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October 15, 2017: The Order of St. John of Jerusalem Comes to Washington
Almost 1,000 years ago, the Abbey of St Mary in Jerusalem set up a small hospital to care for sick pilgrims. In 1113, the Pope acknowledged the new Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. The “Hospitallers,” both men and women, took a vow to serve “our lords the sick and the poor.” In the centuries since, the Order flourished throughout Europe.

by Pat Dresser, DStJ

Almost 1,000 years ago, the Abbey of St Mary in Jerusalem set up a small hospital to care for sick pilgrims. In 1113, the Pope acknowledged the new Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. The “Hospitallers,” both men and women, took a vow to serve “our lords the sick and the poor.”  In the centuries since, the Order flourished throughout Europe. King Henry VIII dissolved the English Order, but later its work was brought back to England and Queen Victoria established it as an an Order of Chivalry under the British Crown. The English Order has about a dozen Priories around the world, most in Commonwealth countries, and including the U.S. Priory. I became a member of the order in 1999.

The St John Hospital in East Jerusalem dates to 1882. It is the only charitable provider of eye care in that region, and in addition to the 19th century hospital, today also has a second hospital, several clinics, and mobile vans for reaching remote areas. The Priories raise funds for these medical services, which are available to patients of all ages. 

You might remember that for several years All Souls collected stuffed animals during Advent for the pediatric patients. The children treated come from very poor families, and the toys provided comfort while they were in the hospital and afterwards at home. When it became more and more difficult to get shipments through checkpoints, we began to make grants through funds from the All Souls Endowment.  Those grants benefited the children and provided medical training for staff. My heart has always been for the children, and my work in the Order has included fundraising as well as taking leadership roles in the American Priory. I cannot change the political situation in that region, but I can help the children.

This October 20-22, the American Priory will have our annual Investiture Weekend here in Woodley Park at the Omni Shoreham. On Saturday at 2 p.m., the Investiture and Rededication Service will be at the National Cathedral. If you like pageantry, join us—it is quite a procession!  That Sunday morning there will be a 7:30 a.m.  Mass here at All Souls. All early risers are invited to join us!

Last Published: October 12, 2017 9:10 AM
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