which may strike at or prejudice any of the powers our allies: on the contrary, we shall always have a peculiar satisfaction in contributing, at all times, every thing in our power towards strengthening our alliance with the said powers.
Our grace and imperial favour towards the order of St. John of
Jerusalem in general, and each of its members in particular, shall ever remain
invariably the same. Given at St. Petersburg, the 13th of November, in the year
1798, and in the 3d year of our reign.
(Counter-signed) PRINCE BESBORODKO.