There was previously a Lodge Sanct Elmo in Malta Number 248, also originally moored to a Mark Masters Lodge called Broadley.
At the end of Marsamxett Street is a fort - it is called "Sanct Elmo", built in 1552 to a star shaped design, and famous for its stand against the Turkish Armada which landed in Malta Saturday 19"' May 1565.
Our Royal Ark Mariner Lodge commemorates the incredible bravery and comradeship of a garrison of just one hundred and twenty knights and six hundred and eighty men at arms who held out, against incredible odds, for just over 4 weeks from Friday 25th May against more than fifty thousand Turkish fighting men who were supported with a great deal of high powered siege artillery and munitions, both land and sea based.
The defences included "combustibles and explosive fireworks" which had been developed and refined by the Knights from the ordinance previously known as wild fire and greek fire. A special type of primitive flame thrower known as a "trump" was also a particularly effective weapon used by the Knights of St John. The Mariner connection is particularly apt, as the garrison was only able to hold out due to nightly replenishment. Considerable difficulties were endured by the mariners whilst traversing Grand Harbour, by boat, under heavy fire from the Turkish forces.
The garrison was finally stormed on Saturday 23rd of June (the eve of the feast of John the Baptist) and did not surrender, even after the garrison had been reduced to rubble. No prisoners were taken save a garrison of nine wounded knights who had previously surrendered to corsairs who held them for ransom. A handful of Maltese defenders also managed to escape by swimming across Grand Harbour under heavy fire over to Birgu now called Vittoriosa.
The extermination of the garrison resulted in the death of eighty nine knights, seventeen serving brothers and just over 1400 men of all nations, but had cost the Turkish invaders more than six thousand men, including the famous and expert corsair Dragut having expended more than eighteen thousand rounds of cannon and basilisk shot.
These courageous men gave their lives to ensure that the Turkish siege failed and Malta's safety and independence was maintained.
Our banner of Lodge Sanct Elmo shows the previous Fort Sanct Elmo proudly flying the red and white battle flag of the order of St John, and above the Ark - the symbol of peace.
© English Masonic Orders on Malta 2009 - All rights reserved.