I don’t need to pull the string on my soap box, for it has already been sprung. God loves a story, and he loves this one that has captured Rena Victoria – forever!
Eastern Orthodox depictions of Saint George slaying a dragon often include the image of the young maiden who looks on from a distance. The standard iconographic interpretation of the image icon is that the dragon represents both Satan (Rev. 12:9) and the monster from his life story. The young maiden is the wife of Diocletian, Alexandra. Thus, the image as interpreted through the language of Byzantine iconography, is an image of the martyrdom of the saint.
The episode of St. George and the Dragon was a legend brought back with the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance. The earliest known depiction of the legend is from early eleventh-century Cappadocia (in the iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church, George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh century); the earliest known surviving narrative text is an eleventh-century Georgian text.
Noble Order of Saint George of Rougemont
Origin (1390)[edit source]
The noble Brotherhood of Saint George was created in 1390 by two gentlemen of Franche-Comté to honor the relics of the megalomartyr that had been brought back from the Holy Land. Philibert de Mollans, squire to the Duke of Burgundy, was its main driving force. His second-in-command, Jehan d’Andelot, was the son of Sir Jean of Andelot-les-Sallins, and of Marie of Usier, Lady of Vaudrey and Rougemont, where lived the precursors and was held the annual chapter.
The Confraternity (1430-1484)[edit source]
By the time Philip the Good created the Order of the Golden Fleece, on 10 January 1430, there were 24 holders: after the Grand-Master came immediately His Majesty William III of Vienna, in order of precedence. The governor gathered around 1435 or 1440 a certain number of Knights to honor the relics in a chapel that he owned close to the city of Rougemont. Then he decided to celebrate every year the day of the St. George, patron saint of the nobility because he had also been a knight, and was often represented riding his horse with a spear.
The qualities required were sixteen quarterings of nobility, catholic religion, birth in “Franche Comté”, to be sixteen years of age and to donate 300 livre.
The governor general was elected for life by the knights. The other officers were a prelate, a chancellor, a treasurer and two secretaries.
Since then, the most important lords of the region wanted to be accepted in the confraternity and gathered every year at the Chapel of Rougement on 22 April, to celebrate the Day of the Saint.
At that time their insignia was a medal of St. George killing the dragon, suspended from a gold chain.
Philip the Good authorised the confraternity to wear the medal suspended from a red ribbon identical to the one of the Golden Fleece.
The Equestrian Order (1485-1788)[edit source]
The Confraternity was an association of gentlemen of good will who formed at the beginning a “pie Union” but on the request of Philip the Good, in 1485 the pie Union was made canonically into an equestrian order, immediately approved by Pope Innocent VIII.
Already granted prerogatives by Philippe l’Asseure, then by all the Kings of France from Louis XIV to Charles X, the order benefited from special spiritual favours bestowed as much by the Roman pontiffs than by the oriental hierarchs.
In 1648, the Confraternity sat up in the Imperial city of Besançon and not at Dole, then capital of Burgundy. In fact the confraternity took a political position, opposing itself to the Parlement of Dôle.
A room was dedicated to the confraternity in the tower of Montmartin after a decree of the town of Besançon. The Knights of Saint-Georges were the only nobles of the city to benefit from this privilege. Nevertheless, the confraternity also seemed to gather many times at Vesoul, which has St. George for its patron saint.
On 25 April 1661, the confraternity gathered at Salin and decided to meet at the convent of the Grands Carmes (Besançon) founded my a fellow member: Jean de Vienne.
After the French conquest in 1668 and the annexation of the Franché-Comte to France, with the Treaty of Nijmegen in 1678, Louis XIV decided to tolerate the confraternity, despite their resistance to the invaders. The king authorized the knights to wear their medal of St. George suspended this time from a blue moiré (watered) ribbon, identical to the Order of the Holy Spirit; this in order to obtain the support of the local nobility who provided him with soldiers for his army.
Louis XV and Louis XVI maintained the same privileges and even gave their own portrait to the confraternity with the mention “Given by the King to the Knights of Saint-George”. The portraits decorated the room of the convent of the Grands Carmes with the portrait of the Prince of Condé, protector of the order, unfortunately the room was destroyed during the revolution.
The coat of arms were registered in 1696 and during the general assembly on 25 April 1768 new statutes were written.
From the French Revolution to the Abolition (1789-1824)[edit source]
Most of the members were killed during the revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, they were only 25 members left in 1814.
In 1816, at the end of the war, the survivors gathered under the control of a Colonel of the dragoons, Charles-Emmanuel, marquis of Saint-Mauris (1735–1839), baron de Chatenois et de la Villeneuve, comte de Saulx et Genevrey, then Maréchal of the camps and armies of the king and inspector general of the national guard.
The statutes written on 25 April 1768 were changed and new knights were made for a total of 78 in 1817, year of the last dubbing ceremony.
Unfortunately due to political pressure, a decree from the king on 16 April 1824, forbade the wearing of the insignia of the order. The last knight was the marquis Jouffroy d’Alban who died in 1869. After this date the Confraternity of St. Georges survived, as at the time of its origins, as a private association of gentlemen of good will.
From the private association to the Apostolic association (1825~2004)[edit source]
In the most recent period the association of the Knights of Saint-George, pursued its mission, adapting itself to the conditions of the apostolate and following the bible through the spirit of Knighthood.
On 14 March 1929 the association of the Knights of St. George was registered as a non-profitable association under the French law of 1901.
The nobility condition to enter in the order, was replaced by the necessity of belonging to an elite. This change was made under the impulsion of Cardinal Lorenzo Lauri. Therefore new entrants came mostly from Catholic countries, Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.
These inductees were all confirmed in 1929 by Ignace Gabriel I st Tapouni (1879–1968), Patriarch of Antioch and of all the Orient; then in 1930 by Cardinal Lorenzo Lauri (1864–1941), titular archbishop of Ephesus, Major Penitentiary and Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.
It was with the papal bull of 11 October 1929 that Patriarch Tappouni raised the sodality’s prestige by confirming its privileges and by bestowing upon it the prestigious name of “Apostolic Order”. Shortly afterwards, by autograph letter dating 23 April 1930, Cardinal Lauri also accepted the title of High Protector and, on 14 June of the same year, he received in the Vatican a deputation of Knights of Saint-George, along with Cocchi.
On 17 May 1933 another delegation was invited to a solemn reception by Pope Pius XI. It was seated on the place of honor, to the right of the pope. During the closing of the holy door, the order was also authorized to lay a symbolic brick, alongside its counterparts (Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Teutonic Knights, …)
The Confraternity of the Knights of Saint-George of Burgundy (2004 – present)[edit source]
After the election in June 2004 of a new governor general, Louis-François Saumon, the confraternity took a new turn in its history.
The governor general established an international network of delegations, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Russia, Israel and others.
Internationally the Confraternity works under the” NPO-Confraternity of the Knights of Saint-George of Burgundy”.
These efforts are supported by many prelates of the Catholic Church and already two catholic bishops joined the confraternity.
The confraternity has been registered as a Faithful Association in Italy accordingly to canonic law.