The Knights of Malta were a Catholic military order during the Middle Ages, closely associated with the Masonic Knights Templar. Wikipedia says the group evolved into, “the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), Order of Malta or Knights of Malta. It remains a Roman Catholic lay religious order of, traditionally, a military, chivalrous and noble nature. It is the world’s oldest surviving order of chivalry.” (Wikipedia)
SMOM remains a powerful and mysterious international secret society. “The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is headquartered in Rome, Italy, and is widely considered a sovereign subject of international law. … It retains its claims of sovereignty under international law and has been granted permanent observer status at the United Nations” (Wikipedia). With its connection to the world elite through its high-born membership of only 13,000 out of a world population of 6 or 7 billion, its membership is pretty rarified. Perhaps this is why it is as powerful as it is secretive.
The order operated out of Malta from 1530-1798. The link below about Malta may explain why, besides the obvious reasons of strategic location and defensibility, they were the Knights of Malta and not the Knights of somewhere else. And it may also identify the true matriarch under which the Knights invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, “as its patroness and spiritual intercessor” (Wikipedia):
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