Alliance Orders: The four predominantly Protestant Orders of St John, The Most Venerable Order of St John, The Johanniterorden, and the Orders of St John in Sweden and the Netherlands, which, together with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), mutually recognize each other as true Orders of St John and assist each other in their labors.
Arms: A symbol or symbols for a person or institution displayed on a shield or banner and created according to the laws of heraldry. The arms of the Order and of the Priory in the United States, as well as its badge, are illustrated on the symbols page of this website.
Badge: A symbol for individuals or institutions and especially for objects and persons associated with them, created according to the laws of heraldry. The badge of the Most Venerable Order of St John is a white Maltese Cross with the supporters of the Royal Arms, the lion of England and the unicorn of Scotland, between its arms.
Bailiff Grand Cross: A person of the highest rank in the Order. (GCStJ) Their number includes John R. Drexel IV, former Prior of the United States, and Fra Michael Festing, Grand Master of the Order of Malta.
Commander: A distinguished rank in the Order of St John, in Grade III.
Commandery: A self-governing body of the Order dependent on a priory or directly on the Grand Council. The two commanderies in existence today are the Commandery of Ards, in Northern Ireland, and the Commandery of Western Australia.
Confrère: Essentially, a brother or sister in a profession or a religious "confraternity." The term was first used for laymen who became members of the military religious orders without taking vows. Members of the Order of St John refer to each other as Confrères.
Dame: A woman who has achieved high rank in the Order, either in Grade I as a Dame Grand Cross (GCStJ), or in Grade II as a Dame of Grace or of Justice (DStJ).
False Order: A false order of St John is a group or organization using the name of the Order of St John, but which group or organization is not recognized by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta or the four alliance orders of St John.
Grand Council: The governing body of the General Council includes the Order's Great Officers and the Priors of the eight priories of Saint John International.
Grand Prior: The principal leader of the Order under the Sovereign Head. The Grand Prior has been a member of the Royal Family since 1888. HRH the Duke of Gloucester, KG, KCVO is the current Grand Prior.
Great Officers: The major international officers of the Most Venerable Order of St John, who, together with the Grand Prior and the heads of the eight priories, form the Grand Council. The titles of the Great Officers have varied over the years. They are now Lord Prior, Prelate, Deputy Lord Prior and Sub Prior.
Hospital: "The Hospital" in St John terminology can mean several things. First, it may be the original hospice in Jerusalem founded by the Blessed Gerard in 1099. That is the hospital referred to in the names of the Orders of St John. Second, it may be the modern St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem, which the Most Venerable Order supports. Third, it may be the historic Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, which was sometimes called "The Hospital" for short.
Hospitaller: In current terminology, the officer of the Order responsible for the St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem and the officer of each priory who coordinates priory support for the hospital.
International Office: The International Office, previously known as the Order Secretariat, was created in October 1999 to service the Grand Council and to act as the link between the Priories, St John Associations and the Jerusalem Eye Hospital. It is located at St John House, 3 Charterhouse Mews in London.
Investiture: A ceremony at which new members are invested, members promoted, and decorations are presented. The Priory in the United States conducts its investitures in the context of a service of rededication in a cathedral or other great church. In England, investitures often take place at St. James's Palace or at the Order's chapel in Clerkenwell. In Jerusalem they have taken place at St. George's Cathedral or in the courtyard of the hospital.
Johanniterorden: The Johanniterorden, or simply the Johanniter, is a one of the five mutually recognized Orders of St John. Tracing its history to a pre-reformation branch of the undivided Order, the Bailiwick of Brandenburg, it is headquartered in Germany but has branches in several other countries, including the United States. Its relief organization, Johanniter International, which is headquartered in Brussels, carries on projects throughout the world, often in cooperation with St John Ambulance, Malteser International (the relief organization of the Order of Malta), and other St John bodies.
Knight: A man who has achieved high rank in the Order, in grade II (KStJ).
Knight Commander: Not a grade in the Order, as in other British orders of chivalry, but the head of one of the Order's two commanderies.
Knights Hospitaller: Another name for the Order of St John, especially during the Middle Ages, when it was, along with the Knights Templar, one of the great international military religious orders.
Lord Prior: The non-royal head of the Order worldwide, currently Professor Anthony Mellows, OBE, TD.
Maltese Cross: The emblem of all the Orders of St John. It is an eight-pointed cross, which has become more geometrical in form as the centuries have gone by. In the ceremonies of the Most Venerable Order, the Cross is described as "the sign of man’s redemption; its arms symbolize the four cardinal virtues, Prudence, Temperance, Justice and Fortitude; and its points stand for the Eight Beatitudes which spring from the practice of those virtues. Its whiteness reminds us of the purity of life required of those who fight for the defense of the Christian Faith and live for the service of the poor and suffering."
Marshal: A member of the Order who helps organize and conduct its ceremonies. Marshals are recognized by the long wands they carry while performing their ceremonial duties.
Mantle: A garment designated members of the Order are permitted to wear.
Member: Entry level grade (grade V) for a person being invested in the Order (MStJ). This grade was formerly called Serving Brother or Serving Sister, but was changed to match the terminology of other British Orders.
Muristan Society: Named for the district of Jerusalem where the original St John Hospice was located, the Muristan Society is made up of those who have included the priory in their estate planning.
Oblation: An annual contribution of $1,000 is expected of all members of the Priory in the United States.
Officer: A member of the Order in grade IV. (OStJ)
Order of Chivalry: A body devoted to the ideals of chivalry and headed or recognized by a sovereign (or formerly sovereign) power. Many orders of chivalry are honorific. Others, including the Orders of St John, are "serving orders" whose members are obligated to continuing efforts to fulfill their order's mission.
Order of Malta: The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta (SMOM) is the Roman Catholic inheritor of the Knights Hospitaller. It is a sovereign state in international law and conducts charitable work throughout the world, sometimes in conjunction with The Most Venerable Order and the other Alliance Orders of St John.
Order of St John: The short name either for the historic Knights Hospitaller or, more commonly, the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.
Post-nominal letters: Letters following the name that indicate (among other things) an honor from the Queen. For a member of Commander grade this would appear as “John Smith, CStJ”. Unlike members of the state orders of chivalry, members of the Order of St John use their post-nominal letters only in the context of their work with the Order.
Prelate: The chief ecclesiastical official of the Order and one of its Great Officers. The Prelate is always a bishop of the Church of England. A sub-prelate is the chief ecclesiastical official of each priory, and may be an Anglican bishop or someone with “other eminent status in the Christian Church.” In Scotland the sub-prelate is always a minister of the established Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). In the United States the sub-prelate has traditionally been a bishop of the Episcopal Church.
Prior: The head of one of the eight major constituent parts of the Order of St John.
Priory: One of the eight major constituent parts of the Order of St John. There are Priories in Canada, Australia, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, South Africa, The United States, and England and the Islands.
St John Association: A St John body in a country or territory which cannot support a full-fledged priory. There are St John Associations across the world in places ranging from Antigua to Zimbabwe.
St John's Gate, Clerkenwell: St John’s Gate is a popular London tourist destination that includes the
historic gatehouse of the medieval headquarters of the Priory of England. The Gate was sold off after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII and was reacquired by the Order of St John in the nineteenth century. This location includes the newly renovated Order of St John Museum, re-opened in fall of 2010 as well as ceremonial rooms, a library and administrative offices. See the museum’s web site at [www.museumstjohn.org.uk].
Supporters: Beasts or human figures that hold the coats of arms of very distinguished people and institutions. The supporters of the British Royal Arms, the Lion of England and the Unicorn of Scotland, form part of the badge of the Most Venerable Order of St John.
—Compiled by Professor Brian Abel Ragen, KStJ 5.23.11