History of The Order


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The Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem originated in a leper hospital run by hospitaller brothers founded in the twelfth century by the crusaders of the Latin Kingdom. It was originally set up to treat virulent diseases such as leprosy.
Today, a modern self-styled revival of the Order has been engaged in a major program to revive Christianity in Eastern Europe. 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 one and a half billion dollars in food to the hungry in Russia, resulting in new laurels for the Lazarus volunteers.
Even before the twelfth century there were leper hospitals in the Near East, of which the Knights of St. Lazarus claimed to be the continuation, in order to have the appearance of remote antiquity and to pass as the oldest of all orders. But this pretension is apocryphal. These eastern leper hospitals followed the Rule of St. Basil, while that of Jerusalem adopted the hospital Rule of St. Augustine in use in the West. The Order of Saint Lazarus was indeed purely an order of hospitaller monks from the beginning, as was that of St. John, but without encroaching on the field of the latter. Because of its special aim, it had quite a different organization. The patients of St. John were merely visitors, and changed constantly; the lepers of St. Lazarus on the contrary were condemned to perpetual seclusion. In return they were regarded as brothers or sisters of the house which sheltered them, and they obeyed the common rule which united them with their religious guardians. In some leper hospitals of the Middle Ages even the master had to be chosen from among the lepers. It is not proved, though it has been asserted, that this was the case at Jerusalem.
The Middle Ages surrounded with a touching pity these the greatest of all unfortunates, these miselli, as they were called. From the time of the crusades, with the spread of leprosy, leper hospitals became very numerous throughout Europe, so that at the death of St. Louis there were eight hundred in France alone.
However, these houses did not form a congregation; each house was autonomous, and supported to a great extent by the lepers themselves, who were obliged when entering to bring with them their belongings, and who at their death willed their goods to the institution if they had no children. Many of these houses bore the name of St. Lazarus, from which, however, no dependence whatever on St. Lazarus of Jerusalem is to be inferred. The most famous, St. Lazarus of Paris, depended solely and directly on the bishop of that city, and was a mere priory when it was given by the archbishop to the missionaries of St Vincent de Paul, who have retained the name of Lazarists (1632).
The Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem is believed to have become a military order in c. 1123. It is known that a contingent of Lazar brethern were present at La Forbie, and in 1253 they were part of the army under St Louis. In 1291 25 brethren were present at Acre, all being killed. It is believed the Order ceased military activities from the early 14th century.
The house at Jerusalem owed to the general interest devoted to the holy places in the Middle Ages a rapid and substantial growth in goods and privileges of every kind. It was endowed not only by the sovereigns of the Latin realm, but by all the states of Europe. Louis VII, on his return from the Second Crusade, gave it the Château of Broigny, near Orléans (1154). This example was followed by Henry II of England, and by Emperor Frederick II. This was the origin of the military commanderies whose contributions, called responsions, flowed into Jerusalem, swollen by the collections which the hospital was authorized to make in Europe.
The popes for their part were not sparing of their favours. Alexander IV recognized its existence under the Rule of St. Augustine (1255). Urban IV assured it the same immunities as were granted to the monastic orders (1262). Clement IV obliged the secular clergy to confine all lepers whatsoever, men or women, clerics or laymen, religious or secular, in the houses of this order (1265).
At the time these favours were granted, Jerusalem had fallen again into the hands of the Muslims. St. Lazarus, although still called "of Jerusalem", had been transferred to Acre, where it had been ceded territory by the Templars (1240), and where it received the confirmation of its privileges by Urban IV (1264).
It was at this time also that the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, following the example of the Order of St. John, armed combatants for the defence of the remaining possessions of the Christians in the near east. Their presence is mentioned without further detail at the Battle of La Forbie against the Khwarezmians in 1244, and at the final siege of Acre in 1291.
As a result of this catastrophe the leper hospital of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem disappeared; however, its commanderies in Europe, together with their revenues, continued to exist, but hospitality was no longer practised. The order ceased to be an order of hospitallers and became purely military. The knights who resided in these commanderies had no tasks, and were veritable parasites on the Christian charitable foundations.
Things remained in this condition until the pontificate of Innocent VIII, who suppressed this useless order and transferred its possessions to the Knights of St. John (1490), which transfer was renewed by Pope Julius II (1505). But the Order of St. John never came into possession of this property except in Germany.
In France, Francis I, to whom the Concordat of Leo X (1519) had resigned the nomination to the greater number of ecclesiastical benefices, evaded the Bull of suppression by conferring the commanderies of St. Lazarus on Knights of the Order of St. John. The last named vainly claimed the possession of these goods. Their claim was rejected by the Parliament of Paris (1547).
Leo X himself disregarded the value of this Bull by re-establishing Order of St. Lazarus, (1517). Pius IV went further; he annulled the Bulls of his predecessors and restored its possessions to the order that he might give the mastership to a favourite, Giovanni de Castiglione (1565). But the latter did not succeed in securing the devolution of the commanderies in France. Pius V codified the statutes and privileges of the order, but reserved to himself the right to confirm the appointment of the Grand Master as well as of the beneficiaries (1567). He made an attempt to restore to the order its hospitaller character, by incorporating with it all the leper hospitals and other houses founded under the patronage of St Lazarus of the Lepers. But this tardy reform was rendered useless by the subsequent gradual disappearance of leprosy in Europe.
Finally, the grand mastership of the order having been rendered vacant in 1572 by the death of Castiglione, Pope Gregory XIII united it in perpetuity with the Crown of Savoy. The reigning duke, Philibert III, hastened to fuse it with the recently founded Savoyan Order of St. Maurice, and thenceforth the title of Grand Master of the Order of Sts. Maurice and Lazarus was hereditary in that house. The pope gave him authority over the vacant commanderies everywhere, except in the states of the King of Spain, which included the greater part of Italy. In England and Germany these commanderies had been suppressed by Protestantism. France remained, but it was refractory to the claims of the Duke of Savoy. Some years later King Henry IV, having founded with the approbation of Paul V (1609) the Order of Notre-Dame du Mont-Carmel, hastened in turn to unite to it the Knights of St. Lazarus obedient to French mastership, and such is the origin of the title of "Knight of the Royal Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Knight of the Military and Hospitaller Order St. Lazarus of Jerusalem", which carried with it the enjoyment of a benefice. The King of France was the sovereign head and protector and chose the Grand Master (Concordat 1519). During the reign of Louis XVI the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, not the combined orders, was awarded only to the top three students of the Royal Military School. The orders were separate though they shared the same Grand Master. Although the Order enjoyed a unique relationship with the French Royal House and was officially under the protection of the King of France, it was never a Royal Order.

The King's titles as Sovereign, Founder and Protector meant that he was Sovereign and Founder of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Protector of Saint Lazarus. 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 (the Château de Boigny, the Military Academy, the commanderies and hospitals). Louis, Count of Provence, Grand Master of the Order, who later became Louis XVIII, continued to function in exile and awarded the Order, though sparingly. While in exile in the Polish province of Mitawa he awarded the Order to Tsars Paul I and Alexander I of Russia, Grand Duke Constantine of Russia, Count Rostopchine and General de Fersen. When the Count of Provence returned to France from exile to reign as Louis XVIII, he gave up the magistracy of the Order and became Protector, as had his predecessors, but appointed no grand master. Henri, comte de Chambord was the last de jure royal Protector of that branch of the Order. The Order did not enjoy the protection of the new king and from 1830 the Order was governed by a Council of Officers.
To return to the dukes of Savoy: Clement VIII granted them the right to exact from ecclesiastical benefices pensions to the sum of four hundred crowns for the benefit of knights of the order, dispensing them from celibacy on condition that they should observe the statutes of the order and consecrate their arms to the defence of the Faith. Besides their commanderies the order had two houses where the knights might live in common, one of which, at Turin, was to contribute to combats on land, while the other, at Nice, had to provide galleys to fight the Turks at sea. But when thus reduced to the states of the Duke of Savoy, the order merely vegetated until the French Revolution, which suppressed it. In 1816 the King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel I, established the titles of Knight and Commander of Sts. Maurice and Lazarus, as simple decorations, accessible without conditions of birth to both civilians and military men.
The Grand Chancery of the Legion of Honour issued a statement in 1824 to the effect that “..of the united Orders of Saint Lazarus and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the latter has not been awarded since 1788 and is allowed to extinguish itself”.
King Henri V of France was the last de jure royal Protector of that branch of the Order. The Order did not enjoy the protection of the new king and from 1830 the Order was governed by a Council of Officers. In 1831 the government of Louis-Philippe suppressed United Orders of Saint Lazarus and Our Lady of Mount Carmel among others.


Lazarites claim that 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 Mazlum, and petitioned he become their Spiritual Protector; he reportedly accepted, both for himself and his successors. There is no reliable documentation of this event. Eastern 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 may be seen in the light of political expediency, as an Islamic ruler cannot accord any honour to the leader of another religion.
In 1910, the Greek Melchite patriarch of Jerusalem had just been forced to resign as Grand Master of the Supreme Militia of Jesus Christ. This organization had started in 1870 as a group of former soldiers in the Papal army, discharged after the capture of Rome by Italy. In the mid-1880s, the association tried to turn itself into an order of chivalry; rebuked by the Dominicans to which they were initially connected, they turned in 1900 to the Greek Melchite patriarch of Jerusalem. A stern warning from the Pope quickly convinced the patriarch to resign the Grand-Mastership (to use the terms of Bertrand). Then, according to the official historians of the revived order, in 1910, the Patriarch asked "the almoner of the Order of Saint Lazaru", a Polish chaplain named Tansky, living in Paris since 1870, to revive the order; the chaplain being also a member of the Militia of Jesus-Christ, got in touch with a fellow member of that Supreme Militia, a Frenchman by the name of Paul Watrin, who is made "Chancellor" of the Order. Watrin is also a key public figure in the revival.
By the 1910s, there were only a handful of members: Tanski, the Polish chaplain and only link to the order's supposed Oriental period, who died in 1913; Anselme de la Puisaye, a former soldier in the Papal Army, probably another member of the Militia of Christ; Watrin himself; Alexandre Gallery de la Tremblaye, a bank manager at the Crédit Foncier de France and second cousin of Watrin's wife, received in 1911 and made "keeper of the seals" and Charles Otzenberger, an Alsatian wine dealer, also received in 1911. Otzenberger would come to play a major role in the Order, but it seems to me that he did not do much initially, as he was living in Colmar (Alsace) and Barcelona. In 1913, a much-amused Marquis de Jandriac published in Rivista Araldica (pp.679-83) the fundamental statutes of the Order. The statutes specify that the knights must be Catholics, of noble origin, and must contribute to charitable causes in the Holy Land. All donations were centralized through the Chancellor who (supposedly) funneled the money to the Patriarchate.
The self-styled order's activities halted in 1914, perhaps due World War I. Possibly, it is because Moser and an accomplice named Hans Branco were both arrested in Paris for trafficking in fake orders and decorations. Moser had apparently gone too far and started selling fake Legion of Honor medals. He was sentenced to 4 months in jail, after which he returned to Berlin, and committed suicide in 1928. The offices of the Société were searched by the police and many counterfeit diplomas, crosses and various insignia were found. This probably put a damper on the Order of Saint Lazarus. By a strange coincidence, Fritz Hahn alias Guigues de Champvaus was jailed in 1936 in Paris for illegal sale of order and decorations.
In June 1933, the Duke of Seville, who had fled Republican Spain, was hosted at a dinner at the Hotel Iena in Paris. To replace the publication La Science Historique, a new periodical appeared in April 1933 under the editorship of Paul Bertrand, La Vie Chevaleresque, as the official mouthpiece of the order. The new periodical chronicles the fabulous expansion of the order. In December 1935, the Duke of Seville was elected Grand-Master of the order. Presumably, the duke's royal connections (he is a member of the Spanish royal family) impresses Spanish-speaking applicants, and the order becomes linked with a number of Latin American diplomats in Paris. Otzenberger was made consul of the Dominican Republic in Mulhouse.
The order's ideological slant was quite visibly inherited from Watrin's original legitimism: the Duke of Seville himself is a colonel in the fascist Falangistas. The handing out of crosses confirms the political inclination: between 1933 and 1936, the following individuals become members: Francisco Franco (dictator of Spain 1936-75), Carol II of Romania (king/dictator of Romania 1930-40), Rafael Trujillo (dictator of the Dominican Republic 1930-52), Fulgencio Batista (dictator of Cuba 1933-44, 1952-59), Getulio Vargas (dictator of Brazil 1930-45), and a few other presidents of Latin American countries (Argentina, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala). Whether all of these distinguished gentlemen were actually aware of his membership is not quite clear: the order occasionally bestowed its cross on unsuspecting individuals, as happened to the Mexican Marquis de Guadalupe, whose protestations were obviously ignored.

Recent years

In recent years the revival of the Order and its humanitarian activities have taken a new direction. Aid to the handicapped, the sick and to the aged has been added to the Order's pursuit of its traditional mission in the field of leprosy. The primary purpose and activity of the Order is, and always has been, charity. Primarily, St. Lazarus has been world renown as a Hospitaller Order in that its works have always been associated with medical care, primarily through the operation of medical facilities such as hospitals and clinics.
With the personal encouragement of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Macharski of Kraków, 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 Polish 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.
For a number of years, the organization has 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. As the 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. However, neither the Pope nor the Vatican recognize the organization as an order of chivalry.


Today the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is split by internecine squables into three main branches. There is the branch that enjoys the protection of the duc de Seville, descended from the Spanish House of Borbon, and the Spiritual Protection of the Melchite-catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem Gregory III, also the 172nd Patriarch of Antioch. There is the branch that has aligned itself with Henri, Comte de Paris, Duc de France, descended from the French House of Bourbon. Finally there is a branch headquartered in the United Kingdom, called the United Grand Priories of the Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, which accepts the fact that it is a branch of a self-styled order and claims no ersatz royal allegiance - it is run by a Master General.

Grand Masters/Administrators

Master Generals in the Holy Land - Jerusalem & Acre

  • Blessed Gerard de Martigues (108? - 1098)
  • Buoyant Roger (1120 - 1131)
  • Jean (... 1131 ...)
  • Barthélémy (... 1153 ...)
  • Itier (... 1154 ...)
  • Hugues de Saint-Pol (... 1155 ...)
  • Blessed Raymond du Puy (1157 - 1159)
  • Rainier (... 1164 ...)
  • Raymond (... 1168 ...)
  • Gérard de Monclar (... 1169 ...)
  • Bernard (1185 - 1186)
  • Gautier de Neufchâtel ou de Châteneuf (... 1228 ...) - Master-General
  • Raynaud de Flory (1234 - 1254)
  • Miles (..1256..)
  • Jean de Meaux (... 1267 ...) - General-Preceptor
  • Thomas de Sainville (1277 - 1281) - Master-General

Master-Generals in Boigny, France

  • Thomas de Sainville (1281 - 1312) - Master-General
  • Adam de Veau (... 1314 ...)
  • Jean de Paris (1342 - 1349)
  • Jean de Coaraze (... 1354 ...)
  • Jean le Conte (... 1355 ...)
  • Jacques de Besnes alias de Baynes (1368 - 1384)
  • Pierre des Ruaux (1413 - 1454)
  • Guillaume des Mares (... 1460 ...)
  • Jean le Cornu (1469 - 1493)
  • François d'Amboise (1493 - 1500)
  • Agnan de Mareuil (1500 - 1519)
  • François de Bourbon, comte de Saint-Pol (1519 - 1521) - Commander de Boigny
  • Claude de Mareuil (1521 - 1524)
  • Jean Conti (1524 - 1557)
  • Jean de Levis (1557 - 1564)

Master Generals in Capua, Italy

  • Angelus de Raimo (?) (...1226...) - Master
  • Alfonso de Azzia (...1327...) - Master
  • Simon de Aqua Mundula (...1329...) - Master
  • Santiago de Azzia (...1347...) - Master
  • Guillermo (...1366...) - Master
  • Santiago de Benuto (1426-1440) - Master
  • Giacomo del Balzo (...1460...) - Master
  • Santiago de Azzia (1468-1498) - Master
  • Santiago Antonio de Azzia (1498-1522) - Master
  • Alfonso de Azzia (1522-1548) - Master
  • Muzzio d’Azzia (1548-1564) - Master
  • Giannotto Castiglione (1565-1572) - Master-General
  • Philibert Emmanuel, duc of Savoy (1572) - united Italian branch of the Order to his dynastic Order of St. Maurice, then created new Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus

Grand Masters in Boigny, France under protection of French Crown

  • Michel de Seure (1564 - 1578)
  • François Salvati (1578 - 1586)
  • Michel de Seure (1586 - 1593)
  • Armand de Clermont de Chastes (1593 - 1603)
  • Hughes Catelan de Castelmore (..1603..)
  • Charles de Gayand de Monterolles (1603 - 1604)
  • Philibert marquis de Nérestang (1604 - 1620)
  • Claude marquis de Nérestang (1620 - 1639)
  • Charles marquis de Nérestang (1639 - 1644)
  • Charles-Achille marquis de Nérestang (1645 - 1673)
  • François-Michel le Tellier, marquis de Louvois (Vicar General 1673 - 1691)
  • Philippe de Courcillon, marquis de Dangeau (1693 - 1720)
  • Louis d’Orleans, duc de Chartres, puis d’Orleans (1720 - 1752)
  • Louis de France, duc de Berry (1757 - 1773)
  • Louis Stanislas Xavier de France, comte de Provence (1773 - 1814)


  • Claud Louis, prince de La Châtre - (General-Administrator 1814 - 1824)
  • Jean-Louis de Beaumont, Marquis d'Autichamp (President of the Council of Officers 1824 - 1831)
  • Council of Officers (1831 - 1840) - Father Picot; Joseph-Bon, Baron de Dacier 1831-1833; Auguste-Francois, Baron de Silvestre


French obedience, under protection and administration of Greek Catholic Patriarchs

  • Patriarch Maximos III. Mazloum (General-Administrator 1841 - 1855)
  • Patriarch Gregorios I. Youssef (General-Administrator 1864 - 1897)
  • Patriarch Peter IV. Geraigiri (General-Administrator 1898 - 1902)
  • Patriarch Ciril VIII. Ghea (General-Administrator 1902 - 1910)
  • Council of Officers under the protectorate of Patriarch Ciril VIII (1910 - 1926), and Patriarch Ciril IX (1926 - 1930)

Spanish obedience

  • Francisco de Paula de Bourbon y de la Torre, duc de Seville, Grand d’Espagne (1930-1952)
  • Francisco Henri de Bourbon y de Bourbon, duc de Seville, Grand d’Espagne (1952-1967)

French obedience

  • Charles Philippe de Bourbon Orléans, duc d’Alençon, Vendôme et Nemours, Premier Prince du Sang (1967-1969)

Malta obedience

  • Francisco Henri de Bourbon y de Bourbon, duc de Seville, Grand d’Espagne (1972-1995)
  • Don Francisco de Paula de Bourbon y Escasany, duc de Seville, Grand d’Espagne (1995-2004)

Paris obedience

  • Pierre de Cossé, duc de Brissac (1969-1986)
  • François de Cossé, marquis and duc de Brissac (1986-2004)

Malta and Paris obediences – Reunited  Order - under the protection of the duc de Seville, and spiritual protection of Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Jerusalem

  • Don Francisco de Paula de Bourbon y Escasany, duc de Seville, Grand d’Espagne (Grandmaster Elect 2004 - ...) and François de Cossé, marquis and duc de Brissac (Grandmaster – Emeritus 2004 - ...)

Orleans obedience - under the protection of Henri, Comte de Paris, Duc de France, as the Orleanist claimant to the throne of France

  • Charles Philippe d'Orléans, Prince de Bourbon-Orléans, orleanist Duc d'Anjou (Grandmaster Boigny Obedience; 2004 - ...)

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