THE CHANGING POSITION OF THE SERVING BROTHERS AND THEIR CARITATIVE FUNCTIONS IN THE ORDER OF ST JOHN IN JERUSALEM AND ACRE, ca 1070-1291
By David George Duchesne
PhD Dissertation, University of Sydney, 2008
Abstract: Study of the serving brothers of the Order of St John and of the way in which the original idealism of their hostel in Jerusalem was altered by forces of change has been neglected. The ultimate result of these forces was to change the main ideology of the brotherhood into an organisation which was dominated by knights and their desire to defend the Catholic Faith and the Crusader states. The importance of the original brothers and their position within the growth of the Order of St John changed. They became second class citizens in their own Order and this has been largely overlooked.
In order to appreciate how this development took place it is necessary to trace the changing circumstances of the serving brothers within the various stages of the history of the Order and the way these affected their caritative service to pilgrims, the poor and the sick. The purpose and ideals which formulated the Hospice of St Mary of the Latins are the essential beginnings of such a study.
Following the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099, the Hospice launched into a different phase of its history. The number of poor sick pilgrims visiting Jerusalem and being accommodated in the hospice or hospital, eventually forced the Hospital to become independent from its mother monastery. However, this became possible only after Pope Paschal II settled the problems of church and state experienced in the early years of the Kingdom.