777 years ago, in June 1247 at Alba Regia in central Hungary, King Béla IV signed an agreement with Rembaldo, Grand Preceptor of the Order of St John. Known as the ‘Diploma of the Knights of St John’, this document is the earliest testimony of a direct link between the Order of St John and the Romanian people, as well as the expression of the long-standing relationship between Romania and the Order.
The Diploma covered much of the present Romania, as Béla IV’s kingdom covered parts of modern Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine, and other territories. This important historic record is conserved in the Vatican Archives and published in J.Delaville Le Roulx’s Cartulaire général de l’Ordre des Hospitaliers de S. Jean de Jérusalem (1100–1310).
While the contract of 1247 could never be implemented – namely because of numerous conditions in the agreement and other prevailing circumstances – the ‘Diploma of the Knights of St John’ testifies to the fact that the Order of St John was an important historic presence in European civilization, and in numerous negotiations and concordats between the countries of mediaeval Christianity in Central and Eastern Europe, fostering the foundation of the Romanian state. It is also considered that the first hospital in Romania was founded by the Knights of St John in Oradea, even before the hospital settlement in Sibiu whose establishment is attested in 1292.
The Order and Romania formally established diplomatic relations 92 years ago, in December 1932. These relations then ceased in 1948, without being formally denounced by either party. Subsequently, in 1960 a “Union of Members and those decorated with the Order of Merit of the Sovereign Order of Malta” was created, which in 1962 was renamed as the “Romanian Association of Members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta”, functioning in exile throughout the years of the communist regime.
33 years ago, on 24 May 1991, diplomatic relations were formally resumed and raised to the level of Ambassador, based on a Protocol signed by the Romanian Chargé d’Affaires in Italy and by the Secretary General for Foreign Affairs of the Order. In the same year, the Relief Service of the Order in Romania (Maltez), known is Romanian language as Serviciul de Ajutor Maltez în România (SAMR), was founded.
In the years since, numerous agreements have been reached, as well as hundreds of projects and other activities completed. Today, the Order has 20 members in Romania through the National Association inn Romania (AROM), as well as over 1,200 volunteers through 17 subsidiaries and branches of Maltez all over the country. The Order is represented diplomatically in Romania by a resident Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, H.E. Robeto Musneci.
You can learn more about the three bodies of the Order of Malta active in Romania today below:
1. The Relief Service of the Order of Malta in Romania (Maltez) https://maltez.ro/
2. The National Association of the Order of Malta in Romania (AROM) https://twitter.com/OrderofMaltaRO
3. The Sovereign Order of Malta Embassy to Romania https://romaniaembassy.orderofmalta.int/en/
Written by James Michael Wilson – International Organization for Migration