1. The Magistral Library and Archives of the Order of Malta
Via dei Condotti, 68
00187 Rome – Italy
2. His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Matthew Festing
79th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta
3. It is a sovereign entity - a country that has no territory.
SMOM prints money and franks stamps, it has license plates, and it issues
passports. It has been given permanent observer status by the United Nations.
humanitarian and medical assistance worldwide. It has held Permanent Observer status
at the United Nations (as does the Red Cross) since 1994 and issues "passports" to its
diplomats for diplomatic business but it does not meet the criteria for being an
independent country. It lacks territory, a permanent population, police power, and has
The Knights of Malta was founded in the late 11th century when it established a
hospital in Jerusalem to care for ill pilgrims during the First Crusade. The organization
expanded and built additional hospitals along the route from Europe to the Holy Land. In
addition to their hospitaller duties, the Knights of Malta also waged war against the
Eventually, Jerusalem was recaptured by the Muslims and the Knights of Malta left
Jerusalem and spent time in various places, especially the island of Cyprus. In 1309 the
SMOM took control of Rhodes (today a Greek island) but had to flee in 1523. They
|Interesting Comment on the Date of the Photo by Audrey Speelman
|Click here to see results of
5th occasional photoquiz survey.
|Click here to see results of
5th occasional photoquiz survey.
|Answer to Quiz #173 - August 31, 2008
|1. What is the street address of this building?
2. Who lives here?
3. What is unusual about the organization that owns it?
|Submitted by Mike Swierczewski.
|country by the Vatican City (a country that doesn't meet all of the criteria for being an
independent country itself) and a handful of other Roman Catholic countries, it does not
issue coins or stamps for more than ornamental purposes. Though the Knights of Malta
maintains "embassies" in a host of countries (in such places as Russia, Spain, Hungary,
and Poland) it does not in others (such as the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, or Japan).
There are fifty national Knights of Malta organizations and thousands of members
(called "knights") worldwide. The United States maintains an association as does
Canada and the United Kingdom.
For a more extensive history of the Order of Malta, click here.
Ave Crux alba, summae pietatis signum,
Ave Crux alba, salutis nostra sola spes,
Corda fidelium inflamma adauge gratiam, adauge gratiam.
Ut omnia vincat tuorum ardens caritas,
Ut omnia vincat tuorum ardens caritas.
Hail, thou White Cross, the highest sign of piety,
Hail, thou White Cross, our only source of health and hope,
Inflame the hearts of the faithful with abundant graces,
With your ardent charity, all things shall be overcome,
With your ardent charity, all things shall be overcome.
|Flag of the Order's
Works Adopted c.1305
|Flag of Malta
Adopted 15 Feb 1113
|Order of Malta, Federal Association, USA The
Latest News from the Federal Association Phase
III Order of Malta Home Repair Program in New
From March 2005 — April 2007, over 400
members of the Order of Malta from all across
the US participated in Phase I & II of the Order
of Malta Home Renovation Program in New
Thanks to a successful partnership with
Rebuilding Together, Catholic Charities of New
Orleans and the New Orleans Marriott our
volunteers worked 16 one-week work sessions
in Treme, Gentilly, and New Orleans East - -and
26 families have moved back in their homes as a
result of the great work done by our Order of
So successful was the program that we have
decided to extend it for seven more sessions —
September, October & December 2008 and
January, February, March, and April 2009. The
exact work weeks are listed below, along with all
of the other information about the program.
In Phase I our volunteers worked on homes with
major damage requiring extensive and expensive
repairs. Teams of 40-50 volunteers worked all
week, and the house would still be weeks from
completion. In Phase II we worked in houses
that required a week’s worth of finishing work
before the family was able to move back in. Our
work crews were between 15-20, and the model
worked very well. For Phase III we are only
accepting 25 volunteers per week.
Our efforts will be concentrated in the Treme /
Esplanade Ridge section of New Orleans. Very
near downtown / French Quarter, this entire
neighborhood will positively be re-built.
The Order of Malta is over 1000 old and, after a long and
complex history, has been in Rome for the last centuries.
But the aim of this page is not to explain the history of the
Order, but to show its plates: as a sovereign entity it has
got its own license plates on the roads!
First of all the exact meaning of the letters S.M.O.M.: most
people say that it means "Sovrano Militare dell'Ordine di
Malta" (Sovereign Military Order of Malta), but Frà Karl
Paar, member of the Order, told me that it stands for
"Servizio Militare dell'Ordine di Malta" (Military Service of
the Order of Malta).
It's important to notice that the vehicles with SMOM plates
are not the official vehicles of the Order of Malta because
they have standard Italian diplomatic plates with the letters
XA at the end (see table). On the contrary, these special
plates are used on the vehicles of ACISMOM, the
Association of Knights of Malta, that includes also a
"Military Corps": at the beginning it had war purposes, but
today it's used for civil protection and for disaster relief
(see pictures 5 and 6) working in co-operation with the
Italian authorities. Indeed, the SMOM plates are issued by
the Italian Minister of Defence, and so somehow they are
part of the Italian license plate system, but anyway their
shape is far different from any other Italian plate, as you
can easily see in the pictures, and they are not totally Italian.
SMOM plates have been around approximately since the
Second World War, but I don't know the exact year yet.
You can meet SMOM plates only in Italy (as said they're
part of the Italian license plate system): they all are made
and controlled in Rome and then distributed to members in
other Italian cities. There are about 100 SMOM plates
around, all looking like the same as you can see in the
pictures: the word SMOM in red and then the number. At
the beginning the number was also in red (pictures 1, 3, 4
and 6), then it became black (picture 2 and 7). In the past
also the background changed, from metallic (pictures 3 and
6) to white since the 1980s (pictures 1, 2, 4 and 7);
moreover in those years the size of the plate changed from
two lines (pictures 3 and 5) to just one line.
Numbers start from 1 and go up serially (there's no proof
about this, but sounds reasonable because large numbers
have never been issued). The same number can be issued
to different cars, even if not at the same time.; you can see
an example of this in the old photo gallery (picture 12). I
tried to write in questions about the numbers, but I had no
reply, probably because the military use of these vehicles
requires a bit of secrecy. I was told by some people that
the President of ACISMOM uses the plate with number 1
because he's the person responsible for the territory, but
other sources tell me that the Grand Priory uses the plate
number 1. From the websites of Guglielmo Evangelista I
know that the plate with number 1 was first mounted on a
Fiat 1800, later on a Fiat 125, a Fiat 132, a Lancia Prisma
and last on two different Lancia Thema's.
In the past, about from 1945 to 1970, ACISMOM had also
another kind of plates with two crosses on them. The first
of them was red, placed inside a circle and had a white
backgound and Guglielmo Evangelista told me that it should
be the Cross of Jerusalem, used also on the uniforms of
|Order of Malta helped rebuild New Orleans
after Hurricane Katrina
were given Malta in
1530 and built the
capital city of
neutrality of the
Knights of Malta,
conquered Malta in
1798 and the
SMOM fled once
again. Finally, in
1834 the Knights
of Malta found a
home in Rome,
where they still
While the Knights of
Malta is recognized
as an independent
that time. The second cross was white on red background and is knows as Cross of
Malta because is the coat of te arms of the Order of Malta. In the pictures number 8
and 9 (many thanks to Ernesto Vitetti who sent them to me!) you can see respectively a
rear and a front plate of this kind.
|Comments from Our Readers
|Fascinating!! I vaguely recall hearing about them but never had the occasion to study
them. (I spent over an hour trying to translate all the latin on the corner stone. Phew....
my 40+ year old Latin failed me! So I don't know if the building was built in 1631 or
Father Carolo Aldobrandino set up the Order's Library and Archives there in 1631 under
the order of Pope Urban VIII. It would be nice to have a full translation.)After all that,
things went quickly after I Googled Hermes and Via dei Condotti. Good one...I really
enjoyed this one! Now I going to go read more about SMOM. http://www.orderofmalta.
org/english Mary South
It is unusual in that the entire top floor is occupied by falcons.
(You've never heard of the famous Maltese Falcon?) Andy Hoh
This week's photo was a fun one. It was readily solvable yet had some meat to it. The
subject matter was interesting as you point out in your email. I knew nothing about
SMOM until this past week. I'm anxiously awaiting the next photo. These puzzles are
really addicting - I can see why you love forensic genealogy. Milene Rawlinson
I tried to think of something to rhyme but I did not to trivialize the work of the SMOM
in any way. I was really impressed with the selfless work that they do.
I got thrown a bit by this quiz. Apparently Swiss flags flying at half mast; Latin
inscriptions; and street signs all lead me on a merry path! In the end I resorted to the
‘Via dei Condotti’ and Google Maps to get me heading in the right direction.
It was interesting to me that the Order of Malta issues its own passports, license plates,
stamps and coins. Lois Carr
The Order of the Malta has a mission to help the sick, needy and the most
disadvantaged in society while the Hermes store sells very luxurious items that only the
very well to do can really afford to buy. Judy Pfaff
Its not amazing this organization ( a catholic church division?) to have all that rights,
(independent state without a state, consular rights, and maybe tax exceptions) sound a
very good business for somebody with power and money, well maybe I'm wrong, but
sound very suspicious, very convenient. Thanks again for the enjoyment to be
challenged every week. Claudio Trapote
This was a tricky one: the “area pedonale” sign indicated a place in Italy; the “Hermes”
store’s website listed an address containing “67” as Via Condotti, 67, Rome, so
obviously, Rome. The Maltese cross and Latin on the upper cornerstone suggests the
Knights of Malta (or St. John), and the flags would thus be the Sovereign Order of
Malta, and the “Flag of the Order’s Work”. They are at half-mast, so I am going to
guess that this was taken after the recent death of Fra’ Andrew Bertie, on 7 Feb 2008.
He was the 78th Grand Master, and the first British Grand Master of the Order since
1258 AD. (Wikipedia).This address is the residence of the Grand Master; it is the seat
of government for the Order. Audrey Speelman
I just had to tell you: I really enjoyed this week's puzzle (the building in Rome), but it
threw me for a bit because my home computer's resolution was so bad that the Maltese
Cross looked like a swastika, and the first flag looked like it was Austrian! I couldn't
even make out the signs! So you can imagine the hours of fun I had on Sunday. It
wasn't until I came into work and used my work computer that I could recognize
anything! Audrey Speelman (Again)
They are a country without land. (They are also too closely related to Freemasonry and
other occult groups to earn my admiration) Marilyn Hamill
I'm taking a real stab at this, nothing definitive, bear with me, please. The Order of
Malta is known under a ton of names, St Johns Hospitalers, etc. I'm not going to be
any more specific. I am either right on or so far from the correct answer that it won't
matter. This was a hard one. Gina Hudson
|Congratulations to Our Winners!
Mr. Rick's Quiz Angels ace another one!
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Elaine C. Hebert Stan Read
Dave Doucette Lois Carr
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Though without a territory since 12 Jun 1798, the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta still regards itself, and is
regarded by the states that give it diplomatic recognition, as
a sovereign state. The Knights of Malta (full style Sovereign
Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of
Rhodes, and of Malta [SMOM]) now functions as a Roman
Catholic charitable organization with limited diplomatic
status as a "sovereign entity", complete with passports,
coinage (via the world's smallest national mint), license
plates, ITU amateur radio license prefix (1A) and a post
While the Knights of Malta was once an independent
country, today it is no more an independent country than
any other organization such as the International Federation
of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Knights
of Malta as a religious organization that provides
|"Ave Crux Alba"
(Hail, thou White Cross)
Click here to hear the national anthem of Malta
|Facts about Malta
|Total Knights/Dames |
|Palazzo di Malta|
Via Condotti 68
|to 1798 and|
|"[The flags] are at half-mast, so I am going to guess that
this was taken after the recent death of Fra’ Andrew Bertie,
on 7 Feb 2008. He was the 78th Grand Master, and the
first British Grand Master of the Order since 1258 AD."
(Also remarked by Stan Read.) Picture shows Fra' Bertie
with Pope Benedict X at the Vatican 6./23/2008. See
|For a complete list of Grand Masters,
from Blessed Gerard (3 Sep 1120) the
first Grand Master through Fra'
Matthew Festing, (2008), the 79th
Grand Master, click here.
|The Knights of Malta
of the Knights of
|How Deena Solved the Puzzle
|It took me a LONG time to find who
lives in that building. I actually
started with the traffic sign, to figure
out the country. Then, I found 67
via Condotti because of Hermes. I
googled a simple description of the
emblem (white cross on red circle or
some such) looked through "Images"
and came up with Knights Templar.
That was a bit confusing and a rabbit
trail. I think I finally got it by
googling: Reside via Condotti.
|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!