October 13th: Blessed Fra’ Gerard
Founder of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta
Towards the end of the eleventh century, Gerard went to Jerusalem. There, next to the Church of Saint John, he established a hospice, resting place, for pilgrims and the sick. To maintain his work he founded a religious fraternity. During the Crusader siege of Jerusalem in 1099, he was in the city. All the inhabitants of the city including the Christians were forced to assist in the defense of the walls, but instead of stones, Gerard threw small loaves of bread to the hungry besiegers. Having been so observed by the Muslim guards, he was accused of treachery, but when ordered to open his cloak, instead of loaves of bread, stones fell out. After the conquest of the city, Gerard served the multitude of wounded, sick and dying. Many of the crusading knights put aside the sword to join Gerard in this work and the brotherhood expanded rapidly. On 15 February 1113, Pope Paschal II solemnly approved the Order with the Papal bull, Pie postulatio voluntatis, addressed to ‘Gerard, Founder and Warden of the hospice at Jerusalem and to his lawful successors’. Gerard conceived the principle that the sick and the poor were the ‘lords’ of the members of his order and the members were their ‘serfs’, under the feudal obligation to render the same devotion and reverence that secular lords would receive from their liege men. He died at Jerusalem on September 3, 1120.
Blessed Gerard, we pray for your continued intercession, and the intercession of the great company of our Order with you, that our many works in this terribly suffering world will continue to bear much fruit from the tree you planted.
O God, who exalted Blessed Gerard because of his care for the poor and the sick, and through him founded in Jerusalem The Order of Saint John the Baptist, give us the grace of seeing, as he did, the image of your Son in our brothers and sisters. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit One God, for ever and ever. Amen
This information was provided by Fra’ James-Michael von Stroebel. Click here to view the complete Calendar of Liturgical Celebrations Proper to the Order.
Pictured above is the Blessed Fra’ Gerard.