The Military and Hospitaller Order of

St. Lazarus of Jerusalem: a Brief History

The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is an international order of chivalry whose beginnings go back to Jerusalem in 1098 and the First Crusade.  Members of the crusading Orders who became afflicted with leprosy were transferred to the Order of St. Lazarus. The Order thus acquired both a hospitaller function as well as a military one.

After the Second Crusade in 1150, Louis VII of France took twelve knights of St. Lazarus to France. He granted them the Chateau and Barony of Boigny, which formed the magisterial seat of the Order until 1790. During the reign of King Henry II, Roger de Mowbray established the Order in England with the grant of a manor and lands known as Burton Lazars, in Leicestershire. Around 1230, the Order was installed in Scotland by royal charter from King Alexander II, with its principal location in Linlithgow.

After the fall of Acre in 1187, the Order moved permanently to Europe. In 1608, King Henry IV of France placed the Order under a common grand magistracy with the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. King Louis XIV of France made the Order responsible for military hospitals and homes for invalids and a fleet of ten frigates to protect the Brittany coast.

The Order enjoyed a unique relationship with the French Royal House. While it was officially under the protection of the King of France, it was never a Royal Order. A decree of the French Revolution in 1791 ordered the suppression of all royal and knightly orders; another decree the following year confiscated all the Order's properties.  At the Bourbon Restoration the Comte de Provence became King Louis XVlll, resigning his role as Grand Master which he had fulfilled from abroad.  The Order was then ruled by its Lieutenant General, the Duc de la Châtre. After his death in 1824 the Order was governed by a joint Council of Officers and a Council of Commanders. King Charles X on his accession took the title "Protector" of the Order. In 1830 the Bourbons were again deposed, and any connection with the House of France then ceased, the Order governing itself by a Council of Officers. In 1838 the Ottoman authorities gave to Maximos II Malzoum civil jurisdiction over the three ancient Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem. He visited Paris in 1841,at which time he became Protector of the Order and its charitable works. 

In 1910 knights of the Order re-established its chancellery in France, with the main objective being aid to churches of the Middle East. During the First World War, work of the Order came to a standstill, resuming after the War. 

In 1930, the Council of Officers asked Don Francisco de Bourbon y de la Torre, third Duke of Seville, Grand Bailiff of the Order in Spain, to govern the Order with the title of Lieutenant  General of the Grand Magistracy. He revitalized the Order by rallying the knights to the traditional double mission of the Order of aid to those with Hansen=s Disease (leprosy) and defense of the Christian Faith. He was elected Grand Master in 1935.

After his death 1952, his son, Don Francisco Enrique de Bourbón y de Bourbón was elected as Grand Master in 1957, and named Pierre de Cossé, Duc de Brissac, as Administrator  General.   Brissac significantly restored and expanded the Order in other Christian countries. The separation between the administrative seat in Paris and the magisterial seat in Madrid became a source of friction. As a consequence, Don Francisco eventually lost support, and in 1967 Charles Philippe de BourbonOrleans, Duc d' Alençon, Vendôme et Nemours, First Prince of the Royal Blood of France, was elected Grand Master.

 

In that same year, 1967, the Supreme Council reestablished the Grand Magistracy at Boigny, France. The Duc de Nemours' reforms, which included opening the ranks of the Order to all Christians, caused a new rift within the Order. When Nemours died in 1969, the Order split into two factions, the "Paris Obedience," led by the Duc de Brissac and the "Malta Obedience," led by Don Francisco, recalled in 1973 to serve as Grand Master of that faction. The American Grand Priory (Malta Obedience) and the Canadian Grand Priory (Paris Obedience) formed a Joint Commission on Reconciliation under the Patriarch. On the basis of its recommendations, Patriarch H.B. Maximos V Hakim, Spiritual Protector of the Malta Obedience, called a ChapterGeneral at Oxford in 1986 to include all jurisdictions of the Order.

On this occasion François de Cossé, marquis de Brissac, was elected 48th Grand Master of the "reunited Order," The other candidate, Don Francisco, took the position that he had not agreed to the terms forced on him and ordered his followers to remain in place under him as before.  As the result, realignment, not reunion, took place at Oxford. The USA, Canada, Britain, Ireland, and most European jurisdictions, realigned as the "Paris Obedience" under the Duc de Brissac. Spain and loyalists in the other jurisdictions realigned as the "Malta Obedience" under Don Francisco. His son, Don Francisco de Borbón y de Escasany, succeeded him as Grand Master of the Malta Obedience. The two obediences coexisted warily until 2004, when a Grand Chapter of the Paris Obedience was held in Toronto, with an election eerily similar to the one at Oxford in 1984.

The American Grand Priory proposed the Duke of Seville, son of the late Don Francisco, as Grand Master of the Paris Obedience, to unify the two Obediences under one Grand Master. The Patriarch of the Paris obedience, as well as a majority of the Grand Magisterium, declared that the Duke of Seville, already Grand Master of the Malta Obedience, was ineligible to be elected Grand Master of the Paris Obedience, because he had been divorced twice and remarried in a civil ceremony. In response, twentytwo European jurisdictions proposed H.R.H. Prince CharlesPhilippe d'Orléans, of the royal house of France, as a candidate.

Despite the declaration of the Patriarch and the opposition of most of the Grand Magisterium, the majority of the delegates, mostly from the New World, with the opposing legitimists abstaining elected the Duke of Seville "Grand Master Elect@ while retaining the Duc de Brissac as "Acting Grand Master," though neither office exists in the constitution. Twentytwo European jurisdictions  refused to approve the illegal election and later elected H.R.H. Prince CharlesPhilippe, Duc d=Anjou as their Grand Master. An American delegation was formed initially within the Grand Priory of England, later becoming an independent Commandery of the United States. With growth, it became the Priory of the United States. 

At the Budapest Grand Chapter in 2010, the Grand Master, Prince CharlesPhilippe, suddenly and without warning, resigned his office. The Order=s Constitution allowed it to survive this heavy blow, as it had the Toronto farrago. The Right Reverend Richard Garrard was made AdministratorGeneral with power to govern until a new Grand Master could be selected. A few offices vacated by supporters of the Prince were filled and the Order continued steadily and legally, as before. 

In 2012, the Order returned to its roots in the Holy Land.. In 2011, eleven Christian Arabs centered around Bethlehem formed the Commandery of the Holy Land and a permanent seat was established within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The protection of he French Crown was superseded, with the Count of Paris becoming Protector Emeritus. For the first time in more than a thousand years, the Order of Saint Lazarus had a legal presence in the City of its founding. In September 2015, HRH Prince Sixte-Henri de Borbon-Parma was elected as the 50th Grand Master of the Order, the first Grand Master of the Order to be installed in Jerusalem in over eight centuries.

 


 

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