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Exhibitions and Projects
2 June – 3 September 2017

Ave crux alba

800 years of the Order of Malta in Slovenia

The oldest record of a property of the Order of St. John in Slovenia dates to 1217; it was a commandry in Melje (near Maribor). In the Slovenian territories, the next eight centuries saw the development of commandries and estates of the knights of St. John, who in the meantime moved from Jerusalem to Rhodes and later to Malta, only to settle in Rome by the end of the 19th century. Today we know them as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta or the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, for short.

The fourth oldest religious order in the West and the oldest Crusader order, as well as the only remaining sovereign order of chivalry rose from a brotherhood, which offered hospital care to pilgrims and the poor and the sick, later also military protection. A mighty military force was transformed into a modern efficient humanitarian organization with more than 13,000 members, 20,000 medical workers, and 80,000 volunteers, who work through a network of hospitals, clinics, rescue missions, and diplomatic presence in more than 100 countries. The mission remains as set down by the founder of the Order, Blessed Gerard: "Our brotherhood will be everlasting, because the ground which this plant is rooted in, is the misery of the world - and because, God willing, there will always be people, who want to work towards the alleviation of these sufferings to make this misery more bearable."

The Knight Hospitallers, also known as the Johanniter and the Knights of Malta, brought more than just the distinct eight-pointed white cross to the Slovenian territories. Under the white Maltese cross, Crux Alba, connections were woven and strengthened between the Order - the owner and manager of commandries - and local societies. Numerous knights of the Order took part in the defence against Turks and were active in the Church hierarchy. One of them was Joseph Rabatta, an aristocrat from Friuli-Gorizia, who fought the Ottomans as a knight of the Order of Malta, later took sacred vows and completed his mission as Bishop of Ljubljana.

The exhibition features more than two hundred artefacts from private collections, extraordinary pieces of art and historical rarity, never put on public display before. Uniforms and insignia of the Order, decorations and liturgical vestments in addition to modern equipment of auxiliary units invite to a unique meeting with this ancient fellow of European societies. 

The exhibition is a project by
the Slovenian Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

The exhibition made possible by
Narodna galerija

Author of the exhibition
Christoph Steidl Porenta

Tadej Jakopič, Roman Vučajnk

Christoph Steidl Porenta, Mateja Krapež

Christoph Steidl Porenta, Tadej Jakopič, Roman Vučajnk

Logo of the exhibition
Shadow Pre-Press

Artefacts on loan from
private collectors, National Archives in Prague, Grand Priory of Austria SMOM, Archdiocese of Ljubljana, Maribor Regional Museum

Chief Patron of the exhibition

2 June – 3 September 2017
National Gallery of Slovenia, Narodni dom Gallery
Prešernova 24
1000 Ljubljana