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Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

Last modified: 2015-06-28 by rob raeside
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The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

by Klaus-Peter Pokolm

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'lys (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). In older medals struck before the French Monarchy's restoration (1815-1830), the image is actually reversed, with Christ on the left and St. Lazarus on the right.  Thus, the "modern" usage of Christ on the right side of the image was a change that occurred in the Order's decorations during the early 19th Century.

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

Lazarus Volunteer Organisations

by Klaus-Peter Pokolm

Lazarus Volunteer-Organisations like the "Lazarus-Hilfswerk" use the eight pointed green cross on a white flag.
Klaus-Peter Pokolm, 15 June 2003

Flag of the Grand Master of the Order

by Klaus-Peter Pokolm

The Order also uses the coat of arms on the flag of the Grandmaster of the Order and another with the motto of the Order.
Klaus-Peter Pokolm, 15 June 2003

Regulations of the Order (relating to flags)

From <>:

The Constitution

Chapter 1 - The Constitution


a The Banner of the Order is: Argent a Cross vert.
b. The Arms of the Order are: Argent a Cross vert, surmounting a Cross of eight Beatitudes, encircled by The Grand Collar, the whole on a mantle sable, with tarsils and ornaments or, on the sinister side bearing the Cross of eight Beatitudes vert, over all the Eastern Crown of the Order lined sable on which is borne a Cross and Orb or; beneath the arms is the motto "Atavis et Armis".
c. The arms of the Order, with or without the motto, may be used by the Order itself and by its Jurisdictions only, but not by individual Members.
d. Differenced Banners and Ensigns as well as Pinsil and Standard of the Order as prescribed in the General Regulations (Part 3, chapter 9, section 1) may be used by various Jurisdictions, Volunteer Corps and Senior Officers.


a. The Banner and the Ensign of the Grand Master are:
Argent the full personal arms of the Grand Master, golden fringed.
b. The Arms of the Grand Master are:
Quarterly, 1 and 4, the arms of the Order; 2 and 3, the personal arms of the Grand Master.

From <> :

General Regulations

Chapter 9 - Other Banners, Ensigns and Seals


a. The Banners of Jurisdictions are: The banner of the Order, differenced with an appropriate device in the dexter chief canton. Such devices must be approved by the Judge of Arms of the Order.
b. The Ensigns of the Order are: Argent the full arms of the Order, golden fringed for members of the Supreme Council, silver fringed for Heads of national Jurisdictions, unfringed for all other officers of the Order.
c. The Pinsil of the Order is: Argent with the arms of the Order in the center.

d. The Standard of the Order is: in the hoist, argent a cross vert: in the fly, argent semee of crosses of eight beatitudes vert, two bands azure bearing the motto "Atavis et Armis".
e. All Banners and Ensigns used within the Order must be registered at the office of the Judge of Arms of the Order.


The Banner of the Volunteer Corps is: Argent an eight-pointed cross Vert.

Dov Gutterman, 23 January 2002

United Royal Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and Our Lady of Mount Carmel

image by Tomislav Todorovic, 7 November 2014

Since 1608, the Order was amalgamated with the newly founded Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which was confirmed by papal bulls in 1668 and 1695. The United Royal Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and Our Lady of Mount Carmel nominally existed until 1888, one hundred years after the last admissions to the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, when it was considered extinct according to the Canon Law and the Order of St Lazarus continued to exist on its own. The blazon of United Orders was: Argent a cross gyronny Amaranth and Vert. Tincture Amaranth, or "Tawny Amaranth" according to the "Instructions, Rules and Statutes" of the United Orders, was actually a dark shade of red inclining towards purple, somewhere between Sanguine and Murrey, and it was the color of insignia of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the form of which was generally modelled after those of the Order of St Lazarus.

[1] Order of Saint Lazarus website - The Heraldry and Development of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem (in PDF format):
[2] Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Wikipedia (in English):
[3] Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Wikipedia (in French):

Tomislav Todorovic, 7 November 2014