The Catholic Military Orders

The Catholic military orders, or as there sometimes known, the chivalric orders, have always held a certain fascination for me.

It could be the fact that I spent 23 years in the military, or the fact that I am a history buff, or maybe it’s just the satisfaction I get from defending people, institutions and ideals that are close to my heart, such as my country and Church. What was once a fascination might now be a calling since I’ve left the service because members of these orders seem to live by the same values I did while I was in the military and I find that very appealing.

At the present time, there seem to be only two chivalric orders left in the Church, the Order of the Holy Sepulcher and the Knights Of Malta. Both of these organisations boast quite a well known and rather famous roster of Catholic men, both are relatively small and worst of all, for me anyway, is that you must know someone who is willing to sponsor you in order to join. Well, I don’t know anyone in either of these two fine orders.

I was thinking about writing to these orders to explain my desire to them and maybe there is another way in.

Any thoughts?


Nobody on the forum has any experience with either the Knights Of Malta or the Order Of The Holy Sepulcher?:frowning:

My only knowledge of them is that they are more of a service organizations today.

Several years ago I attended an investiture Mass for new Knights (and Dames) of the Holy Sepulcher. My impression is that, as previously noted, the members were invited after many years of service for and to the Church - international charitable work, major fund-raising, especially fund-raising for a specific cause, such as restoration of a major religious site, funding of a specific charitable institution, etc. There may well be other factors, these are just the impressions I formed from that one ceremony. The individuals I saw also appeared to be well-on in years, and with sufficient material blessings that they probably have made major donations themselves over time. (This is not meant to imply that they in any way “bought their way into” the Order.)

Thanks for the responses guys!:slight_smile:

I got the same impression from seeing these guys as you Mattapoisett. There membersip list includes some very well heeled and well known Catholic men and women. Not to mention that there ranks are fairly small, about 12,000 each, especially when compared to the 1.7 million members of the Knights Of Columbus. Since theses orders are international in scope, the chance of meeting one of these Knights or Dames is pretty small really.

I’m not sure writing to the order to explain my desire and background would do much good, but I might just try it anyway. What’s the worst they could say - no?:shrug:

:popcorn: I think you are right about the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.

However, The Knights of Malta do have religious priests and brothers, as well a a convent of sisters on Malta. Some of these orders did have women members mainly I assume as nuns,even I believe the Templars had some nuns attached. There is a book about the
Catholic Military Orders,but I have forgotten the title right now.

Also, you are forgetting the Teutonic Knights.They still exist in Germany and Austria
as a Catholic religious order of priests, brothers and sisters.
Unfortunately what little I have seen on them has been in german,which i can’t read.
I would love to know more about them, as well as the german members of the Knights Templar, mainly because my father’s family was german, his father’s parents being from Bavaria, and the family has a very long tradition of military service.

You can contact these orders, and you might need to be sponsored by someone.
Unfortunately, lay members of like the Knights of Matla don’t really go around advertising that fact, unlike Masons who have a secret handshake or other ways to recognize a fellow mason.

Thanks for the response.

I haven’t forgotten the Teutonic Knights, but I ran into the same problem you did, there is very little info on them in English. They also have no activity that I can see in North America, which I see as huge impediment to ever being a part of them. I somehow remember that you also have to have German blood to be a member of them to, although I could be mistaken.

Yes, nobody seems to go around advertising the fact that they are indeed a member of these orders, which is troublesome if you are trying to become a part of them…

The Knights of Malta is actually very expensive to join. Their history is quite impressive and makes for great study, but these days they are almost exclusively a service organization geared towards men who have established themselves as movers and shakers in the secular world. They do offer a reduced fee for younger applicants, but it is still a sizable amount.

Do any of those still count as “Military” orders? I mean, most of their members are donors, not soldiers, aren’t they?

Your purse matters more than your sword arm.

Many of these orders will require you to be a member of the aristocracy or nobility. You describe your location as the Big Apple, so I will assume that you are a commoner. Perhaps you should found your own organization.

AFAIK I know there are no longer any military orders that are truly ‘military’ in the real sense of the word today.

I’d like to see some real military orders come back into existence, however right now the Church is in such trouble that it might even be impossible for one to be formed.

There -will- be one final military order of the Church eventually, regardless of conditions, this has been prophesized by St. Francis of Paola, and that it would do more good than any other religious institution.

TFP has a good article on St. Nuno Alveres Periera, who only was just recently canonized.

Well, I’ve done pretty well in my life, but I don’t think I ever made it to the level of being a mover or shaker either. I’m probably not the type they’re looking for due to that, although I like to think I live by a strong moral code like they do. I enjoy being around other people that live by a code and strong value system because it makes me a better person. Thats the part of military life I miss most, and I think thats what interested me in these two orders in the first place.

Funny though, I never thought of myself as a “commoner” as somebody else thought I was. As a matter of fact, the term alone sounds very un-American… :shrug:

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ahem Sorry to have to tell you this, mate, but there were no knightly orders riding around the American prairies… And if “commoner” and “peasantry” sound a bit European, they ought to, as should “Chivalric order”.

Well…there ya are. You cold start your own, like somebody above said, and with a theme like that, you’d attract a ton of members.

This is the first I have seent his thread. As my screen name implies, I am in fact an invested knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. (SMOM), more formally known as The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.

I don’t know about being a “mover and a shaker” but the American knights and dames generally do have some level of secular accomplishment in order to be accepted.

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

It is true that the Order is again refocused on its original purpose as a “hospitaller” order, which only took up arms later in its history by force of necessity.

Oooh hoo! A real Knight! 'Tis an honour, sir!

Have you been to Malta? And that city…I forget the name, it was after that famous French Grand Master, I’m sure you know the one, have you been there?

And, how exactly is the order defending pilgrims in this modern age?

Hmmm, methinks I may detect more than a hint of sarcasm here. If not, my apologies.

I have not been to Malta yet, though I hope to visit some day. The city to which you refer is Valletta and recently the Order has returned its headquarters to there from Rome.

As for defending pilgrims, that alas is really not part of the Order’s hospitaller function, although the spirituallity of the “pilgrimage” is strongly retained. Now, each Knight and Dame is strongly encouraged to, at least once, participate in the Order’s annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, and serve one of our malades (Christ’s sick and poor) who we take to seek healing (usually spiritual more than physical but certainly not to the exclusion of the later).

The Order, through its various “associations”, which have taken the place of the orignal tongues or langues for puposes of the administration of the Order, engages in many philanthropic efforts.

I am a member of the American Association of the Order, and our efforts can be viewed here:

and more specifically here:

I’m so glad you found this thread sir!

Well, I guess if you read through this thread, you can see some of the questions I was asking.

Such as -

1 - What kind of work do you do in the order?
2 - Do you attend any type of meetings?
3 - Is there a formation period?
4 - Must you have a sponsor to become a member of the order?
5 - Do Knights live by a moral code of some type?
6 - What kind of background do most members have?
7 - Would writing to the Order to tell them of my interest in joining help at all?

These were just some of the questions I have.

I hope the questions aren’t to forward and I do understand if you cannot answer some them, but your time and advice are great appreciated!:slight_smile:

It is indeed a pleasure and an honor to answer your questions and I will do so as best as I can.

  1. Knights and Dames are expected to support the Orders Major projects, to participate in the pilgrimage to Lourdes as a servant to one of our malades (at least once) and to cultivate some type of personal charitable activity in one’s own life. I personally serve as an extraordinary minister of holy communion to the sick and dying one of our local state funded centers for the improverished elderly. See the links in my post above for more detail.

  2. Meetings are generally determined by the “area” that each Knight and Dame claim as home. The Order is administered through “associations” that are more or less “geographic”. In the United States there are three, American (East), Federal (South), and Western. Each association has several “areas” that self administer. I, for example am in the Western Pennsylvania “area”. We meet about once a month for Mass and lunch, to discuss our local charitable work. In Pittsburgh, we help the Little Sisters of the Poor and have “adopted” a local Catholic elementary school in a depressed part of town. The Associations generally meet once per year (officers more) and the entire Order comes together at Lourdes each year.

  3. There is a one year “postulant” period, once a person’s application is provisionally accepted.

  4. You must have two sponsors.

  5. Knights and Dames are expected to live according to the “code” applicable to their class in the order (first, second or third) and each member is expected to live according to the spirituality of the Order.

The Constitution and Code:

The Spirituality:

  1. In Europe, in order to be invested, one must be a member of a “royal” family. In other parts of the world, including the United States, one generally must have acheived some level of success in one’s secular life and have a recognized committment to the Catholic Faith, established by some regular participation in the Church.

  2. I would strongly encourage you to contact the Order. Generally they will contact a Knight or Dame in your area to talk to you and gauge your interest. This often proceeds to a sponsored application.

I should warn you that membership is not without a fairly large commitment of time, talent and, yes, substantial treasure. The initiation fee is approximately 4000 euros (2000 euros if you are 35 yrs old or less) and the annual membership fee is approximately 1000 euros, depending upon which Association you join.

Thank you very much for the quick response and thorough answers to my questions SMOM!

I learned more through that post about the Order than I have through all of my readings! I will check out the sites you posted also.

Two more questions though, must you attend Lourdes every year? And do the dues pretty much take care of the financial commitments or is there more in the way of charitable giving?

I will discuss things with my wife because of the initiation and dues required, and if that goes well, I will indeed contact the Order…

Thanks again, you’ve been most helpful!

’ must you attend Lourdes every year? ’

Goodness no. The Order encourages each Knight and Dame to attend at least once within 3 years of being invested. Many do attend more and even every year, but there is no such requirement.

“And do the dues pretty much take care of the financial commitments or is there more in the way of charitable giving.”

The annual dues take care of the commitment to the international order. Associations make addition “requests” for contributions, usually to help offset the costs of taking 60 - 100 malades on a charter jet to Lourdes each year, but it is a “request”, not a requirement. Local areas often also have smaller dues. My area asks for $100 per year. It varies by area.

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