History of the Order

By 1080, a hospital had been established in Jerusalem by a group of monks under the guidance of Brother Gerard. Its purpose was to care for the many pilgrims who had become ill on their travels to the Holy Land. The men and women who worked there were members of a new religious order, officially recognised by the Church in 1113. Known as the Hospitallers, they cared for anyone, without distinction of race or faith. After the Crusaders captured Jerusalem, the Hospitallers also took on a military role. They became known as the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

When Palestine was recaptured by Muslim forces in 1291, the Order moved briefly to Cyprus and then, in 1309, to Rhodes. The Order remained on Rhodes until 1522, when the Turkish Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, conquered the island.

From Rhodes, the Order moved to Malta. After a famous siege by Suleiman in 1565, which the Knights and the Maltese people survived, a new capital city, Valletta, was built. The Order’s ships patrolled the Mediterranean and remained on Malta until 1798, when the island was surrendered to Napoleon.

After this period the Order was spread all over Europe and several branches were continuing their operation as royal or religious orders. One branch was established in USA and Canada and received 1965 the royal charter from Yugoslavian King Peter II .