A handwritten manuscript with a decorative floral border and central white eight pointed cross on a red back ground centre top.
2021 Virtual Book Exhibition

Warrant appointing the Empress Elisabeth Amalie of Austria to be a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem

Origin: Rome; 1873
Shelfmark: H5
1 sheet; 55 x 64 cm

The collections of the Museum of the Order of St John include a little known, but internationally significant and fascinating collection of early printed books and bound manuscripts. Thanks to a donation from a generous Museum supporter, this collection is the subject of an ongoing cataloguing project.

The Project Librarian, who has been immersed in the surprising texts and rare publications for several months now, has selected some of her favourite items to showcase in this exhibition.

 

Full title: Warrant appointing the Empress Elisabeth Amalie of Austria to be a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, accompanied by a letter from Fra’ Giovanni Battista Ceschi, Lieutenant of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, requesting the honour of her acceptance of the insignia of the Order.

Original title in Latin: Frater Ioannes Baptista Ceschi Santa Croce dei gratia Sacrae Domus Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolijmitani … in Domino celebrantes augustissimae Majestati Apostolicae Elisabeth Ameliae Eugeniae Austriae Imperatrici et Hungariae reginae piifsimae salute in eFirst o qui omnium vera salus …

 

This unique item from the Historic Library collections consists of a hand-written warrant appointing the Empress Elisabeth Amalie of Austria (also known as “Empress Sissi”) to be a Dame Grand Cross of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem and an accompanying letter in French, sent by Fra’ Giovanni Battista Ceschi, Lieutenant and later Grand Master of the Order.

The ceremonial warrant in Latin is written on a large folio sheet, decorated with an ornamental border of floral and arabesque motifs and a Maltese cross at the top. It is dated May 17, 1873 and endorsed on the back as being duly registered among the Acts of the Legation of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem in Vienna, on May 23, 1873.  The authentication of the document is provided by the signature of “Chev. de Langere, Conseiller de Légation and Chargé d’Affaires”, a stamp and a leaden seal of the Order.

 

The reverse of a manuscript document, displaying a lead seal, a label, and the details and signature of an officer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Authentication details on the warrant, LDOSJ H5 Image ©MOSJ/Jon Stokes 2020

 

The accompanying letter, written by Fra’ Giovanni Battista Ceschi informs the Empress that her name has been placed at the head of the Dames Grand Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and asks for the honour of her acceptance of this insignia. The letter is enclosed in an envelope sealed with a red wax seal and addressed to “Sa Majesté l’Imperatrice and Reine”.

A handwritten letter in French, with the reverse of an accompanying envelope displayed showing a red wax seal
Letter from Fra’ Giovanni Battista Ceschi, LDOSJ H5 Image ©MOSJ/Jon Stokes 2020

 

Both the warrant and the letter are housed in a red morocco folder, lined with white watered silk on the inside and bearing the insignia of the Order, a silver eight-pointed cross, on the covers. A small book label of the Empress Elizabeth Amalie (depicting a crowned Gothic “E”) and a purple stamp of the Sovereign Order of St. John can also be found on the inside of the folder.

Click here to return to the exhibition homepage and choose another book in our collection to learn about.

Sponsors

The Museum of the Order of St John would like to thank all those who have supported and continue to support its work. In particular, the Museum would like to thank the following for their generosity: