Questions and Answers

What is the Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr? 

The Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr is an international, independent, confraternal, religious, lay, pan-Orthodox order of Christian chivalry under the protection and spiritual guidance of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.  

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.

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 lay 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 dying, 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 Orthodox 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 for help. 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 are 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 those who have none), 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. That said, the Order could assist them in other non-financial ways. 

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 of Saint George the Great Martyr and if so, what rules and restrictions would be in place?

Non-Orthodox, trinitarian Christians who profess the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 AD can be associated with the Order through the Most Meritorious Order of the Holy Spirit. Those who belong to the Order of the Holy Spirit form a distinct class, and become 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. For further details please see Title IV of the Order’s Constitution. 

What is this year’s philanthropic project of the Order?

This year’s annual philanthropic project is dedicated towards raising monetary assistance for the support of the native Arab Orthodox Christian population in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Specifically, the Order will be supporting various Orthodox charities and social projects run by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Amman.  Further details will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Are annual philanthropic missions reserved only for certain Orthodox jurisdictions?

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 for an orphanage run by the Patriarchate of Romania, or for 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.   

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 open equally for both men and women.

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 and non-Orthodox Christians who wish to join the Order can do so by filling out a digital application on this website under “Membership in the Order” or by downloading a physical copy and submitting it by mail to the Order’s Grand Magistry (address provided at the bottom of this webpage). Applications for download can be found on this website under “Documents”.

What is required for Orthodox Christians to join in membership?

The requirements 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 18 years of age upon applying for membership.

What is required for Non-Orthodox Christians to join in membership?

The requirements for membership for non-Orthodox Christians is that an applicant be a baptized and/or confirmed Christian; that they are a member of a trinitarian denomination (Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran etc.); that they are NOT a member of a Masonic or Freemason fraternity and/or organization; that they are living according to Christian principles; that they are a member in good standing of their local parish community; 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 Marty; that they are willing to make a solemn pledge of allegiance to the Order and to its mission at a formal 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?

Membership in the Order requires a serious intention of lifetime commitment to the causes of the Order, to the defense of the faith, and to the personal service to the Orthodox sick, poor, and dying. Members are expected to commit to leading their lives in a manner that embodies the Christian spirit of love, compassion and humility. 

At a local level, individual members of the Order are expected to do their best to be of service and assistance to all local canonical Orthodox missions, parishes, and monasteries in the region in which they live regardless of jurisdiction. Assistance by members can be financial, material, or donated time. Each member is additionally expected 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?

Each applicant (unless an Orthodox clergy or monastic) is required to pay a onetime passage fee for membership into the Order. The passage fee varies depending upon the rank of entrance which the individual chooses. One year following admission into the Order, each member (unless an Orthodox clergy or monastic) is required to pay an annual membership due. Like the Passage Fee, annual membership dues are assessed according to the rank of the individual.

What does the Passage Fee go towards?

The Passage Fee goes towards the following: the annual philanthropic appeal of the Order, the administrative expenses of the Order’s Grand Magistry and towards feeding the homeless.

What does the Annual Membership Due go towards?

Annual Membership Dues help cover the administrative expenses of the Order’s Grand Magistry. 

Is there any provision for those who want to join the Order but cannot necessarily afford the Passage Fee and/or Annual Membership Due? 

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 the Order at the rank of Knight Companion/Dame Companion or higher. If you  are having financial difficulty and would like to join the Order, additional arrangements can be made on a case-by-case basis. 

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, 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).

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 late First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside 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.

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 or trinitarian Christians and be members in good standing of their local parish communities.

A local Commandery has autonomy within the Order. However, all commanderies are fully subject to the rules and regulations of the Order. 

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 of the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr in a given area may petition the Grand Knight in writing over their signatures for the establishment of a Commandery in their local geographical area. Members of the Order of Holy Spirit are to be attached to all Commanderies of the Order. 

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.

Does the Order support the restoration of the former Orthodox monarchies such as in Greece, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia?

Although the Order would love to see the restoration of the former Orthodox monarchies in Europe, it is not something that we could have a direct role in as the Order is politically neutral in such matters. 

Does the Order support Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia as the rightful head of the Romanov dynasty?

The Order supports those who the Orthodox Church hierarchy feel are the rightful heirs to the Russian Imperial Throne. Currently that hierarchal support is towards Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and her son His Imperial Highness Grand Duke George. The Order commends the Grand Duchess and her son for the countless charitable projects they do on behalf of both the Russian people and the Orthodox Church across the globe. 

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 own 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 Full Heraldic Achievement?

The Full Heraldic Achievement 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 divine light of heaven.

In the center of the smaller golden 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.​

Supporting the shield on the left is a lion holding a sword in a defensive position symbolizing Christ as the conquering Lion of Judah.​

Supporting the shield on the right is a peacock, a bird of paradise symbolizing incorruptibility and resurrection. In ancient Christian iconography a peacock drinking from a kantharos (the source of life) symbolized immortality as Christ is the fountain of all living water. ​

Surrounding the whole shield is the Grand Collar of the Most Meritorious Order of the Holy Spirit and 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 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 14 and 17 years old, and to have been baptized and/or received into a Christian trinitarian denomination.

What is the cost to join the Companions of Saint George?

The annual cost is $200.00.

Does the Order enjoy recognition from the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry (ICOC)?

At present the Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr does not enjoy recognition from this organization. The legitimacy of modern chivalric orders of knighthood is very difficult to define as there is no legal international institution which regulates who or what is or is not legitimate. In 1960, the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry (ICOC) was established to help solve this issue. This organization is a privately run independent body, privately funded, and composed of scholars on Western chivalric matters and systems of awards.

As a body that is not sponsored or supported by any international institution, it lacks any legal jurisdiction to unilaterally declare who or what is legitimate. Its statements amount to nothing more than private opinion. From a secular perspective today, the only institutions which can regulate what is or is not legitimate are individual sovereign nation states.

According to rules laid out by the ICOC and those who support their position, our order would be classified as a “self-styled order of knighthood” masquerading as real, yet not having nor enjoying legitimacy as a genuine order of chivalry. Although, we do not stem from the historical time of the Catholic Crusades, nor were we established by a reigning monarch, we nevertheless have been formed in the manner outlined in principle four of the ICOC’s criteria which they cease to recognize as being legitimate. Since they apply rules that are foreign to the ethos of the Orthodox Church, they have no right to say we lack any form of validity as a chivalric order of knighthood, as our legitimacy is derived not from royal or state authority, but rather from the divine and apostolic authority of the Church established by Christ through His bishop.

Furthermore, what such people do not realize is that whether our Order was established a thousand years ago, or if it was established yesterday, in the eyes of Christ through the blessing of His bishop, what He sees as full of goodness, truth, beauty, and faithfulness, will always be to Him an eternal manifestation of His Love. This Order belongs not to the Grand Knight (as he is nothing more than a steward), nor does it belong to any bishop of the Church, but rather it is Christ’s Order as it is His alone under His primordial ascendancy as King of Kings and Lord of Heaven and Earth.

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The Holy Orthodox Order of
Saint George the Great Martyr
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