Proclamation of Paul I as Protector of the Order of Malta 1797


SIRE, - The Sovereign Order of Malta, eager to acknowledge its debt of gratitude, and to perform a duty, not only sacred but dear to the hearts of every one of its members, approaches the foot of your throne to its grateful thanks. Your Majesty's benefactions are such as must ever remain deeply engraved on our memory.
The new establishment which the munificence of Your Imperial Majesty has secured to the Order of Malta in the Empire of Russia, has been sanctioned in that Island with the most lively enthusiasm, and ever sentiment of joy and gratitude. To give a still greater solemnity to our acknowledgement, and to express our homage still more forcibly, His Highness my Lord the Grand Master, together with the Supreme Council have unanimously decreed an Extraordinary Embassy on the occasion.
Being chosen by my Order for this august mission, it is in quality of Ambassador Extraordinary, that I am charged to acquaint Your Imperial Majesty with the universal wish of the whole Order that you would deign to become chief of this establishment, and accept a title so dear, and so encouraging to us all ; a title indeed which you, Sire, by your generous sentiments, and the favours bestowed upon us, have already so justly acquired, namely, that of Protector- of the Order of Malta, and as such we trust we shall see Your Imperial Majesty invested with the ensigns of an Order equally ancient and illustrious, ever renowned for its exploits, and venerable from the sanctity of its institutions.
His Eminent Highness and the Supreme Council have, therefore, sent your Imperial Highness the Ancient Cross of the celebrated La Vallette, that invincible defender of our Island who bequeathed his name to a city which he alone has rendered impregnable. This cross has hitherto been religiously preserved in the treasury of our Cathedral Church, as a precious monument, which constantly recalled to our remembrance the glorious military exploits performed by a Grand Master of Malta, who might properly be termed the Hero of Christianity; and we now feel a pleasure in offering it to your Imperial Majesty, as a proof of our gratitude, as a mark worthy of his piety, and as a happy presage of the renewal of our prosperity.
This offer is accompanied by our most ardent vows for the glory of Your Imperial Majesty, and the happiness of your Empire. This august and revered ensign of our Order, together with the recollection of our ancestors, and the proofs of valour given by the Knights of Malta will, we doubt not, excite in the bosoms of the illustrious, brave, and faithful nobles of Your Majesty's Empire an enthusiasm and a spirit of emulation worthy the most glorious ages of chivalry; and the solemnity of this memorable day will. constantly recall to posterity the remembrance of the munificence of Paul I, and the gratitude of the Order of Malta.