The Order of St John reveals its best kept “Treasures” in a new book

St John Treasures

The Order of St John has launched a new book to showcase its best kept “Treasures”. These carefully selected highlights from the Museum’s collection include both everyday objects and precious pieces that unravel St John’s nine hundred years of history; from its origins in caring for sick pilgrims in eleventh century Jerusalem, through to its modern-day role with St John Ambulance, the international health charity.

St John Treasures

The book, titled “Treasures – Faith, Care, Valour’” is beautifully illustrated with pictures by acclaimed photographer Julian Calder. The detailed images help to bring the Museum of the Order of St John’s collections to life, telling the stories behind each object, and revealing the people who held them and championed the Order’s values: “Pro Fide, Pro Utilitate Hominum” (For the Faith, In the Service of Humanity).

This book uses the Museum’s collections to explore a nine hundred year narrative of care and conflict. From priceless artefacts to everyday items of humbler appearance, all are equal in importance in demonstrating how the charity has continued to transform and diversify, while remaining constant in its faith-based mission of humanitarian aid. Together, these selected objects reveal the fascinating story of the Order of St John.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Grand Prior

St John Treasures

Written and edited by Tom Foakes, Director of the Museum, and funded by Mark Pigott KBE KStJ, “Treasures” reflects on the evolving nature of the Order of St John’s mission, with themes of faith, care and valour remaining constant throughout its narrative.

  • Among the objects found in “Treasures” are historically and artistically significant works such as the Portrait Bust of Grand Master Jean de Valette (Giovanni Bandini, c.1565–1568), the Knight of St John and victorious hero of the Great Siege of Malta; but also, powerful testimonies of St John Ambulance volunteers from history such as Veronica Nisbet and Ada Evelyn Brown.
  • Veronica Nisbet’s scrapbook is just one of the fascinating treasures included in the book and captures from a very personal, and often humorous, perspective both her own efforts and those of her colleagues to care for the sick and wounded. Nisbet was a St John Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse during the First World War and one of the 2,212 women to serve abroad. As an artist, she documented her wartime experiences through a series of cartoons, sketches, photographs and newspaper clippings that are now in the Museum collection.
  • Ada Evelyn Brown’s photography album is also featured in the book and could be described as one of the most haunting and culturally significant objects in the Museum’s collection. At the close of the Second World War, Ada and her colleagues faced the monumental task of tending to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the survivors at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where 120,000 men, women and children had been imprisoned for two years. Between January and March 1945 approximately 35,000 people were killed, including sisters Margot and Anne Frank.
  • The Museum’s latest acquisition is the first statue of St John the Baptist to enter the collection, generously funded by the Priory in the USA of the Order of St John Palm Beach Region. It demonstrates the continuing addition of new treasures to the Museum’s collection that seek to tell the powerful stories that have shaped our history.

You can order the book here.

Or buy your copy form the Museum shop at St John’s Gate in London. 

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to St John in support of future investment in the Museum collections and buildings, to increase accessibility and to enable greater public engagement.