Questions and Answers
What is the Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr?
It is an international, independent, confraternal, religious, pan-Orthodox order of Christian chivalry under the protection and spiritual guidance of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
What is an Order of chivalry?
An order of chivalry, chivalric order, or order of knighthood are terms that are synonymous to one another. The term knighthood comes from the English word knight (from Old English cniht, boy, servant, cf. German Knecht) while the word chivalry comes from the French chevalerie, from chevalier or knight (Low Latin caballus for horse). In modern English, chivalry means the ideals, virtues, or characteristics of knights. The virtues being: mercy, loyalty, courage, valor, generosity, hospitality, self-denial, fairness, and protection of the weak and the poor in the servanthood of a knight dedicated to God and His Holy Church by placing his obedience above his own self-interest.
What is the difference between a Monarchical Order of Knighthood and a Confraternal Order of Knighthood?
A monarchical order, royal order, dynastic order, are all orders of knighthood belonging to the heraldic patrimony of a dynasty. These orders are bestowed by the head of a current or formerly reigning royal family. They are orders of chivalry and orders of merit just as those distributed by sovereign states. Monarchical orders were established to reward a person’s service to the monarch, to the monarch's subsequent dynasty and to the state.
A confraternal order of knighthood (such as ours) is an order of knighthood that was historically attached to a nobleman or person of high birth and not to a monarch. Confraternal orders of knighthood are created for the purpose of promoting special works of Christian charity or piety and approved by the Church hierarchy.
What is the nature of the Order?
True to the divine precepts and to the admonitions of our Lord Jesus Christ, and guided by the teachings of the Church, the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr affirms that it is one of mercy and peace, dedicated to the peaceful defense and support of the Orthodox Christian Faith, its beliefs, customs, traditions, principles and presence throughout the Holy Land, the Middle East and the world. The Order is ever mindful of the words of Saint Paul to the Christians in Corinth: “…and if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
What are the goals and objectives of the Order?
The goals and objectives of the Order are to organize, promote, aid and engage in charitable, humanitarian, educational, religious, medical and chivalric activities, particularly by: aiding the poor, the sick, the needy, the aged, the infirm, the maimed, the mentally ill, the imprisoned and the socially disadvantaged; assisting in the maintenance of holy places including, but not limited to buildings, monasteries, seminaries, shrines, churches and cathedrals of the Orthodox Faith; establishing and promoting the works of hospitals, medical centers, orphanages, schools and other bona fide Orthodox institutions and/or organizations.
What is the motto of the Order?
The motto of the Order is: “Jesus Christ Conquers” – “Ἰησοῦς Χριστòς νικᾷ”
What distinguishes the Order from other Orthodox Christian charitable organizations?
The principle ways which makes the Order different is that we actively seek to promote the virtues of the Beatitudes within the lives of our members and of those whom we uplift with our efforts. As an order of knighthood, all members of the Order must swear an oath: to declare before Almighty God that they will bear true allegiance and witness to the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Faith, that they in their capacity as a Knight or Dame, will be of service to the Church of Christ and to His people.
Although there are many worthy charitable Orthodox organizations already in existence, very few if any have the defined goal of providing hands on, practical help exclusively to fellow Orthodox Christians in need. This is the objective and priority of the Order’s membership and every effort is made to unite us in this cause.
The Order practices philanthropy through membership. It does not just serve one Orthodox jurisdiction, national church, or patriarchate, but rather all canonical Orthodox Christians who call on us. While the Order believes in helping the greater community, physical, financial assistance is only reserved for those belonging to the canonical Orthodox Church.
What is the long-term vision of the Order?
The long-term vision of the Order is to be the preeminent organization for assisting and advocating for those of the Orthodox Church in need and under persecution regardless of national origin, ethnicity, or sex. The Order also seeks to help spread the Orthodox faith and Gospel of Christ with those who lay outside the bosom of the Church.
What is special and/or unique about the Order?
One thing that is special and unique about the Order is that we are the only non-dynastic order of knighthood known to have existed in the 2000-year history of the Orthodox Church.
Why establish this Order at this particular point in time?
The Order was formed at this point in time to be an advocate for the Orthodox Church and its people who don’t have a voice (to be a voice for the voiceless), and to be a moral guide and outlet for those Orthodox men and women who seek to find camaraderie amongst those of their religion.
It offers the faithful members of the Orthodox Church outward ways in which to be of true Christly service, as mirrored in the Beatitudes and in the basic Christian message of love. We are all called to serve, protect, and defend those who are the least among us.
Does the Order have a relationship with the Oriental Orthodox Church, and secondly, would the Order be inclined to help those who come to it for assistance from that Christian background?
The Order does not have any relationship with or connection to the Oriental Orthodox Church. As physical, financial assistance is only reserved for those belonging to the canonical Orthodox Church, the Order would be unable to assist those of the Oriental Orthodox Church monetarily.
Does the Order give any form of assistance to those outside of the canonical Orthodox Church?
As a Christian organization founded on the love of Christ, the Order would not disparage those who find themselves outside the canonical Orthodox Church. The Order would seek to find a broad variety of ongoing, voluntary efforts to aid and support in a nonfinancial way the greater non-Orthodox communities where the Order exists. Examples could include making sandwiches or food for the homeless, clothing drives, working at the local soup kitchens, packing groceries at the local food bank, visiting with the elderly in a rest home, cleaning a right of way along a local road, cleaning local cemeteries of garbage, disaster response, and so on. It is through such activity that the Order hopes to bring non-Orthodox Christians to the knowledge of the True Faith established by Christ.
Can non-Orthodox Christians be associated with the Order and if so, what rules and restrictions would be in place?
Non-Orthodox Christians can be associated with the Order through the Most Meritorious Order of the Holy Spirit. The Grand Knight, as the temporal fount of honor within the Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr, and by virtue of his position as temporal head, has the exclusive right of conferring the Most Meritorious Order of the Holy Spirit. This honor is the Order’s only Decoration of Merit and is reserved to express the Order’s appreciation of a person’s extraordinary service to the Orthodox Church and to the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr.
The Grand Knight may bestow the Decoration of Merit upon any individual who has displayed honor, prestige, or special degree of service. This means that an individual has assumed a responsibility or displayed an ability considerably greater than might have been expected of him or her; that an individual had performed activities in an excellent manner which have been of great benefit to the greater Orthodox Christian World.
The Grand Knight needs to consult with the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia before officially bestowing the Decoration of Merit upon those who are not canonical Orthodox Christians, and who fall outside of the Orthodox Church. The brevet (certificate) of appointment to the Most Meritorious Order of the Holy Spirit, in this case, is signed by both the Grand Knight and by the First Hierarch and/or his Clerical Representative.
Those who have received the Decoration of Merit form a distinct class, and become associated, non-voting, companion members of the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr and may partake in the full social life and activities of the Order without restriction. The Grand Knight retains the right to revoke, strip, and rescind the Decoration of Merit from anyone that disparages the dignity or image of the Decoration of Merit, or of the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr to which they are associated. In case of removal, no reimbursement or compensation for any monies, gifts or services rendered to the Order will be given or returned.
What is this year’s philanthropic project of the Order?
This year’s annual philanthropic project is for the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem (ROCOR). The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission oversees the Bethany Community of the Resurrection, the Monastery of the Ascension of Our Lord on the Mount of Olives, the Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Skete of Saint Chariton. This philanthropic effort of the Order for the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission will run until the end of 2021 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Are annual philanthropic missions only for the Russian Orthodox Church and ROCOR?
The short answer is no. The Order does not serve the interests of any one patriarchate, national church, or ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but rather serves the interests of the universal canonical Orthodox Church without discrimination and divorced completely from jurisdictional and national politics.
One year a philanthropic mission might be for a theological academy in the Church of Albania, another year it could be for a monastery in the Church of Greece, or an orphanage run by the Patriarchate of Romania, or the restoration of a historic church under the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Order rotates annually amongst the patriarchates and national churches and their respective jurisdictions internationally.
Does the Order have any connection to Freemasonry or similar societies?
The Order has zero connection to or association with Freemasonry or similar societies. A person cannot be a member of the Order and a freemason at the same time. Those members of the Order found to be associated with Freemasonry and/or any Masonic fraternities, will be expelled from the Order, striped of all honors, and barred from future membership.
Is the Order more for converts, or for “cradle Orthodox”, or inclusive of both?
The Order is for all Orthodox Christians regardless if they are converts to the Faith or are “cradle Orthodox”.
Is membership in the Order open to men only?
Membership in the Order is equally open for both men and women of the Orthodox Faith.
Can clergy and monastics join the Order?
Those who belong to clerical or monastic ranks are encouraged to join the Order. Clergy and monastics remain subject to the rules and regulations of their respective hierarchs and Orthodox jurisdictions.
How can one apply to join the Order?
Orthodox Christians who wish to join the Order can do so by filling out an application and submitting it by mail to the Order’s Grand Magistry (address provided at the bottom of this webpage). The application document can be found on this website under “Documents”.
In the future, membership applications will also be provided through this and the local Chapters of the Order.
What is required for membership?
The requirement for membership is that an applicant be baptized and/or chrismated into the Orthodox Christian Faith, that they are not a member of a Masonic or Freemason fraternity and/or organization, that they are living according to Orthodox Christian principles, that they are a member in good standing with a local canonical Orthodox parish, that they are of sound mind and judgment, that they are known to live honorably, that they are prepared to observe the rules and regulations of the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr, that they are willing to make a solemn pledge of allegiance to the Order and to its mission at a formal religious ceremony of investiture, and that they are no less than 21 years of age upon applying for membership.
What is the commitment and expectation of members?
It is the commitment of members that they will lead their lives in an exemplary manner in full accordance with the teachings and beliefs of the Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and that members will serve the Order and devote themselves as a Officer, Knight or Dame to the needs of the Orthodox Church and to her people. One of the major responsibilities of each member is to promote the goals and objectives of the Order and to actively and purposely encourage other Orthodox Christians to join in membership. It is expected that clergy and lay members participate in all charitable fundraising activities of the Grand Magistry of the Order, their Grand Priory, and of their local Commandery.
Is there a Passage fee for membership and are there yearly dues?
There is a Passage Fee for those joining the Order. The Passage fee varies depending upon the rank of entrance which the individual chooses.
The passage fee for membership for the rank of Officer is $250.00
The passage fee for membership for the rank of Knight/Dame is $500.00
The passage fee for membership for the rank of Knight Companion/Dame Companion is $1,000.00
The passage fee for membership for the rank of Knight Commander/Dame Commander is $2,000.00
The passage fee for membership for the rank of Knight Grand Cross/Dame Grand Cross is $4,000.00
One year following admission into the Order, lay members are required to pay an annual membership due. Membership dues are assessed according to the rank of the individual. These fees help cover the administrative expenses of the Order’s Grand Magistry.
The membership dues for the rank of Officer is $125.00
The membership dues for the rank of Knight/Dame is $250.00
The membership dues for the rank of Knight Companion/Dame Companion is $500.00
The membership dues for the rank of Knight Commander/Dame Commander is $1,000.00
The membership dues for the rank of Knight Grand Cross/Dame Grand Cross is $2,000.00
It is expected by the Order that those wishing to join at a rank higher than Knight/Dame will commit more effort, time, and money to the advancement of the Order than those of a lower rank.
What does a Passage Fee go toward?
The Passage Fee goes towards the following: the annual philanthropic appeal of the Order, the administrative costs of the Order's Grand Magistry, the applicant’s insignia, and the applicant’s brevet (certificate of membership).
Is there any provision for those who want to join the Order but cannot necessarily afford the Passage Fee for membership?
It is the goal of the Order to be as accessible and affordable as possible for those wishing to join. It is not the intention of the Order to be just for an elite group of individuals.
With keeping the above in mind, the Order permits passage fees and annual membership dues to be paid either in full or in two installments. Additional financial arrangements are given to those who join at the rank of Knight Companion/Dame Companion or higher.
What are the ranks of the Order and how are they bestowed?
Order of Saint George the Great Martyr has five grades of ranks separate from that of the Grand Knight. These five grades are:
Officer (lowest rank)
Knight Grand Cross (highest rank)
Officer (lowest rank)
Dame Grand Cross (highest rank)
Chaplain (lowest rank)
Ecclesiastical Grand Cross (highest rank)
The Grand Knight is the sole authority for awarding the various ranks of the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr. The ranks of the Order can be granted by the Grand Knight at any time regardless of position. Ranks are not awarded freely but are rather earned through hard, meritorious work and dedication to the Holy Orthodox Church and to the goals and objectives of the Order. Members promoted to a higher rank within the Order do not pay for any additional passage fee, but only for the medals attached to the new rank.
How much of every dollar donated goes towards the purposes of the Order and how much does the Order retain for administrative costs?
Of every general donation given of a $1,000 or less, the Order applies 80% towards its purposes, while 20% is retained for administrative expenses (Example of $100.00: $80.00 goes to purpose and $20.00 goes towards administrative expenses).
For donations above $1,000 USD, donors have the right to direct the distribution of their donation and determine these proportions in the following way:
All donations for the annual philanthropic mission and for special emergency fundraisers go 100% directly to that purpose. The Order retains nothing.
What is the Grand Knight?
In keeping with chivalric tradition, the Grand Master or in our case the Grand Knight is the temporal head of the Order.
Historically the person of the Grand Master was the chief knight, executive head, and ruler of an order of knighthood. At times orders of knighthood mirrored nation states and were often described as a “state within a state”.
If an order of knighthood gained statehood (such as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta) the Grand Master was considered a sovereign monarch and head of state. Whether an order was granted statehood or not, the heads of such chivalric orders in the western church held a dignity similar to that of a contemporary prince.
In modern times, the title of Grand Master has unfortunately been borrowed and used by masonic and other groups and organizations completely devaluing and corrupting the historical context of the title.
When His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia named Konstantine Pandolfi as Grand Knight, he did so in order to protect and distance the Order from any modern or false connection to freemasonry by giving him a title that more truly embraced the original and historical understanding of the term and title of Grand Master.
What is the Sovereign Council of the Order?
The Sovereign Council assists the Grand Knight in his governance and serves as the Board of Directors of the Grand Magistry of the Order. It is the highest governing, executive, legislative and legal body within the Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr. The Sovereign Council is composed of the Grand Knight who presides over it, the holders of the Five High Offices – the Grand Chancellor, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Humanitarian Aid, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Records, and at least six additional members picked at large.
What is the Grand Chancellor?
The Grand Chancellor is the most senior aide and advisor to the Grand Knight. Under the authority of the Grand Knight, the Grand Chancellor presides over the executive branch of the Order.
The Grand Chancellor is responsible for the representation of the Order to third parties, the carrying out of policy and the internal administration of the Order, as well as the coordination of the activities of the government of the Order between its different administrative bodies. The Grand Chancellor on behalf of the Grand Knight oversees the Grand Priories of the Order. It is a requirement of the Order that the Grand Chancellor be a member of the clergy holding the rank of priest or higher
What is the Chief Herald?
The Chief Herald is the responsible authority for the granting, design, and registration of all coat of arms for the members of the Order.
What is the relationship between the Grand Knight and that with the First Hierarch of ROCOR?
The Grand Knight enjoys an excellent, close and respectable working relationship with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
The Grand Knight’s legitimacy and right to rule over the Order derives from the blessing he received from the First Hierarch. The Grand Knight in his rule over the Order is responsible solely to the First Hierarch and must communicate with him every three months regarding the activities of the Order.
Does the Order have or plan to have local Commanderies/Chapters ?
The Order plans to establish local Commanderies as soon as possible.
What is required to establish a Commandery of the Order and what level of autonomy do they enjoy within the Order?
After careful review and with the deliberative vote of the Sovereign Council, the Grand Knight may proceed to establish through Sovereign Decree a local Commandery of the Order.
Local Commanderies are to be established with a minimum of five people. All members of the Commandery must be Orthodox Christians, members of the Order, and an active member of a local Orthodox parish in the region to which the Commandery is to be established.
When a local Commandery is established by the Grand Knight, the members in the region are to be duly notified.
How would someone start a Commandery of the Order?
As the right to establish local Commanderies belongs solely to the Grand Knight, a group of five members in a specific region may petition the Grand Knight in writing over their signatures for the establishment of a Commandery in their area.
How can the Order help at the local level and within the local Church community?
As Commanderies are the most local expression of the Order, local Commanderies are expected to engage in a variety of activities appropriate to the operation of the Commandery and to focus on their local geographic areas. The purpose of the Commandery is primarily to support local Orthodox needs in the name of the Order and secondarily to support the Order itself.
Local Commanderies are expected to do their absolute best to assist all local canonical Orthodox missions, parishes, and monasteries in the region they operate regardless of jurisdiction. Assistance can be financial, material, or donated time.
Does the Order seek to establish common, mutual relations with foreign countries and international organizations?
As the attention of the Order is global, the Order fully intends to establish formal relationships with any country that has an Orthodox Christian population of 1% or greater. It is also the intention of the Order to seek formal status and association with international institutions so that we might be a strong advocate for Orthodox Christians, especially for those of our Faith who face persecution and need. Regarding these institutions, the Order will only support those aspects of their founding documents that agree with the teachings and beliefs of the Orthodox Faith.
Is the Order political?
The Order is political insofar as it wishes to see full dignity and human rights for all Orthodox Christians regardless of where they live. To this end, the Order will strive to advocate and mediate for Orthodox Christians who are in need or under persecution. The Order considers itself neutral, apolitical, and independent.
Why did the Order choose Saint George the Great Martyr as its patron Saint?
The Order chose Saint George as he is the embodiment of what it means to be a faithful servant, and one who is willing to give up everything to follow Christ. Even if it means to lose one’s career, one’s status, or even one’s life, Saint George is an exemplar of true knightly virtue. He served others who were in need, whether sick or poor, without judgement or hesitation, and the Lord calls us to remember him for this.
What is the symbolism of the Order’s Coat of Arms?
The coat of arms represents the whole Order and is its chief heraldic symbol. The white shield represents the purity and light of Christ that shines throughout the whole of creation; the crimson cross is the cross of Saint George the Great Martyr; the crimson color represents the innocent shed blood of Christ and those of His Holy Martyrs. The Greek characters IC, XC, NI, KA stand for “Jesus Christ Conquers” (the motto of the Order). In the center of the shield, is a smaller golden shield representing the light of heaven. In the center of the smaller shield is a pomegranate natural, the pomegranate being a symbol of God's divine grace. Crowning the shield is the Bishop’s Crown representing that the Order is fully under the spiritual guidance and protection of the Orthodox Church. And surrounding the whole shield is the Grand Collar of the Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr.
What is the Most Meritorious Order of the Holy Spirit and how is it bestowed?
The Most Meritorious Order of the Holy Spirit is the Order’s only Decoration of Merit and is reserved to express the Order’s appreciation of a person’s service to the benefit of the Orthodox Church and to the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr as a whole.
The Grand Knight may bestow the Decoration of Merit upon any individual when honor, prestige, or special degree of service has been shown to or for the Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church or to the Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr. This means that an individual has assumed a responsibility or displayed an ability considerably greater than might have been expected of him or her; that an individual has performed activities, in an excellent manner, which have been of great benefit to the greater Orthodox Christian World. The Decoration of Merit is awarded regardless of religion.
Does the Order have a youth affiliated arm?
The Youth affiliated arm of the Order is: The Companions of Saint George. The Companions of Saint George are a fully integrated part of the Order.
What is the purpose of the Companions of Saint George?
The Purpose of the Companions of Saint George is to help guide young men and women into being proper Orthodox Christian adults as standup gentlemen and ladies. Companions can participate in all social non-voting activities of the Order.
What are the requirements for the youth wing of the Order?
The requirements for the Companions of Saint George is to be between the ages of 16 and 20 years old, and to have been baptized and/or chrismated into the Orthodox Christian Faith.
What is the cost to join the Companions of Saint George?
The annual cost is $125.00.