Part II

A. The spirituality of the Order of St. John

Let's reflect on the spirituality of the Order of St. John, the theme, which this work mainly wants to deal with. Besides all other elements the spiritual one is the main pillar of the Order of St. John ever since its foundation until today.

1. Sources: The Order's Rule and its Statutes

The spiritual element in the early time of the order is to be described here according to the evidence given by the Order's Rule and those Statutes, which were added to the rule in that time, when the Order's Centre was in Jerusalem. Unfortunately the originals of these sources got lost. The oldest preserved versions of the Rule are a manuscript copy from October 7th, 1253 in Latin language and a Code from the late 13th Century (after AD 1288), which contains amongst others also Jobert's and Roger de Moulins' Statutes in medieval French language. The latter is the Code membr. in the Vatican Library n° 4852, which is called "Regulae Hospitalis S. Joannis Hierosolymitani in Lingua Gallica" in the index of the Vat. lat. Codes of the Library. It starts with the French translation of the bull "Quanto per gratiam Dei" of Pope Lucius III. from November 4th, 1184 or 1185, which quotes Raymond's Rule on sheets 1 to 18R. It is followed by the two Statutes of Jobert (sheet 18V to 24R), the Statutes of Roger de Moulins (sheet 24R to 32V), Alphonse of Portugal (sheet 32V to 49V), the four statutes of Hughes de Revel (sheet 49R to 79R), the statutes of Nicholas Lorgne (sheet 79V to 83R), Jean de Villiers (sheet 83R to 122V) and the code is being completed by the "Esgarts" and "Usances" from the time about 1239 (sheet 122V to 140V). Historical Science used and still uses this Code as the most renown source for its research. The older versions of the Rule in German language (late medieval German) are a manuscript in the Cologne City Archives (HAStH, Geistl. Abt. 129 a) from about AD 1380 and another manuscript from the 14th century in the Bavarian State Library (Clm 4620). The text of the Rule from the Aargau State Archives and from the Vatican Library are edited in Delaville's Cartulaire (No. 70), the medieval German manuscript from the Bavarian State Library in my dissertation "Die Ordensregel der Johanniter/Malteser. St. Ottilien 1983"

Waldstein-Wartenberg concludes that Raymond would have adopted the Rule of St. Augustine and elucidated and augmented it by a statute, which would represent the decisions of the chapters general. Though this seems quite plausible, as the Rule of the Order of John appears like a trunk in comparison to the contents and structure of the Rule of St. Augustine and the Rule of St. Benedict, it is uncertain and there is no documentary proof for this hypothesis. As I will elaborate later on, the Rule of the Order of St. John contains considerable l quotes from the Rule of St. Augustine, what would not have been necessary, if it were just an explanation on how to implement the Rule of St. Augustine. At the beginning of the 13th century - according to Waldstein-Wartenberg - the dependency on the Rule of St. Augustine would have been forgotten about and this statute therefore would be considered the Rule. It is being called "Rule" already on November 4th, 1184(5) in the Bull "Quanto per gratiam Dei" and on October 7th, 1253 by Master Guillaume de Chateauneuf.

There are also a dispute on when the Rule is to be dated. On the one hand it is being dated between AD 1155 and 1160, because the Rule is repeatedly dealing with clerics and priests of the Order and Pope Anastasius IV. gave permission to the Order to receive priests only on October 21st, 1154 through the Bull "Christianae fidei religio" and Raymond died at the latest in AD 1160;

on the other hand the Bull "Quanto per gratiam Dei" of Pope Lucius III. deals with the confirmation of the Rule by Pope Eugene III. on July 7th, 1153, which means that the Rule must have been given before AD 1153. Waldstein-Wartenberg adds, that the origin of the Rule could be presumed considerably earlier, because such papal approbation would have been usual only from the middle of the 12th century, as it were a legalisation of the existing facts.

Raymond's Rule was and remained a definitive authority for the development of the Order until today. Later versions of the Rule (e.g. the Stabilimenta Rhodiorum militum of 1489) were always preceded by the first chapter of Raymond's Rule, because it stipulates Christian charity as the principle of its spirituality and its activities.

[from: Villiers L'Isle Adam, Sacri ordinis et hospitalis sancti Joannis hierosolymitani magnus magister, Fr. Philippus de: Stabilimenta militum sacri ordinis divi Joannis hierosolymitani. una cum bulla ipsis concessa A summo pontifice Claemente VII. (Salamanca 1534)]

[detail from: Loubena Verdallx, (Grandmaster) Frŕ Hugh: Book of the Rule. 1584]

Delaville divides the text of the Rule in 19 chapters, according to the structure of the Vatican Lat. Code No 4852.

Preamble Authorisation of the Rule by the whole chapter (general)

  1. Chapter 1 How the Brethren should make their profession.
  2. Chapter 2 What the Brethren should claim as their due.
  3. Chapter 3 concerning the conduct of the Brethren and the service of the churches and the reception of the sick.
  4. Chapter 4 How the Brethren should go abroad and behave.
  5. Chapter 5 By whom and how alms should be sought.
  6. Chapter 6 concerning the alms obtained and concerning the produce of the houses.
  7. Chapter 7 Who and in what manner they should go abroad to preach.
  8. Chapter 8 Concerning the clothing and food of the Brethren.
  9. Chapter 9 Concerning Brethren guilty of fornication.
  10. Chapter 10 Concerning Brethren quarrelling and striking one another.
  11. Chapter 11 Concerning the Silence of the Brethren.
  12. Chapter 12 Concerning Brethren misbehaving.
  13. Chapter 13 Concerning Brethren found with private property.
  14. Chapter 14 What office should be celebrated for the deceased Brethren.
  15. Chapter 15 How the things here detailed are to be firmly maintained.
  16. Chapter 16 How our Lords the Sick should be received and served.
  17. Chapter 17 In what manner Brethren may correct Brethren.
  18. Chapter 18 How one brother should accuse another brother.
  19. Chapter 19 That the Brethren bear an their breasts the sign of the Cross.

Jobert's two statutes, "The Privilege of the Sick to have white bread" of 1176 and "The Customs of the Church of the Hospital of Jerusalem" from the time between 1177 and 1181, may be called the first (regulations on how to execute) the Rule.

"The Privilege of the Sick to have white bread" states that the income from the casales of St. Mary and Caphaer should be used for baking white bread for the sick and if that income would be insufficient, good wheat should be taken from the granary of the Hospital. Even the weight of a loaf was prescribed to be 16 ounces and one such loaf should be given to two poor persons.

"The customs of the Church of the Hospital of Jerusalem" prescribes in

  1. Chapter 1 the time for beginning the morning mass, forbids saying Mass more than once a day and regulates the church ceremonies in case of somebody dying.
  2. Chapter 2 prescribes the stipends and stole fees for priests with particular regulations in case of the commemoration of a deceased.
  3. Chapter 3 states that there must be always light in the church and what liturgical instruments have to be prepared.
  4. Chapter 4 prescribes what to do if a stranger died and
  5. Chapter 5 if the deceased was one of the Brethren.
  6. Chapter 6 and
  7. Chapter 7 are regulations on how to use the stole fees and
  8. Chapter 8 finally deals with the procedures to follow when a will was left to the hospital.

The statutes of Master Roger de Moulins given by the chapter general on March 3rd, 1181 "That the Churches should be regulated with the knowledge of the Prior" may be considered further regulations on how to execute Raymond's Rule, especially its chapter 16. These regulations are divided into two parts. The second part being the augmented consuetude (customary) facts on how part one was implemented. Part one starts with a regulation that priests and clerics and the equipment of the church are under the supervision of the Prior. From the second regulation onwards it solely deals with nursing regulations: Four doctors should be engaged for the hospital. Furthermore it deals with the size and equipment of the beds, the clothing for the sick when going to the latrines, the making of cradles for new-born babies and the way how to prepare the bears of the dead. Thereafter it deals with the conduct of the nursing staff and the procedures in the case of bad conduct of a nurse. Then it lists the responsions, i.e. contributions, which the mother hospital demanded from the overseas branches of its community. Part one is concluded with the norm for the Brethren to look after the sick as if they were their lords, to give them servants as assistants and what their duties are. Part two describes the reception, nursing care and feeding of the sick and their clothing when going to the latrines in more detail. We also come to know that the hospital used to accommodate abandoned children and that poor couples received food to celebrate their wedding. The house used to repair and pass on second hand clothes and shoes and gave financial support to released prisoners. Five clerics used to pray the Psalter every night for the benefactors of the house. The community invited daily 30 poor people for a meal. Three days a week all the poor who came were given alms and food. At Lenten time every Saturday thirteen poor people were invited for a meal, their feet were washed, they got new clothes and an alms.

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 14:39:43


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