The Order of Hospitallers
The military orders comprised a new institutional framework, the creation of the Crusader kingdom and its needs. The innovation was the combination of two ideals - the knight and the monk. The knights of these orders dedicated themselves to the service of the Church. The founding of the orders may be seen as an attempt to look after the crowds of pilgrims who flocked to Jerusalem.
The knights of the “Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem,” commonly known as the Hospitallers, devoted themselves to caring for pilgrims, and set up a hospital and a hostel near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Fulk of Anjou, King of Jerusalem, gave them the fortress at Beth Guvrin.
The description of John of Wurzburg (which probably covers the period 1160-1170) records: “Opposite the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which we described before, on the other side of the street leading south, there is a beautiful church built in honor of John the Baptist, and adjoining it there is a hospital in whose various rooms they gather great numbers of the sick, men and women, and heal them at great expense. When I was there, I saw that the numbers of the sick reach two thousand, of whom they sometimes carry out about fifty a day for burial - they die, and as many new sick people arrive there. What can I say? This foundation serves as many people outside as are within, and also assists with alms for the poor who beg for bread from door to door and have no house to live in, so that it is difficult to calculate the expenses of the foundation and the expenses of its overseers and laborers. Moreover, this foundation maintains many people in different fortresses, who are entrusted with the task of defending the land of the Christians against the invasion of the Saracens.”