Can I join The Order of Saint Joachim?

Membership in The Order of Saint Joachim is by sponsorship and recommendation of an existing member. Our Charter makes a sponsor of a new member responsible for that person throughout their life in The Order, and so it is not undertaken lightly. Because we are a small Order spread over the world, it is not always possible for a prospective member to know a Knight or Dame of The Order. For suitable candidates, every effort is made by Grand Chapter to find a sponsor within The Order.

What are the core values of The Order of Saint Joachim?

The Order of Saint Joachim is was founded to promote religious tolerance and support charitable causes. It was never a "crusading order" or militant Christian order. It was founded on the belief that different faiths deserve respect and should work together. It was also founded in the humanist tradition of the Enlightenment, recognizing the equality of women and opposing ignorance and prejudice that leads to persecution and conflict. One of the earliest causes was to support the victims of war, whether widows, orphans or refugees. Today the Order of Saint Joachim is still devoted to charity and broad tolerance - not just religious, but is socially progressive and welcomes individuals regardless of faith, gender, race, nationality, class or sexual orientation. This continues to make The Order of Saint Joachim unique.

What does The Order of Saint Joachim look for in a prospective member?

When reviewing a Petitioner's application the officers of Grand Chapter look at a person's record of service to charity and society, as well as accomplishment in their personal and professional lives. Every petition is carefully reviewed on its own merits and stated qualifications and accomplishments investigated. It goes without saying that to be admitted as a member, a person has to be of good character and be a credit to the Order. The Order has available a small booklet with important information for new and prospoective members. A copy of the Constitution of The Order, as amended by Grand Chapter in 2009, is available here.

What if my Petition for Admission is declined?

Please know that not every applicant is accepted, no matter how strong their apparent qualifications, and Grand Chapter has a firm policy of never giving reasons should an application be declined. Some common reasons for a rejected application include reliance on dubious honours and titles, questionable academic qualifications, or a sparce record of charitable or public service. Almost a third of all applications are declined, because of the above or due to not having first made inquiries or provided information prior to being invited to submit a Petition.

Can I enter The Order of Saint Joachim at a rank higher than Knight Expectant?

In keeping with the knightly traditions of humility and service, all members are expected to enter the Order at the rank of Knight Expectant, also referred to as Postulant. It is very rare for a new member to be granted dispensation to enter directly as a Knight. Hereditary Princes and others with high civil or military rank have not found it derogatory to their position or dignity to enter the Order at the lowest level. Knights Expectant may expect to advance in the Order with service. Because of its small membership and few ranks, most members of The Order will remain Knights or Dames throughout their life in The Order.

Can women join?

Yes. The Order of Saint Joachim has admitted and welcomed women as members since the late 1700s. Women can achieve any rank in The Order and receive the honorific "Dame" after progressing from Postulant. In fact, some of the earliest documents of the Order provide for the possibility of women leading Commanderies.

Is the Order of Saint Joachim restricted to Christians?

No. In keeping with its original aim of promoting religious tolerance, The Order of Saint Joachim was originally one of the only Orders of Knighthood that admitted both Protestants and Catholics without distinction. Today the Order's membership includes people of all faiths who subscribe to the Order's ideals of tolerance and charity. In addition to Christians, The Order currently has members from many faiths, including Knights who are Jewish and Buddhist. Unlike some Orders, The Order of Saint Joachim does not distinguish between Christian and non-Christian members in its system of honours and titles.

Is The Order of Saint Joachim Masonic?

No. Many Freemasons feel at home in The Order of Saint Joachim because of its traditions of religious tolerance and charity, but The Order is not Masonic. Its founding members in 1755 included Freemasons, Rosicrucians and members of other Enlightenment groups of the 18th Century, and so it naturally shares some of the common and enduring values of that time.

Was Admiral Horatio Nelson really a member?

Yes. The fact of his being a proud Knight Grand Commander of The Order of Saint Joachim is recorded in Nelson's own words here. His breast cross as a member of The Order of Saint Joachim is on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, UK. His membership is a matter of historical record, which one prominent writer on chivalric orders somehow somehow doubted, leading to people asking this easily answered question.

Is the Order of Saint Joachim a "real" order of Knighthood?

The English College of Arms repeatedly thought so in the early 1800s. It is a matter of historical record that in the early 1800s it publicly acknowledged The Order of Saint Joachim as a genuine order of knighthood, and our Knights were legally recognized as being entitled to use the title "Sir" in England until new laws were passed suspending the general recognition of any non-British knighthoods and honours bestowed after 1813. The Order of Saint Joachim was also recognized by other sovereign nations, including the Holy Roman Empire, the kingdoms of Hungary, Prussia, Poland and Russia. There is one contemporary article that also suggests it received Papal recognition as a valid order of knighthood in the late 1700s. In modern times, the formal recognition of orders of knighthood is a sensitive and complex topic. Countries without a monarchy are generally adverse to the concept of titles and distinctions, and countries with a monarchy generally only recognize their own Orders, of which the king or queen is usually the head.

Does The Order of Saint Joachim recognize other Orders? Can I join if I am a member of another Order?

The Order of Saint Joachim welcomes members of other Orders, the only exception being an "Order" has been clearly been founded for no other purpose than to satisfy the vanity of applicants or to enrich the founders with little to no active charitable purpose. The Order of Saint Joachim does not participate in the "mutual recognition" of, or exchange of honours with, other orders. Many members of other Orders find The Order of Saint Joachim to be a refreshing change from frequently hierarchical, closed and cliquish structures found elsewhere. While there is dignity and solemnity in The Order of Saint Joachim's proceedings, it is a friendly, small and welcoming Order for those who qualify. Recently some Orders have taken the unusual step of declaring that members of their Order cannot be members of any other Order. Whether they fear competition for the member's good works or charitable contributions or have decided that no other Order is worthy in their eyes, The Order of Saint Joachim finds such prohibitions - with respect - mean-spirited and counter-productive. Just as a Knight or Dame must prove themselves worthy of membership, it is the belief of The Order of Saint Joachim that a chivalric Order must prove its value to both its members and society at large. An Order that is meaningful and engaging to its members does not need to coerce loyalty from its members with such prohibitions.

Does The Order of Saint Joachim Have Royal Sponsorship?

No. From its founding in 1755, The Order of Saint Joachim has not felt the need for royal sponsorship. It has had sovereign rulers elected as its Grand Masters in the past, but unlike many dynastic or national orders of knighthood, The Order of Saint Joachim does not "belong" to any royal or sovereign house. For a long time it was associated with the House of Saxe-Coburg and the Counts of Leonie, but Grand Chapter elects the Grand Master without preference or distinction. It was remarked as a novel system of rule as early as 1802, when it was noted by the English College of Arms that The Order did not owe its existence to any sovereign house, but was nevertheless acknowledged to be a genuine order of knighthood.

Does The Order of Saint Joachim charge fees?

Yes. Virtually all orders of knighthood or chivalry levy membership fees ("oblations") and advancement or passage fees. Even the Order of the Garter, the pre-eminent order of knighthood in the world, charges its members a hefty passage fee. The Order of Saint Joachim levies a modest annual oblation of £50 on all members, and entrance and passage fees are similarly reasonable. Fees collected are for the Order's modest administration costs, with any surplus being available for charitable purposes. No officer, official or administrator of The Order receives any payment or honourarium for their work for The Order.

How quickly is a Petition processed?

The persons responsible for reviewing and processing applications made to The Order of Saint Joachim are located in several different countries, and so, even with modern electronic communications, there can be some delay in processing a Petition. The investigation and confirmation of information process can also take some time. We ask that applicants be patient and allow Grand Chapter the time required to process Petitions, usually one to two months. Questions regarding the processing of Petitions or first inquiries can be made to the Grand Secretary, Dame Anne Mitchell DJ at mitchell@stjoachimorder.org.

Where are there Commanderies of the Order?

The Order currently has Commanderies in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Austria-Germany. Members of the Order who do not belong to a Commandery automatically belong to the Knights Errant Commandery under the Grand Prior.

Individuals with other questions are encouraged to contact the Order through the office of the Grand Chapter.

© 2016 The Order of Saint Joachim