Armorial - The Arms relevant to the Grand Priory
Arms of the International Order
Heraldry found general application in Western Europe from the second quarter of the 12th century. The heraldry in the West from the mid-twelfth to the end of the 15th century was utilitarian being used on armour in warfare, and on seals in peace. In addition, since the use of arms had been associated with the higher feudal castes, heraldry became associated in the later medieval period with the concept of gentility – an association that has persisted to the present day. Such emblems, worn on the shield and surcoat served to distinguish a man in armour, as their badges distinguished his followers. The emblems were also carried into the battlefield on standards to serve as rallying points during the conflict. The Order of St. Lazarus adopted the green cross while the other military orders adopted different coloured crosses – the Order of St. John adopted the white cross, the Order of the Temple adopted the red cross, while the Teutonic Order adopted the black cross. This emblem they incorporated onto their person by sewing a fabric cross onto their robe. The cross depicted was stylistically interchangeably a Latin or Greek one with variations in the design with cross branches being squarely cut off or slightly potent or patty. The heraldic coat-of-arms of the Order during the 15th century is clearly depicted on the pedestal effigy in the chapel of St Antoine-de-Grattemont in France. This is shown as a Latin green cross on a black shield. The presumably green Greek cross on the surcoat is clearly depicted on the tombstone effigy of Jacobi de Besnes (†1384) at Boigny, France.
During the late 14th century, commanders and masters of the Order were incorporating the heraldic cross of the Order as an integral part of their personal family coat-of-arms. The earliest depiction of such personal coat-of-arms can be seen on the tomb effigy of Jacobi de Besnes (†1384) which surmounts the Greek cross, presumably green, on the de Besnes family coat of arms. The tomb effigy of Pierre de Pottier in the Chapel of the Commandery of St. Antoine de Grattemont (†~1480) directly incorporated the Latin cross of the Order as an integral part of the de Pottier family coat-of-arms.
The practice was retained right through the centuries, though in the mid-16th century, the green Greek cross was replaced by the green eight-pointed cross that legally represents the modern Order of St Lazarus today. The modern formal arms of the Order were designed in the 1930s and have seen minor artistic modifications since. These various forms have been registered as legal tender belonging to the Order in Malta and the European Union.
Arms of the Grand Priory
The Maltese jurisdiction of the Military & Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem was set up in 1965. Measures were very quickly taken to adopt a jurisdictional coat-of-arms. Various options were proposed but the design adopted included the incorporation of a single red eight-pointed cross in the first quadrant within the Order's coat-of-arms. However, because of the Malta government's refusal to register any arms or trademarks incorporating the eight-pointed cross, the Grand Priory was forced to modify its red eight-pointed cross to a red patée cross.
Grand Priory Arms as currently trademarked
Pedestal effigy in the chapel of St Antoine-de-Grattemont
Tombstone effigy & arms of Jacobi de Besnes
Arms on tombstone effigy of Pierre de Pottier
Grand Priory Arms designs
Arms of the Voluntary Organizations
To enable the Grand Priory of the Maltese Islands to function effectively in its philanthropic work, it has had to organize itself into a number of sub-sections that include a sub-jurisdiction in Gozo [Commandery of Gozo], a registered V/O NGO responsible to work to ameliorate the suffering of individuals suffering from debilitating disorders including leprosy [Raoul Follereau Foundation - Order of Charity]; and a registered V/O NGO responsible for other philanthropic work [Ordo Sancti Lazari Meditensis Fundatio]. All these have dedicated formally registered coat-of-arms or trademarks.
Arms of the individual members of the jurisdiction
The legal situation regarding the registration of family coat-of-arms was very ambiguous and anomalous. There was no College of Arms or Heraldry Office in Malta; and the use of Armorial Bearings are at presentwere not formally regulated. So basically, in Malta, everyone was allowed to use a coat-of-arms suitable to his/her surname provided this does not encroach on the rights of others. On 21st March 2019, upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, Heritage Malta Services
Ltd established the Office of Chief Herald of Arms of Malta with the aim of regulating all aspects of heraldry, both corporate and personal, within the Republic of Malta. Dr. Charles Gauci was appointed Malta’s first-ever Chief Herald.
The family names prevalent in Malta can be broadly grouped into:
Maltese family names belonging to the nobility,
Maltese family names belonging to families allied to nobility by marriage,
Maltese family names belonging to families not connected with the nobility, and
Foreign imported family names.
The members of the Order can incorporate the Order's heraldic insignia within their personal heraldic coat-of-arms in line with the heraldic regulations set by the Heraldic Office of the Order. The personal coat-of-arms can be formally registered with the Heraldist.
Grand Priory affiliate arms as currently trademarked