September 5 to December 6, 2015

The Grand Master’s Palace, Valletta, Malta

Organised by:
Heritage Malta, the National Agency for Cultural Heritage and Museums; the National Library of Malta, held under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Malta.

With participation of The Moscow Kremlin Museums

1# Reliquary Locket.The Moscow Kremlin Museums take part in the international exhibition, to be held in the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta, Malta, along with the events commemorating the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta of 1565.

More than170 artworks from the local collections as well as those taken on loan tell the story of the establishment of the Order of St. John, of the religious and political aspects of the development of Europe and the Mediterranean in the 16th century, of the establishment of the Order of Malta, of the events which led to the Great Siege, the progress of the Siege and the role of the outcome of this epic battle in the formation of today’s Malta.

On the exhibition various significant historical episodes are illustrated by displaying the important documents concerning the afore mentioned events such as the Papal Bull of 1113 by Pope Paschal II approving the institution of the Order of St. John, as well as the espionage documents warning the Order about the imminent massive Ottoman attack of 1565.

The Moscow Kremlin Museums present two unique items at the exhibition - the reliquary locket which belonged to Grand Master of the Order of St. John Philippe de Villiers de l’Isle Adam (1521-1534) and the Grand Cross on chain of Grand Master Jean de la Vallette.

The reliquary locket is made of gold, filigree work, with both sides having golden Maltese crosses, covered with white enamel and surrounded by filigree ornament. The Grand Cross of Jean de la Vallette is the golden eight pointed cross, both sides covered with white enamel.

These items had been kept in the Treasury of St. John’s Cathedral, Vallette before 29 November 1797, when they were officially presented to the Russian Emperor Paul I during the ceremony of the Emperor’s consecration as the protector of the Order of St. John. This way the Order expressed its gratitude for the Emperor’s support and timely help with resolving the issues resulting from the French Revolution and consequently the loss of the Order’s lands and the greater part its foreign income.

Emperor Paul I appreciated the presents so much that he wore the Grand Cross and chain practically all the time and was even depicted wearing them on several of his portraits.

After the death of Paul I in 1801 the Grand Master Jean de la Vallette’s cross was given to his heir - Emperor Alexander I. In 1825, along with all orders of Alexander I that were not supposed to be returned to other countries by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Grand Cross was transferred to the Chapter of Russian Orders. After the February revolution of 1917 the possessions of the Chapter were removed to the Moscow Kremlin by the order of the Provisional Government.