The Paris and Malta obediences and the move to reunification
In 1952 the Duke of Seville died. His son Francisco Enrique de Borbón y de Borbón was elected Grand Master. Because he was a serving officer in the Spanish army and resided in Spain, he was unable to devote himself fully to the Order whose administration was centred in Paris. In 1956, he appointed Pierre Timoléon de Cossé-Brissac, twelfth Duke of Brissac, a member since 1954, Administrator General of the Order. This move eventually resulted in the fragmentation of the Order into two groups that eventually started being termed the Paris Obedience and the Malta Obedience after the Spanish faction transferred its administration to Malta.
In spite of repeated attempts at reconciliation, this fragmentation was to last for about five decades with unification occurring in September 2008 with the election of H.E. Carlos Gereda y de Borbón, Marquis de Almazan as the 49th Grand Master of the reunited Order. The past Grand Masters – H.R.H. Francisco de Paula de Borbón y de Escasany Grand Master: Malta Obedience and H.E. François de Cossé Marquis de Brissac Grand Master: Paris Obedience – both became grand master emeriti.
Following the untimely death of Don Carlos in August 2017, H.E. Francisco de Borbon Graf von Hardenberg, the son of the Duke of Seville, assumed the role of Interim Grand Master. He was duly elected the 50th Grand Master by acclamation at the Chapter-General of May 2018 in Madrid.
The Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem and all the East His Beatitude Gregory III remained the Spiritual Protector of the united Order, until his retirement in May 2017. He was succeeded by the new Patriarch, His Excellency Youssef Absi.