Tuesday, 2 September 2008

i6 - The Alliance Between the Orders of Saint John of Jerusalem

INTERJECTION - The Alliance Between the Orders of Saint John of Jerusalem

The Chivalric Alliance of Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem (Alliance de Chevalerie des Hospitaliers de Saint Jean de Jerusalem)

© Guy Stair Sainty

The Alliance, as it is customarily described, was formed at the instigation of the Johanniter Orders in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden with the subsequent addition of the Most Venerable Order, in 1961. Its stated purpose and aims are "to reduce to silence the enemies of Christ" and "to succour the sick and to help the destitute". [1] The preamble of the statement of 13 June 1961 read "A knight must do his utmost to combat all manifestations of unbelief. He must employ every form of persuasion to combat the enemies of the Church, using all the powers and spiritual forces at his command; a word of encouragement at the right moment, a disinterested piece of advice, a noble action. The Order represents the whole spiritual heritage of its founders; in taking their vows knights assume for themselves, of their own free will and conviction, the objectives of their Crusader predecessors.

The Order is a non-political body of people inspired by the same ideals. They support, exhort and encourage each other, fraternally and chivalrously, in the accomplishment of their duty and their work. The Order unites them in a powerful Brotherhood, giving them strength and spiritual sustenance. The vow they take is a living reminder of the duties they must faithfully fulfill and of self-renunciation; it embodies the entitlement of nobility alike for the Order itself as for its members".

The Convention between the four Orders stated in particular:

I. All Orders of St. John to-day are dedicated, according to their various Constitutions, to the Christian faith and to the work of caring for the sick and needy. The fulfillment of these tasks is largely exemplified in the establishment and operation of hospitals, welfare institutions, nursing schools, first aid organizations and associations for social aid and care of the sick, and like institutions.

II. The signatory Orders of St. John hereunder mentioned are akin to the older Tongues, respect the ancient rule and its underlying purpose, but are each of them free, independent and autonomous, and they now form an Alliance of Orders of St. John to be known by that description.

The signatory Orders of St. John are as follows:

Die Balley Brandenburg des ritterlichen Ordens St. Johannis vom Spital zu Jerusalem

The Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem

Johanniter Orde in Nederland

Johanniterorden i Sverige

With these are to be counted the four Associations in union with the Bailiwick of Brandenburg, namely:

Johanniter Ridderskap i Finland

Association des Chevaliers de St. Jean, Langue de France

Genossenschaft der Johanniterritter in der Schweiz

Johannitarend Magyar Tagozata

III. The signatory Orders are firmly of the opinion that the unity of all Orders of St. John is demanded by history, by their faith and by their common purposes and will fortify their international standing, and that if their efforts and labours are to be effective on the international plane these should be carried on shoulder to shoulder and as a common task.

IV. To enable all Orders of St. John to promote the success of the many international tasks which they undertake and with a view to facilitating also the co-ordination of their various activities, the establishment of a suitable joint committee and of a General Secretariat may be envisaged. The realization of this will only be effected by agreement between all Orders at the time members of the Alliance of Orders of St. John hereby established and if circumstances call for it or make it appear expedient. The organization, duties and powers of these bodies will be laid down by special regulations framed by agreement in the same way. In any case the members of this Alliance recognize that regular mutual contact is desirable.

V. Other Orders, associations, or institutions recognized as Orders of St. John by all members of the said Alliance at the time may with the consent of all such members in like manner adhere to this Convention and become members of the said Alliance. &127

Any member of the Alliance of Orders of St. John may withdraw therefrom and from this Convention by giving six months notice in writing of that intention to all other members at the time.

VII. The word "Alliance" used in the heading and text of this Convention has no political meaning and is not to be interpreted in the light of public international law, and no individual Sovereign person is intended to be bound or committed by this Convention.

VIII. This Convention shall be drawn up in the English and German languages and the text in each language shall have equal validity. HEREBY AGREED AND SIGNED by the Orders mentioned in Article II at the meeting of their delegates held at the Commandery of Niederweisel on the 13th June 1961".


Two years later, on 26 November 1963, the Alliance was consolidated with the signing of a joint declaration between the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Most Venerable Order, at St John's Gate, London, by the Grand Chancellor of the SMHOM, the Prince of Resuttano, and Lord Wakehurst, Lord Prior of the Most Venerable Order. The text of this document reads:

The relationship which exists between the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta and the Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem is not always clearly understood, and it is to dispel any misconceptions which may exist that this statement is being made.

A dispute, long since relegated to the realms of academic discussion, as to whether the Most Venerable Order was the lineal descendent of the old Grand Priory of the Sovereign Order, at one time caused division amongst those concerned with such questions. Certain it is that the Most Venerable Order acquired a completely independent existence when it was granted a Royal Charter by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, who became its Sovereign Head.

Since this time the Most Venerable Order has pursued the same high ideals of charity, especially to the poor and sick, which were the very cause of the foundation of the Sovereign Order nearly one thousand years ago.

It will be easy to understand, therefore, why two great Orders, representing the same traditions, pursuing the same ideals, serving the same cause and wearing the same famous eight pointed cross, should have the greatest respect and esteem for each other. It is our great happiness to declare that such a relationship does truly exist, and that it is the dearest wish of both Orders, to seek ever more ways in which they can collaborate, to promote God's glory and to alleviate the sufferings and miseries of mankind.

To supplement this statement, a further agreement was drawn up between the SMHOM and the Venerable Order in 1983. This was signed by Sir Maurice Dorman, Lord Prior of the Most Venerable Order and Sir Peter Hope, KCMG, then President of the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order. It reads as follows:

Twenty years have passed since the signing of the Joint Declaration concerning the relationship between the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Most Venerable Order of St. John, during which the relationship between our two Orders has grown ever closer.

In it the common ideal of the struggle in the defense of our suffering brethren was affirmed and the amity between the signatory Orders was acclaimed especially the common wearing of the eight-pointed Cross of St. John.

The last two decades have seen an increase in the world-wide suffering of our brethren, our response has likewise expanded. The banner of our eight-pointed Cross has been flown increasingly where-ever in the world sickness or distress have made demands upon us. Our ties are strong and our purpose to help Our Lords the Sick identical. We are pleased to record our joint efforts to help the elderly which have already seen the creation of Alms Houses in Sussex and Wales.

We are also united in one fight against False Orders, those self constituted and self styled groups which lack both authenticity or legitimacy of origin but variously describe themselves as an "Order of St. John" or an "Order of Malta". However the Johanniter Orden in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands is a legitimate and honoured ally.

We pledge ourselves anew to carry into the Twentyfirst Century the historical aims and obligations of our Orders.

The most recent agreement between the five Orders culminated in a further statement which clarifies the difference between those Orders which are recognized as such by the Sovereign authorities of the countries in which they are based and the self-styled "Orders of Saint John" whose pretension to be Orders of Chivalry are unrecognized by such sovereign authorities. Confirming the close and friendly relations between the five Orders, this statement reads as follows:


With the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta which is Roman Catholic, the four non-Catholic Orders of St. John provide a Christian answer to the problems of a troubled and materialistic world. They have a common devotion to a historical tradition and a unique vocation: the lordship of the sick and the poor. They strive to realize their aim by mutual collaboration as well as by their own works. They are the only Orders of St. John which may legitimately use that name.

The Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem had its origins in Jerusalem in the late eleventh century and was recognized as an Order by Pope Pascal II in 1113. From that date it was a religious Order. Its members took monastic vows and lived according to a religious rule.

In the course of its history it developed a class of knights who took no vows, while knights belonging to the first class continued to be professed religious. The Order, therefore, uniquely combined and still combines within itself the nature of a religious Order and an Order of chivalry. In the former capacity it was and still is subject to the laws of the Church. The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta (generally known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta) is this Order. It is widely recognized as a sovereign subject of International Public Law. It has five Grand Priories, three Sub-Priories and thirty-seven National Associations throughout catholic Christendom. Since 1834 its extra-territorial headquarters have been in Rome. The Grand Master is H.M.E.H. Fra' Angelo de Mojana di Cologna.

Four non-catholic Orders of St. John of Jerusalem are recognized by their sovereign authorities in the countries in which they are based. They are:

Die Balley Brandenburg des Ritterlichen Ordens Sankt Johannis vom Spital zu Jerusalem (generally known as Der Johanniterorden). Besides seventeen Associations in the Federal Republic of Germany, there are Austrian, Finnish, French and Swiss (which are officially recognized in their respective countries) and the Hungarian in exile. Its Headquarters are in Bonn. Its head, styled Der Herrenmeister, is H.R.H. Prince Wilhelm-Karl of Prussia.

Johanniter Orde in Nederland. It was formed as an independent Order in 1946. Its headquarters are in the Hague. Its head is H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.

Johanniterorden i Sverige
. It was incorporated by royal charter in 1946. Its headquarters are in Stockholm and the High Patron is H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf.

The Grand Priory of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (generally known as the Order of St. John). It has six Priories, two Commanderies and forty Saint John Councils throughout the English-speaking world. Its headquarters are in London. Its Sovereign Head is H.M. Queen Elizabeth II.

The four non-Catholic Orders are associated with one another in the international Alliance of the Orders of St. John of Jerusalem. They are Orders of Chivalry, but they are to be distinguished from most national Orders because of their Christian faith and their traditions as religious confraternities of Christian laymen.

In all these Orders are fostered such ideals of the medieval Order as are applicable to their circumstances, essentially the care of the sick and other service to fellow men.

14 October 1987. Signed by H.M.Em. H. Fra' Angelo di Mojana, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign, Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, called of Rhodes and of Malta; H.R.H. Wilhelm-Karl, Prince of Prussia, Herrenmeister of the Johanniter Order; H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Landcommander, Johanniter Order in the Netherlands; Fredrik Lowenhielm, Johanniter Order in Sweden; Rt. Hon. the Earl Cathcart, Lord Prior, The Most Venerable Order of Saint John.

The headquarters of the Alliance, whose current President is Baron Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, Statthalter of the German Johanniter Order, are in Switzerland and it is administered by a Secretary, presently Mr R. Ehinger Krehl. [2] The administration is situated at the headquarters of the Swiss commandery of the Johanniter Order, 15 Aeschenvorstadt, CH-40511 Basel, Switzerland.

Aims of the Order

The main aim of the original Order of the church, some 900 years ago, was to give help to the sick and needy. At the dawn of the 21st Century, that is still at the core of the mission of the modern Christian Orders of St John in Europe and around the world. As non-political bodies, whose members are inspired by much the same ideals as their mediaeval predecessors, they support and encourage each other, fraternally and chivalrously, to carry out their duty and their good works. The Orders unite them in a powerful organisation, giving them strength and spiritual sustenance. The vow they take reminds them of the duties they should fulfill pro fide et pro utilitate hominum (for the faithful and to assist those in need)


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