THE DOMUS SANCTI LAZARI

On the afternoon of 20 April 2017, the green cross banner of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was raised high over its new home in the Old City of Jerusalem, to the acclaim of knights, dames and guests from numerous countries and faiths. By decree of the 50th Grand Master, HRH Prince SixteHenry de Bourbon-Parme, proclaimed in the presence of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant bishops, the Domus Sancti Lazari was established as the Magistral Seat of the whole Order.

The Domus is a large residential property that also serves as the Grand Chancery. It is located near the Jaffa Gate B where the Christian Quarter meets the Armenian Quarter B opposite the entrance to the Tower of David (Citadel) and adjacent to the patriarchal exarchate of the Maronite Church.

 

The foundations of the Domus, which has been a Christian household for many years, date from the Ottoman era, with periodic additions and renovations up until the present time. Its three storeys surround an interior courtyard in the Oriental fashion, with a fountain depicting the raising of Lazarus in traditional Armenian ceramics. A grand salon furnished with antiques, banners of the Order and artworks houses the ceremonial seats of the Grand Master and Grand Magistry. The extensive and welcoming roof terrace provides a panoramic view of all the principal domes and towers of the Old City and its surrounding hills.

 

Addressing the religious and diplomatic, civic and community leaders, members of the Order and friends on this happy and hospitable occasion, the Grand Chancellor, Count Piccapietra, spoke of the importance of the return of the Order to Jerusalem, a process initiated in 2009 when a French Dame asked why no orders of knights were based where they were founded, in Jerusalem. In 2012 Saint Lazare was officially registered as a charity in the Holy Land and the first modern Chapter General of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was held at the Garden of Gethsemane. The present Grand Master, elected in 2015, is the first head of the Order to have been installed as such in the Holy Land in 781 years.

Historic Installation In Jerusalem

In mediaeval times, the first eleven Masters of the hospitaller knights who wear the green cross of Saint Lazarus inaugurated their leadership of the whole Order in Jerusalem.

 

The newly elected 50th Grand Master has now revived this tradition by being ceremonially installed, like his forebears, in Jerusalem, restored in this century as the magistral seat of the Order. As witnesses to this historic event, knights, dames and guests from many countries crossed the Mediterranean on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with their prince once again.

The first ‘Master of the Hospital of Jerusalem’, from 1099 to 1120, was Blessed Gerard, who is regarded as the founder of the various orders of hospitaller knights still in existence. On his feast day, 13 October 2015, his latest successor as Grand Master of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, Prince Sixte-Henry de Bourbon-Parme, was personally invited to both the Latin and Greek patriarchates to pray and receive the patriarchal blessing upon himself and his insignia of office at the inauguration of his mission. This exceptional privilege was due to the fact that the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is unique in admitting to its ranks, as equal members, Christians of both the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic and Protestant) faith traditions, “the two lungs of the Church”.

 

The main group of pilgrims assembled in the Dormition Abbey outside the old city walls on Mount Sion for Mass in German with the Benedictine community, and then all descended to the abbey’s circular crypt that is centred on an evocative statue of the Virgin Mother of God in her final repose. Here the abbot led the candlelit night prayer vigil which is the traditional spiritual preparation for those who are being admitted to or taking on new responsibilities in the Order of Saint Lazarus. Among the participants were twenty candidates for investiture, from Serbia, France, Great Britain, Sweden and the Holy Land, who were due to be received by the Grand Master the next day. The celebrated Serbian soprano Gabrijela Ubavić adorned the service with traditional Orthodox chant and a rendition of Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’.

 

In contrast to the reflective prayer vigil, the installation and investiture next day was a service that was both solemn and jubilant. It was held in the large church nearest to the site of the original Lazarite community, where Armenian monks first gave hospitality to leper knights over nine centuries ago. The church belongs to the Daughters of Charity and is dedicated to their founder, Saint Vincent de Paul, a priest who developed his charitable activities in the seventeenth century on the site of another Lazarite community in the district of Paris which still bears the name of Saint Lazare. It is good that the knights and the sisters who are their spiritual descendants continue in charitable works to benefit the poor and the sick in our times and their future collaboration is assured.

 

After readings from the scriptures, the appropriate formal testimonies were delivered and HRH Prince Sixte-Henry de Bourbon-Parme was then ceremonially installed as the fiftieth Grand Master under the ancient title of humilis magister domus Sancti Lazari in Ierusalem. The 200 members and guests present for the liturgy formed an astonishing ecumenical array, including Catholic and Orthodox bishops and priests of the Armenian, Melkite, Coptic, Russian, Ethiopian, Roman and several Protestant Churches, led by the president of Tantur Ecumenical Institute, with a Dominican of the École Biblique to preach the gospel. Besides diplomats from various countries, there were also a number of Muslim and Jewish friends of the Order in the congregation. The participation of local Christian scouts and a fine Polish choir to accompany the service was greatly appreciated.

 

During their pilgrimage, the Grand Master and members of the Order visited a number of the holy places and museums in Jerusalem and also took every opportunity to show their support for ‘the living stones’, the diverse Christian community of the land who continue to face many difficulties. Inspiring testimonies were given by the Mayor of Bethlehem, by the Russian Orthodox Sisters who run a girls’ school in Bethany, and by the monks of Mar Saba, whose simple desert community has had profound influence on the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Church since the fifth century. A particularly warm reception was given by parishioners in Beit Jala, where the Grand Master venerated the shrine of St Nicholas (who lived there for several years and on whose feast day this article is published in tribute).

 

Although the pilgrims were at all times safe and well treated, there were frequent signs of the Holy Land’s tensions. Prayers for peace and justice, especially at the time when the world recalls events there two thousand years ago, are a contribution that all can make towards a better future for those who live today in the place that is holy to all who believe in one God.

 

It is clear that in the Holy Land, historically stained in the Lord’s name by the blood of knights of Saint Lazarus as well as by so many others, the green cross of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is nowadays respected rather more for its ongoing commitment to charitable works across religious boundaries than in some other places, where orders of chivalry are regarded as an anachronism.

 

Prince Sixte-Henry therefore appeals to those who believe in the traditional noble values of Christianity to turn away from selfish motivations and promote instead the healing of body, mind and spirit of those in need. Conscious that disputes between knights have contributed to the disharmony, he invites all who follow the emblem of the green cross to strive for unity in faith and good works, collaborating for the benefit of our Mother Church of Jerusalem.

THE GRAND MASTER OF THE ORDER

HRH Prince Sixte-Henry Hugues François Xavier de Bourbon-Parme was born on 22 July 1940 at Pau, Béarn, France, as the second son of Prince François Xavier Charles Marie Anne Joseph de Bourbon-Parme, Duke of Parma, and his consort Princess Marie Madeleine Yvonne, née de BourbonBusset, Countess of Lignières.

In the paternal line, Prince Sixte-Henry is descended from Hugues Capet, King of France in 987 and progenitor of the Royal House of Bourbon. He is, therefore, descended from King Louis VII who, on his return in 1149 from the Holy Land, introduced the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem to France and in 1154 endowed it with the Château de Boigny; and from Saint Louis IX who, on his return from the Holy Land in 1254, brought the Master of the Hospital of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem to France and installed him at Boigny. Thereafter, Boigny was to remain the magistral seat of the Order until confiscated by the Revolution in 1791.

 

The dynasty of Bourbon-Parma is a cadet branch of the Spanish House of Bourbon, originating from the marriage of King Felipe V and his consort Queen Elisabetta Farnese, daughter and heir to the last Duke of Parma. The principal arms of the House of Bourbon-Parma are those of France, differenced by a bordure Gules with eight pilgrim shells Argent.

The maternal line of Prince Sixte-Henry, although not considered dynastic, is held to be the senior still existing male Capetian line. It emanates from a union between Louis de Bourbon (14371482), princebishop of Liège, and Catherine d'Egmont de Gueldres. The arms of the House of Bourbon-Busset are those of France, differenced by a baton Gules and placed under a chief of the arms of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Prince Sixte-Henry is related to most of the Catholic sovereign and princely houses. Empress Zita of Austria, Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia, was his aunt. In common with many royal ancestors, he holds the Grand Cross of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George.

Having completed his law degree at ClermontFerrand, Prince Sixte-Henry joined the Spanish Foreign Legion and later the Portuguese army where he received highlevel military formation. He served with distinction in Angola and ended his military career with the rank of full colonel.

Prince Sixte-Henry succeeded his father as champion for the Carlists in Spain but General Franco's choice of Don Juan Carlos as king and difficulties with his brother, Prince Carlos-Hugo, put an end to his official involvement with the cause.

For several years, Prince Sixte-Henry lived in Argentina, where he devoted himself to the agricultural exploitation of a substantial estate and to cattle breeding.

 

Prince Sixte-Henry has always demonstrated a firm commitment to traditional Christian values and to the Mass of St Pius V. His presence at all major celebrations to commemorate certain tragic events in the history of France B especially in connection with the bicentenary of the Revolution, the regicides of Louis XVI and MarieAntoinette and the assassination of Madame Élisabeth B together with his voicing of wellinformed opinions on important matters, testify to his interpretation of the role of a Capetian prince in our time.

Prince Sixte-Henry's political interest is manifest in his participation in conferences and symposia related to history and geopolitical issues, in France as well as abroad. Over a long period of time, the Prince has established an important network among politically active people in France, Russia and the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria) and he is internationally recognized as an experienced counselor on geopolitical conflicts.

Having actively supported the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem since 2004, the Prince accepted appointment as Grand Prior of France. On 6 January 2015 the Grand Magistry elected him as Administrator General. On 10 September 2015 the Chapter General of knights, dames and senior chaplains unanimously elected His Royal Highness as the 50th Grand Master to lead the international Order and the first to be installed at its magistral seat in Jerusalem in over eight centuries.

PRESIDENT EMERITUS

OF THE GRAND MAGISTRAL COUNCIL

His Excellency Dr. Daniel Warren, GCLJ, Prior of the United States of America, was recently honored by being named President Emeritus of the Grand Magistral Council by the Grand Master and the Grand Magistry upon his retirement from that office.

CROSS OF MERIT AWARDED

At the Priory's Chapter in Falmouth, Mass. the Chevalier Peter Symasko, KLJ, received the Cross of Merit in recognition of his years of service as the Chancellor of the Priory and his many noteworthy contributions to its success. The award was presented during the Service of Investiture, at which time four postulants were received as new members of the Order.

© 2014 by Saint Lazarus USA 

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Historic Installation in Jerusalem