About The Order of St John

St John is a working Order of Chivalry (since 1888) and a modern organisation delivering first aid, healthcare and support services around the world.

In the Service of Humanity, St John promotes physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing in 44 countries and territories worldwide, mostly within the Commonwealth. The Order delivers its charitable activities through local St John Ambulance organisations and the St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem.

At the very core of our work are the 160,000+ St John volunteers who give their time, effort and expertise to help others. Our volunteers come from the local communities they are working in and improve the lives of their own family, friends and neighbours through their ownership of our services – all the whilst strengthening their community’s resilience. You can identify our St John people “in the wild” by the eight-pointed cross on their uniforms. You can learn more about our cross here (share link to Chivalry).

two paramedics

St John International

The International Secretariat of the Order (“St John International”) is the supporting body for all St John establishments. We like to think of ourselves as the “scaffolding”. We provide support to all of our establishments by facilitating the sharing of best practice and recognising the achievements of our volunteers through our Honours and Awards system.

At our friendly office in London, we’re here to assist with a wide range of activities; you can find us working on international communication plans, writing grant proposals, hosting communities of practice, securing income generation, organising applications for HM The King’s List, and facilitating our international governance structure. For a small team of 11, we punch high to ensure that each of the establishments who operate in our name feel connected, supported and well-resourced. Fuelled heavily by coffee, we’d love to invite you in for a one – just please let us know in advance to make sure we’ve bought in some milk!

Our Values

Our History

The Most Venerable Order shares its ancient history with the other Mutually Recognised Orders of St John, which are the Johanniter Orders (Balley Brandenburg, Nederland and Sverige), and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM).
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • ambulance in a field
  • 1070 AD

    The Order of the Hospital of St John originated in a hospice founded around 1070 AD to serve the needs of wounded and sick pilgrims in Jerusalem. The brothers and sisters of the Hospital, known as the Hospitallers, recognised as a religious order by the Pope in 1113, nursed the poor and sick of any faith. In the centuries that followed military activity took place in parallel to nursing and the ethos relating to chivalry and knighthood developed.
  • 1140 AD

    The Order’s lands throughout Western Europe were managed by communities of its members called Commanderies, which were gathered into provinces called Grand Priories. In Britain the estates were administered from a Commandery at Clerkenwell, London, from about 1140. This became a Priory in 1185, with responsibility for other Commanderies that had been set up in Scotland and Wales as well as throughout England.
  • 1309 AD

    Following the collapse of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem,headquarters were established in Rhodes in 1309 until they surrendered to Sulieman the Magnificent to1522, following a long siege. Sulieman allowed the knights to leave with full military honours recognising the way they had defended the siege.
  • 1530 AD

    In 1530 the Order was given Malta by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and in 1565 successfully defended the island against the besieging Ottoman force. They governed in Malta until they surrendered to Napoleon in 1798.
  • 1540 AD

    In England in 1540 King Henry VIII suppressed the Order along with other monastic institutions. Queen Mary restored it in 1557, but two years later Queen Elizabeth I again confiscated its estates. Shortly afterwards the influence of the Reformation ended the Order’s activities in Scotland, however the Order continued in Malta.
  • 1820 AD

    The Roman Catholic Order of the Hospital of St John, which is now known as Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), or simply the Order of Malta, survived its expulsion by Napoleon from Malta. In the 1820s its Knights living in France offered knighthoods to supporters in Great Britain, irrespective of their Christian denomination. The English Knights were no longer concerned with warfare and devoted themselves to charitable activities.
  • 1874 AD

    The English (Anglican) Knights returned to St John’s Gate and set up St John Ambulance to train people in First Aid. They also established the first “Ambulance Department."
  • 1882 AD

    The English (Anglican) Knights founded an Eye Hospital in Jerusalem, which followed the founding principles of the Hospitallers in treating all those in need, regardless of race, faith, or ability to pay.
  • 1888 AD

    Queen Victoria recognised the enormous public value of the new(Anglican)Order and granted it a Royal Charter as an Order of the British Crown. This is the Order of St John that we have today. Queen Victoria was the Sovereign Head, and that title has been held by all subsequent monarchs.
  • 1955 AD

    Queen Elizabeth the Second granted the title ‘Most’ Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in recognition of their activities during the Second World War.
  • Today

    The Order’s common focus is furthering the ethos built on the motto “Pro Fide (for the faith), Pro Utilitate Hominum (in the service of humanity)” of continuing to show respect and kindness to others, unselfishness, excellence in delivering modern care, and openness to learn, as well as devotion to helping others, combining togetherness with common values, diversity and inclusiveness supporting our common purpose, and to the faithful vision of the founders. These enduring chivalric values are still today’s St John values. St John is now an international family of charities whose mission is to lead globally in First Aid and medical responses to community healthcare needs. There are other healthcare charities, some bigger than St John with a wider footprint, but St John is the only charity with a Royal Order of Chivalry embedded. There are other orders of chivalry, State run, recognising the excellent contribution by its citizens, but none of them has the charitable output like St John. The Order is therefore unique in that it is a Royal Order of Chivalry with a significant humanitarian charitable output.