Badge of the Order
of Saint John of Jerusalem

The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem

Sir Robert Baden-Powell
Knight of Grace of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem

The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. The Order of Saint John has its origins in the time of the Crusades, when poor pilgrims to the Holy Land were given help and assistance by the Hospitaller Knights and, when sick, cared for by the Knights and Brothers of the Hospital of Saint John. Hence, from its foundation in the late eleventh century, the Order had been dedicated to helping the Sick and Poor.

The Order was soon established across Europe with Knights, Brothers and Sisters grouped into Priories, Bailiwicks and Commanderies. The earliest British Knights, members of the Grand Priory of England, established their headquarters in Clerkenwell, London, in 1144 and the world headquarters of the Most Venerable Order are still based there in the ancient Priory buildings of Saint John’s Gate.

The Protestant Reformation led to the confiscation of the Order’s properties in Great Britain but the Catholic Priories continued to survive with their headquarters, the Grand Magistery, transferred from the island of Rhodes to that of Malta in 1530. The Knights of Malta continued to hold the island until it was captured by Napoleon in 1798, but they eventually established their headquarters in Rome, where the Grand Magistery of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta can still be found today.

In the late 1820’s a group of English and Scottish gentleman, encouraged by some French knights of Malta, established an ecumenical Priory of the Order in England. This attracted the attention of the British Royal Family in the 1870s and, in 1888, following a petition from then Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria granted it a Royal Charter as an Order of the British Crown. Since then the Most Venerable Order of Saint John has continued as a Royal Order of Chivalry with the Monarch as Sovereign Head and a junior member of the Royal Family as Grand Prior. In addition to the Grand Priory, there are Priories of Scotland, Wales, Australia and Canada, for South Africa, in New Zealand and the United States, and Commanderies in Northern Ireland (of Ards), and Western Australia.

From the Home Page of the Order

The ribbon of the Order is black watered silk without ornament.

  The Sovereign Military Order of Saint-John from François Velde’s Heraldry Site
  The Orders of Saint-John from The Orders of Chivalry site

Sir Robert Baden-Powell
Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell
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Last Modified: 4:04 pm on April 28, 2010