UNOFFICIAL and with it independently Webpage on the subject Order of Saint Lazarus - OSLJ

This is a private webpage for purposes information

provided by Mikulas Krejcik z Radimovic, former OLJ

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Origins of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

The early origins

In all controversies which are roused around origin and history of big imperious families, mighty states or important orders of knights reveal themselves the reflexion of the meaning of a historical equipment as well as her real-political claim, even her self-image.

In the year 125 B.C. a high priest called Johannes Hyrcanus, son of famous Simon Maccabäus from the dynasty of the Hasmonains rules, over Jerusalem. A description of the holy town from 1151 reports in addition: „Before the walls of Jerusalem, between the Stefanstor and the Tankred's tower, is military hospital of the lepers which Johannes Hyrcanus established, a Jewish prince who received the finances in addition from the grave of the king David." Johannes Hyrcanus also calls a chronicle of the order of Saint Lazarus from 1775 as the first Grand Master. Popes and kings come later on history and origin of the order, however, do not fall back so far. In a document from the 25th of June, 1343 John of Normandy (the later king John the gentle) mentions, the order of Saint Lazarus exists „since the days of the big emperor Vespasian" (70-79 A.D.).

Pope Paul V explains again in a bull from 1565 that that „illustre order since the days of Basilius the Great, Damasus I, Valentinian and Julian to the apostate exists...", so about since the second half of the 4th century. Apparently this document goes back to the fact that the Lazarians long time looked at holy Basilius the tallness as the founder of her order who, after the report of Gregor von Nazianz, repeated for the lepers entered and should have founded before the walls of Caesarea in Cappadocia also a hospital.

The first historical and authentic tip to a leper's hospital before the walls of Jerusalem is included in "Commemoratorium de Casis dei" from the time Charles the Greats in whom a „hospital is mentioned for lepers", in „15 lepers and 2 monks live" - probably Orientals, namely Armenian who obeyed the rule of holy Basilius. Here indeed we come close to the true origin of the order very much. Jean Pierre Alem writes in his book "L 'Armenie" (Paris in 1959): „It is to be noted that in the year 370 some Armenian monks maintained under the guidance of holy Basilius suffers with leprosy. Those monks formed the origin of the order of Saint Lazarus".

As well as in the history of big ruling houses the descent legend remains not without influence on the bearers of the rule and with it on the history itself, also crystallises in the origin reports of the order of Saint Lazarus - so little securely something is out also may - the essentials in the self-image of the knights of the order:

  • The order of Saint Lazarus is certainly of oriental origin.

  • The order of Saint Lazarus thinks and acts from beginning in religious, racial as well as cultural regard ecumenical and tolerant.

  • The order of Saint Lazarus sees his most distinguished job time of his history in the nursing.

  • The order of Saint Lazarus forms up only bit by bit - and under the compulsion of the circumstances - also in a military order.

  • The order of Saint Lazarus is organised - typically for East - from the outset synodal; into our (western) language: his power and sovereignty always lay in the general chapter.

The crusades

Ludwig XIV calls in his declaration from April, 1664 the Lazarusorden „the first military orders of the church which fights against the enemies of the faith and the Christian religion". The assertion may be meant politically or symbolically; she is not valid. The order of Saint Lazarus is probably the oldest hospitaller order, more, it is also that order which preserved his charitable character exclusively longest; however, he is certain not the oldest military order.

Before the conquest of Jerusalem by the crusaders in 1099 there were in the holy town three important hospitalische establishments:

  • The hospital of Saint Lazarus which stood under the direction of oriental monks (primarily Armenian "Basilian").

  • The hospital Santa Maria Latina, a creation of the 4th century, restored under Charles the Great, primarily a pilgrim's home for the "Latains".

  • The hospital of Saint John which stood in the 9th century near the holy grave and had been restored later, about 1060, by businessmen from Amalfi.

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Last updated 13.08.2015

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