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The Hospitaller function of the Order of St Lazarus
The Order of St Lazarus saw its origins in the early fifth century as an establishment located outside the walls of Jerusalem serving the needs of victims of leprosy. The establishment became a formal monastic hospitaller order after the First Crusade of 1099. This hospitaller function persisted through the 12-13th centuries expanding its role throughout Christian Europe. The statutes of the Order during this period mentions that in the ‘monastery of Jerusalem, there shall be fifty-two sick confrères and, in addition to these, one should admit at least as many sick people as the number of spaces left by the confrères. …. They shall be given gowns and food from the House until their death.’

The 14th century Black Death epidemics saw an apparent decline in the number of lepers. Together with a changing attitude towards lepers, this led to a decrease in the number of leprosaria institutions needed. In England, St Giles Leprosarium at Holborn housed 40 inmates when transferred to the Order’s management in the 13th century. By 1345, the staff of eight carers were catering for 14 lepers, and by 1402 was catering for only four victims. However, the hospitaller activities expanded to outside the leprosaria supporting lepers in the community. In 1479 at Burton Lazars in England, the establishment was obliged to support 14 lepers who if not institutionalized were supported by paying ‘them a weekly sum of money for the necessities of life’.
The political turmoil of 16th century saw the Order split up into regional components with loyalties to the local rulers. It also gradually assumed a more military role to become by the end of the 16th century an honorific order of chivalry awarded for services rendered by the French king. However, the Hospitaller role was maintained even during these tremulous centuries. A 1690 report of the income accruing from the holdings of the Order in France lists a significant number of Hospitaller establishments – maladeries, hôpitaux, and maison/hôtel-Dieu. An attempt was made by the French king in 1722 to strengthen to hospitaller function of the Order and place all the hospitals in the realm under the Order’s management.

The French Revolution put philanthropy on the backburner. However, following the Bourbon restoration and the loss of Royal protection in 1830, the French Order assumed a new hospitaller role supporting philanthropic activities in the Holy Land – a raison d'être eventually entrenched in the 1910 statutes – ‘the Hospitaller knights shall fulfil their mission. When possible, and without obligation to their conscience, and piously give their person to the service of the Church, to the poor, the lepers and other sick persons, and to travellers and pilgrims. … Patriararchal authority assures that the gifts are distributed among their hospices, missions and works for the greater glory of the Holy Church, evangelization of the infidel, and the solace of the poor and sick.’   In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Order expanded its activities to an unlimited scope of philanthropy with an international perspective. This is exemplified by the wide range of philanthropic activities supported worldwide by the various jurisdiction of the modern-day Order.

The aims of the Order are:

  • to preserve and defend the Christian faith;

  • to support, care for and help the poor, the sick and dying;

  • to promote and maintain the principles of Christian chivalry and

  • to follow the teachings of Christ in all it does.


The activities of the Order are worldwide, with particular attention to Hansen’s Disease (otherwise known as leprosy). By its activities in charitable, philanthropic, health and education fields the Order contributes to the achievement of the aims and principles of the United Nations Charter and the Statute of the Council of Europe.

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International Hospitaller Annual Reports

​​The various jurisdictions of the modern-day Order of St Lazarus continue to support a wide range of philanthropic activities in the pursuit of providing support, care and help to the poor, the sick and dying in the community. Throughout 2020, the various jurisdiction made monetary or in-kind donations amounting to a total of € 13,513,576, supplemented by 65,042 volunteer man-hours, equivalent to a further € 650,420 [volunteer man-hours are estimated at a standard rate of €10 per hour]. The total hospitaller contribution of € 14,1673,991 compares very favourably with the figure reported for 2019 of € 13,178,247 confirming that the jurisdictions and their voluntary organizations have striven to maintain their charitable momentum. 

The Office of the Grand Hospitaller publishes an annual International Hospitaller Report outlining the charitable works and projects carried out by the various jurisdictions and their affiliate voluntary organizations during the previous year. Several of these past reports can be download from the International webpage of the Order.



The Office of the Grand Hospitaller has promoted the availability of dedicated medical literature resources developed for use by the various jurisdictions of the Order of St Lazarus. These resources can be freely download for use.

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A Caregiver's Guide - A Handbook about End-of-Life Care has been prepared as a joint initiative of the Order of Saint Lazarus in Canada and the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. The resource was created to provide information for family caregivers to draw upon when preparing and caring for a loved one who has a progressive illness, especially at home. It was developed to complement resources and information provided to caregivers by healthcare professionals, including hospice palliative care teams.

Click the above cover page to peruse / download the Guide.


Hospice Palliative Care organizations may order A Caregiver's Guide from the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association Marketplace in boxed quantities of 50 copies ( $150/box, not-for-profit and $250/box for-profit ). Individual copies can be ordered directly from the Order of Saint Lazarus from the Chancery's Office via email request with: chancerystlazarusca

The Animal-related injuries relevant to the Maltese Islands  was prepared by the Grand Priory of the Maltese Islands for its then affiliate the Special Rescue Group - St Lazarus Corps. This was made available for public access as an online webpage resource.


Click the above cover page to peruse / download the Guide. 

The First Aid Manual was prepared by the Grand Priory of the Maltese Islands through the collaboration of a number of healthcare professionals. The resource provides information to members of the Order and the public on issues related to administering first-aid in a variety of circumstances. 


Click the above cover page to peruse / download the Guide.


Hard copies of the First Aid Manual may be ordered as print-on-demand copies from Lulu Ltd.

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