Order of Saint Lazarus

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The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem
Grandes armes OSLJ.svg
Abbreviation OSLJ
Motto Atavis et armis (With ancestors and arms)
Formation After 1098
Type Chivalric order
Purpose To uphold and defend the Christian faith, to assist and help the sick and vulnerable, to promote and uphold the Christian principles of chivalry and to work for Christian unity
Location Jerusalem
Region served
Membership On invitation only, ecumenical
Main organ
Grand Magistry, Governing Council, Chapter General

http://www.st-lazarus.net (Spanish)

http://www.orderofsaintlazarus.com (Orléans/French)

The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem (Ordo Militaris et Hospitalis Sancti Lazari Hierosolymitani) is an order of chivalry originally founded at a leper hospital after 1098 by the crusaders of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was established to treat leprosy, its knights originally being lepers themselves.[1] It is possible that King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem was a knight of this order or was, at least, assisted by it.

The symbol of the order is a green eight-pointed Maltese Cross. It is believed to have given rise to the use of the green cross as the universal symbol for retail pharmacies worldwide. The word lazarette, in some languages being synonymous with hospital, is believed to also be derived from the hospitaller Order of St Lazarus.

After several centuries, the order went into decline and ceased to perform its original function. Starting with Pope Innocent VIII, attempts were made to merge it with the Knights of St. John. Eventually the order in Italy was merged with the Order of St. Maurice under the Royal House of Savoy while in in France it was merged with the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel under the Royal House of France.[2] Today, the French foundation exists as the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, although it has split into two "obediences" known as Orléanist, under the Temporal Protection of the Count of Paris and Spanish which lacks a Temporal Protector but is under the Grand Mastership of Don Carlos Gereda y de Borbón, Marquis of Almazán and the Spiritual Protection of His Beatitude Gregorios III, Greek Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, of All the East, of Jerusalem and Alexandria: the Patriarchs of Antioch have been protectors since 1841.

In the Holy Land[edit]

From its foundation in the 11th century, members of the Order of Saint Lazarus dedicated themselves to two ideals:[3]

  1. aid to those suffering from the disease of leprosy
  2. the defense of the Christian faith

The first mention of the order in surviving sources dates from 1106-16. The order was initially founded as a leper hospital outside the city walls of Jerusalem, but hospitals dependent on the Jerusalem hospital were established all across the Holy Land, notably in Acre, and Europe. It is unknown when the order became militarised but militarisation probably occurred before the end of the twelfth century due to the large numbers of Templars and Hospitallers sent to the leper hospitals for treatment. The four classes of members  – brothers, knights, clerics and donors – of the Brothers of Saint Lazarus in Jerusalem were acknowledged by Pope Gregory IX in a Bull of 1227. However, definite evidence of their active participation in military campaigns is only documented in 1234 when Pope Gregory IX made a general appeal for aid to the Order to clear debts contracted in the defence of the Holy Land. The Ordinis Fratrum & Militum Hospitalis Leprosorum S. Lazari Hierosolymitani under Augustinian Rule was confirmed by Papal Bull Cum a nobis petitur of Pope Alexander IV in April 1255. The order established "Lazar houses" across Europe to care for lepers, and was well supported by other military orders which compelled brethren in their rule to join the order on contracting leprosy.[4]

The order remained primarily a hospitaller order but it did take part in a number of battles, including the Battle of La Forbie on 17 October 1244 (where all of the lazar brethren who fought died) and the Battle of Al Mansurah on 8–11 February 1250. The leper knights were protected by a number of able-bodied knights but in times of crisis the leper knights themselves would take up arms. The order quickly abandoned their military activities after the fall of Acre in 1291 and the dissolution of the Templars due to expense, being a relatively poor order.[5]

Royal House of France[edit]

Louis XVIII (1755–1824) with the Order of Saint Lazarus grand cross
Peter Ludwig von der Pahlen (1745–1826) with the Order of Saint Lazarus knight cross

In 1154, King Louis VII of France gave the Order of Saint Lazarus a property at Boigny near Orléans which was to become the headquarters of the Order outside of the Holy Land. Later, after the fall of Acre in 1291 the Knights of St. Lazarus left the Holy Land and moved first to Cyprus, then Sicily and finally back to Boigny which had been raised to a barony in 1288. In 1308 King Philip IV of France established the order under his temporal protection. Again, in 1604 Henry IV of France declared protectorate of French Crown over the French branch and in 1608 the order was merged in union with Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel into Royal, Military and Hospitaller Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. This amalgamation eventually received canonical acceptance on 5 June 1668 by a bull issued by Cardinal Legate de Vendôme under Papal authority of Clement IX. While being a French Royal Order, the Order remained under apostolic authority.

During the French Revolution a decree of 30 July 1791 suppressed all royal and knightly orders. Another decree the following year confiscated all the Order's properties. Louis, Count of Provence, Grand Master of the Order, who later became Louis XVIII, continued to function in exile and continued admitting various dignitaries to the Order.[6] Scholars differ in their views regarding the extent to which the order remained intact after the French Revolution. In fact, in different museums there are preserved a number of paintings of Russian and Baltic nobles, adopted to the Order after 1791. In this list are general John Lamb, Prince Suvorov, count Pahlen, count Sievers etc. Some of the new knights are even listed in Almanach Royal from 1814 to 1830. King Louis XVIII, the order's late protector, and the duc de Châtre, the order's lieutenant-general, both died in 1824. These were followed by Charles X and Henry V as protectors of the order until 1830 with Jean-Louis Beaumont d’Autichamp acting as governing commandeur. While after 1830, the order lost its royal protection, it continued to remain under apostolic authoriity since the Holy See did not promulgate any contrarius actus in respect to either of the two Orders during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The French fons honorum was renewed in 2004 by Henri d'Orléans, Count of Paris, as a claimant to the headship of the Royal House of France.[7][8]

Royal House of Savoy[edit]

In 1572, Pope Gregory XIII merged the Italian foundation of the Order of Saint Lazarus with the Order of Saint Maurice (founded in 1434) as the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus. This became a national order of chivalry on the unification of Italy in 1861, but has been suppressed by law since the foundation of the Republic in 1946. King Umberto II did not abdicate his position as fons honorum however, and the head of the former Royal House of Savoy remains the Grand Master of the Italian foundation of the order today.

After 1830[edit]

After 1830 the French foundation of the Order of Saint Lazarus continued under the governance of a council of officers[9] who in 1841 invited the Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Maximos III Mazloum to become Spiritual Protector of the order, thence re-establishing a tangible connection with the Order's early roots in Jerusalem. By 1850, under the authority of the patriarch the order had consolidated and numbered about twenty knights supporting the rebuilding of the Mount Carmel Monastery in Haifa, Israel. In the years that followed new knights were admitted including in 1853 admiral Ferdinand-Alphonse Hamelin and admiral Louis Édouard Bouët-Willaumez; in 1863 comte Louis François du Mesnil de Maricourt (d. 1865), comte Paul de Poudenx (d.1894); in 1865 the Order admitted comte Jules Marie d'Anselme de Puisaye who was followed in 1875 by the vicomte de Boisbaudry; baron Yves de Constancin in 1896, who was later to become commander of the Hospitaller Nobles of Saint Lazarus, a knight of the Order of Isabella the Catholic and of Order of Saint Anna of Russia. In 1880 comte Jules Marie d'Anselme de Puisaye was admitted to the order as a hospitaller while living in Tunisia. The order continued to attract members from the French nobility and by the early 20th century it was attracting knights from further afield notably Spain and Poland. In 1910, a new statute was drawn up. This statute explicitly placed the governance of the order in the hands of the Magistracy whose decisions were sovereign and irrevocable, thus laicizing the Order. His Beatitude the Patriarch of Antioch, of All the East, of Jerusalem and of Alexandria, and was re-confirmed as the Supreme Pontiff.

In 1930 don Francisco de Borbón y de La Torre, Duke of Seville, Grand Bailiff of the order in Spain was appointed as lieutenant-general of the Grand Magistracy and in 1935 he was elected as Grand Master re-establishing the office, vacant since 1814.[10] There has since been a Spanish Borbon grand master at the helm of the Order.

In 1961 Col. Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, was appointed Bailiff and Commissioner-General for the Order in the English-speaking world with responsibility for expanding the Order's membership in that area. Up to then, non-Catholic Christians had been accepted only as affiliate members of the order. Gayre accepted the appointment on condition that henceforth Protestants would be eligible for full membership. The Paris authorities reluctantly agreed and Gayre, took as a model to emulate the Most Venerable Order of St. John.[11] From this time the Order began to identify itself as an Oecumenical Order of Chivalry although the majority of its members and clergy remained Roman Catholic.

In 2004 the Count of Paris re-established the temporal protection of the Royal House of France, which had previously been enjoyed by the order until 1830.[12] On the 27th May 2012, the Greek Melchite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch signed a declaration at Kevelaer in Germany confirming the continuity of the Order under the Patriarchs of Antioch since his predecessor Maximos III Mazlûm had accepted the role of Spiritual Protector of the Order in 1841.[13]

Charity work[edit]

The purpose of the Order is to uphold and defend the Christian faith, to assist and help the sick and vulnerable, to promote and uphold the Christian principles of chivalry and to work for Christian unity. In recent years the Order participate in worldwide humanitarian efforts. For example, it has been engaged in a major charitable program to revive Christianity in Eastern Europe: Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, and the Near East: Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian territories. Millions of dollars worth of food, clothing, medical equipment and supplies have been distributed in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Croatia. Because of this experience, the European Community commissioned the order to transport more than 21.000 tons in food to the hungry in Russia. The order organized food aid and managed reconstruction-projects after the Tsunami Catastrophe in Indonesia.[14][15][16]

Recognition and Prominent Members[edit]

The arms of the Order were matriculated by the Lord Lyon King of Arms on 3 August 1967, who confirmed the undifferenced arms of the Order as born prior to 1672, thus recognizing that the present Order is the continuation of the Order of 1672.

The Orléanist or French obedience of the Order of Saint Lazarus had the protection of Henri d'Orléans, Count of Paris.[7][17] In 2004, the Count of Paris allowed his nephew Prince Charles Philippe, Duke of Anjou to take the position of 49th Grand Master of the order. In 2010, the Prince resigned and the present Grand Master of the Orléanist/French obedience is Count Jan Dobrzenský z Dobrzenicz. At the same time there was a further split within the Paris obedience in 2010, requiring the Count of Paris to clarify that his temporal protection would remain with the obedience under Count Jan Dobrzenský z Dobrzenicz (Orléanist) as opposed to those who had illegally broken away to form their own group under the leadership of Count Philippe Piccapietra (Paris) who had previously been a member of the team led by Prince Charles Philippe, Duke of Anjou. On January 31, 2014 the Count of Paris expressly stated that he had withdrawn any support of other groups and also clarifying that only he can represent the Royal House of France.[18]

In Spain the Order has received recognition from the State.[19] King Juan Carlos I of Spain allowed his distant cousin don Carlos Gereda y de Borbón to accept the position of Grand Master of a second "Spanish" branch of the Order in 2008, following a split between those who continued to follow Prince Charles Philippe (Orléanist Obedience) and those who followed don Carlos de Gereda y de Borbón (Spanish Obedience). Within the Kingdom of Spain many nobles are members of the Order and the Cronista de Armas de Castilla y León allows the use of the cross and insignia of the Order of Saint Lazarus when registering coats of arms to members of the order.

A significant number of Royal Houses are represented among the Knights of the Order including HRH Prince David Bagrationi of Mukhrani of Georgia, HM King Kigeli V of Rwanda, HIH Zera Yacob Amha Selassie, Crown Prince of Ethiopia, and HH Abune Paulos Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

The Vatican State can only formally recognise orders of chivalry that are under papal jurisdiction or that of the Holy See.[20] This has not precluded Catholic prelates from joining the Order. A number of prominent Catholic prelates have acted as chaplains to the Order. Most notably cardinal Paskai former Primate of Hungary who is the spiritual protector to the Paris/Orléans obedience of the order.[21] Previously cardinal Basil Hume was a member of the Order in England as is his successor cardinal Murphy O'Connor. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell[22][23] is a former national chaplain and member of the Order in Australia. The Spanish Obedience enjoys the spiritual protection of the Melchite Patriarch of Antioch and Jerusalem. The Order has also been recognised by the Catholic primate of Spain who is Patron of the Grand Priory of Spain.[24] Cardinal Dominik Duka is Chaplain General and a Grand Cross of the Orléans obedience,[25] while the Most Reverend Archbishop Michele Pennisi, Abbot and Archbishop of Monreale (Sicily, Italy), Abbot of Santa Maria del Bosco is Ecclesiastical Grand Prior of the Spanish obedience.[26]

In the United Kingdom the order has counted several senior aristocrats among its membership. The Rt. Hon. Earl Ferrers was the grand prior of England and Wales (Spanish obedience) until March 2012 when he was replaced by the 22nd Earl of Shrewsbury who was replaced in 2013 by the Marquess of Lothian. The Baron of Fetternear is grand prior of Great Britain (Orléans/French Obedience). In Scotland Viscount Gough is head of the Grand Bailiwick of Scotland. The grand priory of Australia is under the patronage of the Governor General Quentin Bryce.[27] In New Zealand the Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae, is a knight and patron of the order and the Māori King Tuheitia is a Knight Commander of the Order. In 2007, king Kigeli V Ndahindurwa of Rwanda accepted the honour of knight grand cross in the order.

In Ireland, the O'Conor Don, Prince of Connacht, successor to the High Kingship of Ireland is a knight of justice in the order as well as Juge d'Armes of the Grand Priory of Ireland.[28] Other noble families are also represented among the Order's membership in Ireland including O'Morchoe, Bunbury and Guinness.

The order is also recognized by the governments of the Czech Republic,[29] the Republic of Croatia,[30] the Republic of Hungary.[31]


Membership of the Order of Saint Lazarus is by invitation only and is an honour granted by the Grand Magistry of the order. The order include among their members people of the European nobility, academics, politicians and senior clergy. Membership in the order is divided into two classes, knights of justice and knights of magistral grace, the former is restricted to members of families with noble titles. All members of the order are invested in one of the following ranks, regardless of whether they qualify for justice or magistral grace:

  • Knight (GCLJ) or dame (GCLJ) grand cross
  • Knight (KCLJ) or dame (DCLJ) commander
  • Knight (KLJ) or dame (DLJ)
  • Orléansist/French: serving brother (SBLJ) or serving sister (SSLJ), Malta: commander (CLJ)
  • Orléans/French: brother (BLJ) or Sister (SLJ), Malta: officer (OLJ)
  • Spanish: member (MLJ)

Gentlemen who are invested in the rank of knight (KLJ) or higher are entitled to the prenominal Chevalier and women invested in the rank of Dame or higher are entitled to the prenominal Dame. Clergy may be admitted into the Order in one of the ranks as assistant chaplain, chaplain, senior chaplain, ecclesial commander and ecclesial grand cross. There is also a companionate which is often used to honour individuals who have supported the work of the order or who have made a significant contribution to society.[32][33]

Vestments and insignia[edit]

For the Order of Saint Lazarus ceremonial occasions, such as investitures, the members wear distinctive vestments and insignia. The mantle of the order is a black cloak with a green velvet collar and the cross of the order sewn onto the left side. The mantle is always worn at religious ceremonies. In addition to the mantle and insignia members of the order normally wear white gloves and ladies may also wear a mantilla in church.

The insignia of a knight is a badge with military trophy pendant from a green neck ribbon, and a golden breast star. Dames of the order wear the badge with wreath of laurel and oak springs from a ribbon bow and a golden breast star. A green button hole rosette may also be worn on a business suit by gentlemen of the order.[34]

Other Lazarus organizations[edit]

Apart from The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem there are other organizations based on the Lazarus tradition. These include The Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem (United Grandpriories) founded 1995 inspired by the original order[35] and the Corps Saint Lazarus International (CSLI).[36] While these organizations also have a well-recognized charity work they are not recognized by the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and do not enjoy the protection of the Royal Houses of France, Spain or Savoy or the Patriarchs of Antioch.



  1. ^ Marcombe, David (2003). Leper Knights. Boydell Press. ISBN 1-84383-067-1/
  2. ^ "Catholic Encyclopdia". New Advent. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Environ (1295), Constitution, règlements et nécrologie de Seedorf" (in French). Kloster-seedorf.ch. 
  4. ^ Marcombe, David (2003). Leper Knights. Boydell Press. p. 11. ISBN 1-84383-067-1
  5. ^ Marcombe, David (2003). Leper Knights. Boydell Press. p. 14. ISBN 1-84383-067-1
  6. ^ Sainty, Guy Stair, ed. (2006) World Orders of Knighthood and Merit, p. 1862
  7. ^ a b "(Temporal protector)". Oslj.org. 2005-02-02. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  9. ^ Bander van Duren, Peter (1995) Orders of Knighthood and of Merit-The Pontifical, Religious and Secularised Catholic-founded Orders and their relationship to the Apostolic See, Buckinghamshire, ss. 495-513, XLV-XLVII
  10. ^ Les Chevaliers de Saint Lazare de 1789 à 1930, Guy Coutant de Saisseval, Drukkerij Weimar by The Hague, undated
  11. ^ "accessed online 5 May 2012". Maineworldnewsservice.com. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  12. ^ Solemn Declaration by His Royal Highness the Count of Paris, 12th September 2004.
  13. ^ Declaration on the Ninth Centenary of the Royal Recognition of the Order St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, Kevekaer, Germany, 27th May 2012.
  14. ^ Oslj.org (Paris obedience)
  15. ^ orderofsaintlazarus.com (Orléans obedience)
  16. ^ st-lazarus.net (Malta obedience)
  17. ^ Guy Stair Sainty, Rafal Heydel-Mankoo: World Orders of Knighthood and Merit, 2006, ISBN 0-9711966,vol. II, p.1859
  18. ^ "Communiqué de Monseigneur le Comte de Paris" (in French). 
  19. ^ Governmental Order, 9 May 1940.
  20. ^ Statement of Holy See on Recognition of Equestrian Orders, Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
  21. ^ "(Spiritual protector)". Oslj.org. 2005-05-21. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  22. ^ "(Austria)". St-lazarus.org.au. 2004-01-01. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  23. ^ "(Austria)". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  24. ^ http://www.chivalricorders.org/orders/self-styled/lazarus.htm
  25. ^ Kardinál Duka sloužil mši svatou pro lazariány
  26. ^ http://www.st-lazarus.net/international/cutenews/show_news.php?subaction=showfull&id=1395830110&archive=&template=
  27. ^ "Official Website of Governor General of Australia | Patronages". Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  28. ^ http://www.stlazarus.ie
  29. ^ Autor: prap. Markéta Gecová (2012-03-15). "Představitelé armády a Vojenského špitálního řádu podepsali dohodu o spolupráci". Acr.army.cz. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  30. ^ The Croatian Government promulgated and published on 6 May 1992 in Zagreb the Projet de Décret de Reconnaissance which recognises The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem as an Order of Knighthood legitimately active in the sovereign territory of Croatia.
  31. ^ Bander van Duren, 1995, Orders of Knighthood and Merit. Buckinghamshire: Colin Smythe. p.509.
  32. ^ "Paris/Orléans: Rank and insignia". 
  33. ^ "Malta: Rank and insignia". Oslj.org. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  34. ^ * Morris of Balgonie, Stuart H., Ygr., The Insignia and Decorations of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, Perthshire, 1986
  35. ^ saintlazarus.org (United Grandpriories)
  36. ^ csli.at (CSLI)


  • Bander van Duren, Peter (1995) Orders of Knighthood and of Merit-The Pontifical, Religious and Secularised Catholic-founded Orders and their relationship to the Apostolic See, Buckinghamshire, ss. 495-513, XLV-XLVII
  • Burgtorf, Jochen (2006). "Acre, Siege of (1291)". i Alan V. Murray. The Crusades: An Encyclopedia. 1. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. ss. 13–14. OCLC 70122512.
  • Coutant de Saisseval, Guy, Les Chevaliers de Saint Lazare de 1789 à 1930, Drukkerij Weimar by the Hague, undated
  • Environ (1295), Constitution, règlements et nécrologie de Seedorf (Suisse).
  • Marcombe, David (2003). Leper Knights. Boydell Press. ISBN 1-84383-067-1.
  • Morris of Balgonie, Stuart H., Ygr., The Insignia and Decorations of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, Perthshire, 1986
  • Sainty, Guy Stair, ed. (2006) World Orders of Knighthood and Merit.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]