Saint John of Jerusalem.
Grant of Arms to the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem
by Pope Alexander IV (1259)
The text is presented in the original Latin and in my translation.
(Source: Auguste Coulon (ed.): Registres d’Alexandre IV. Paris, 1953. vol. 3, fasc. 7, p. 57.)
2938. Anagni, 11 aout 1259.
Fratribus militibus Hospitalis S. Johannis Jerosolimitani chlamyde nigra et, in bellis, superinsigniis militaribus utendi facultatem concedit. (REG. 25, f. 217, an. V, c. 172.)
To the Master and brothers of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.
As almighty God has established your order in his Church as a column fixed on the base of obedience for the necessary protection of the Holy Land, of which you are the famous athletes, the robust fighters and the chosen champions, and in whose defense you have girded yourselves with the ensigns of the cross to fight the war of God against the blasphemers of his name;
and as you are the eminent people of God, splendid nation and zealous crowd of just men, the council and gathering of strong men of the King of kings, in whose hands truly swords are double-edged and shining beacons in the search for justice among nations and for the city of God;
we intend to comfort with suitable favors and enlarge with appropriate gifts the worthy order itself and you, knights of Christ, in whom God has instilled the spirit of the strong Macchabees and of other ancient warriors in those lands, and we intend to grant you what we know will contribute to the growth of your order and the protection of the said Land.
And because we understand that among the brothers of your order there is no distinction in clothing between the knights and the others, as there is in most similar orders, and for that reason many noblemen who, having forsaken the seductions of the world, decide to go to the defense of said Land under the garment of your order, but faced with the above-mentioned observance, see their ardor cool;
we, desirous that this order increase, with the help of the Lord, with ceaseless and increased donations, by the authority of the present we grant you, so that you may unanimously enact and thereafter inviolably observe among the brothers, that knights of the said order wear a black mantle, so that they be distinguished from the other brothers of the order. And, in war and in combat, that they use surcoats and other coats of arms, that are red, and in which a white cross is sewn in the manner of your banner, so that, in such uniformity of emblems the identity of souls become evident, and that the salvation of the persons might follow as a consequence.
Given at Anagni, 11 August, 5th year [of our pontificate].
Magistro et fratribus Hospitalis Sancti Johannis Ierosolimitani.
Cum ordinem vestrum omnipotens Deus in Ecclesia sua velut columpnam immobilem super obedientie basem erexerit ad fulcimentum necessarium Terre Sancte, cujus estis athlete incliti, robusti pugiles et propugnatores electi, et pro cujus defensione ad preliandum prelia Dornini contra sui blasfemos nominis salvivice crucis vos armis insignibus accinxistis, cum etiam vos sitis populus Dei egregius, gens magnifica et strenua multitudo justorum, consilium et congregatio fortium Regis regum, in quorum reve ra manibus gladii sunt ancipites et ardentes lucerne ad faciendam vindictam in nationibus et scrutandam Domini civitatem, digne ipsum ordinem et vos tanquam Christi milites in quibus suscitavit Dominus in illis partibus fortium Machabeorum spiritum, et aliorum veterum earundem partium bellatorum congruis intendimus roborare favoribus et condignis gratiis adaugere illaque vobis concedere que ad incrementum vestre religionis dicteque Terre subsidium redundare noscuntur. Sane quia intelleximus quod inter fratres vestri ordinis milites et alios nulla distinctio per aliquam indumentorum diversitatem, sicut in plerisque aliis consimilibus sit religionibus, observatur, propter quod contingit quod multorum nobilium qui, mundi relictis illecebris, sub ejusdem vestre religionis habitu eligerent insistere predicte Terre presidio erga prefatum ordinem caritas refrigescit, nos cupientes ut idem ordo continuis, auctore Domino, amplificetur commodis, et votivis concrescat augmentis, presentium vobis auctoritate concedimus ut unanimiter statuere ac deinceps inviolabiliter observare possitis apud fratres [quod] milites ejusdem ordinis clamidem nigram deferant, ut ab aliis ejusdem ordinis fratribus discernantur. In bellis autem sive in preliis utantur juppellis(*) et aliis superinsigniis militaribus, que sint coloris rubri, et in quibus etiam crux albi coloris sit in vestri vexilli modum assuta, ut in hujusmodi uniformitate signorum animorum idemptitas evidenter appareat, et ex hoc per consequens salus proveniat personarum. Nulli nostre concessionis etc.
Dat. Anagnie, III idus augusti, anno quinto.