In the early 12th century, an order of monastic knights was founded in Jerusalem. Based in an abbey and the adjacent hospital, the purpose of the order was initially to protect and care for sick, poor, and injured pilgrims. The order took on a more militant role with the advent of the Crusades. Through the centuries they had many names, from "The Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem" to "The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta." They are known more informally as the Knights Hospitaller, or simply the Hospitallers.
The Hospitallers engaged in some serious warfare over the years, but eventually they returned to their roots. Now, and for the past 200 years or so, they focus primarily on medical care. As the 900th anniversary of their formal recognition by the pope approaches, the order is celebrating by opening homeless shelters and soup kitchens throughout Europe. This is due in large part to the economic hardships that have affected millions.
Find out more about the Hospitallers' latest endeavors in the article by Palash R. Ghosh at the International Business Times.