Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem
een hoofdstuk uit: Orders of Knighthood and Merit : The Pontifical, Religious
and Secularised Catholic-founded Orders and their relationship to the Apostolic
See / Peter Bander van Buren. - Gerrards Cross : Colin Smythe, 1995.
chapter may be contentious for some readers who will probably criticise me for
including it. Such criticism may be to some degree justified, because I have
previously been uncompromising in my refusal even to mention the subject matter.
critics have called me intransigent and blind to reality. I ignored them,
because the criteria I used when revising Archbishop Cardinale’s Orders of
Knighthood, Awards and the Holy See in 1984 and 1985, and wrote relevant
comments in The Cross on the Sword in 1987, had remained unchanged since Mons.
Cardinale decided in 1981 that it would be in the interest of all concerned to
declare the Order of St. Lazarus nonexistent. He was provoked into doing so by
one person who claimed to be a leading figure in the Order, and whose conduct
towards Archbishop Cardinale and the Holy See was objectionable.
Archbishop Cardinale asked me to remove from the book a chapter which had in
1981 twice been drafted in collaboration with Lord Mowbray, Segrave and Stourton,
Premier Baron of England, whose family links with the Order of St. Lazarus go
back to the first Baron Mowbray who in 1283 founded a St. Lazarus Hospital for
Lepers on his own land near Melton Mowbray
events did nothing to change my mind, until in 1987 as a result of a great
number of enquiries I had received from members of the European Episcopate, I
wrote formally to the Secretariat of State asking whether it might not be
expedient to have the position of the Order of St. Lazarus reviewed by
independent experts before further compounding the negative attitude I had to
adopt in The Cross on the Sword. The then Sostituto of the Secretariat of State,
Archbishop Eduardo Martinez Somalo, replied without delay and informed me that
he saw no reason for the Holy See to do so.
one of my stays in the Vatican with Archbishop Cesare Zacchi later in 1987, I
was visited by a Bishop and a Prelate of the Roman Curia.
showed me several photographs and a report stating that Pope John Paul II had
received members of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem in private audience and
had concelebrated Holy Mass with Cardinal Macharski of Poland and Bishop Frotz,
who represented the German Bishops Conference, as well as Prelates and Priests
of the Order of St. Lazarus. During the private audience, His Holiness received
a detailed report about the charitable contributions which had been placed at
the disposal of the Holy Father and the Polish Bishops for the hungry and needy
in Poland. By 1987, there had been over 300 trucking expeditions, and the cost
of this particular Polish relief programme was in excess of twenty million US
dollars. Pope John Paul II spent much time in conversation with the members of
the St. Lazarus delegation, especially with Mr. Klaus-Peter Pokolm, the
President of the Lazarus-Hilfswerk. Later the Pope accepted the first of the
medals struck to commemorate the Relief Fund for Poland and arranged for
photographs to be taken of the event.
informed that His Holiness had expressed his astonishment that these chivalrous
benefactors had not received any recognition of their Order and indicated that
he would make enqufries. This information was corroborated for me in 1987 and
again in 1992 by His Eminence Cardinal Jacques Martin, who had been present at
the discussions in his capacity as Prefetto della Casa Pontificia. The Bishop,
who had followed up the question about some form of recognition for the Order,
had been given no direct reply by the Secretariat of State, but a senior member
of the Secretariat suggested that the Bishop might consider private initiative.
When he enquired what ‘private initiative’ implied, he was told to speak to
me as I was in Rome. I visited the Secretariat of State twice with Cardinal
Martin and Archbishop Zacchi between the visits of the two Prelates, but nothing
was mentioned to me about the request which had been made to the Secretariat of
State by them concerning the Order of St. Lazarus.
times during 1991 and 1992, I met Polish Bishops who conveyed to me the renewed
and express wish of the Holy Father that I should try and acknowledge the work
of those meritorious Grand Priories of the Military Hospitaller Order of St.
Lazarus that had done so much for the hungry and needy in Poland and Eastern
Europe, though His Holiness was aware that there were members of the Curia and
other interested parties in Rome who opposed any form of recognition of Order of
St. Lazarus and the Lazarus-Hilfswerk or its work in Poland. I agreed to abide
by the personal wishes of the Holy Father, and this was much welcomed by some
Cardinals and Bishops but, as I soon discovered, angrily denounced by other
members of the Roman Curia. Although I made it clear from the outset that I had
not yielded to any pressure from the Order of St. Lazarus, and, indeed, none of
the above-mentioned Grand Priories had ever contacted me, I soon realised that
the Pope’s intervention did not change the attitude of those who were opposed
to my even acknowledging the existence of that Order.
the end of 1992, I received detailed reports of the work the Order of St.
Lazarus in Eastern Europe. As much of this was said to have taken place under
the auspices of the European Economic Community in Brussels, I asked for, and
received, official reports about the outstanding charitable work undertaken in
Eastern European countries by the German Grand Priory of the Order of St.
Lazarus of Jerusalem under the tireless leadership of their late Grand Prior,
the Prince von Mettemich, the Princess von Metternich, who succeeded him as
Grand Prior, and by the Lazarus-Hilfswerk (the President of which is Mr.
Klaus-Peter Pokolm), by the Grand Priory of America, under their Grand Prior,
Dr. Hans von Leden, (who is also the Order’s Grand Hospitaller), and members
of the1 Order in Canada.
personal encouragement of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Macharski of Krakow,
the Grand Priory of Austria, under Archduke Leopold of Austria and Dr. Heinz
Peter Baron von Slatin, and their Referendary Prof. Franz Josef Federsel, had
constructed the first Hospice for the terminally ill in Poland, the St. Lazarus
Hospice, in Nowa Huta the American Grand Priory providing substantial financial
assistance to this project.
Grand Priory of France, under the late Pierre de Cossé, 12th Duc de Brissac,
was particularly active in initiating the relief programmes of the Order in
Croatia. The Chancellor, Chevalier Guy Coutant de Saisseval strongly backed the
relief missions of the Grand Hospitaller throughout Eastern Europe. The trucks,
trailers, field kitchens and jeeps that were provided by the Order have
continued to be used by the Order’s members for humanitarian purposes only,
and they remain the property of the Order.
the Winter of 1991/92, the European Community in Brussels earmarked US$
125,000,000.00 worth of aid for food for the starving population in Russia.
Transport and distribution were to be provided by organisations chosen by the
European Community. Apart from the humanitarian aspects, it is a fact that this
aid programme also prevented large scale social unrest and political instability
in urban centres. Of this sum the European Community allocated half to the
International Red Cross, and half to the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem as
the Lazarus-Hilfswerk. For this purpose the Order set up three centres, in
Petersburg, Moscow and Novgorad from which they operated their distribution
satisfy myself about the correctness of the reports I had received, I also
requested detailed information from the appropriate offices of the European
Community, so I would have the evidence in my possession should there be claims
that the reports were untrue. A letter from H.I.R.H. Archduke Dr. Otto von
Habsburg, signed in his capacity as a Member of the European Parliament and
addressed to the Grand Hospitaller of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, Dr.
Hans von Leden, Grand Prior of America, testifies to the high esteem in which
the Grand Hospitaller and his work are held by the European Parliament.
Order the existence of which had so often been denied when I made official
enquiries, and that I was obliged to consider extinct, the German, American,
Austrian, some other Grand Priories and particularly their foundation, the
Lazarus-Hilfswerk, have been remarkably active.
jurisdictions have also spent substantial amounts of their own money on
charitable works and projects close to the heart of Pope John Paul II, the
Polish and other Eastern European members of the College of Cardinals and the
Polish and Eastern European Episcopate, as well as in other areas of activity.
example, the Canadian Grand Priory works extensively in the field of
Hansen’s Disease (leprosy), both in the areas of research and of support
services. In this and other fields, the Canadian Grand Priory has worked closely
with the Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and many of the officers of
the Grand Priory of the Order of St. Lazarus are also officers in the Venerable
Order. Similarly, Grand Priories in New Zealand and Australia have been
providing support for the victims of Hansens Disease in their own countries and
the islands of Oceania.
faced with the task of assessing meritorious, chivalrous work on a vast scale
instead of simply writing about a Catholic-founded Order of Knighthood in the
context of other Orders, there is a danger of compiling an activity report
rather than keeping strictly to the criteria upon which the book is based.
However, very rarely something catches one’s attention which seems to be so
small, but in reality symbolises all that chivalry is about. I had learned
incidentally that part of the contribution several Commanderies of the Order of
St. Lazarus of Jerusalem expect their members to make are twelve full days a
year given free of charge to work in hospitals and institutions which cater for
the mentally or physically sick, the hungry and the needy, or do social work
that benefits those who need help.
particularly impressed by the activities of the nine members of the Order in
Liechtenstein: under their Commander, they set up in 1990 an emergency telephone
helpline for the children of the Principality, ‘Sorgen-Telefon für Kinder in
Liechtenstein’. They give their time freely, answering calls in rotation
twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year. Posters about
this service are displayed in schools, and stickers are displayed in telephone
booths and public places throughout the Principality. The members have been
professionally trained as counsellors for this particular task, and they receive
well over 300 calls from children every year out of a population of 30,000.
jurisdictions of the Order in Europe, South America and Africa are active in
charitable activities, and the work of the Order in such countries as South
Africa and Zimbabwe is remarkable, and some European Grand Priories still work
as hospitallers in the way that members of the Order did in the early years of
its existence, much of their work still concerned with fighting leprosy Others,
such as France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Bohemia, assist the Grand
Hospitaller in relief work for the hungry and needy in several Eastern European
an impressive list of charitable activities, and equally impressive are the
official acknowledgements of gratitude from governments and especially the
Headquarters of the European Community in Brussels.
are several imitation orders which also use the name ‘of St Lazarus of
Jerusalem’ and certain individuals who claim to belong to, or to represent,
‘The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus’. They are at the root of
much of the hostility which has been shown towards their Order, but their
organisations have not demonstrated the same Spirit of Christian chivalry in
this troubled world. As I mentioned earlier, there are at least eighteen very
active imitation orders of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the
Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, all, claiming to be the true Order of
St. John of Jerusalem. All these imitation orders lay claim to chivalric
privileges but show little or no inclination to take upon themselves the duties
and responsibilities of true chivalry, and all of them hope to be mistaken for
the genuine and legitimate Orders.
Beatitude the Greek Melchite Catholic Patriarch Maximos V Hakim, the Spiritual
Protector of the Order of St. Lazarus, and His Eminence Cardinal Ernesto
Corripio, the Spiritual Counsellor of the Order’s Grand Priory of America,
with the enthusiastic support of several Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and
Prelates from Poland, the U.S.A., Germany, Austria, Mexico and other Central and
Eastern European countries, have often expressed their regret at the Holy
See’s policy of refusing to recognise officially the Order. The members of the
hierarchy who actively support the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus
are members of the Roman Curia and the Cardinals and some of the Archbishops and
Bishops are actually members the Holy See. They consider it unfair and against
the principles of chivalry to withhold rightful recognition from the Order, and
strongly reject the suggestion that the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint
Lazarus of Jerusalem should be merely accorded the status of a charitable
society. They regard the Order as an Hospitaller Order of Knighthood, the 48th
Grand Master of which is His Excellency Francois de Cossé, the 13th Duc de
Brissac. As I have noted in earlier chapters, for reasons of international law,
the Holy See cannot recognise any Order other than the Pontifical Orders, the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and those
Orders granted by sovereign States with which it entertains diplomatic
relations. However, the Apostolic See as represented by the Supreme Pontiff can
express cognizance of the Order’s status.
I am not
introducing with this chapter a subject which might be seen by some as
deliberately confrontational, but in the light of the express obligations which
have been placed upon me since 1983, with particular reference to the Order of
St. Lazarus — obligations I adhered to without reservation until I was
informed of the Pope’s wishes - I find it puzzling that eminent spiritual
members of the Order should have been advised
semi-officially to seek the help of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
to gain recognition as an Order of Knighthood from the Holy See.
It is a
fallacy to believe that the Sovereign Military Order of Malta would or could
obtain official recognition from the Holy See for the Military and Hospitaller
Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem through intercession. In fact, whenever I
have corresponded with the competent representative of the Sovereign Council of
the Sovereign Order, I have always been informed that the Sovereign Order would
never be prepared to give to the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus
of Jerusalem any form of confraternal recognition.
the Sovereign Military Order of Malta has published its view of, and attitude to,
the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus Jerusalem in a joint
declaration of the ‘False Orders Committee’ of the Federation of the Orders
of St. John. Apart from the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, it is made up of
internationally recognised Orders that have been incorporated in the list of
Orders of Knighthood under the sovereignty of the respective heads of state, and
is mainly concerned with imitation Orders of St. John, but it has always shown a
special interest the Order of St. Lazarus and its activities.
the repeated statements sent me by the representative of the Sovereign Council
of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, contradict all the vague promises
which were made to a Spiritual Counsellor of the Order of St. Lazarus with
regard to ‘recognition by the Holy See’. As the criteria upon which the Holy
See recognises Orders of Knighthood exist and are strictly adhered to, any
special intercession would be totally useless.
again raises the important question as to whether the criteria for recognition
applied by the Holy See to Orders of Knighthood or Merit that do not form part
of an honours system of sovereign States, and, decorations conferred by them,
need reappraisal. Personally I doubt the the Holy See will change its practice.
past, it has not been unknown for some Popes to organise amalgamations of
Orders. In today’s terminology, such amalgamations would be considered ‘take-overs’,
especially when the assets of an Order are absorbed by another. This has
happened to the Order of St. Lazarus twice before: Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484)
tried unsuccessfully to have the Knights absorbed into the Order of St. John of
Jerusalem, but in 1573 Pope Gregory XIII amalgamated the wealthy Italian
Commanderies of St.Lazarus of Jerusalem with the Order of St. Maurice of the
House of Savoy. Another, similar amalgamation took place in 1608 under Pope Paul
V when for political and economic reasons, he sanctioned the amalgamation of the
Order’s wealthy French Commanderies with the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
which had been founded by King Henri IV of France the year before.
Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem was not the only Order of Knighthood to have
been thus absorbed with its assets into another Order. The fate of the Knights
Templars is well documented; in France many were arrested and subjected to
mockeries of trials, some just murdered, and the Order’s great wealth divided
up between interested parties. Having escaped such a fate, the Knights of St.
Lazarus had much to be thankful for.
of Orders are no longer only land and castles, but the money and assets of their
individual members, especially when much of it has been converted into trucks,
trailers, jeeps and field kitchens for the relief of the hungry and needy in the
world. In addition, an Order’s activities, and especially its reputation for
efficiency in administering large charitable relief projects, are also tangible
assets: indeed, in commercial terms, the good name of a company or business can
be the greatest of them.
must ask, did the European Community ask the Order of St. Lazarus to distribute
food and other aid worth 125 million US dollars? There were several
organisations besides the International Red Cross and the Order of St. Lazarus
in contention to carry out this enormous task, and I am sure that the
Commissioners of the European Community who are responsible for allocating such
vast sums of money, form their judgement and decision on very sound criteria.
far-reaching such judgements and decisions have been, the criteria upon which
they were based are not the criteria upon which ‘purists’, as they are
styled, judge the status of chivalry.
ignore the splinter groups and separate, self-styled orders of St. Lazarus that
abound in some countries, the question must be asked as to the juridical and
chivalric status of The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of
Jerusalem, with special reference to the Grand Priories of America, Canada,
Germany and Austria whose work is so greatly appreciated by the Supreme Pontiff
and the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Members of the Roman Curia, who have
expressly asked that the Order to which the above-mentioned Grand Priories
belong, should not be denied a chivalric-hospitaller status.
have emphasized time and again, my task is to chronicle the evolution of
Catholic-founded Orders and their either continued or no longer existing
relationship with the Apostolic See. I personally cannot grant recognition to
anybody, and the whole concept of recognition is a very complex one. If the Holy
Father, not as Sovereign Pontiff but as Supreme Pontiff and Pastor, recognises
true chivalric works and merit, it is his prerogative to ask, indeed command me,
to reflect his personal cognizance in a book that deals specifically with
Catholic-founded Orders and the Holy See, the Apostolic See and the Papacy.
Nobody can deny, regardless of the Order’s evolution, that the Military
Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem is a Catholic-founded Hospitaller
Order of Knighthood.
endeavoured to present an objective record of the activities of the
above-mentioned Grand Priories of The Military and Hospitaller Order of St.
Lazarus of Jerusalem, as I was specifically asked to do, the s reader may be
tempted to think that these outstanding charitable, accomplishments would be
automatically reflected in the juridical status, of the Order, its standing in
the community of Catholic-founded Orders of Knighthood and its recognition. I
consider the Supreme Pontiff’s cognizance of the chivalric work of the Order
on a par — if one speaks of I justice rather than of law — with the Pope’s
continued cognizance of Orders of Knighthoood that have continued their loyal
devotion to His Holiness and the Church in participating in the ceremonial and
liturgy the Church. I do not believe that His Holiness has ever given any
consideration to the — sometimes very remote — possibility that some of the
Orders- of non-regnant dynasties may sooner or later, become once again Orders
of sovereign monarchs.
statement published in L’Osservatore Romano on 22 March 1953 and again on 14
December 1970 lists the name ‘St. Lazarus’ among the ‘deplorable
phenomenon of the appearance of alleged Orders of Knighthood originating from
private initiatives and aiming at replacing the legitimate forms of chivalric
awards and not approved of or recognised by the Holy See’. In the same
statement, the Holy See condemns Orders using the appellations: ‘Military’,
‘Equestrian’, ‘Royal’, ‘Sovereign’, ‘Religious’, ‘Sacred’
and similar titles. According to the 3 statement such appellations belong
exclusively to authentic Orders approved by the Holy See. There have been five
pontificates since 1953, and if the Catholic-founded Orders of Knighthood of
some non-regnant dynasties have a specific lay apostolate, then it may indeed be
necessary for the Holy See to look at the subject again and, if necessary,
introduce different levels or types of cognizance, if not full recognition in
international law. I feel this is especially necessary if the definition in the
Codex luris Canonici that equates the Holy See with the Apostolic See is to be
realised without having constantly to refer to the opt-out clause about the
context in which the names ‘Holy See’ and ‘Apostolic See’ are used.
there is the third factor which has to be taken into consideration: the personal
opinion and wishes of a Supreme Pontiff. In Canon Law the personal opinions and
wishes of a Pope fall in a grey area. The hundreds of self-styled orders can
find no comfort or support in the Pope’s wish to see the chivalrous work of
the above-mentioned Grand Priories recognised. The self-styled Orders serve one
purpose only: the vanity of men and women to enhance their appearance by
decorating themselves with pieces of enamel and metal, the only value of which
is what people are prepared to pay for them.
as the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem is concerned,
the question of sovereignty, or the lack of it, is often raised by its critics.
During the Crusade, in the 12th century, the city of Acre was ~ temporarily
placed under the sovereignty of the Order; this protection was later shared by
other Orders that had been fighting in the Crusades.
it would make nonsense of the ideals and principles governing these Orders to
justify their existence on some very short-lived temporal power they enjoyed.
Only the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, (now the Sovereign Military Order of
Malta) continued to exercise sovereign power in different places.
raises another important issue: following the independence of Croatia and its
recognition by many States, including the Holy See, 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, which had been largely responsible for the distribution of
aid for the care and relief of refugees during its struggle for freedom, as an
Order of Knighthood legitimately active in the sovereign territory of Croatia.
The Decree has four Articles, three of which grant specific privileges to the
Order, the fourth states the date of ratification of the Decree and declares the
intent of the Croatian Government to inform other foreign powers that the decree
had been lawfully signed on behalf of the Republic of Croatia.
increasing hostility between Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia since that document was
issued by the Croatian Government, and the fact that at the time of writing
these words the territorial boundaries are changing almost daily, have no
bearing on the legitimacy of the Projet de Décret de Reconnaissance
which was issued by a member state of the United Nations. The Republic of
Hungary and South Africa have followed with similar statements recognising the
in any way changed the Order’s juridical or sovereign status? I
know of no precedent where the recognition of an Order of Knighthood by a
sovereign state has conferred a sovereign status on that Order, unless the Order
were to establish its seat in that country and the State were to take the Order
under its national sovereign protection.
Knights of the Italian Commanderies of the Order of St. Lazarus, amalgamated in
1573 with the Savoyan Order of St. Maurice, have continued to exist in the
Savoyan dynastic Order of St. Maurice and Lazarus. Many Knights of the French
and other Commanderies were strongly opposed to an amalgamation with the Order
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel under the protection of the King of France and
refused to be absorbed by an Order that had only been founded the previous year;
and they appear to have continued to exist independently. After those Knights
who had been amalgamated with the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1608 had
lost their temporal protection with the downfall of King Charles X in 1830, many
joined the Commanderies that had refused to agree to the amalgamation of 1608.
After that, the Knights of St. Lazarus were governed by a Council of Officers.
years later, in 1841, the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of
Jerusalem requested the protection of the Greek Melchite Catholic Patriarch of
Antioch, Maximos III Mazlûm, and petitioned he become their Spiritual
Protector; he accepted, both for himself and his successors.
Patriarchs, whether autonomous or in union with the Roman Church, always refer
to their patriarchate or religious jurisdiction as ‘a nation’. Arab
Sovereigns and Princes accord to them the status of a Head of State, though this
must be seen in the light of political expediency, as an Islamic ruler cannot
accord any honour to the leader of another religion.
January 1928, Pope Pius XI addressed a message through the papal Secretary of
State, Cardinal Gasparri, to the Marquis Française de Saint-Lazare, the
President of the French Association of the Knights of St. Lazarus:
Holy Father kindly accepts the filial homage.... offering in turn his best
wishes for the prosperity of the Hospitallers of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem and
their families, sends them all a special benediction.’ (Reference 3511/27)
remaining under the spiritual protection of the Greek Melchite Catholic
Patriarch, in 1935 the Chapter General of the Order elected as the new Grand
Master Don Francisco de Bórbon y de la Torre, 3rd Duke of Seville.
the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem requires that all its members are
practising Christians, its statutes no longer make membership dependent upon
membership of the Roman Catholic Church.
Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, joined by members of the College of Cardinals,
has on more than one occasion invited a group of people collectively as members
of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem to his private
apartments in the Vatican, has celebrated Holy Mass with them in his private
chapel, and continues to encourage them to undertake charitable projects which
he monitors personally, can the recognition, trust and gratitude expressed by
the Supreme Pontiff to those who have been directly involved in these projects,
be without significance?
will probably raise the perennial question of ipso facto recognition.
However, I have always stressed in the past, and I do so now, that neither the
Apostolic See nor Holy See recognise anything or anybody ipso facto.
as I am concerned, a wish of the Supreme Pontiff, that has been conveyed to me
on several occasions, is something I cannot ignore, regardless of who disagrees
with the Holy Father’s personal wishes and judgement in this matter. I
reiterate, however, that in this case, as in several ethers, I am in no position
to express the consensus of views held by all members of the Roman Curia.
reason I have focused my main attention on the Order’s Grand Priories of
America, Germany, and of Austria. For a number of years, these jurisdictions
have been at the forefront of charitable and humanitarian projects supported by
Pope John Paul II, and they were specifically singled out by him for their
praiseworthy chivalric activities.
sole exception of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, to whom the Supreme
Pontiff appoints a Cardinal Patron, and the Equestrian Order of the Holy
Sepulchre of Jerusalem, to whom the Pope appoints a Cardinal Grand Master, no
other official appointments of Cardinals by the Supreme Pontiff are made,
although individual Cardinals or high Prelates sometimes receive the Holy
Father’s express permission to act as Spiritual Counsellors to particular
Orders of Knighthood. By the same token the Apostolic See has been known to
expressly ask dignitaries of the Church to withdraw from any activities within
some organisations. In such cases the Supreme Pontiff, acting through the
Prefect of the Apostolic Court or the Papal Secretary of State, would as a
matter of principle refuse to receive in private audience representatives of an
Order or organisation of which he disapproves.
and 29 October 1992, members of the American, German, Austrian, and Canadian
Grand Priories, with pilgrims from other jurisdictions of the Order of St.
Lazarus of Jerusalem, under the leadership of the Order’s Grand Hospitaller
and Grand Prior of America, Dr. Hans von Leden, attended the celebrations of the
silver jubilee of the Patriarchate of the Order’s Spiritual Protector, His
Beatitude Maximos V Hakim, in the Vatican. His Holiness Pope John Paul II made a
special point of singling out and greeting the Grand Hospitaller from the tens
of thousands who were present at the General Audience, and afterwards he invited
Patriarch Maximos V Hakim to a special audience on the occasion of his jubilee,
and Dr. Hans von Leden and the members of the Order to a private audience for
the next day in the Sala Regia in the Apostolic Palace, where His Holiness spoke
to every member individually, that them for the work they had done.
above-mentioned events, beginning with the continuation of activities of the
Knights of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem
before and after the dissolution of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and
St. Lazarus of Jerusalem in 1830, to present day, create a dilemma for me when
assessing the Order’s correct status and style. Before writing this chapter, I
wrote to the two surviving Hospitaller Orders of Knighthood who with the Order
of St. Lazarus share a common history in the early Crusades. The then
Governor-General (now Lieutenant General) of the Equestrian Order of the Holy
Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Prince Paolo Enrico Massiomo Lancellotti, replied that
as a matter of principle the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
never comments on other Orders or organisations. The High Historical Consultant
of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Frà Cyrill, The Prince Toumanoff,
stated unequivocally that the Sovereign Order would as a matter of principle
never recognise the Military Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem.
said above, there are several self-styled organisations in existence that use
the same name but have nothing to do with those who are the subject of this
chapter. If we search for a fons honorum of the Order, there is no
hereditary successor to a former reigning sovereign who claims the Order as a
dynastic institution. The Duc de Brissac, a member of one of Europe’s most
ancient ducal houses, is the Order’s Grand Master, and it should be noted that
holders of this office are elected: it is not hereditary.
mentioned at the beginning of the book that the criteria upon which chivalric
orders are judged are being questioned inside the Roman Curia. The fact that the
Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem has members belonging
to various Christian denominations, makes it impossible to judge it solely on
Catholic criteria, in spite of the fact that the Order has had a Catholic
Patriarch as its Spiritual Protector since 1841, and today a number of Cardinals
and high dignitaries of the Roman Curia are Spiritual Counsellors to various
are two important issues raised in the previous paragraph: first, the Knights
who in 1841 approached the Greek Catholic Melchite Patriarch of Antioch and
asked him to take the Order under his protection, did so because they felt that
under the circumstances their most logical step was to go back to the Middle
East where the Order had been founded and seek spiritual protection there.
Secondly, whilst the Order’s appellation ‘Hospitaller’ is self-evident by
its activities, the Order defines its appellation ‘Military’ in terms that
conform to fundamental principles of the Second Vatican Council. The Grand
Hospitaller, Dr. Hans von Leden, said: ‘We are a Military Order because we
fight for Christian Unity. Much of our work is dedicated to that aim, and we
endeavour to adhere to the fundamental Christian values.’
The Order does not style itself ‘oecumenical’
because it maintains that this term and ‘oecumenism’ have changed their
original meaning: they used to imply Christian Unity, but over the last few
decades they have no longer made fundamental Christian values a criterion, so
that ‘oecumenical’ now means ‘tolerance and coexistence between faiths of
different cultures’. Whilst the Military Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of
Jerusalem is committed to tolerance towards, and peaceful coexistence with,
other faiths, it seeks to operate on strictly fundamental Christian values and
principles on which the Order will not compromise.