In around the middle of the 11th century, Amalfitan traders obtained permission from the Caliph to build the church of Sainte Marie-Latine next to the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, as well as a hospice for the accommodation of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. The hospice-hospital was run by Benedictine monks.
Prior to the First Crusade (1095-1099) and the capture of Jerusalem in 1099 by the Latins, this first Frankish hospice-hospital only functioned as such. At that time the institution later known as military orders didn't exist yet. In the 12th century, Crusader historian William of Tyre writes about the existence of a monastery, belonging to the people of Amalfi, which took charge of the hospital and its chapel. The latter had been dedicated to the patriarch of Alexandria, John the Almoner (610–616).
However, in the early years of the 12th century, after the First Crusade, the enigmatic figure of Pierre Gerard or Gerard Tenque appeared in Jerusalem, a personality swathed in legend. Neither his homeland, his family, nor his education are known, yet according to all indications to date, it is he who founded the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (Latin: Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), also known as the 'Order of Saint John', 'Knights Hospitaller', etc.
Location and identification
Confusingly, there were two Crusader-era Churches of St Mary in close proximity to each other in the Hospitallers' Qarter. Medieval sources are using three different names when they are addressing the two churches: St Mary of the Latins, St Mary Minor, and St Mary Major. Different researchers have identified them differently, but Conrad Schick and most modern researchers see St Mary of the Latins as being one and the same as St Mary Minor, its ruins now built over by the German Protestant Church of the Redeemer. The remains of St Mary Major have completely disappeared under the 1901 Greek Aftimos Market.
- Muristan, the Jerusalem quarter where the church and the Hospitaller HQ stood
- Church of Saint Mary of the Germans, another Church of Saint Mary from Crusader Jerusalem
- Boas, Adrian J. (2001). Jerusalem in the Time of the Crusades: Society, Landscape and Art in the Holy City Under Frankish Rule. Routledge. pp. 121–125 (125 for the identification). ISBN 978-0-415-23000-1. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
- Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (2008). The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700. Oxford Archaeological Guides. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-19-923666-4. Retrieved 27 November 2020.