B. Sources of the spiritual heritage

The different hypothesises on the origin of the Rule of the Order of St. John have already been briefly mentioned in the above paragraphs. In the contrary to those above mentioned opinions. Truszczyski states, that the Regulations which were established by Gérard, the founder of the Order, would have been a rule following the Benedictine Order. It is quite reasonable to assume this, because the hospital was part of the Benedictine Monastery St. Mary Latina before AD 1099 anyway. Other authors say Gérard or Raymond would have adopted the Rule of St. Augustine. Referring to the above supported hypothesis of the independence of the Rule of the Order of St. John, according to the fact that Pope Lucius III. compares both rules with one another, and because the Rule of the Order of St. John includes parts of the Rule of St. Augustine verbally, this hypothesis may be explicated and supported hereinafter:

The elements of the Rule of the Order of St. John which are common with the Rule of St. Benedict or with the Rule of St. Augustine or with both of them are used to explain the hypothesis.

The following scheme shows in short the parallels of contents of the compared Rules:


Rule of the Order of St. John

Rule of St. Augustine

Rule of St. Benedict

1no propertyI,2; XIII,1I,4XXXIII,6; LV,17
3order provides food and clothingII,1I,4 
4simple clothingII,2IV,19LV,7
5going abroad only in a group of two or three, companion chosen by superiorIV,1f.V,36 
6brethren are temples / dwelling of GodIV,7I,9; IV,24 
7inconspicuous behaviourIV,4IV,19 
8general conductIV,4IV,20f. 
9contact with womenIV,5f.IV,24 
10light at nightVII,3 XXII,4
11fasting except when sickVIII,2III,14 
12sleep dressedVIII,3 XXII,5
13punishment for sins with women or fornicationIXIV,29 
14punishment for serious faultsIX XXV
15satisfaction of the expelledIX,4f. XLIV
16quarrelling amongst brethrenX,1f.VI,41f.LXX
17taking back of absconded brethrenX,3f. XXIX
18silence at tableXI,1III,15XLII,8
19fraternal correctionXII,1; XVIIIV,25XXIII; XXVIII; LXX
20denouncing to superiorXII,1; XVII,4IV,26XLVI,4
21reception of the sick / guestsXVI LIII
22attend to the sick / guests first spiritually, then physicallyXVI,2f. LIII,4+8

The above scheme shows clearly what a close connection there is in the contents of the Rules. This may depend on the one hand on the fact that all three Rules are written for religious people. Therefore certain elements will be part of every Rule. This is certainly the case with the topics of poverty, simple clothing, obedience and silence. But there are parallels in several particular regulations and statements which suggest a closer dependence. Steidle deals with the influence of the Rule of St. Augustine on the Rule of St. Benedict. He calls the above quoted paragraphs XXXIII,6; XLII,8 and XLVI,4 Augustinian parts of the Rule of St. Benedict. As far as the dependence of the Rule of the Order of St. John on the Rule of St. Augustine is concerned, we even find literal correspondence in chapter 4 of Raymond's Rule:

Rule of the Order of St. John IV,1-5.7Rule of St. Augustine V, 36
(1) "Iterum cum ierint fratres per civitates et castella, non eant soli sed duo vel tres,Nec eant ad balneas, sive quocumque ire necesse fuerit, minus quam duo vel tres.
(2) nec cum quibus voluerint, sed cum quibus magister iusserit ire debent,Ne qui habent aliquo eundi necessitatem, cum quibus ipse voluerit, sed cum quibus praepositus iusserit, ire debebit.
(3) et cum venerint quo voluerint, simul stent(IV,20) cum veneritis quo itis, simul state.
(4) in incessu; in habitu et in omnibus motibus eorum nichil fiat, quod cuiusquam offendat aspectum, sed quod suam deceat sanctitatem.(IV,21) In incessu, in statu, (in habitu) in omnibus motibus vestris nihil fiat quod cuiusquam offendat aspectum, sed quod vestram decet sanctitatem.
(5) Quando etiam fuerint in domo aut in ecclesia, vel ubicumque femine sint invicem, suam pudicitiam custodiant ...(IV,24) Quando ergo simul estis in ecclesia et ubicumque et feminae sunt, invicem vestram pudicitiam custodite;
(7) Deus enim, qui habitat in sanctis, isto modo custodiat eos, amen.Deus enim, qui habitat in vobis, etiam isto modo vos custodiet ex vobis.

Ambraziejute admits dependence only in the case of verbal correspondence. This might be a too narrow view, because over and above literal correspondence there are close parallels in the meaning and themes both to the Rules of St. Augustine and of St. Benedict. Especially at places where the theme concerned represents a particular special regulation, e.g. the regulation to have light in the dormitory or to lie down dressed, there a dependence suggests itself. In a fundamental point of the spirituality of the Order of St. John there is a parallelism to the Rule of St. Benedict: In chapter LXIII,13 Benedict determines, that the abbot is to be called "lord" and "abbot", "because we believe that he holds the place of Christ". What a minimal difference to the sick being called "poor of Christ", "holy Poor" or "lord" by the Order of St. John, because they regard the sick as the Lord!

Supposed that this Geraldus, whom William of Tyre calls after AD 1048 the director of the branch hospice of St. John belonging to St. Mary Latina Monastery, is identical with that Gérard, who founded the Order of St. John in AD 1099 and if we further imply, that the first mentioned Geraldus was a Benedictine Monk and was put into charge by the abbot of St. Mary Latina, then the reception of Benedictine elements into the Rule of the Order of St. John suggests itself. A direct adoption of the Rule of St. Benedict was not possible with respect to Gérard's aims, which St. Benedict's Rule was too narrow for. What would be more reasonable to assume than to pick out the fitting elements from St. Benedict's Rule, to add elements out of the less particular Rule of St. Augustine and one's own particular ideas and ideals and to amalgamate all these ingredients forming a new Rule, which Gérard's successor Raymond du Puy recorded in writing as the Rule of the Order of St. John? The strong influence of the Augustinians, which we notice in Raymond's Rule becomes more understandable, when we have in mind, that the canons (?) of St. Augustine of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre lived in immediate proximity to the Hospital of Jerusalem. Delaville deducts from the strongly Augustinian character of the Rule of the Order of St. John even a striving for independence from the Benedictine monastery St. Mary Latina.

Blessed Gérard
This page is part of the publication: Blessed Gérard and his "everlasting brotherhood": The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

This page was last updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 14:39:52


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