Vale Archbishop Desmond Tutu

It is with great sadness that our St John family learned of the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Bailiff Grand Cross of our Most Venerable Order, and former Prior of St John South Africa.

Desmon Tutu with Nelson Mandela

Our Lord Prior Professor Mark Compton said: “Archbishop Tutu was a hugely respected and highly cherished member of St John – not only in South Africa, but across all of our worldwide Order. Archbishop Tutu was an enormous supporter and very active contributor to the Order’s work in delivering help to the poor and the sick in South Africa, as well as in our Eye Hospital in Jerusalem and our work in the Palestinian territories. Many St John people had the chance to meet him in person during one of his many visits, and he will be missed deeply by all of us. I had the privilege of meeting the Archbishop on a number of occasions. His humanity and humour shone through, always.”

In his own words he will be remembered as one who ‘loved, laughed and cried’. All of us who have been in his presence are richer for the experience. Professor Mark Compton, Lord Prior

Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Tutu was a driving force behind the movement to abolish the apartheid system in South Africa, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Starting his career as a teacher, he later responded to a call to be ordained, and after a period was appointed Bishop of Johannesburg and later Archbishop of Cape Town. In 2010, the Archbishop largely retired from public life, but served as Prior of the Priory of South Africa from 2012 to 2017.

Desmond Tutu was invested as a Knight of The Order in 1996. Her Majesty The Queen appointed Archbishop Tutu as a Bailiff Grand Cross of St John in 2017 in recognition of his outstanding leadership of and contribution to The Order over many years.

Desmond Tutu

Professor Compton said: “Archbishop Tutu will be greatly missed by all of us, but his work and his spirit lives on in all of us. He was a great and passionate Christian leader for the world, including for our St John family, which owes him so much. On behalf of The Order and all Members, I offer our sincerest condolences to Leah, their children Trevor, Theresa, Naomi, Mpho, their family, and all their loved ones.”

May Archbishop Tutu rest in peace and rise in glory.