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Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John

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and the Orders relationship to St John Ambulance VolunteersOrder of St John
Understanding the Most Venerable
85 Edmund Avenue, Unley SA 5061Tel: 1300 360 455 Fax: (08) 8306 6995www.stjohnsa.com.auUnderstanding the Most Venerable Order of St John and the Orders Relationship to St John Ambulance VolunteersCover images: (front) reproductions of of which are on display at the St John Museum at St Johns Gate, London, Ambulance Australia Cadet, representing the future of St John.
in the First Aid Services Branch or Community Care, can be admitted to the Order of St John. This is a great honour and something that money cannot buy. Just what is The Order and how does the world-wide St John organisation  t together? The St John organisation is indeed a complex one. This publication is intended to provide some understanding of it. There are many histories both in print and online, that explore Statutes and even the Royal Charter are subject to occasional review. Whenever any revision of them is published, these pages also may need revision. I thank Dr Ian Howie-Willis, the Priory Librarian, and Professor John Pearn, Priory Librarian-elect, for perusing these notes and kindly providing useful comments. Other persons have provided feedback anonymously. The support and Australia (SA) and Peter LeCornu, CEO, St John Ambulance Australia is greatly appreciated. Special thanks are given to The request to produce this publication arose from a  nding that a proportion of St John Ambulance volunteers knew little or even nothing about the Order of St John. The aim is to reduce that proportion.
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii The Ancient Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 The New Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Modern St John . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The Royal Charter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Part Two The Order worldwide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Structure and Governance of The Order . . . . . . . 6 The Mottoes of the Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 The Cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 The Arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Membership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Ceremonial occasions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Awards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Foundations of The Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Other Orders of St John . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14References and further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . 15Venerable Order of St John came
Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John e Ancient Order
Papal Bull creating what we can now call the ancient Order of St John. This was done as a way of recognising the good work done by a group of dedicated people who cared for sick and injured persons in Jerusalem. This group were the original Hospitallers and were members of a religious group working in Jerusalem even before the First Crusade reached that city in 1099. Their leader was known as Gerard, later referred to as the Blessed Gerard. The monks who worked under his direction wore long black cloaks featuring an eight-pointed white cross derived from that of the Italian Republic of Amal . Merchants from had supported the monks hospital situated in an old Members of that Order, known as the Knights of St John or the Hospitallers, were later forced to leave Jerusalem when it became too unsafe. They moved to Acre on the original Order of St John also developed a signi cant military (including naval) force that continued through until the Knights of St John were expelled from Malta by Napoleon Boneparte. A Priory of this ancient Order was established in England Wat Tyler led a rebellion in 1381 that burnt down the Priorys buildings. Thomas Docwra rebuilt the Priorys Gatehouse in 1504 but less than forty years later, in 1540, King Henry scated Church property throughout England. This scation applied to St John property, including the
e New Order
an organisation of volunteers caring for sick and injured uences at the time were the casualties from the FrancoPrussian War and, nearer to home, casualties as the result of mining accidents. by Sir Edmund Lechmere in 1873, who then presented it to St John. By doing this he linked the new organisation with the site used by the Hospitallers hundreds of years before. The Venerable Order of St John still uses the Gatehouse for its
Sir Edmund Lechmere
Modern St John
There were three building blocks established on which todays St John activities are founded. The  rst was the St John Ambulance Association, known more recently in Australia as the Training Branch. Founded in 1877, its rst aid to the public, a new venture at that Jerusalem, founded in 1882. Sir Edmund Lechmere was uential in establishing this aspect of St John, which by The third building block was the St John Ambulance Brigade, in 1887 and provided uniformed trained  rst aiders at public events where large crowds gathered.
e Royal Charter
this day Queen Victoria, who had been impressed by the Order of Chivalry. The present full name of the Order (slightly changed from the original of 1888) is The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. There is an approved shortened name, simply The Order of St John. The word venerable means entitled to deep respect (Oxford English DictionaryQueen Victoria holds the Royal a British Royal Order of Chivalry.
St Johns Gatehouse, circa 1800s (left) and today (right).
Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John
Now with the status of a British Royal Order of Chivalry, St Johns activities could no longer simply be left in the charge of a group of well-meaning enthusiasts like Sir William Drogo (7th Duke of Manchester), Sir Edmund Lechmere, Sir John Furley and Colonel Francis Duncan. They were certainly well-respected and competent members of society but now it was necessary that they be joined by others more closely linked to British royalty to guide and direct the activities of St John. The newly constituted Order of St John came to guide, direct and control St John Ambulances teaching of  rst aid to the public, its provision of  rst aid services at public events and
How the Ancient Order relates to the Venerable Order
The Lord Prior, Professor Anthony Mellows, when in Sydney in 2012, drew attention to the Grand Councils view of this The Venerable Order of St John, incorporated by Queen Victorias Charter, is not the same as the original Order.There is an unbroken factual connection to the original Order.The Venerable Order does not derive its legitimacy The Venerable Order does derive its legitimacy from a direct act of the British Crown.
Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John e Order worldwide
At the time of writing this brief history, the Venerable Order of St John has eight major working units around the world. These units are called Priories. They are situated in England, Scotland, Wales, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada,
In addition there are smaller units known as Commanderies. Examples are the Commandery of Ards in Northern Ireland Western Australia dependent on the Australian Priory.
word Association here has a different meaning to the one used previously for the Training Branch in Australia. These St John Associations are in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Cyprus, Fiji, Ghana, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabweyou can see
Structure and Governance e Order
As indicated in Part One, becoming a British Royal Order of Chivalry brought with it the need for change. To govern the Order, Queen Victoria took the title of Sovereign Head of the Order, and all British monarchs have followed in this role.Queen Elizabeth II, the present Queen, is currently the Sovereign Head of the Order.
The Grand Prior and the Great Of cers
The Sovereign Head delegates some of her powers and responsibilities relating to the Order to a member of the royal family. This person is known as the Grand Prior and currently is the Duke of Gloucester. Assisting the Grand Prior are the Great Of cers, who carry Lord Prior, who acts as his Lieutenant and Deputy Prelate and Sub-Prelate, who advise on matters of an ecclesiastical nature Deputy Lord Prior Sub-Prior.
HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Sovereign Head of The Order of St John.
Part Two
Originally all the Great Of cers were centred in the Grand took on a multinational leadership with some of the Great Of cers coming from other Priories.
eight Priories to join with the Great Of cers in an annual in formulating policy, in disseminating information from the Great Of cers and in providing feedback from the Priories.
It is traditional for the Governor-General of Australia, as the Monarchs Representative and Head of State, to be the Prior of the Australian Priory. The Order has a Board of Directors and the chairperson of the Board is titled the Chancellor. There is a National Meeting each year when the Board meets with the Priory Chapter, that is, Members of the Order of Grades I, II and III (see page 8), and certain Representative At State level, the respective State Governors are the Deputy Priors of the Order and there are State Boards. Similar arrangements occur in the Northern Territory where the Administrator of the Territory is traditionally the Deputy Prior.
e Mottoes of  e Order
Until very recent times there have been two mottoes. These are (in Latin):moral strengthening of mankind; the encouragement and promotion of all work of humanity and charity for the relief of persons in sickness, distress, suffering or danger, without distinction of race, class or creed. Recently these two mottoes have been merged into one, represented in English as For the Faith and in the Service of
Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John e Cross
The Order of St John cross is white, eight-pointed, and embellished in its four principal angles, alternately by a lion and a unicorn. The four arms of the cross represent the four Christian virtues of Prudence (carefulness and forethought), Justice (fairness), Temperance (moderation in all things) and Fortitude (courage and endurance). The eight points represent the eight beatitudes which are found in the Bible (Matthew 5: 3-10). The whiteness of the cross is a symbol of the purity of life. The lions and unicorns are either white or silver, except in the case of Bailiffs or Dames Grand Cross, or Knights or Dames
e Arms
The Arms comprise a red shield with a silver cross and the Queens Crest in the  rst quarter.
of the Order of St John. Becoming a Member of the Order is a cantly to St John Ambulance or the St John Ophthalmic On a world-wide basis, there are some 414,200 St John admitted to the Order as a Member.
As in other Orders, for example the Order of Australia, there is a series of Grades within the Order. Usually a person who is to be recognised as a Member of the Order will be admitted at Grade V, and then, with continued good service, may be promoted serially to higher grades. The Grades are as follows, with higher grades denoted by Grade VI Esquires (EsqStJ), a Grade almost never used in Australia Grade V Members (MStJ) Grade IV Of cer (OStJ) Grade III Commander (CStJ) Grade II Knight or Dame (KStJ or DStJ) Grade I Bailiffs or Dames Grand Cross (GCStJ).The letters in brackets are post-nominals that may be used in St John correspondence by persons to whom they apply. By tradition Order Members do not use these post-nominals outside the domain of St John work. This custom relates to the ethos of humility dating from the Crusades era.
The international badge of St John featuring the Cross and the Beasts.On becoming a British Royal Order, cial Arms.
Part Two
is recent. Formerly they were called either a Serving Brother
Currently Knights and Dames may be either of Justice or of ed the Orders Genealogist of their right to bear Arms, that is, to have an approved Coat of Arms. Knights or Dames of Grace are awarded that title by the grace of the Order.
Members of the Order are obligated to contribute annually, commensurate with their Grade in the Order. The current oblation for a Knight in Australia is $40 each year. This
Ceremonial occasions
For St John ceremonial occasions, persons of Grade I, II and III may wear mantles, also known as robes. Ceremonial occasions include the Annual Church Service of Rededication, meetings of the Priory Chapter, and Investitures.
The Annual Church Service
Each year, at a date as near as practical to 24 June (the anniversary of St John the Baptists birth) the various States and Territories hold an annual Church Service. Also at about the Australian Priory, there is a Priory Church Service in the city where the meetings are being held. This Priory Church Service has a range of ceremonial features. The robed members of the Order enter in Capitular Procession, their robes recalling those of the monks of the ancient Order of St John.
In the Capitular Procession are carried the Cross of the Order, the Standard of the Australian Priory and the Order Standard. Also in the Procession are the Sword Rests, formed in silver in the shape of a lion and a unicorn, and the great two-handed Ceremonial Sword. The emblems and standards are placed on the High Altar before the Service begins, and are returned as the Capitular Procession leaves the Cathedral at
The Church Service, Prayer of Rededication and Investiture during Grand Council, Sydney,
Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John
The Australian Priory Sword and Rests
The Sword is a replica of a medieval knights sword, a symbol of the times when members of the ancient Order fought for the Christian faith. The sword is never drawn in St John ceremonial occasions, but remains in its sheath, indicating the Orders role is now a peaceful one, The sword rests are in the form of a lion and a unicorn and this re ects the connection of the Order to British Royalty. Both the Ceremonial Sword and the Queens Beast Sword Rests were presented to St John in Australia by a as Governor-General. The present Duke of Gloucester, the Orders current Grand Prior, is the son of this former Governor-General and Grand Prior.
The Standard of the Order
The Standard of the Order is the international emblem of the Order: it features a white Cross on a red  eld re ecting that of the Knights Hospitaller, but with the Royal Crest in the upper
The Australian Priory Standard
The Standard of the Australian Priory is similar but features the Stars of the Southern Cross in silver on a blue disc at the centre of the Cross.
Ceremonial robes
The robes, or mantles, are black and bear the St John badge on the left breast. The diameter of the badge is 30 cms (12) for Grades I and II, and 23 cms (9) for Grade III. Robes are worn during Church Services, Investitures and Priory Chapter
The Queens Beasts sword rests for the Australian Priory sword.
The Australian Priory Standard.
The robe (or mantle) with the
Part Two
Investitures occur usually once a year and are the occasions when new members are formally admitted to The Order of St John or when current members are promoted in the Order, for example from Of cer (OStJ) to Commander (CStJ). The Deputy Prior in each state conducts investitures in that States Government House, and similar arrangements are made in the territories. Those who are promoted to Grade III (Commander) are ceremonially robed by the Deputy Prior.
Priory Chapter meetings are occasions when Members of the Order of Grades I, II and III meet with senior Members of the Order who hold National appointments to raise questions and to receive reports on the progress of the organisation.
There are numerous awards, but only two of them will be mentioned here: the Service Medal and the Grand Priors Award.
The Service Medal of the Order
The Service Medal of the Order is awarded to recognise long and ef cient service to the Order, its Establishments or its Foundations. While the word long is included in this awarded for each additional  ve years of qualifying service and a gilt laurel leaf is awarded for 52 years service. The medal is unique in that it is the only currently minted was created by Queen Victorias daughter, Princess Louise.
The Deputy Prior of The Order in South Australia (centre, in robe) with members being admitted to The Order in 2011.
The Service Medal of the Order (top), and the laurel leaf pin awarded
Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St JohnThe Grand Priors Award
The Grand Priors Award is an international award of considerable prestige. It may be awarded to a person who is a Cadet or who has been a Cadet for at least three years the subjects Knowledge of the Order and Family Care. The person receiving the Award is given a Grand Priors Award cate and the Grand Priors badge, that can be worn on badge that can be transferred from the Cadet uniform to the
Foundations of  e Order
The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem with its designated of cials and de ned structure has, since its inception in 1888, sponsored, guided and governed its two so-called Foundations. The foundations are the St John Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem and St
St John Ambulance in Australia encompasses the Training Services Branch) and the Community Care Branch. In England the St John Ambulance Association (the Training Branch in current Australian terminology) began in 1877. The in recent Australian terminology) began in 1887. As a sub-England in 1922 and in Australia just three years later. St John Ambulance Australia began in Melbourne, in 1883, and in South Australia in 1885. It was more than 50 years a national leadership structure able enough to be granted a degree of autonomy. In 1941 St John in Australia was granted Before this, St John in each state was under the direct control of St John in England. Five years later the degree of autonomy for St John in Australia was increased to that of a Priory. generally consists of a Training branch that teaches  rst aid to the public; a First Aid Services branch that provides rst aiders at public events; and a Community Care branch (previously called the Fellowship Branch).
Community Care
The Community Care Branch, is by far the most recent major it has provided a range of community services. Needs vary
The Grand Priors Award badge.
Part Two
from state to state and in South Australia, for example, care a worthy endeavour considering the increasing numbers of elderly people in our community. The assistance given is not rst aid but assistance with shopping and other domestic tasks, the most important aspect being the provision of
Australian State and Territory Boards
St John Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem, are under the direction of the St John Board in each Australian state and territory. Each of these Boards can seek guidance from their local Deputy Prior, traditionally the Governor of each State or the Administrator of the Northern Territory. Each Board employs a Chief Executive Of cer and other staff to provide support at their respective headquarters.
At the National level there also is a Board which includes Priory Of cers and representatives from each state and territory that gives direction to St John throughout Australia. The chairman of the National Board is termed the Chancellor and that individual reports to the Prior of the Order in Australia, traditionally the Governor-General. Again, the National Headquarters employs a small staff under the direction of a Chief Executive Of cer.
The St John Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem
outstanding example of how people of different cultures can work togetherthe Orders hospital is situated in a Jewish state, is managed by Christians and most of its patients are As a place, Jerusalem has resonance with the Order of St John as it was here that the original Order cared for patients some 900 years earlier. The early Knights of St John were forced out of Jerusalem late in the 13th Century.
The St John Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem.
Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John
Many years later, in 1876, the  rst successful steps were taken to re-establish a St John presence in that city. Sir Edmund Lechmere wrote to the Turkish Ambassador in Constantinople to ask if Turkey would grant St John some land in Jerusalem to establish a hospitalTurkey ruled Wales a portion of land was given to St John and a hospital was of cially founded in 1882. The decision to specialise in diseases of the eye was made on the grounds that eye More recently it is not simply disease but injuries to eyes that have featured heavily because of the on-going con icts in the area. As transport is dif cult for many of the patients through road-blocks and in areas of con ict, the hospital conducts an outreach program to Gaza and elsewhere. sponsored a number of ophthalmologists and nurses to work at the hospital for periods of up to a year. St John also works to treat disadvantaged people in Australia
Other Orders of St John
There are  ve Mutually Recognised Orders of St John. They are: 1. The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of 2. The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of 3. The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of 4. the Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, which is the Catholic Order most directly linked to the ancient Order of 5. The Johanniter Orders of Germany, the Netherlands and In addition there are many Non-Recognised Orders with names similar to our own Order.
References and further reading
A Brief History of the Order of St JohnA Century for Australia, St John Ambulance in Australia 18831983A Century of Service to Mankind: The Story of St John Ambulance Celebrating Women in St John Ambulance Australia: Our past, present and futureHospitallers: The History of the Order of St JohnHambledon Press, London and Rio Grande, 1999. Royal Charters and Statutes of the Most Venerable Order of the The Most Venerable Order of St John: From Langue to Order, St John HistoryThe St John (Order) Regulations (2003). Note: The Charters, Statutes and Regulations, dated 2003 and 2004, are the latest published ones. They are currently being reviewed and revised. The Order of St John: A Short HistorySt Johns Gate, London EC1, 1971. V Marshall, Sub-Prior of the Order, pers. comm.The Zambuks. The uniformed  rst aid volunteers of St John
Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John