Sunday, 27 January 2013

The cross and founder of the Order of St John

A woodcut (15th/16th C?) of medical treatment by the Order of St John. I got this image from the Museum of St John webpage. There is no date on this woodcut so I'm guessing by the styles of clothing depicted. A figure on the left of the woodcut has a St Johns cross sewn onto his garment.

The cross of the Order

"The cross of the Order of St John is the subject of on-going discussion as to its origin and the date it became the cross of the Order. It is widely believed to have been adopted as a result of the funds provided for the rebuilding of the hospital in Jerusalem by the people of the Italian state of Amalfi, which was the only western European state trading in the Middle East. At the time of the formation of the Order in the 11th century, the arms of Amalfi was a white, eight-pointed cross on a blue background. The Blessed Gerard, founder of the Order of St John, appears to have adopted a black habit bearing an eight-pointed star in white on the left breast, prior to 1113, when Pope Paschal II first officially recognised the Order. What is certain is that this form of cross is now usually referred to as the Maltese cross, a consequence of the Order’s 268 year residence on the Island of Malta."
( Crowther. I, and Goodman. M, 2012, Grand Masters of Malta: Their heraldry and coinage, Historical Society of St Johns Ambulance, Proceedings of the St John Ambulance Historical Society of Australia Volume 12.)

Members of St John Ambulance Australia wear the eight pointed badge, the St John Cross all over their uniforms and cars etc. They have a heraldic device as well, the St John Shield or Arms of the Order. A square white cross on a scarlet background (A cross argent, on a field gules?)

We can  probably assume that any St John born after the start of the Order is not our St John. We can also assume, that as the Order was founded by The Blessed Gerard, that St John himself is dead so any St John living past 1113 is not our man either.

John the Evangelist (born 1st century), speculated author of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally identified with John the Apostle
John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation, traditionally identified with John the Apostle and Evangelist
John the Baptist, preacher, ascetic (c. 5 BC – c. 30 AD), and reported baptizer of Jesus Christ
John the Wonderworking Unmercenary (d. c. 304), Egyptian or Mesopotamian healer
John Chrysostom (c. 340 – 407), Antiochene Archbishop of Constantinople
John Cassian (360 – 435), probably Scythia-Minor priest and abbot
John and Paul (d. 362), Roman martyrs
John of Egypt (d. 394), Egyptian hermit
John the Silent (452-558), Bishop of Taxara
Pope John I (died 526), Italian pope
John of Ephesus (507-586), Syrian ecclesiatical historian
John Climacus (525–606), Syrian or Byzantine monk and abbot
John Scholasticus (died 577), 32nd Patriarch of Constantinople
Patriarch John IV of Constantinople (d. 595), also known as John the Faster, first Ecumenical Patriarch
John the Merciful (died c. 610), Cyprian Patriarch of Alexandria
John of Damascus (676–749), Syrian monk and priest, also known as John Damascene
John of Beverley (died 721), Angle bishop
John of Pavia (died 813), Bishop of Pavia
John of Rila (876–946), Bulgarian priest and hermit
John Gualbert (985-1073), Founder of the Vallumbrosan Order
John Theristus (1049-1129), Italian benedictine monk

John of Pulsano (1070-1139), or Giovanni di Matera, Italian abbot

John of the Grating (1098-1168), Bishop of Aleth

John of Matha (1160–1213), French priest; founder of the Trinitarian Order

John of Meda (died 1159), Italian priest

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