The Knights Hospitaller
The Modern Orders of Saint John:
Alliance Orders -- Eastern Orthodox
Orders -- Other Orders
After the fall of Malta and the murder of the Czar, the Sovereign Order fell
apart. One large fragment, usually considered the legitimate successor of
the old Order, became very closely integrated with the Papacy; this is "SMOM",
the powerful and wealthy organization which performs charitable works around
the globe, is recognized as a sovereign state by many governments, and is
sometimes depicted in the press as representing the conservative-aristocratic
wing of Roman Catholicism.
Many knights took refuge in Protestant countries, especially Britain; eventually
a fragment of the Order took hold in England under the direct patronage of
the Crown. This is the "Venerable Order", headed by the Queen and including
many of the British elite. It, too, runs some outstanding charitable projects,
including the Commonwealth-wide St John Ambulance service. Other Protestant
"Johanniter" groups, some of them dating back to the Reformation, exist elsewhere
in Europe and are also active in charitable work. As a kind of chivalric
ecumenism, SMOM, the Venerable Order, and some of the Johanniter-Orden have
banded together to form the "Alliance", which presents itself to the world
as the canonical continuation of the Order of St. John.
Many other fragments also existed, notably in the East. Most died out in
the Nineteenth Century; some perhaps did not, or else were brought back to
life. These groups may or may not meet the requirements for recognition by
the Alliance -- requirements rooted in feudal and Catholic canon law -- but
since most claim to be Eastern Orthodox, it is unclear why such requirements
would bind them in any case. The real tragedy of these Orthodox Orders is
that, for a variety of reasons, they have never conducted charitable works
on a scale even remotely approaching that of the Alliance, and (in contrast
to SMOM's closeness to the Papal Throne) all but one or two of these "Orthodox"
Orders have ceased to have much connexion with Orthodoxy.
Finally, there are numerous organizations which have no historical link whatever
but use the name of the Order arbitrarily. These include a variety of "title
mills" which exist to create patents of nobility for anyone who can afford
them, and other dubious groups, as well as more harmless ones which merely
enjoy the romance of being "Knights of St. John".
One should also mention the York Rite Masons, who have a degree named for
the Hospitallers. However, in the opinion of most historians (including Masonic
ones) there is no authenticated historical link, nor does the Lodge represent
itself as a chivalric organization. (The claims of the widely read book Born
in Blood concerning the Templar origins of Masonry are also rejected
by most historians and most official representatives of Masonry.) Therefore,
I have omitted Masonic links from these pages. Apart from the Freemasons,
the various ahistorical groups do not appear to conduct much in the way of
charitable work, although there may well be exceptions.
Obviously, many groups use the name of the Order. People interested in assisting
the charitable work of a Hospitaller organization (or interested in becoming
a knight!) should carefully investigate the authenticity of any group with
which they become involved. That a group's pages are included in this index
does NOT imply that the group is "legitimate" or (more importantly) ethical.
SOVEREIGN MILITARY ORDER OF MALTA: (Roman Catholic)
Sovereign Military Order of Malta -- Federal Association, USA I used
to have a link here to the official SMOM page for the US, but they objected
to this. As a courtesy, I have disconnected the link. You can find their
page on most public search engines without difficulty.
The Order of
Malta Homepage of the official Museum of the Order of Malta in
Military Order of Malta Brief history, with description of the SMOM's
current structure and activities.
Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John Homepage by Guy Stair Sainty.
Sovereign Military Order of Saint-John (a.k.a. Malta), by François
R. Velde (Includes a discussion of the Order's various ranks.)
Brotherhood of the
Blessed Gérard (South Africa)
e.V. Altenstadt (auf Deutsch)
Hostitaldienst Bereich Tirol (Oesterreich) (auf Deutsch)
Tullamore Order of
Malta: Although the page is a little unclear, this site seems to belong
to a local chapter of the (Irish) Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, which is
a foundation of the Irish National Association of the SMOM.
Polish Association of the Sovereign
Military Order of Malta: Information about Polish Hospitaller history
and SMOM's current activities in the country.
of Malta Set New Charter, Leader: News story, 1997 April 29. (CWN)
Essay on the Order of St. John (SMOM), by "Chevalier Paul". A decidedly
unofficial history of post-Napoleonic SMOM, allegedly by a knight. (Caltrap's
Wall, by Ron Synovitz: Article about a memorial to John Lennon set
up by Czech dissidents during the Cold War on Hospitaller property; evidently
they considered the singer a latter-day "St. John of Jerusalem".
MOST VENERABLE ORDER OF ST. JOHN: (Non-sectarian; headed by the Queen
PROTESTANT JOHANNITER ORDERS:
Orthodox Knights of
St. John: Genuinely affiliated with the Russian
Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church in America; recognized by non dynastic
members of the House of Romanov. This 'Order' was created by Count
Nicholas Bobrinskoy, after he had been a member of the King Peter Order.
The British Association
of St John: A very interesting research site.
Order of St John of Jerusalem -- Knights Hospitaller: Another group claiming
descent from the Orthodox priory (but evidently no longer Orthodox, as the
only religious link on the the page is to a Presbyterian church in Melbourne)
and patronage by the Yugoslavian royal family. A spokesman writes that they
are now affiliated with A. Zammit's Hospitaller Order in the UK.
Order of the Knights Hospitallers of Saint John
of Jerusalem (Belgium) This group once had royal Yugoslav connexions.
Order of Malta: Allegedly an offshoot of one of the Orthodox groups,
although Orthodoxy is no longer mentioned in their literature. The group
is evidently based in Malta.
The Knights Hospitallers of
the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Malta and Toronto): A group
claiming to be rooted in the Russian priory via Ivan Lamb, allegedly one
of Paul I's knights whose family ended up in America. No connection to the
Orthodox Church and the Russian royalty today so far as I know.
the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders and Knights of the Russian Grand
Priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem: A page about the group
of Russian nobles who met in Paris in 1928 as Hereditary Commanders of the
Russian Grand Priory. This page is sponsored by the "British Association
of St John" group rather than by a separate organization.
Orthodox Hospitallers of Cyprus An independent
order under the Church of Cyprus, apparently not claiming descent from the
Knights of St. John. Western writers on chivalry erroneously assert that
this group is only legitimate "because" it was founded by Archbishop Makarios
when he was also chief of state. In fact this whole concept of fons
honorum and chivalric law was effectively repudiated by the Archbishop
when he established the Order. In the Orthodox East, the separation of secular
and spiritual powers was never viewed in the Latin fashion; the Greek Patriarch
of Jerusalem also bestows chivalric honours, whether this is accepted in
the West or not.
of the Orthodox Hospitallers: The webpage of an Order once based in Greece
which may or may not be related to the group founded by Archbishop Makarios;
they mention him in their literature, but also claim to be the continuation
of a Byzantine Hospitaller Order founded in the Sixth Century. They say their
Grand Prior is a priest of the canonical Alexandrian Patriarchate.
Order of the Orthodox
Hospitallers: The webpage of an Order based in the United Kingdom which
also may or may not be related to the group founded by Archbishop Makarios.
This page is hosted by the Cleaford Charity.
Commanders and Royal Orthodox Protectors and their Role: A history of
the post-Napoleonic Orthodox groups, published by one of them. (British
Proliferation of Russian and Other "Orders" of St. John, by James J.
Algrant: A fairly comprehensive, but predictably biased, Western history
of the various organizations claiming descent from the Russian Priory. (Caltrap's
Russian Connection, by James J. Algrant: A historical study which
makes some surprising concessions about the survival of the Russian priory,
while still rejecting the claims of all modern groups. At the same site is
by Rev. Michael Foster, who is in one of the Orthodox Orders. (Caltrap's
So far as I know, these groups are separate from the Alliance, and are also
separate from the Eastern Orthodox orders. This does not necessarily
imply that they are "figments" rather than "fragments", although some of
them almost certainly are.
Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, (Priory of Saint Thomas Becket)
Priory of Saint John of the Sovereign Order of the Hospital, by James
J. Algrant. Not the group's own page, but rather an attack on them. They
are based in North Carolina, and as Algrant points out put up a less convincing
front than most such Orders.
the OSJ? Part of the Traditional Catholic Homepage with a brief history
of the order. This is apparently an anti-Vatican II dissident Catholic
organization based in the USA.
of Appeals, 6th Circuit, 1997 July: Sovereign Order of Saint John v.
Grady: A lawsuit between two groups claiming to continue the Order
and to control its symbols.
of St. John Re-Enactment: This does not claim to be a "real" chivalric
order but just a group of Scandinavians who like to wear Crusader costumes
and attend mediæval fairs. Their web page has very nice pictures.
Orders of St. John, by Guy Stair Sainty Very polemical critique of
The Fons Honorum,
by James J. Algrant. Discusses what is, and is not, a legitimate heraldic
title, with special reference to the Order. The assumption, of course, is
that an elaborate code of Franco-Latin feudal law is universally applicable.
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