Knights’ history banned by Vatican for attack on Pope donated to Heritage Malta

The book, which provides an extensive history of the Knights of St John, contains anti-papist statements, leading to its prohibition by the Vatican when first published in 1726 

The book 'Histoire des Chevaliers Hospitaliers Saint-Jean de Jérusalem’
The book 'Histoire des Chevaliers Hospitaliers Saint-Jean de Jérusalem’

A historical book outlining the history of the Knights of the Order of St John which was originally banned by the Vatican when it was first published, has been donated to Heritage Malta. 

The book, an English translation of the first volume of the series ‘Histoire des Chevaliers Hospitaliers Saint-Jean de Jérusalem’, was published by the Abbé René Aubert de Vertot in 1726.

The book was commissioned by the Order to document its history, and provides an extensive account of the Order from its beginnings in Jerusalem up to the year it was published. 

The book provides a 600-year description of the Order’s history, including the Hospitallers’ feud with the Knights Templar, and the conclusion of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. 

The book was banned by the Vatican due to its anti-papist statements and focus on corruption and greed of Church officials. 

The anti-clergy statements infuriated the inquisition, leading to the book’s prohibition, which in-turn made it even more popular and successful. 

The book also divulges on the rise of the Turkish empire, while referring to the barbarism and heroism of warfare and sieges. 

Aubert de Vertot was a provincial clergyman, and spent thirteen years compiling the information. 

The donor, Patrick Hegarty explained how the rare historical book made its way to his personal library. 

“My father Jack was an avid collector of antiques, especially of old Irish silver, porcelain and artworks. This rare historical volume was one of his discoveries, probably around 60 years ago,” he said. 

He also explained his decision to donate his book to Heritage Malta. “I decided to donate this book to Heritage Malta because I believe that it belongs here in Malta. That’s where its spiritual home is,” Hegarty said. 

“Our Maltese national collection have been enriched further with this prestigious donation which will be exhibited at the Order of St John’s section of the Malta Maritime Museum in Birgu,” Malta Maritime Museum Principal Curator Liam Gauci said. 

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