GENERAL ARTICLES

Knights of Mercy

May 1 1943
GENERAL ARTICLES

Knights of Mercy

May 1 1943

Knights of Mercy

GENERAL ARTICLES

AS A result of the Nazi submarine campaign, thousands of merchant seamen have figuratively been washed up on Nova Scotia’s shores— needing everything from medical treatment to new clothing.

In aiding these heroes of the merchant marine, no organization has a better record than the St. John Ambulance Association. The various St. John Brigade workers in Nova Scotia have cared for more than 3,000 sailors whose ships have been torpedoed along the Nova Scotia coast. They have given first aid on the spot to sailors taken from rescue craft or lifeboats; they have manned temporary hospitals. If the sailors are sent to regular hospitals then afterward, as convalescents, they are again taken care of by St. John nurses in special homes.

This is merely a part of the necessary work being done by the St. John people in Canada. Nearly everyone has seen these men, in their spick-and-

span black uniforms with white trim, and the nurses in flowing veils. They form more than ninety per cent of the people who man A.R.P. first-aid posts.

Ten thousand Brigade members— 5,000 men and 5,000 women—are on service in Canada, comprising 250 uniformed divisions. Since the first of January, 1940, nearly 200,000 people have been trained and issued with certificates of proficiency in first aid and home nursing. The benefits this has brought to A.R.P. organization, industrial accident treatment and all other first-aid needs for the war effort are incalculable.

Old As Canada

THE St. John Ambulance Association is part of a great international body—the Order of St. John. It is one of the oldest Orders in the world. Its history in Canada is as old as the history of our country itself.

Early in the seventeenth century Knights of St. John came to Canada to take part in the Christian development of the country. The second French Governor of Quebec, M. de Montmagny, was a Knight of St. John, as was the Governor of Acadia, M. de Razilly. About 1637 the Knight Commander of the Commandery of Troyes, M. de Sillery, endowed and financed a school near the settlement of Quebec. The school stood in a tiny settlement called Sillery, named for the school’s patron. In the city of Quebec itself the Order erected a St. John House. It stood next to the Chateau St. Louis. St. John House was destroyed during the siege of 1759, but the cornerstone, bearing the Cross of St. John, was found later. It was preserved, and now is inlaid in the masonry of an arcade in the Chateau Frontenac.

The full name of the Order is: The Venerable Order of the Hospital of

St. John of Jerusalem. By the sixteenth century the Order had made Malta its headquarters. On that island—now writing another glorious chapter in its history—the Knights of St. John turned back the westward thrust of the Mohammedans, thus saving the western world for Christianity. For four centuries the Knights of St. John had maintained their arms against the infidels. By the end of the sixteenth century the threat from the east had been permanently removed.

Always championing the weak and infirm, the evolution of the Order to a purely nursing and first-aid organization was a natural development of the times.

Today the people you see in the St. John uniform—the cop on the beat with the St. John disc sewed to his tunic sleeve—are perpetuating in modern form the traditions of a mighty Order.