In the context of the international
“Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem (OSLJ)”
The origins of the Order of St. Lazarus go back as far as to the year 370 a.D., when the document “Commemoratorium de Casis dei” under the regency of Charles the Great mentions a hospital in Jerusalem, where armenian monks under the leadership of the Saint Basilius took care of about 15 leprosians. Up till the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1098 and afterwards, this Hospital as St. Lazarus-Hospital, under the leadership of oriental-basilian monks, continued to exist.
In the following years the Order also took care of more and more Knights from other military Orders, fighting to protect christianity in the Holy Land, who had been. So slowly the Order developed its military origins – it is not the oldest Military Order of Chivalry, but for sure the most traditional Hospitaller Order of Knighthood and at least one of the oldest Orders of Chivalry.
When in 1174 King Balduin IV, a leprosian himself, came to power in Jerusalem, the Order had been changed into a Military Order –King Balduin IV appreciated very much the military service of the Knights of the Order of St. Lazarus.
When in 1187 Jeruslaem fell to the Mameluks of the Sultan Saladin, the Order left Jerusalem to find its new Headquarters in Accre, where the Order was given the 12. district named Montmusard, as a sovereign territory.
The Order in the following years started trading and shipping, using its own merchant ships, especially with european ports, where the Order established dependent branches, Commanderies and Priories. The activities of the Order concentrated more and more to Europe, where the first Commanderies and Priories had been established (f.e. Seedorf, Schlatt, Gran, Prague and Vienna).
When in 1291 Accre, the last stronghold of the Crusader-Kingdoms in the Holy Land, fell to the Mameluks, the Order established itself in Europe to continue his activities as hospitaller and military Order.
In 1308 the french king Philip IV granted royal protectorship to the Order, which continued up to 1830. Pope Honorius II in 1124 and Pope Innozens II in 1131 had decreed the Order under the protection of the Holy See.
During the 14th and 15th century the Order developed its military activities in addition to its hospitaller traditions, in 1608 Grand Master Philibert de Nerestang became also Grand Master of the “Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel”. In the 17th century the naval fleet of the Order fought pirates on behalf of the French kings, from 1668 the Order provided 12 Knights to the Kings’s Royal Guard.
In 1772 Pope Clemens XIV by decree “Militarium Ordinum Institutio” sacularised the Order, what resulted in completly independence of the Order from the Holy See.
In 1792 all properties of the Order in France had been confiscated by the revolutionary governement. In 1799 Grand Master the Count de Provence investited Czar Paul I of Russia as Knight Grand Cross together with other high ranking Knights of the Sovereign Order of Malta, that time under Czar Paul I as Grandmaster.
In 1830 the Order lost his status as Chivalric Order of the Kingdom of France. King Charles X, who was forced by the revolution to flee to Austria in Exile, was the last royal Protector of the Order for many years, he died in 1844 in Görz, Austrian-Hungarian Empire. In this period the Austrian-Hungarian Emperor had intervened with the Sultan in Constantinopel to grant to the Greek-Melkite-Catholic Church again Jurisdiction in Jerusalem over the greek-catholic population, to which request the Sultan in 1836 agreed.
In 1840 ruling officers of the Order got in contact with the then Patriarch H.B. Maximos III to suggest to accept the Spiritual Protectorship of the Order, continuing the oriental tradition of the Order. In 1841 H.B. Patriarch Maximos III with agreement of the French King Louis-Philippe became Spiritual Protector of the Order.
Till the beginning of the 20th century a Council of Officers headed the Order under the Spiritual Prorectorship of the Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchs, numerous high ranking persons, Bishops and Princes, had been admitted to the Order in this time. In the 20th century the Order had been active in regions, we do not have report of activities there today –this is f.e. the Grand Priory of Russia, where Czar Alexander I. together with high ranking members of the russian nobility like Prince Soltykoff had been invested by Grand Master H.E. Count de Provence, after 1935 the Chief of the imperial house of Russia Grandduke Cyril with his brothers Granddukes Boris and Gabriel became Knights of the Order.
The Order established further relations f.e. to Japan, Iran and India, a delegation has
been established in Turkey, Georgia and Egypt (Delegate in Cairo was Baron Dr. Bernhard Stillfried v. Rathenitz). After the first World War in 1935 the Chapter General of the Order in France elected a Grand Master again, H.E. Prince Francois of Bourbon, Duke of Sevilla, followed in 1952 as Grand Master by his son H.E. Prince Francois de Bourbon et Bourbon. In 1967 H.E. Prince Charles Philippe d’Orleans, Duke of Nemours, was elected 46th Grand Master, who was followed in 1969 by H.E. Pierre de Cosse, XII Duke of Brissac as 47. Grand Master of the Order. From 1986 to September 2004 H.E. Francois de Cosse, XIII Duke of Brissac headed as 48th Grand Master the Order.
During a festive ceremony in the Cathedral of Orleans in 2004, celebrated by H.Em. Dr. Laszlo Cardinal Paskai OFM, H.R.H. Prince Charles Philippe d’ Orleans, Duke d’Anjou, became 49th Grand Master of the Order, his uncle H.R.H. Henri IV, Count of Paris, Duke of France, Head of the Royal House of France renewed again the Protectorship of the Royal House of France over the Order. Since 2010 an uncle of H.R.H. Prince Charles Philippe, H.E. Jan Count Dobrzensky z Dobrzenicz, took over as 50th Grand Master of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem (OSLJ).
In January 2007 the “Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem of Montenegro (OSLJM)”was officially registered as Religious Organisation in the Republic of Montenegro by Officers and Knights of the Order of St. Lazarus from Montenegro, Austria, Germany and Slovakia to honour the special history of religious and dynastic governance as well as to support to reestablish noble values and charitable activities in close connection with christian churches and charitable organisations of the Republic of Montenegro.
The Order (OSLJM) is headed since then on the basis of the Order’s Codex by the Administrator General (Titular Grand Master), who is advised by the Governing Council and the Spiritual Council of the Order. Administrative and legal seat is in Podgorica, Republic of Montenegro, the Magistral Chancery is at the seat of the Administrator General.
The Order today is affiliated resp. is closely cooperating on international level with the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem (OSLJ) under the Temporal Protectorship of the Royal House of France, headed by the 50th Grand Master H.E. Jan Count Dobrzensky de Dobrzenicz.
The Order of St. Lazarus of Montenegro (OSLJM) also enjoys the Protectorship of the Royal House of France as well as the Noble Protectorship of His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Mag. Markus Salvator von Habsburg-Lothringen and appreciates the advise of the Spiritual Chaplain General OSLJ H. Em. Dominik Cardinal Duka OP, Archbishop of Prague, as well as of high ranking orthodox clergy.
The “Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem of Montenegro (OSLJM)”as stateregistered autonomous Order of Chivalry, registered within the Republic of Montenegro, today (2012) has Representatives and Delegations outside of Montenegro in Austria, Germany, Italy, San Marino, Netherlands, Slovakia, Hungary, Guatemala, Venezuela, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Mauritius.