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Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

Last modified: 2003-04-19 by rob raeside
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The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

According to Gautier de Sibert's History of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem (pub. Paris, France. 1772), the Order was first established during the time of Saint Basil, by the beginning of the 5th century A.D., with the founding of its first hospital in the city of Ptolemais (Acre). It is known that by the end of the first millennia A.D., the Order had active hospitals in Acre, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. Today, this Christian Order has 7,000 members active in more than thirty countries across five continents, and retains its commitment to charity and hospitaller activities with its active clinics in Europe, Palestine, Africa, and the Americas. The Order's government maintains its administrative seat at the Castle Lanzun, on Malta; and, can be contacted through its website at:

The Order's Flag is a green cross quartering a white flag.

Flags of the Order's jurisdictions feature an argent shield, quartered with a cross vert, with a national symbol placed in the chief sinister quarter. Some of these jurisdictional symbols are the thistle (Grand Priory of Scotland), crown (Grand Priory of Hungary), flag of Austria (Priory of Austria) and the flag of Denmark (Grand Bailiwick of Denmark), three crowns (Grand Bailiwick of Sweden), three fleurs d'lies (Grand Priory of France), and eagle (America). The volunteer corps of the Order utilizes a white flag with green Maltese cross centered.

Medals and Jewelry of the Order utilize the traditional eight-point Maltese cross design, with an image centered, and contained within a circle, of Christ standing (on the right) with hand outstretched over the image of a kneeling St.Lazarus (on the left). Encircling this image is the Order's motto: "Atavis et Armis." (by Ancestors and Arms).

The Order's use of the color green spans the past millennia. Some attribute its use to the Order's survival through Moslem occupation of the Levant: use of the color green would have been a safe practice under Moslem rule. Other legends have it that green honors the memory of the Moslem General Saladin, who spared Members of the Order after his capture of Jerusalem, and permitted its hospitaller activities to continue. Another legend surrounds King Baldwin IV's founding of the Lazarus Hospital and Commandery at Seedorf, in Switzerland, after his vision which included finding a green cross in his hand upon waking (this story predates Saladin, as does the next). Another legend surrounding King Baldwin IV is that during his coronation in Jerusalem, an eagle dropped onto his head a gold ring with sinople (green) cross embedded. What is certain is that the green cross and color green have been traditionally associated with the Order of Saint Lazarus, and this has been so at least throughout the second millennia A.D.

According to the book Heraldry and the Grand Priory of America, by the Chevalier Dr. Felix W. G. v.L. Holewinski, KCLJ, Grand Priorial Archivist and Herald of Arms (published by the Grand Priory of America, 1997): "...A green cross on a silver field (argent, a cross vert) was adopted by the first Knights of the Order which besides appearing on their banner was worn on their surcoats and shields. This simple green "Greek" cross was altered to the eight-pointed "Maltese" cross by Grand Master Jean de Livis (1557 - 1564). The original armorial bearing of the Order when displayed in "full achievement" used a green Latin cross - usually with its three upper arms somewhat extended, similar to a "cross paty" - issuing out of a green-silver wreath placed on a helmet with green mantling, doubled silver. A sixteenth century armorial great achievement of the Order displayed a much more elaborate design. This armorial bearing included a simple rosary which encircled the shield like a collar, emphasizing the religious nature of the Order. ...The ancient motto of the Order En Guerre et en Paix (In War and Peace) was changed in the 18th century to the current motto Atavis et Armis (by Ancestors and Arms)."

William J. Cox, CLJ, 19 February 2003
Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Administration
Grand Priory of America of the Order of St. Lazarus

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