THE ORDER OF SAINTS MAURICE AND LAZARUS
© Guy Stair Sainty
The Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus tIS an Order of Chivalry of the Royal House of Savoy, founded as a religious-military Order and then adapted by the Savoy Kings as a Royal Order of Merit. The conditions which had led to it being given as a reward for service to the Italian State ceased with the decision of the late King Umberto II to leave Italy for permanent exile. The decree of the Italian Republic which purported to suppress its continued award was illegal, as the Order was originally a Papal foundation, entirely outside republican jurisdiction.
Saint Maurice, Duke of Thebes, was the patron Saint of the House of Savoy and a Society of noble monks of that name had been founded on 13 February 1434, by Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy, to accompany him on his retreat from secular life to that of a hermit.  Some writers have suggested that this association was a military Order, the precursor of the later Order of Saint Maurice, and that it survived until the period 1536-1559, when the territories of the Duke of Savoy were occupied by the French. This "Order" (more properly "Noble Association"), however, was suppressed in 1439, shortly after the Duke's election as (anti) Pope Felix V.  The Religious Military Order of Saint Maurice, which was created on 16 September 1572 by the Bull Christiani populi corpus of Pope Gregory XIII, at the request of Duke Emanuele-Filiberto of Savoy,  was named to commemorate this more ancient association. As an Order of the Church under the Cistercian rule, it had nothing other than its name in common with the earlier institution. Indeed, while the original military confraternity was the creation of the Duke of Savoy, the new Order was a Papal foundation, with the Duke of Savoy and his successors invested by the Supreme Pontiff as "Magistrum Magnum" (Grand Master) in perpetuity.  This Bull also granted the Grand Master the right to interpret, amend or correct the Statutes, thus legitimizing its use as an award for meritorious service and its recent restoration as an Order of Chivalry.
Within less than two months the Order's character was amended once more, by the concession to Duke Emanuele-Filiberto of the dignity of Master-General of the "militiam Sancti Lazari" and the union of the two institutions as one Order, by the Bull Pro commissa Nobis of 13 November 1572. Duke Emanuele-Filiberto had earlier entered into negotiations with the Prior of Capua (titular Master-General of the Order) of Saint Lazarus, to acquire the title of Master-General, along with the benefices of the Order and the adherence of its two hundred knights, but these discussions had proved abortive, so the Duke had approached the Holy See directly. The new "Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus of Jerusalem" acquired rights to all the Commanderies of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus situated in Italy and elsewhere (excluding those former possessions of the Order situated "in the Kingdoms and Dominions of" Philip II of Spain), effectively abrogating those provisions of the Bull of 1489 which had granted them to the Order of Saint John.  The new foundation did not only acquire the ancient properties of Saint Lazarus but also its hospitaller mission and duty to provide naval protection against Moslem incursions in Italy. Despite the Papal direction that the knights of Saint Lazarus taking the Cross of the new Order should abandon the rule of Saint Augustine for the Cistercian, the new Order adopted the Augustinian rule, which was more appropriate to its functions. By an Apostolic Brief of 15 January 1573, the Pope provided that the Cross of Saint Maurice could be superimposed on that of Saint Lazarus - the green arms of the latter being placed between those of the white cross of Saint Maurice. By Magistral Letters Patent of 10 November 1619 and 2 June 1643 the knights were obliged to wear their badge whenever they appeared in public, as well as undertake various other religious observances; the knights had to attend confession and communion at Easter and on the Order's Saints days - that of Saint Maurice being 22 September, that of Saint Lazarus being 17 December. 
The history of the Order of Saint Lazarus has been the object of much speculation and invention, particularly among the proponents of its modern independent survival. The suggestion that it was founded in the second century, or by Saint Basil in the seventh (claims which appear for the first time in the seventeenth century), are fantastic theories with no contemporary documentary support and no basis in fact.  The original institution was of relative unimportance, established as a leper hospital associated with and probably subordinate to the much larger and more significant Order of the Hospital of Saint John in Jerusalem; it was not included among any of the other crusader institutions named by the contemporary historians William of Tyre or Jacques de Vitry. The first brothers who served in this hospital did not have any military responsibilities, as is proven by an act of King Louis VII of France granting the Order the Barony of Boigny in 1154, which says nothing of a military character. The first such functions were assumed in about 1200, for self-protection, but the small number of brothers, most of whom themselves suffered from leprosy, gave them little strategic value.  It has been claimed that the Order's size eventually matched that of Saint John but this assertion is without merit and very little mention is made of the Hospitallers of Saint Lazarus in thirteenth century records. Its wealth was also greatly over-stated because of the mistaken belief that every institution bearing the name "Saint Lazarus" was connected with the Order.
The first instance of Papal recognition of the status of the brethren as members of an Order of Chivalry can be found in the Bull Cum a nobis petitur of 11 April 1254, which confirmed it as an Hospitaller and Military Order, under the rule of Saint Augustine. Of greater importance was the Bull Venerabilibus fratribus of 5 August 1265, which required that all leper hospitals should be put under the authority of the Order of Saint Lazarus and that they should be responsible to the Master-General of the Order ("Privilegium Fratrum Militum Hospitalis S. Lazari Hierosolymitani"). Over the next two centuries the Order benefited from several Papal Bulls confirming its status and privileges. The Order's work on behalf of lepers was unquestionably of importance, particularly at its Priory of Capua, as this disease was greatly feared and little understood during the middle ages. Although the Priory of Capua and the Commandery at Boigny maintained the ancient hospitaller mission, by the mid-fifteenth century the Order had become less effective elsewhere. By the Bull Cum solerti of 5 April 1489, Pope Innocent VIII ordered the suppression of the Order and its amalgamation into that of Saint John, returning it to the institution which had first nurtured it. This was confirmed in a further Bull (Laudibus et honore) dated one day later, giving the Grand Master of the Order of Saint John the authority to collect together the benefices and properties of Saint Lazarus.
These two Bulls proved difficult to enforce and, at the petition of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Aragon and Castille, the properties of the Order in Spain were absorbed into the territories of the Episcopal Sees in which they lay or, when adjacent to properties of the Orders of Saint John, Santiago, and Calatrava, were granted to those Orders. Resistance in France to the Bull was particularly forceful and was supported at first by the Crown, King Charles VIII confirming the rights and privileges of the Order in disobedience to the Pope in 1490. Pope Julius II confirmed the union with Saint John by the Bull Romani Pontificis of 5 July 1505, as did Pope Leo X in the Bull Dum continuus of 16 April 1514. In 1517, however, the latter partially reversed himself by re-establishing the Priory of Capua as the "Order of Saint Lazarus", naming the Prior as "Master-General" and granting him responsibility for the Hospital of Saint John of Leprosy in Palermo and the Hospital of Saint Agatha in Messina. The Emperor Charles V, in whose territories the newly restored Order lay, now attempted to recover the lands at Boigny for the Order, leading to a lengthy dispute which the French attempted to terminate in their favor by having the Parliament of Paris declare in 1547 that the Bull of 1489 did not have any effect in France (although it was clearly intended to have such effect). The Papacy was unwilling to submit to this attack on its powers and, by a further Bull Circumspecta Romani Pontificis of 1 July 1560, confirmed the extinction of the Order and its amalgamation into Saint John. 
The failure of the siege of Malta did not mark the final defeat of the Turks but was perceived as another event in the ongoing struggle against them. The Papacy continued to be seriously concerned about the Moslem threat to Southern Italy which was not removed until after the victory of Lepanto in 1571 while Barbary pirate raiders harrassed Christian shipping into the nineteenth century. Seeing the priory of Capua as more effective when independent from the knights of Saint John, who had suffered serious depredations in the defense of Malta, Pope Pius IV was persuaded to reinstate the Order of Saint Lazarus in Italy, appointing the Prior of Capua "Master-General of the Hospital and Militia of Saint Lazarus", with the seat of the Order at Capua, and giving him the authority to defend the Hospital and its territories against the incursion of the enemies of Religion in the Bull Inter assiduas of 15 June 1565 ("contra Piratarum et infidelium Christianae Religionis incursionem"). Numerous new privileges were granted along with revised Statutes and reforms made of the habit and the cross.
While the position and authority of the Sovereign of Naples and Sicily, Philip II, was acknowledged, this Bull attempted to return to the control of the new Master-General all the properties situated in England (which had been confiscated during the reformation), Spain and Flanders. Philip strongly objected, pointing out that there were no longer benefices of the Order of Saint Lazarus but properties attached to other Orders and institutions which would be deprived by the implementation of this Bull. The new Master-General, Giannotto Castiglione (Jeannot de Castillon), took such little interest in his new responsibility that he attempted to sell the Order, along with the two hundred knights and its possessions, to the Knights Hospitaller, but they refused as his price was too high, whereupon he entered into negotiations with the Duke of Savoy. Before any action could be taken the Pope died and was succeeded by (Saint) Pius V who, in Sicuti bonus Agricola of 7 February 1567, revoked the passages of the Bull concerning the properties in Spain and Flanders to which the Spanish King objected and many of the other privileges granted by his predecessor. Nonetheless he did confirm much of the Order's history and the titles of Master-General of the Prior at Capua. He did not submit to the King's demands to suppress Saint Lazarus altogether and Philip continued to protest to the Holy See until Pius's death in 1572.
Emmanuel-Filiberto's first act as Grand Master was to call a Chapter-General of the Order at Nice, where in April 1573 he received an oath of loyalty from the knights of Saint Lazarus who were joining the new Order and from his own nominees. The full title of the Grand Master was now designated, fulsomely in Latin, as Totius Religionis et Militiae Sanctorum Mauritii et Lazari, Bethleem, Nazareth, Hierosolymitani, Ordini Sancto Augustini, Conventium; Hospitalium; domorum, praeceptorium atque priorum locorum omnium citra et ultra mare, cis et trans Alpes, per universum Orbem, Humilis et Generalis Magnus Magister. This style was later modified to (in 1714), His Sacred Royal Majesty General Grand Master of the Sacred Religion and Military Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus. Two years later, by letters patent of 13 and 25 October 1575, he declared the patrimony of the Order separate from the Duchy estates, a separation which was maintained until 1946.  This patrimony was added to by various Popes: by a Bull of 15 June 1604 (Superna dispositione), in which twenty-four benefices, to be called Commanderies, were conceded to the Order. It later acquired the Abbey of Staffarda with one thousand three hundred and eighty-six hectares in 1750, the benefices attached to the Prebendary of San Michele and San Bernardino of Aosta (with the obligation to maintain a hospital there) in 1752, the benefices of the defunct Order of Saint Anthony of Vienne situated in Savoy in 1776 (with five hundred and ten hectares), the Abbey of Lucedio in 1784, and other properties across Northern Italy. One of the most valuable endowments was the peninsula of S. Antioco, in the south-west of the island of Sardinia, granted to the Order by Charles Emmanuel III in 1758 - this was rich in minerals and extremely fertile and from 1776 had the exclusive right to a percentage of the tuna catch.
The ecclesiastical prestige of the Order was enhanced by an act of 15 February 1729, in which the Church of Saint Paul (called Santa Croce) in Turin became a Magistral Basilica, a distinction also extended to the former Church of the Jesuits in Cagliari by a decree of 24 August 1809. While possession of these churches have been lost the knights gather annually at the Monastery of Saint Maurice in the presence of the Grand Master, retaining that ancient connection. Thus, by the end of the 18th century, the Order was an immensely wealthy and prestigious organization, described as a "State within a State", an autonomous institution enjoying virtually complete exemption from civil jurisdiction and administration.
As a Religion of the Church, it also enjoyed its own internal ecclesiastical jurisdiction under the authority of the Grand Prior, who shared the government of the Order with its other high functionaries, the Grand Admiral (who commanded the trireme galleys - the Piemonteisa and the Margarita), the Grand Marshal (who commanded the armed forces of the Order), the Grand Conservator (who administered the patrimony of the Order), the Grand Chancellor (who was responsible for the legal and juridical affairs), the Grand Treasurer (who administered the Treasure) and Grand Hospitaller (who dealt with the charitable and hospitaller work).
The Order was divided into two classes; knights of Justice and knights of Grace, the former being required to prove various qualifications including nobility in each of the four quarters, with the applicant's ancestry presented and certified showing fourteen noble antecedents.  Knights of Grace had to prove that they were Catholic, of "onesta famiglia", born of legitimate marriage and of good manners. The professed knights, who alone could enjoy Commanderies of the Order, were required to make a promise of marital chastity (i.e. that they would not take a mistress and would remain faithful to their wives), and of obedience to the Grand Master, and all were required to offer service to the hospitals of the Order and to defend Catholic civilization.  These requirements were clearly laid out in the Instruction of 8 January 1714, which regulated how application to join the Order should be made and required that the noble proofs should include a genealogical tree in which the postulant would give the surname and forenames of his parents, his four grandparents and eight-great grandparents with paintings of the arms of four of the eight great-grandparents (thus slightly modifying the original requirements). The grades of the Order were grand cross and knight, although both grades were entitled to enjoy the usufruct of the Commanderies of the Order with the title of commander.
All these changes had the affect of modifying the character of the Order, which was transformed from a primarily noble Order (as in the eighteenth century), to one in which merit was the principle reason for admission - of the one thousand three hundred and twenty-eight admissions made between 1814 and 1851, only two hundred and ninety-five were in the category of Justice and one thousand and thirty-three in that of Grace. This change was formalized by two decrees of Victor-Emmanuel II, of 1851 and 1860, uniting as one the two separate classes of Justice and Grace and abolishing the ancient dignities of Grand Admiral and Grand Marshal, redundant now the Order no longer maintained a fleet or army. By separate provisions of 1855 and 1857 two further intermediary grades of Officer and Grand Offcer were introduced between those of Knight and Commander, and Commander and Grand Cross respectively. The government was placed in the hands of the Grand Master directly, who delegated the administration of its affairs to the First Secretary of the Order. The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Grand Prior was also abolished and the churches of the Order put under the jurisdiction of the local Ordinaries, although the rights of the Order to utilize the Magistral Basilicas in Turin and Cagliari and the Priory of Torre Pellice remained unaffected.
During the eighty-six years of the Savoy Kingdom of Italy, the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus was awarded as the second highest Order of the Kingdom, after the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation. By a decree of 20 February 1868 the grades were reorganized into grand cross decorated with the grand cordon, which all knights of the Annunciation received automatically,  grand officer,  commander, officer and knight. These reforms were confirmed by a decree of 17 November 1907 and a further provision of that year stated that members were not automatically entitled to use the uniform of the Order but had to receive Grand Magistral permission so to do. During the period from 1860 and 1946 the Order became increasingly closely linked with the Italian State. By a royal decree of 30 December 1929, a decree issued by Victor Emanuel III as "General Grand Master" stated the Order would be continued "in accordance with the Statutes" as a reward for special meritorious civil or military service to the state, in the fields of sciene, literature, the arts, industry and anything else which served to "bring honor and grandeur to the Italian Nationa" (article 1). No-one who had not already received the Order of the Crown of Italy more than a year before could receive the Order (article 4) which would be given by "sovereign motu proprio" on the recommendation of the National Government (article 2).
Nonetheless, the Order maintained its historic endowment, its status as an institution founded by Papal Bull, and was awarded by the King as "Grand Master". Thus it cannot be equated with a purely state Order such as the Order of the Crown of Italy, an unendowed foundation established solely for the purpose of awarding meritorious service (and which has been replaced today by the Ordine al Merito of the Republic).
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The badge of this Society was the same Cross botonny used later by the 1572 Order, and is represented in an effigy of Umberto, bastard of Savoy, illustrated by Dino Muratore, in La fondazione dell'ordine del Collare della SS. Annunziata, Torino 1909 (see D'A.J.D. Boulton, The Knights of the Crown, Boydell Press, 1987, p.260).
See Boulton, op.cit., p.256, note 18.
Himself a knight of the English Order of the Garter.
The dynastic nature of the Grand Magistery which had been conferred on the Dukes of Savoy by the Pope, was emphasized in a Magistral letters patent of 22 January 1573/4 by which Grand Master Emmanuel-Filiberto stated that the Popes had conceded "a noi et nostri successori del sangue nostro duchi di Savoia il Gran Magisteriato ereditario dell'uno e dell'altro Ordine". It was clearly unrelated to the sovereignty of Savoy itself, which the Savoy Kings of Italy had lost long since, without any infringement of their enjoyment of the Grand Magistery. Neither could a claimant to the Duchy of Savoy or the Italian Crown who was not of the Savoy family claim the Grand Magistery.
" ... ex mera liberlitate et certa scientia nostra, ac de Apostolicae potestatis plenitudine, Militiam S. Lazari praedictam cum illius Magistratu, ac omnibus et quibuscumque Prioratibus, Praeceptoriis, Hospitalibus et aliis beneficiis regularibus ......ac etiam exceptis iis quae in Regnis et Dominiis charissimi in Christo filii nostri Philippi Hispaniarum Regis Catholici existunt, eidem Militiae S. Mauritii, quae in posterum Militia SS. Mauritii et Lazari nuncupetur, auctoritate Apostolica tenore praesentium ita perpetuo unimus, annectimus et incorporamus, ut posthac in perpetuum praedictus Emmanuel Philibertus, et pro tempore eixtsns Sabaudiae Dux Militiae Sanctorum Mauritii et Lazari Magister sit et appelletur".
See Alessandro Ferrari, L'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro, in Rivista Araldica, 1955, pp. 117-122; "Historicus", Sull'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro, in Rivista Araldica, 1969, pp. 193-200, pp. 228-235; and Conte Vittorio Prunas Tola, L'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro, Milano 1966.
Of the extensive recent bibliography of the modern "Order of Saint Lazarus", the historical veracity of those works produced by members of this organization anxious to promote the legitimacy of their "Order" must be viewed with a highly critical eye. The best critical histories of the purported survival of this Order were by Count Charles Zeininger de Borja, L'Ordre de Saint Lazare, and the Marquès de Villarreal de Alava, Las falsas Ordenes de Caballeria ... sobre la ilegitimidad de la actual "Orden de San Lazaro", published in Hidalguia, 1953, no. 3, pp. 501-620. See Appendix, The Military Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus.
 Later historians of the Order have written of examples of bravery by the knights of Saint Lazarus - while some very probably did distinguish themselves, the small number of military brethren cannot have made a significant difference to the strength of the crusader armies. Their active participation in the defense of Acre in 1291 was the most honorable event in the Order's military history.
 See later, following this chapter "A Note on the Order of Saint Lazarus".
 When its possessions were confiscated by the Republic and reorganized by the new administration as an Ente ospedaliero funzionante in base alle leggi.
 Other qualifications included to be born of legitimate marriage, not to descend from non-Christians or heretics, not to be married bigamously, not to have been convicted of a major crime, to be at least seventeen years, not to be a member of another Religion, and not to be encumbered with debt.
 Religious Profession in the Order was never abolished but, after the 1831 reforms, which among other things dispensed with the need to make profession to enjoy Commanderies, or other high offices, no more professions were made
After the fall of the Kingdom of Italy the Italian Republic attempted to recover certain properties and investments of King Umberto II in Great Britain. An outraged Hisgh Court Judge dismissed the government's claim as completely unwarranted and illegal.
 The former Cardinal Secretary of State, Agostino Casaroli, publicly accepted the Collar of the Order of the Annunziata despite its purported abolition by the Italian republic, thereby asserting Vatican authority over bodies founded under papal authority.
 The definition "decorated with the grand cordon" was used to make it clear that all knights of the grand cross were entitled to wear the green silk riband (over the right shoulder across to the left hip) - for example a grand cross of Malta is not entitled to the riband unless a bailiff, or specifically awarded the "grand cross with riband" (fascia). This grade could be awarded to ambassadors, ministers and minister-secretaries of state, presidents of the council of state and the court of accounts, first-presidents and procurator-generals of the court of Cassation, army generals, admirals, etc. Knights of the Annuciation who are entitled to the Grand Cordon of Saints Maurice and Lazarus are no longer listed in the Saints Maurice and Lazarus roll.
 Awarded to lesser envoys and ministers plenipotentiary of the 2nd class, senior judges, major-generals, rear-admirals, and mayors of major cities.
Received as a knight of Saint John in the Langue of Auvergne, 1532.