Titular Priory of Nieuw Amsterdam


The Sovereign Military Order Temple of Jerusalem - a heritage built on God Chivalry Family Friendship Faith Hope Loyalty Charity Community

The Order of Merit within the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (sometimes hereinafter referred to as SMOTJ) is patterned after the various Orders of Merit that have existed throughout the centuries.

While there were chivalrous orders of knighthood prior to the eleventh century, few survived or were of historic note. Pope Urban II (1088-1099) preached and encouraged the Crusades. Thus he is generally viewed as the founder and guiding spirit of the Orders of Knighthood, which came into existence as a result of the Crusades. Knighthood in the religious orders was, albeit popular, limited to those of Christian and noble birth. Others served as brothers or sergeants or, more commonly, lay members of the great orders that grew from the religious wars we know as the Crusades.

Even after the Crusades faded with the dawn of the Renaissance, the papacy and royal families continued using various Orders of Knighthood as the vehicle for a system of honors and even titles of nobility.

In the 20th Century, Pope Pius X (1903-1914) began to reconstitute and bring order into the confused and overly elaborate system of Catholic knighthoods, whose function of defending the faith in battle had passed many hundreds of years before. Pope Pius decided to significantly reform the basis for conferring honors, using new criteria, those of personal merit.

This shift of emphasis from social status and work for the church in Rome to personal merit and public achievement soon was paralleled in other dynastic and national Orders of Knighthood.

There were historic precursors for such recognition. Even from the outset, the great Orders of Knighthood (the Templars, St. John, St. Lazarus, St. Thomas and the Holy Sepulchre) had needed and received support from non-members of their own Orders. A system of honors for these supporters sprang up early in the history of the Templars. Knights were sometimes granted temporary membership, without the restrictions of full Templar vows, so that they could continue to support the Order’s overseas operations. As time went on, several of the Orders of Chivalry instituted specific Orders of Merit to honor those who not only supported them and their ideals, but were outstanding men and women in their own right.

The Order of Merit is a parade field on which stand the most distinguished members of past and present society. The Order of Merit is open to all faiths and nationalities and based on the individual and personal attainments, ideals and honorable deeds, particularly as related to the goals of the Order.