Introduction to The Order
The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus is one of the orders of chivalry to survive the downfall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the attempts by the Crusader knights to win control of the Holy Land from the forces of Islam. In theory the Order remained a military one, but with the exception of a brief period in the 17th century it played no military role after 1291. The Order of Saint Lazarus is one of the most ancient of the European orders of chivalry. At the very least it dates back to the time of the Crusader knights. From its foundation in the 12th century, the members of the Order were dedicated to two ideals: aid to those suffering from the dreadful disease of leprosy and the defense of the Christian faith.
Today the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is an international self-governing and independent body, having its own Constitution; it may be compared with a kind of electoral kingdom. According to the said Constitution the Order is nonpolitical, oecumenical or nondenominational, as its membership is open to all men and women being practicing members of the Christian faith in good standing within their particular denomination. Its international membership consists of Roman-catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Orthodox, United, Old Catholic, New Apostolic and other Christians, upholding with their lives, fortunes and honour the principles of Christianity. Traditionally it is organized as a Christian Chivalric Order. The Order is registered as a Foundation in Madrid in accordance with the laws of Spain.
It is both a Military Order of Mercy and a Hospitaller Order dedicated to the care and assistance of the poor and the sick. Its aim is to preserve and defend the Christian faith, to guard, assist succor and help the poor, the sick and dying, to promote and maintain the principles of Christian chivalry and to follow the teachings of Christ and His Holy Church in all its works.
Aims and Obligations of The Order
The Order of Saint Lazarus, founded during the Crusades, aims to defend Christianity while expecting its members to practice the Christian tenets of protecting and assisting the weak, helping the poor, aged, handicapped and sick. Today the Order is an international, oecumenical or nondenominational and independent non-governmental organization, traditionally organized as a Christian chivalric order. The Order dedicates itself especially to lepers, always mindful of it's origin in the Holy Land in the early centuries following the life of Christ, and to the supporting of the Christian faith.
The activities of the Order are worldwide with particular attention to 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.
Obligations of Members
A number of obligations are demanded of members when admitted to the Order: All Members have to observe the Constitution and other by-laws of the Order and to obey their senior officers. There are some financial obligations, like the payment of chancery and annual fees. Each member is asked to participate actively, according to ability, in the hospitaller work for the sick, the disabled, the elderly and all who are in need. This involves the concerned giving of services and funds, or the supply of medicines, equipment, clothing and other necessary items required by the helpless and needy. Also it is expected that every Member will endeavor, where possible, to support the Order by attendance at as many of its events as possible like Investitures, chapter and international meetings or the annual Saint Lazarus Service. Members are encouraged to pray daily for the well-being and extension of the Order.