Edmund Burke wrote that “the Age of Chivalry is gone” as he reflected on the French Revolution. In fact, while chivalry has been transformed in the last centuries, it still flourishes. Brian Abel Ragen is a member of several genuine Orders of Chivalry, and, like many others, seeks to live out the ideals they embody.

The days when men born to a class of mounted warriors took religious vows of poverty and divided their days between singing the office, tending the sick, and fighting the Saracen are indeed gone. The idea that those with what one of the prayers of Order of St. John calls “the means and opportunity to do good” should band together into religious societies to serve “Our Lords, the Poor and the Sick” and proudly bear the badges of their profession remains.

The Order of St. John

The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem is headed by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. It originated as a revival of the English Langue of the Order of Malta early in the nineteenth century. While it never became fully a part of the Order of Malta, the British branch is recognized as a genuine Order of St. John by the Order of Malta and become a royal order of chivalry when granted a charter by Queen Victoria in 1888. Its priories and associations now sponsor hospitals, hospices, ambulance corps, and other charities across the world and join together to support the St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem. Brian Ragen was appointed as an Officer (Brother) in 1995, promoted to Commander (Brother) in 1999, and to Knight of Grace in 2004. He was then reclassified as a Knight of Justice the following year. He has served for many years on the St. Louis Regional Council of the Priory in the United States and on the Priory chapter. He has visited the St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem three times. His work for the order has included creating and arranging the St. Louis St. John’s Day service since 1998, a service that has been imitated throughout the Priory in the United States, helping to develop the Priory’s web site, and compiling the St. John Prayerbook.

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre is headed by a Grand Master, currently Frederick, Cardinal O’Brien, appointed by the pope. It traces its origins to the knights who sought to defend the Holy Sepulchre during the crusades, but now it works to succor the Christians of the Holy Land and to assist the charitable works of the Latin Patriarch. Professor Ragen was appointed to the order in 2005 as a knight and promoted to knight commander in 2010. He is an active member of the Northern Lieutenancy in the United States. He received the order’s Pilgrim’s Shell in Jerusalem in 2011. He has visited many of the order’s foundations in the Holy Land, notably Bethlehem University.

The Order of St. Michael of the Wing
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The Royal Brotherhood of Saint Michael of the Wing is headed by HRH the Duke of Bragança, the heir to the Portuguese throne. While its history, like those of many orders of chivalry, is disputed, it traces its origins to the order founded in 1147 as a “wing” of the Order of Santiago and dedicated to the winged angel St. Michael. Today it furthers several charitable projects, both in Portugal and in former Portuguese territories throughout the world. Professor Ragen was appointed a Knight Commander of the order in 2011.

Professor Ragen has also worked with the Order of Malta’s Auxiliary Corps, both in St. Louis and in Lourdes, where he has helped tend the “malades” who take part in the order’s annual pilgrimage. He holds the Order of Malta’s Lourdes Medal with two stars.

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