Russian Imperial Corps of Pages: An Online Exhibition Catalog

The History > Introduction

In the very heart of St. Petersburg stands a magnificently proportioned, medium-sized palace, designed in the mid-eighteenth century by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The fine old palace was given by the Emperor Paul to the exiled Order of the Hospitalers of Saint John of Jerusalem (the Knights of Malta) in 1796. In 1810, Alexander I gave this palace to the Corps of Pages as the headquarters. It was a gift with great symbolic meaning. The Knights left the Palace with a Catholic chapel in the garden and Maltese Crosses everywhere. The crosses and the chapel remained and the young Pages took very seriously the thought that they were the heirs of the Order, adopting many of its traditions as their own and the white Maltese Cross as their insignia.

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