A more measured view

of

The Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

by

James J. Algrant

 

FOREWORD

 

Some readers who may have read the history of this order in "The Armorial", a book by Jean de Beaugourdon, with whom I had the pleasure of collaborating and which was published in 1984 will note a number of differences in the treatment of the events which led to its expiration in 1830. The reason for this is that when we were commissioned by Col. Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, the Grand Commander, to undertake the work, we were both active members of its Supreme Council. This being so we had to cast these events panegyrically and in such a way as to cause the least harm to the order even though strict accuracy might have to suffer in the process. Thus we left the period from 1830 to 1910 open to some question. For this we may be rightly accused of jesuitism. Subsequently, and for personal reasons I left the order but have kept numerous friends in it. It is for them and to rectify the record that I write this piece. They should also know that I hold their charitable activities in much higher esteem than historical continuity or the lack of same. That being said, they should admit their murky past, not dwell on it but put it behind them and continue their good works.

*

Unlike the extensive bibliography on the history of the Crusader Order of St. John and its continuation, the present Sovereign Military Order of Malta, there are few books that deal with the historic Order of Saint Lazarus; no more than about a dozen serious works. The Order and its history is, to say the least, subject to controversy. Like the other orders born in the Holy Land during the Crusades, the Order of St Lazarus has had a turbulent past. Unlike others which have survived and attained a certain institutional serenity, it continues to sail upon troubled waters.

Legends about its origins abound. What seems most likely is that it was founded in Jerusalem by Gerard de Martigues, the same hospitaler from Provence , later known as the Blessed Gerard, who also founded the Order of Saint John. He was already director of the Hospital of Our Lady prior to the Crusader's conquest of Jerusalem under Godfrey de Bouillon in 1099. At first, Gerard directed the Hospital under the authority of the Abbott of St. Mary. Then he and his companions left and created their own congregation, adopted a rule, took vows and were accredited by the Popes. The first bull in their favor is dated 15 February 1113 and refers to "Gerard, Founder and Governor of the Hospital at Jerusalem and his Legitimate Successors".

Godfrey de Bouillon, who ruled the Crusader state of Jerusalem, frequently visited the hospital and, impressed with the dedication of Gerard and his companions to the sick and the wounded, provided them with funds and facilities. Later, it is said, he bequeathed them some of the properties which he owned in Brabant. It appears that in their early years the Orders of St John and St Lazarus were in fact united and that they took on separate identities in 1120 when Boyand Roger, Rector of the Hospital of Jerusalem, was elected Master of the Hospitalers of Saint Lazarus.(1)

The first written reference we have to Saint Lazarus as a military order is a letter written by King Henry II of England in 1159 in which he makes a large donation to it and refers to the "Knights and Brethren of Saint Lazarus".

Leprosy was a common malady in Asia and many Crusaders contracted the disease, hence the need to establish of a leprosarium. Heretofore, Christians afflicted with leprosy who found themselves in Jerusalem were received at the Hospital of Saint John the Almoner (2) where they were segregated from other patients. The creation of the Order of St Lazarus accompanied setting up a separate establishment, hived off from the Hospitalers, specially for the treatment of lepers (3). Templar knights who contracted leprosy were sent to join the Order of Saint Lazarus(4) and it was these warriors who trained the brethren of Saint Lazarus in the military arts and who were responsible for transforming the order into a military one. William, Archbishop of Tyre and other chroniclers of the period did not distinguish between the Orders of Saint Lazarus and of Saint John, lumping them together as Hospitalers. The Order of St Lazarus grew considerably and by 1256 was on a par with the Templars and the Order of St.John.

Along with other Crusaders, the order left the Holy Land in 1291. It set up new headquarters at Boigny near Orleans in France. The property at Boigny, the gift of King Louis VII in 1154, was erected as a barony in 1288. Not all the knights went to Boigny. Many, grown accustomed to the Mediterranean climate, settled in the Kingdom of Sicily where they established themselves on properties given to them by the ruler, the Hohenstauffen Emperor Frederick II. These knights, who made their headquarters at Capua, north east of Naples, eventually became a separate branch of the order under Papal jurisdiction.

In 1489 Pope Innocent VIII fulminated a bull that in effect dissolved the Orders of St Lazarus and the Holy Sepulcher by giving their properties to the Order of St. John. The Boigny branch of Saint Lazarus refused to recognize the validity of the bull and continued as if nothing had happened. However, by the following century, the Boigny order was moribund. Its vocation of treating lepers had been rendered nugatory as stringent health measures had virtually eliminated the disease in Europe. Crusading efforts were still called for but in practice were seldom if ever undertaken. When compared to the exploits of the Order of St. John, now a naval power in the Mediterranean, there was little to justify in Papal eyes the continued existence of Saint Lazarus. So far as the Pope was concerned, the order in France had ceased to exist and the properties of the Italian branch had been transferred to the Dukes of Savoy's Order of Saint Maurice. This had become the Order of the Saints Maurice and Lazarus and was assigned the mission of protecting the Italian shoreline from the Muslim pirates. It soon became, however, nothing more than a chivalric honor bestowed by the House of Savoy. It is awarded to this day as a dynastic house order by the pretender to the Italian throne, Prince Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples.

In France, too, Saint Lazarus was fated to amalgamate with another order. In 1608, King Henry IV created with the blessing of the papacy a new Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and named Philibert Marquis de Nerestang, who was already Grand Master of Saint Lazarus, Grand Master of the new order. The result was the appearance of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Lazarus. The insignia of the new order was an eight-pointed Maltese cross with each arm of the cross half purple and half green, the colors respectively of the Mount Carmel and Lazarus. At the center of the cross on one side was a representation of Saint Lazarus and on the other of Our Lady.

Why Henry IV founded a new order and then combined it with an old one is a subject of controversy. Some historians see it as a move to prove to the Pope that he, who had renounced the Protestant faith so as to become French king, had also become a good Catholic, fulfilling vows to create institutions to glorify the Church and his new faith. Others hold that the wily King wished to prevent the considerable properties of the faltering Saint Lazarus from falling into the hands of the Order of Saint John. By combining Saint Lazarus with Mount Carmel he in effect revived it and circumvented the Papal effort to dissolve it. This appears likely, given that over the years Henry had made repeated efforts to have the Pope annul the 1489 bull.

In theory the order remained a military one but with the exception of a brief period in the seventeenth century, when it manned ten naval frigates and engaged British privateers in the English Channel, it played no military role after 1291. Its membership, limited to one hundred and thirty, was mostly drawn from among diplomats and other servants of the crown along with scions of the nobility. The King was its sovereign head and protector and named the Grand Master. The Grand Master, however, was only recognized by the Pope as Grand Master of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and not of Saint Lazarus. During the reign of Louis XVI the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, with no mention of St Lazarus, was awarded to top students of the Royal Military School. In this way the orders were separated, although sharing the same Grand Master. The King's titles as Sovereign, Founder and Protector were understood as meaning he was Sovereign and Founder of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Protector of Saint Lazarus.

When the Revolution obliged Louis to suppress all royal orders, the Grand Master of the combined Orders of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Lazarus, Louis Count of Provence, went into exile. Provence, who later became Louis XVIII, continued to award the orders, though sparingly, while abroad. Under the Bourbon restoration, critics of the present Order of Saint Lazarus insist, the combined Carmel-Lazarus orders were allowed to expire and finally terminated in 1830. Such members as were alive in that year had all been received into the combined orders no later than 1788, that is prior to the Revolution. In this historical view, there was no government or administration of the Order of Saint Lazarus after 1830, Louis XVIII and his succesor, Charles X, having decided that along with other orders dating from the ancien régime it had become useless, costly and politically inconvenient.

Hervé Pinoteau is a noted French historian of the French royal house and one of the present order's most erudite detractors. In L'Héraldique Capetienne, Baron Pinoteau, quoting the official account of King Louis XVIII's funeral referring to the insignia of the Order of Saint Lazarus (5) as exhibited along with the King's other decorations on his coronation mantle stated: "This order, of which His Majesty was Grand Master while heir to the throne, has not been conserved."

Supporters of the modern St Lazarus point out that when the Count of Provence was in exile in the Latvian province of Mittau, he awarded the order to Tsars Paul I and Alexander I of Russia, among others, and even created an hereditary commandery in Sweden for Chevalier Olof Nilson which is still in existence (6). They add that when the Count of Provence returned to France to reign as Louis XVIII, he gave up the magistracy of the order and became its Protector but appointed no Grand Master. Shortly after Louis's return, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba and also returned to France, forcing the newly installed King to seek refuge in Ghent during the "Hundred Days" that ended with Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. During this period and after his reinstatement, the King, faced with a catastrophic economic situation, had more urgent concerns than the fate of the Order of Saint Lazarus. However, according to these proponents, the administrative continuity of the Order, and therefore its historical continuance, was assured between 1816 and 1830 by a Monsieur Silvestre who resumed the functions he had previously exercised as the Order's herald, as did a Monsieur Dacier as its historiographer and a Father Picot as Chaplain.

Advocates of the order claim that, the order being without a Grand Master, these administrators took advantage of a visit to Paris in 1841 of Maximos III, the Melkite Patriarch of Jerusalem, to ask him to take the order under his high spiritual protection. They claim that this spiritual protection assured the historical legitimacy of the order, a highly debatable claim(7).

Unfortunately, there appears to be no record anywhere of any contact with, or any nominations of new members to the order made by Melkite Patriarchs of Jerusalem in the nineteenth century. Champions of the present order reply that between 1841 and 1897 the Patriarchate nominated fourteen new members, six of them as hereditary commanders, but that the relevant records were destroyed by Ottoman officials. If one keeps in mind that hereditary commanderies were abolished in 1757 by King Louis XV, this would leave eight new nominations, which does not indicate much activity on behalf of the order by the Melkite Church.

Those who deny the Order continued past 1830 have never contested that new members were nominated to the order. But, they ask, assuming new members were admitted, by whom were they admitted? Several years ago, the author asked His Beatitude Maximos V, Melkite Patriarch of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and the East, what was the date when his predecessor established his spiritual protection over the Order and whether it would be possible to have a list of nominations to the Order made in the nineteenth century after that protection was granted. His Beatitude was unable to answer these queries and suggested that they be addressed to a Melkite prelate in Cairo who specialized in the history of his Church. The author took the Patriarch's advice, and wrote to Cairo but never received an acknowledgment. It is unfortunate that these questions remain unanswered. The silence of the Melkite Church suggests that either its prelates could not be bothered to look into their records or that there are no records of this Church granting spiritual protection to the order, nor of the admission of new members.

In 1910 evidence appeared of renewed activity in the name of the order, but this again is a subject of contention. Proponents say that during the reign of the Melkite Patriarch Cyril VIII the order began to expand.(8) In 1910, we are told, the Patriarch decided, on the advice of a Canon Tanski, to reestablish the order's chancery in Paris and a Council appointed to run the order. Paul Watrin was named Chancellor, Paul Bugnot, Herald and Canon Tanski, Chaplain. The order's primary mission was to support the role of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church in the Middle East. There is some confusion about the appellation the order took at this time. Guy Coutant de Saisseval, Grand Chancellor of one of the obediences into which the order is now divided, says it was called the Nobiliary Association of the Knights of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem (9) . The late Paul Bertrand de La Grassière, the order's modern historian, on the other hand, wrote in 1932, that it never used that title but was called the Order of Noble Knights of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and our Lady of Mercy (10). He gave no explanation as to why the name of Our Lady of Mercy was added. The latter was and still is a Spanish religious order, whose main mission is to care for jailed prisoners. As the careers of some of those associated with the order were to demonstrate, the addition was perhaps an inspired one.

In 1913, an article written by the Marquis de Jandriac appeared in the Italian periodical Rivista Araldica expressing surprise at a "very recent anonymous brochure" entitled "Fundamental Statutes of the Knights Hospitaler of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and Our Lady of Mercy". The article included the statutes in toto. Article VII of these declared the seat of the order to be in Jerusalem. Article XV described the order's insignia as an "eight-pointed cross vert, fimbriated or," that is a gold-edged green Maltese cross. Article XVI gave the order's motto as Atavis et Armis. The statutes also described the composition of a Council of Officers, without naming the incumbents.

De Jandriac reasoned that this could not be a resurrection of the ancient Order of St Lazarus because no mention was made of its origin or history. The anonymous authors of the brochure would not dare to suggest it was a revival of the historical order, he argued, because they knew full well that the Grand Magistracy of the existing Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus belonged exclusively to the House of Savoy and that only a King of France could revive the French branch and then only if the Pope were to agree. (11) Moreover, de Jandriac said, he was puzzled by the fact that the insignia and motto were most certainly those of the Orders of Saint Lazarus and of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He concluded by deploring "the apparition of this knightly potpourri, since only sovereigns and heads of states may create or revive chivalric orders, especially at a time when the enemies of the Church and of royalty take pleasure in subjecting these most worthy institutions to ridicule."

During the middle decades of the twentieth century one of the most virulent critics of the present order was Count Zeininger de Borja who regularly contributed well-researched papers to the Spanish review Hidalguía, the French Intermédiaire des Chercheurs et Curieux, and the Italian Rivista Araldica. In 1953 he produced a lengthy article on the case of Saint Lazarus which appeared in Hidalguía. Zeiniger referred to nefarious activities by certain individuals. While these accusations were true, he offered no documented proof that any of these individuals were responsible for the revival of the order. As Count Zeininger's arguments are the basis for all the serious criticism of the origins and early years of the present-day Order of Saint Lazarus, they merit closer examination.

According to Zeininger, a certain Jean-Joseph Moser, son of Emil Moser, a Jewish industrialist, was born in Berlin in 1878. After completing military service in the 2nd Uhlan Regiment in 1900, he went to Spain where he was received into the Catholic Church in Barcelona in 1905. Later he went to Paris where he became involved in a number of swindles before reappearing in Berlin in 1910, calling himself Baron Jean de Moser de Veiga, Chamberlain to His Holiness the Pope. He claimed the title had been conferred by the King of Spain and apparently was able, for several years, to convince the German authorities this was so. Zeininger, in a footnote, cites the entry of Moser's marriage in the Principal State Registry Berlin-Schoeneberg II, 1916, marriage No. 32, where Moser is referred to as Baron Moser. In support of his claim to the title Moser provided certificates from Spanish Judges of Arms dated 12 January 1908 and 25 January 1915. But a Berlin court found the documents to be worthless and on 31 August 1918 ordered a halt to the use of the title. The court decision was executed on 31 May 1919.(12)

Moser then founded in Berlin a so-called Chapter of the Hospitalers of St. John the Baptist of Spain, an imitation of the authentic Catholic Order of St. John or Knights of Malta (13). Zeininger also says Moser was the representative of a Parisian combine known as the Societé archéologique et héraldique de France. This was headed by Paul Watrin, Paul Bugnot and one Fritz Hahn who styled himself the Marquis Guigue de Champvans de Faremont (14). The society published an interesting journal and was able to convince the Duke of Orleans to become its honorary president.

The Chapter of the Hospitalers of St. John the Baptist of Spain ran into trouble after the Spanish Revista de Historia y Genealogia published an article about it in 1913 which was picked up by a Berlin newspaper. The result, Zeininger says, was that Moser appears to have thought it prudent to abandon the Chapter and find a new vehicle for his activitities. Moser is believed to have thereupon invented the Chapter of Knights Hospitaler of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and of Our Lady of Mercy. It must be noted that Zeininger provides nothing to substantiate the assertion that Moser was indeed the inventor of this new entity. The question why Moser, if it was Moser, joined together two orders which had nothing in common also crossed Zeininger's mind. He speculated that Moser might have heard of the purely Spanish religious institution while living in Barcelona. According to Zeininger, Moser was as President of the Berlin chapter just as he had been of the Chapter of the Hospitalers of St. John. The Saint Lazarus Chapter held an investiture on 31 January 1911, described in the Rivista Araldica the same year.(15)

Next, Zeininger says, Moser changed his Chapter into an order and in early 1914 obtained the "protection" of the Melkite Patriarchs of Antioch. The Marquis de Jandriac's 1913 article cited above would indicate that Zeininger was in error here, at least about the date of the Melkite protection. In a footnote, Zeininger adds that these were the same Patriarchs who, for a small "consideration", had taken the "Militia of Jesus Christ" under their protection.(16) In support of this, he cites the article entitled "The Bogus Order of the Militia of Jesus Christ" by Alberto di Montenuovo, also published in the Rivista Araldica.

Moser then left the Paris scene and began selling diplomas and insignia of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Legion of Honor, among other distinctions. Together with a "Count" Branco, another Berliner, a former unidentified French general, the "Marquis" Guigue de Champvans and one Lea Leander, a professional tango-dancer, he also sold academic degrees conferred by non-existent universities. The latter activity brought him to the attention of the Berlin police and he decamped once again to Paris where he and his accomplices were arrested and tried on various charges of fraud. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment and on his release returned to Berlin. There he continued with his ventures and, as we have seen, married before having his title of baron discredited. In 1928, Moser committed suicide.

While Zeininger in his article makes allegations about the Order of Saint Lazarus for which he does not furnish documentary proof, he is accurate in his citation of press references describing activities by individuals which brought them into conflict with the law.

Those who support the historical claims of the present-day Order of Saint Lazarus answer Zeininger's charges by asserting that Moser was never a member of the "genuine" Order of Saint Lazarus and challenging anyone to produce documents showing that he was. Guy Coutant de Saisseval, in his The Knights and Hospitalers of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem from 1789 to 1930 wrote:

"In 1910 one Johan Moser a converted Jew from Berlin who called himself "Baron Moser de Vega" created, on his own authority, a group known as "Hospitalers of Saint Lazarus" as well as another known as "Hospitalers of Saint John". The first of these had nothing to do with the chivalric institution of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem nor the second with the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (Malta). The name of Jehan Jose Moser de Vega has never figured in any membership list of the members of the Order and the Duc de Brissac (then Administrator General of the Order) so declared on 15 January 1962 following research undertaken in 1945 at the request of Prince de Béarn et Chalais (then Administrator General). This group which called itself, without authorization, Hospitalers of Saint Lazarus, was short-lived. Moser de Vega who, during the period from 1911 to 1913 had managed to introduce himself into certain heraldic circles, never included Saint Lazarus among his many titles. On the other hand, the Rivista Araldica of 1911 shows him to be a member of the Holy Sepulcher. In spite of these denials and the absence of proof certain authors persist in associating Moser with Saint Lazarus."

Mr. Coutant de Saisseval and his friends have never denied that Fritz Hahn, the erstwhile "Comte Guigue de Champvans" who later became the "Marquis de Faremont", was instrumental together with Paul Bugnot and Paul Watrin in the renaissance of what Coutant considers the genuine Order. There is also proof that these gentlemen and Moser were all active in the Société Archéologique et Héraldique de France and that this society's journal, the Bulletin Historique, later called Science Historique, was a vehicle used to disseminate information about the Order of Saint Lazarus and its activities and to set out the nobiliary qualifications of its members.

After Moser's conviction for fraud in 1914, the Order went into what could best be described as hibernation for approximately twelve years. It was reanimated in 1926 on a grander scale than previously and no longer annexed Our Lady of Mercy to its name. The man responsible for this reorganization was Charles Otzenberger, an Alsatian who had joined the Order in 1911 in Berlin where he represented an Alsatian vintners' cooperative. He spent the years of the First World War in Barcelona and when, following Germany's defeat, Alsace was once again French, he opted for French nationality. In 1920 he established himself in Paris and five years later married Germaine Detaille, the niece of the well-known painter, Edouard Detaille. Being more at ease in German than in French and with Champvans no more proficient in the writing French than he, Otzenberger had the good fortune to be able to call upon a relatively new member of the Order, Paul Bertrand, a marine insurance company executive, amateur historian and Secretary of the Société Archéologique de France who, like Otzenberger, wanted the order to expand.

The officers of the order at this time were Watrin, Chancellor; Otzenberger, Registrar; and Bertrand, Judge of Arms. A French Association of the Order of Saint Lazarus was created and, as in the case of every French association, its statutes were registered at the Prefecture of Police. Watrin had been very involved in another order, the Militia of Jesus Christ, mentioned briefly earlier, since 1902 and in January 1929 decided to quit as Chancellor. He turned the order over to Otzenberger, who took on the title of Superintendent General, and to Bertrand, who now became Chancellor. Watrin continued to publish the Bulletin Historique which, by now, had become the Order's official publication.

The first enemy bombshell fell on Saint Lazarus less than a year after Watrin's departure. The Catholic Church's newspaper, La Croix, reported a letter written by Cyrill IX Mogabgab, Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, to Mgr. Attie, Rector of the Catholic Syrian-rite Church of Saint Julien-le-Pauvre in Paris, informing him that he was withdrawing his patronage from the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem because it was recognized neither by the Holy See nor the French government. Consternation followed in the ranks of the Lazarus membership, many of who appealed to their former Chancellor Watrin for guidance. He replied in an open letter in the Bulletin Historique. The letter, which set the stage for the first schism in the Order, read:

"During the twenty years that I have been Chancellor of the Order of Saint Lazarus, the warmest of relations have existed between it and each Patriarch who has protected it. Not widespread, and limited to individuals who can show four quarterings of nobility who live nobly and who demonstrate an interest in the Catholic East, it has always been well regarded in ecclesiastical, diplomatic and academic circles and especially by those with an interest in the genealogical notices of new candidates published in the Bulletin. In early 1929, I found myself heavily overburdened by my many responsibilities and I thought I was doing the right thing when I turned over the reins of the Order to two individuals whom I considered perfectly qualified to maintain the spirit of the Institution and who were highly recommended by the Chaplain of the Order, Mgr Attie. I am still hoping that I have not made a mistake. Of course the phrases neither recognized by the Holy See nor by the French government might lead one to believe that the Order has been represented as a pontifical one or as one recognized by the French Chancellery. I cannot believe that they, members of long-standing, could be responsible for conveying such an interpretation. They are perfectly aware how we have always taken the greatest care to avoid ever being mistaken for an order of merit, regardless of how prestigious. I have also been reproached by some because, while Head of the Order, I was always opposed to any project to introduce ribbons, uniforms and ranks into an association of Christian gentlemen which is all it should be. I also think that the Patriarch himself might have been in favor of these new procedures if I am to believe his letter dated 30 July 1929 to the new Chancellor: "We have before us your report of 17 July 1929 concerning the activities of the Order during the first six months of this year 1929 . We are very pleased to note the admirable expansion of the Order during these last months." What has happened? Did the "admirable expansion" have unforeseen and unfortunate effects? While I have heard some rumors, I am unaware of anything specific. I share the concern of those colleagues who wrote to Science Historique about the above-mentioned article. Like them, a member of the Order, I insist and shall see to it that these matters are corrected; all the more so, because in my act of resignation I stipulated that Science Historique would continue to be the official publication of the Order and that it would keep on publishing the nobiliary proofs of its members. With respect to our colleagues who requested clarification about their situation in view of the above-cited article we can answer quite simply: It is the same as it has always been. The victims will be those who wanted to misrepresent a noble endeavor, which stands on its own merit, as a fool’s paradise.

Paul Watrin, Knight of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem"

It appears then that Otzenberger and Bertrand, in order to increase membership, wished to use as lures a structure of ascending grades of membership, glittering insignia, silk ribbons and resplendent uniforms, modeled on those of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. These innovations were effective in quickly producing a throng of candidates for admission to the order. From Watrin's letter it would appear that Bertrand and Otzenberger, as part of their recruitment effort, implied that the order enjoyed pontifical recognition. Watrin had never made such claims and was opposed to the introduction of sumptuous insignia and uniforms. The question arises why then he placed the order in the hands of men whom he must have known had ideas so different than his own?

It was not long before a number of the more tradition-minded members, appalled at the turn of events, asked Watrin to return as Chancellor. This split the order in two. The neo-Lazarites gathered under Otzenberger and Bertrand and the traditionalists looked to Watrin and formed their own association, the Noble Hospitalers of Saint Lazarus. The traditionalists modified the original statutes, those the Marquis de Jandriac had accurately reported in 1913, by deleting all references to the protection of the Melkite Patriarchs. The Noble Hospitalers carried on until the beginning of the Second World War, ceased to function during the conflict, then started up again without in 1945 without much success.

The rival factions were caught up in the settling of accounts between Frenchmen that followed the end of the German occupation. Watrin, in the pages of Science Historique, accused Otzenberger, Bertrand and other neo-Lazarites of collaboration with the occupation forces. How much truth there was to these allegations is not known, but it is true that the neo-Lazarite organization had received special consideration as an hospitaler order from the Germans, including authorization to hold religious ceremonies in the Church of Saint Louis des Invalides, a shrine of the French military and a temple of fashionable society. Otzenberger was arrested twice on charges of being a collaborator. Abandoned by most of his friends, he died in hospital. Watrin left this world not long afterwards. Without him, his followers disappeared from the scene.

While the Otzenberger-Bertrand faction thrived despite the loss of the spiritual "protection" of the Melkite Patriarchs, a need was felt for the Order to be headed by some person of high standing. The order's representative in Spain was such a man. He was Don Francisco de Borbon y de la Torre, Duke of Seville and a colonel in the Spanish army. He became Lieutenant General of the order with magistral powers in 1929, then, in 1935, Grand Master. His son, Don Francisco Enrique de Borbon was named co-adjutor with right of succession to the Grand Magistracy. When the Spanish Civil War erupted, father and son served with the Nationalist forces. The Grand Master captured the city of Malaga from the Communists and eventually retired from the army as a Lieutenant General.

The neo-Lazarites eventually made their peace with the Melkite Church and the successors of His Beatitude Cyrill IX Mogabgab in 1965 once again the "Protectors" of the order.

Recruitment continued to increase and by the beginning of 1939 the order could count an important segment of Europe's highest nobility and royalty among its members, including King Carol of Roumania, Grand Duke Kyrill Wladimirovich and his son Grand Duke Wladimir Kyrillovich of Russia, General Antonio de Fragoso Carmona, President of the Portuguese Republic, Mgr. Adolfo Nouel y Bobadilla, former President of the Dominican Republic and Archbishop of Santo Domingo, several republican heads of state, and princes of the Church. In Germany, two senior figures of the Nazi regime accepted membership, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Hermann Goring. All these worthies were, needless to say, admitted on a pro bono basis.

The order appeared to be efficiently run, published an interesting journal, and held social functions. Membership was much sought after and attracted wealthy European industrialists, businessmen and civil servants who had the ability to pay heavy "passage money" and annual oblations. In this respect it was not unlike the Order of Malta which required modest contributions from those who could furnish nobiliary proofs and much heavier ones from those admitted in the category of Magistral Grace for which nobility was not required. It boiled down to supplying an illustrious name for the order's roster or funds for its coffers.

The expansion of the order in Europe was so successful that Otzenberger and Bertrand decided to explore what possibilities the New World might offer. Their correspondents in the United States were Edmund Walker and Waldemar Barkow, two gentlemen intimately involved in neo-chivalric orders and academic degrees from certain institutions of higher learning. Here again the order thrived; among those who agreed to be admitted as Ecclesiastical Grand Crosses were no less than four American Cardinals and a Bishop. A former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York was awarded its Grand Cross. In the Caribbean and Latin America, the Presidents of Haiti, and Brazil officially recognized the order.

When in 1936 Generalissimo Francisco Franco undertook to liberate Spain from the dictatorship of the Popular Front, the Duke of Seville and his son don Francisco Enrique, who were serving officers in the Spanish army rallied to his side.

After the Second World War the order's expansion reached its zenith. Its position in Spain was significantly strengthened when the Chief of State, General Francisco Franco, accepted its Grand Cross. The Duke of Seville melded some of the order's ancient traditions with modern reforms with evident success. As membership grew, so did charitable missions and the order, reviving its original vocation, became active in the care of lepers in Spain.

In 1952 the Duke of Seville died. His son and co-adjutor, Don Francisco Enrique, was first named Lieutenant General of the Grand Magistracy, then elected Grand Master. Because he was an officer on active duty with the Spanish army, he was unable to devote himself fully to the order. So in 1956, he appointed a Frenchman, Pierre Timoléon de Cossé Brissac, Duke of Brissac, Administrator General of the order. It was a move that was to result in a new fragmentation of the order.

While the order's charitable activities in its various jurisdictions flourished, the location of the Grand Magistracy in Madrid and of the effective international administration in Paris gave rise to problems. Brissac, who had joined the order in 1954, was assisted by Paul Bertrand who was now Grand Capitular of the order, and Guy Coutant de Saisseval, lawyer, amateur genealogist and heraldist, a member since 1946, who assumed the duties of Chancellor. The Grand Master in Madrid appointed the Marquis Cardenas de Montehermoso Grand Referendary, in effect transferring to him control over day-to-day operations and recruitment in Spain.

The Administration in Paris, aware of the order's contentious origins, made every effort to keep out doubtful individuals. It was less successful in preventing some new members from yielding to the temptation to join the ranks of the false nobility. While this harmless aberration would raise nothing more than a smile in Parisian salons, the little reviews that specialized in genealogy and history took a different view and enjoyed exposing these questionable new titles in their pages, mentioning along the way the bearers' membership in the Order of Saint Lazarus. On top of that, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which was, suffering troubles of its own in these years, the 1950s, mounted a propaganda campaign, using the Vatican press, against what it correctly saw as a rival in the recruitment of those inclined support good works and not lacking a spare dollar or two. It did this despite the fact that many of its members were also members of Saint Lazarus. To compound the problem, persons with such dual memberships were inclined to join all sorts of dubious "knightly" associations. The result was that they and the organizations to which they belonged, including the most respectable ones, were all tarred with the same brush.

Would-be knights of Saint Lazarus continued to knock on the order's door while the Administration remained fearful of damage from press and whispering campaigns against the order. Brissac's office decided to counter attack by making hospitaler activities the order's unimpeachable raison d'être. It began to sponsor leprosaria and dispensaries in West Africa and Syria and managed to get these activities publicized with some success. This did not end the attacks, but combined with a membership made up in good measure of the high European nobility, it did offset the damaging effects.

In 1961, a Scot, Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, was appointed Bailiff and Commissioner-General for the English-speaking world with responsibility for expanding the order's membership in that area. Up to then, non-Catholic Christians had been accepted only as affiliate members of the order. Gayre accepted the appointment on condition that henceforth Protestants would be eligible for full membership. The Paris authorities reluctantly agreed and Gayre, took as a model to emulate the Most Venerable Order of St. John. A tireless traveler, he succeeded brilliantly, building jurisdictions in Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, South Africa, and Rhodesia.

While Gayre was succeeding so well building up the order outside continental Europe, problems resulting from an Administration physically removed from the magistral seat of the order erupted in 1965 when the Marquis de Cardenas de Montehermoso, the Grand Referendary, was stricken with a paralyzing illness which resulted in his death a year later. The Paris administration had become generally dissatisfied with the state of the order in Spain for a number of reasons. Not the least of these was the fact that while the Spanish jurisdiction was growing by leaps and bounds, it contributed nothing to the support of the Paris operations. In the main this was because the "passage fees" it collected from new members disappeared while it also proved unable to follow up in collecting annual oblations. Another problem was that the Spaniards had no screening process to control the quality of the people they recruited, resulting in the admission of individuals Paris considered markedly unsuitable. The Administrator General and his staff decided the Grand Magistracy would have to be transferred to Paris. But they needed an occasion for doing this. For the Duke of Brissac, the illness and subsequent death of the Grand Referendary seemed providential.

The French Administration launched a propaganda campaign within the order by issuing a statement that the Grand Master, Don Francisco Enrique de Borbon y de Borbon, was increasingly tied up by military and personal obligations and unable to assure his magistral responsibilities so that with the death of the Grand Referendary there now existed a de facto vacancy in the grand magistracy. When Don Francisco learned what was going on in Paris, he immediately annulled the appointment of de Brissac as Administrator General and of the other members of the Administration and declared that he had resumed full magistral functions.

The Parisians ignored Don Francisco Enrique and his commands. Their campaign of denigration had succeeded and they bad a prestigious new Grand Master waiting in the wings. Assured of having a majority of the votes, they convened the membership in a Chapter General that deposed Don Francisco and elected His Royal Highness Prince Charles Phillip of Orleans, Duke of Nemours, Vendôme and Alençon, First Prince of the Blood of France. The Chapter General awarded Don Francisco the title of Grand Master emeritus and Grand Prior of Spain. The Spanish jurisdiction remained loyal to Don Francisco, but this was a negligible loss to the greater part of the order that rallied to the Duke of Nemours.

Educated in England, the Duke of Nemours was very much an anglophile. He had married Margaret Watson, an American from Virginia, and the couple spoke English at home. It was only natural then, that he and the Commissioner General for the English-speaking world would soon become fast friends. This was resented by de Brissac and his entourage. Gayre then persuaded Nemours to appoint him Grand Referendary. This was tantamount to giving him control of the order. Brissac's resentment turned to wrath.

Once again a Chapter General was convened and the Duke of Nemours deposed. This time, however, the move was costly to Brissac's faction. More than half of the Order's membership lined up behind Gayre, including all of the English-speaking countries, with the exception of Canada which he had managed to offend. Nevertheless the Chapter General appointed the Duke of Brissac Supreme Head of the order, without, however, naming him Grand Master.

Gayre and the Duke of Nemours moved their faction's headquarters to the island of Malta and the latter, appointed his nephew, Prince Michael of France, co-adjutor with right of succession to the Grand Magistracy. Gayre continued to travel and recruited extensively. Volunteer ambulance corps were created in Scotland, in Northern Ireland, and in West Germany, and the New Zealand jurisdiction undertook the supply of medicines to leprosaria in the South Pacific.

Now there were three clans in the order: one with headquarters in France, one in Spain and one on Malta, each claiming to be the genuine and legitimate Order of Saint Lazarus

In 1970, the Duke of Nemours died suddenly in Paris and the group on Malta found itself without a Grand Master. Prince Michael of France declined to succeed his uncle, as had been arranged, but agreed as co-adjutor to temporarily assume the magistral duties until a permanent replacement could be found. It was not long before Gayre decided to call on Don Francisco de Borbon in Madrid and propose to recognize him as Grand master of what was now the largest faction in the order. Don Francisco realized he had nothing to lose and perhaps much to gain. Gayre extracted concessions, the most important of which was that all policy decisions affecting the order as a whole would have to be approved by him.(18) Don Francisco would retain direct control over the Spanish jurisdiction. This was the fourth scission of the order but it resulted in reducing to the number of factions from three to two. One became known as the Paris obedience. The other was called for convenience's sake but erroneously, the Malta obedience, because the order's Grand Chancellery happened to be situated there and because Gayre maintained a residence on the island.

One would think that Gayre might have learned from the order's past experience that maintaining a Grand Magistracy in one country and an administration in another can bring on unsurmountable problems, especially when the lines of communication between the Chancellery and the Grand Magistracy are hampered by the lack of a common language. In this case the Grand Master spoke only Spanish and French and Gayre spoke only English. Admittedly the Grand Chancellor did have an assistant who was familiar with Spanish, but the latter's duties as a Maltese civil servant left him little time for the affairs of the Grand Chancellery. This, coupled with a lackadaisical Spanish attitude towards record-keeping, financial accounting and other such mundane tasks and a continual increase in membership requiring administrative attention, insured that running the order would never be trouble-free.

While there were no formal contacts between the two obediences during this period, members of the rank and file of each made efforts to convince their leaderships that the order should be reunified, if for no other reason than to better withstand attacks against the divided Saint Lazarus made by that segment of the European press and specialist periodicals concerned with the activities of the European nobility. Eventually the factions ceased attacking each other and tentative contacts were established between members of each. It seemed as if each leadership was coming around to accepting in principle that they should reunite. Most of the Canadians had originally sided with Paris became disillusioned with Brissac's Administration. Others had remained loyal to Don Francisco. Now both groups decided to set an example and pledged allegiance to a commonly elected Grand Prior of Canada, placing the leadership of the two obediences before a fait accompli. The Americans, who had been urging a reunification for some time, helped to arbitrate this arrangement which they welcomed as a first step to the general reunification of the order.

While these first steps towards a reunited order were being taken the position of the Grand Master was being undermined by a number of scandals involving officials of the order in Spain. Gayre, having delegated authority to his Grand Chancellor and to the latter's assistant, was unable to control the situation. The Grand Chancellor was perfectly aware of what was happening in the Grand Magistracy in Madrid but, personally loyal to Don Francisco, did not see fit to intervene. Gayre, realizing the situation was untenable and required radical measures, abandoned his Grand Master and set about arranging a return to the Paris obedience for himself and a number of jurisdictions.

The Melkite Patriarch of Jerusalem, Georges Hakim Maximos V , having restored his Church's "Spiritual Protection" of the order, was prevailed upon to chair a committee made up mostly of individuals favoring reunification but under the Paris Obedience. In 1985, with much pomp, a meeting was held in Oxford of like-minded members. The Duke de Brissac passed his leadership over to his son, the Marquis de Brissac, and at a church ceremony, Guy Coutant de Saisseval, who had been Gayre's nemesis for more than twenty years, walked arm in arm with him down the central aisle. At the end of the service the two embraced to a tumultuous acclamation. The Paris obedience had now more than five hundred members, the lion's share of the total. It had also acquired the United States jurisdiction, the richest in the order, as well as those of England, Lochore (Gayre's personal jurisdiction), the Netherlands and several others.

Such was the situation in 1985. Since then all has not been smooth sailing. The reunification did not take place and the order remains divided. The situation has been further complicated by the fact that a schismatic group has formed in England which has decided to go its own way recognizing neither Grand Master. Relations between the groups seem much less acrimonious than in the past and the hope still exists that a genuine reunification will eventually take place. The order sees itself as an ecumenical Christian order whose genesis goes back to the Holy Land and the Crusades, despite its controversial rebirth in the twentieth century.

With the exception of the present Teutonic Order, the Order of Saint Lazarus is the smallest of the orders discussed so far. It is made up of approximately five thousand members in Grand Priories, Priories, Commanderies and Delegations in the five continents. It maintains leprosaria and dispensaries and sends medical supplies to various medical missions in Africa and the Pacific islands. The order is also involved in geriatric care for the needy, operates Volunteer Ambulance Corps, including one for young drug addicts, and directly supports a medical and religious mission in Kenya. Among the more noteworthy projects undertaken by the order has been weekly transports of basic food and medical supplies to Poland during the very hard years of the 1980s. Several million dollars worth of supplies were turned over to the Emergency Commission of the Polish Episcopal Conference, earning the order the praise of Pope John Paul II.

There are two categories of membership in the knighthood of Saint Lazarus: Justice, for individuals able to submit nobiliary proofs, and Magistral Grace for those unable to do so. Christians may be admitted in the following grades: Member, Officer, Commander, Knight or Dame, Knight or Dame Commander, Knight or Dame Grand Cross. As a mark of the Grand Master's special esteem, the order may also award a Collar to heads of State and very occasionally to its high dignitaries. The order also confers decorations of merit on its members and other individuals who have contributed by their service to its humanitarian work.

 

 

 

*NOTES*

(1) Lazarus was the patron saint of lepers.

(2) There is some controversy about the saint under which the hospital was placed. Some say it was originally St.John the Almoner, others that it was St.John the Baptist from the beginning.

(3) The original hospital of St.John the Almoner was assigned to the le[pers and the new hospital built by Gerard became known as that of St. John the Baptist and used for the treatment of other illnesses.

(4) Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Knights of St.John in Jerusalem and Cyprus 1050-1310, London 1967p. 258.

(5) One often said Saint Lazarus in France because of the two combined orders Saint Lazarus was the senior and it was easier than to have to say "Royal and Combined Military Orders...etc."

(6) Mémoire sur l’ordre de Saint Lazare, baron Christian de Rendinger, 1982. The story of this Scandinavian commandery has been mentioned by the supporters of the order for many years but to my knowledge no one has ever seen the nomination or brevet.

(7) Our position is that the seeking of the alleged "spiritual protection" of the Melkite patriarchs is no substitute for a "fons honorum" and cannot in any way be used to demonstrate an unbroken history. Once a royal fons honorum was either withdrawn or allowed to extinguish itself , depending on one’s point of view, it could not be replaced by the "spiritual protection" of the patriarchs.

(8) Watrin, Bugnot and de la Tremblaye were dignitaries of a newly-formed and controversial order "The Militia of Jesus Christ" which was also under the "protection" of the Melkite patriarch Cyrill VIII.

(9) Les chevaliers hospitaliers de Saint Lazare, Guy Coutant de Saisseval, Paris 1984, p.39.

(10) Histoire des chevaliers hospitaliers de Saint Lazare, Paul Bertrand de la Grassière, Paris 1932 p.184.

(11) Jandriac writing in an Italian magazine is echoing the Italian position that the order of Saint Lazarus was amalgamated to the Savoyan Order of St.Maurice.

(12) It was during this period that certain Spanish Kings of Arms exceeded their statutory authority by issuing certificates confirming the nobility of a number of individuals including Moser. This traffic in "instant nobility" was shortlived.

(13) "I Cavalieri Ospedalieri di San Giovanni in Spagna," Rodolfo de Martini, in

Rivista Araldica, Rome 1911, pp540-543.

(14) Hahn was born in Vienna in 1886. He was able to obtain an appointment as Court Councilor to the King of Montenegro. He was adopted by an elderly Austrian nobleman of French origin. When the latter died Hahn took on the title. He had a meteoric career in the sale of orders, decorations, university degrees and honorary consulships. He also wrote a book on papal orders, the frontispiece of which shows him in gala uniform of the Order of Saint Lazarus. Hahn ran afoul of French law in June 1936 when he was arrested by the authorities for selling his promises to intervene on behalf of foreigners who were threatened with expulsion from France by French immigration authorities. He was condemned to six months in jail. (From "Le Matin",

Paris 12 June 1936")

(15) Rivista Araldica of 1911 does not describe the investiture but merely states: "We have learned with great surprise that Mr. Alexandre Gallery de la Tremblaye has been admitted to the ranks of the Noble Hospitalers of Saint Lazarus as a result of the favorable opinion of the Judge of Arms, dated 31 January 1911."

(16) These patriarchs also granted their "high spiritual protection" to the Order of Our Lady of Bethlehem in the early 1930s.

(17) Zeininger states and we have confirmed that these activities are cited in the following articles :"Die Ausghobene Ordenfabrik", Prager Tageblatt, 5 March 1914. "Die Auslieferung des Ordensvermittlers Branco", Nazional Zeitung, Berlin 9 April 1914. "Der Ordenschwindlers unter Mordverdacht", Berliner Morgenpost, 13 March 1914. "Die Franzosiche Ordensfabrik", Neues Wiener Journal, 28 February 1914. "Neue Anzeigen gegen Juan de Moser", Berliner Zeitung am Mittag, 2 March 1914. "Die Deusrchen Ordensschwindler in Paris", Berliner Morgenpost 23 May 1914.

(18) Don Francisco denied that he had ever made any concessions of any kind to Gayre.