BRANDISHING a sword above his head to symbolise his willingness to fight for Christ, Mr Andrew Bertie was professed as a knight and a monk of the Sovereign Military Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, at the Church of St John and St Elizabeth in St Johns Wood, London. last week.
In a ceremony which had changed little since its institution in twelfth century Palestine, Mr Bertie took the normal religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience but also pledged himself to fight the enemies of Christ, to defend widows and orphans, and to serve the sick.
Although the chivalric rite has continued without interruption since the time of the crusades, Mr Bertie's profession was the first in England for at least 450 years.
Commander Fra Cyril Tournanoff. a professed knight from the hospitallers headquarters in Rome received Mr Bertie's vows and gave him the sword and black monastic habit of the order.
There are several thousand knights throughout the world and 200 in Britain alone. Most of them belong to the order's strictly honorary grades. Mr Bertie has joined an elite of only about 50 professed knights.
All members of the order are drawn from noble families.