A Religious Military Order in The Kingdom of Acre

Edited Excepts from The Monks of War by Desmond Seward

The thought of Christians devoting their lives to warfare in the service of God seems like a paradox. Nevertheless, there have been men consecrated to battle, the brother-knights of the religious military orders- noblemen vowed to poverty, chastity, and obedience. They lived a monastic life in convents that were at the same time barracks, waging merciless war on the enemies of the Cross. To enter their chapels was to see monks in hooded habits chanting the office, but on active service the soldiers in black and white uniforms were no different from other troops, save for an iron discipline. The spirit of the cloister had been transferred to the parade ground and the battlefield. Such men tried literally to fight their way into Heaven.

The three greatest orders were the Knight Templars, the Knights of Saint John, or Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights, but there were many others, less well known. These brotherhoods were created in the twelfth century to tame a brutal warrior nobility and provide the Roman Church with storm troopers, for chivalry had not yet eradicated pagan savagery, and legions were still needed to defend the Holy Land. St. Bernard of Clairvaux took over the new Templar concept of soldiers under religious vows and synthesized knight and monk. Again arose the creative genius of Catholicism. Just as it had once transformed pagan gods into saints and heathen temples into churches, it now transformed the ideal of a Germanic war band into a spiritual calling. Those heeding the call sacrificed their lives for Christ, not only in the monastery, but on the battlefield as well. They did this with a startling mixture of humility and ferocity. By adopting the monastic organization, they became the first properly staffed and officered Western armies since the Roman Legions.

The Sacred and Cenobitic Order of Saint Adrian the Martyr was created in the likeness of the three largest orders. Ideas were taken from all three and were molded for use in modern medievalism. We are portraying a militant Roman Catholic order of monks, and we do a great deal of religious pomp and ceremony. In the Middle Ages, life revolved around the Church. It is important to understand that we are not true clergy and do not intend to pass as such. As a group, we do not preach any religion.

Acknowledging the fact that certain practices may be offensive to some, we perform most of our ceremonies when out of the public eye. Likewise, the Order shall only accept people who shall take no offense to such rituals. The rituals are meant neither to advocate nor mock real ceremonies. We do such pomp and ceremony for our own entertainment. It adds atmosphere so vital to a recreation group. It's all in fun.

The brethren of St. Adrian are organized as follows:

The Master of the Order (Magister Ordinis) oversees all activities. Since the Order’s establishment in 1992, this position has been filled by Fr. Maximilian Delmonico (Fr. stands for frater- brother in Latin).

The Seneschal of the Order (Seneschal Ordinis) acts as a deputy to the Master, and in his absence may act of his behalf. Fr. Fulk has filled this role, from 1995 through 2002, and acted on Fr. Maximilian's behalf while he was away in the West. Fr. Jibril currently holds this position.

The Senior Chaplain (Prior Capellanus) oversees the spiritual activities of the Order. Since the OrderÔs establishment in 1992, this position has been filled by Fr. Richard Civetta- affectionately (if not accurately) referred to as The Abbot, until his death in November 2002.

Brethren Remaining are those who have taken the Full Brother’s Oath for the remainder of his days. They are few, but form the nucleus of the Order. Confratres are those who take the Full Brother’s Oath for a term (ad terminum), typically six months at a time. They are considered full brethren for the duration of their terms. Familiars (also known as donati) are those who take the less-restrictive Familiar’s Oath. Though they remain laymen, they may fight, feast, and camp alongside the brethren at their convenience. They serve as an important reserve pool.

While the status of each brother is given above, each also serves a distinct function in the Order. Soldiers (either knights or sergeants) further the Order’s goal by means of armored combat. Chaplains see to the Convent’s spiritual needs. Serving brethren, as neither soldiers not chaplains, serve the house by a variety of miscellaneous chores or skilled craftsmanship.

For more information contact the brothers at: StAdrian@yahoogroups.com