About certain mentions of The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) in Serbian press before beginning of The World War II


Aleksandar Bačko



Dedicated to


in Passau (Germany)


There are not many mentions of Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) in Serbian press before beginning of The World War II. During brief research, we were not able to find any mention in Serbian newspapers published in 19th century. From the beginning of 20th century, situation is a little bit different.

In “Prosvetni glasnik” (official gazette of The Ministry of education and church of The Kingdom of Serbia), published in Belgrade on September 1st 1901, we find mention of The Knights of Malta (“Malteski Riteri”).[1]

That gazette contains the text about meeting of Serbian local leaders, held 1614. in area of clan Kuči, in order to rise against the Turks. In this text, author Jovan N. Tomić mentioned that Knights of Malta promised Duke Charles Gonzaga of Nevers help, to built a fleet.[2]

Russian Emperor Paul I, as Grand Master of The Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (Order of Malta), rewarded count Nikola Dimitrijević Vojnović for his great war merits, by membership in this Order. Text about count Nikola is published in periodical “Delo”, on April 1st 1902.[3]

There is an article about Russian general of Serbian origins, Simeon Nerandžić Zorić, in „Srpski književni glasnik“ (Serbian Literary Gazette) published on September 16th 1913. In that article is mentioned, that general Simeon Nerandžić Zorić “was allowed to bear” granted insignia of The Maltese Order of Saint John in 1777.[4]

In newspaper “Vreme” (Time), published in Belgrade on March 3rd 1926, author M. Svetovski wrote about old palace in Prague. That palace previously belonged to The Maltese Order, and after formation of The Czechoslovak Republic, it was used as Embassy of The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.[5]

Text about certain treasure of The Maltese Knights is published in newspaper “Vreme”, on April 6th 1929. It is about four bejeweled golden caskets, containing such priceless relics as: a fragment of The True Cross, icon painted by Saint Lucas, relic of the right hand of Saint John the Baptist and the Cross of La Valet, the Grand Master of The Order.[6]

These caskets were handed to Russian Emperor Paul I by Maltese Knights. Later, Empress Maria Feodorovna, widow of Emperor Alexander III of Russia, brought those objects to Denmark. In 1920s mentioned caskets and its content became objects of a complex international dispute.[7]

Mention of “old fortress (town) of Knights of Malta, dating from 14th century”, located in Pakrac in Slavonia was published in newspaper “Vreme” (Belgrade, February 10th 1930).[8]

In 18th number of magazine “Ilustrovano vreme” (Illustrated Time), published in Belgrade in 1930, was an article about Knights of Malta. This article was advertised by newspaper “Vreme”.[9]

News about planned reorganization of The Order of Knights of Malta by Grand Master Ludovico Chigi-Albani, on island Rhodes, were brought by newspaper “Vreme” published on September 21th 1931.[10]

On the page 15 of the daily newspaper “Pravda” (Justice), published in Belgrade on March 23rd 1934, is article “Ko su Vitezovi Malteškog reda?” (Who are The Maltese Knights?). This text is published regarding to Congress of the Maltese Knights, held in Rome in March 1934.[11]

Brief history of The Order of Malta is presented in mentioned article. In the same newspaper, on page 20, is published following photo of the Maltese Knights visiting Pope Pius XI, “before their great congress”:[12]

Malteski vitezovi

In the article about exhibition of antiquities of Bay of Kotor, held in 1934, it is stated, that captain Petar Želalić (Dželalić) from Bijela in Bay of Kotor, during 18th century “became knight of Malta, despite he belonged to the Orthodox faith, which was the first case, that Maltese knighthood was given to Non-Catholic”.[13]

Island of Malta, “once famous fortress of the Knights of Malta, and now powerful center of the English Navy in Mediterranean”, was mentioned in newspaper “Vreme” on July 26th 1936.[14]

Newspaper “Vreme”, published in Belgrade on November 7th 1936, brought brief news from Vatican daily newspaper “L’Osservatore Romano”, that “Order of Malta will be abolished or radically transformed”.[15]

Text about The Order of Karađorđe’s Star with swords, published in “Beogradske opštinske novine” (Newspaper of the Belgrade municipality) on November 1st 1937, also contains mentions of the Order of Malta. Author of this text brings brief history, and some details concerning SMOM.[16]

At Museum, founded at former court of King Nicholas I of Montenegro, were kept many valuable King’s objects, such is badge of “The Maltese cross”. Article about this Museum was published in Belgrade, on February 21st 1939, in newspaper “Pravda”.[17]

Article about Prince and Grand Master of SMOM and Hereditary Marshall of the Holy Roman Church Ludovico Chigi della Rovere-Albani, and his family, was published on February 25st 1939. in Belgrade, in daily newspaper “Pravda”.[18]

About mentioned captain Petar Želalić (Dželalić), Orthodox Christian from Bijela in Bay of Kotor, who became knight of Malta in 18th century, was also written in “Vreme” published in Belgrade on July 3rd 1940.[19]


[1] Јован Н. Томић, Састанак и договор српских главара у Кучима 1614. године ради устанка на Турке, Просветни гласник, Службени лист министарства просвете и црквених послова Краљевине Србије, година XXII, Београд 1. септембар 1901. (further: Prosvetni glasnik 1901), 1114 – 1115.

[2] Prosvetni glasnik 1901, 1114 – 1115.

[3] Ј. Р. Милорадовић, Руска експедиција у Персији под графом М. И. Војновићем (1781 – 1782), Дело, лист за науку, књижевност и друштвени живот, двадесет четврта књига, година седма, Београд 1. април 1902, 165.

[4] Милош С. Московљевић, Генерал Симеон Неранџић Зорић, Српски књижевни гласник, књига тридесет прва, свеска шеста, Београд 16. септембар 1913, 434.

[5] М. Световски, Посело у властелинском двору нашег посланика у Прагу, Време, година VI, број 1510, Београд 3. март 1926, 1.

[6] Борба за благо витезова с Малте, Време, година IX, број 2618, Београд 6. април 1929. (further: Vreme 1929), 2.

[7] Vreme 1929, 2.

[8] Време, година X, број 2919, Београд 10. фебруар 1930, 1.

[9] Време, година X, број 3056, Београд 3. јул 1930, 7.

[10] Време, година XI, број 3492, Београд 21. септембар 1931, 6.

[11] Правда, година XXX, број 10552, Београд 23. март 1934. (further: Pravda 1934), 15.

[12] Pravda 1934, 15, 20.

[13] Време, година XIV, број 4601, Београд 30. октобар 1934, 7.

[14] Време, година XVI, број 5218, Београд 26. јули 1936, 14.

[15] Време, година XVI, број 5322, Београд 7. новембар 1936, 1.

[16] Живан Ј. Ранковић, Карађорђева звезда са мачевима, Београдске општинске новине, година LV, број 11, Београд 1. новембар 1937, 706.

[17] Правда, година XXXV, број 12314, Београд 21. фебруар 1939, 12.

[18] Правда, година XXXV, број 12318, Београд 25. фебруар 1939, 10.

[19] Време, година XX, број 6622, Београд 3. јул 1940, 7.

About certain mentions of The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) in Serbian press before beginning of The World War II

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