For the past several months we have received many inquiries pertaining to legitimacy of the Order of Saint Lazarus and the 2004 Schism. Following are the descriptions of the events prepared by the Grand Chancellery of the Malta Obedience. While the Grand Chancellor was eventually dismissed by the Grand Master, we believe that these accounts of the event are most accurate. 

Events leading to 2004 Schism and the aftermath. 

During the regency of the 44th Grand Master, H.R.H. Francisco de Paula de Borbón y de la Torre, Duke of Seville and Grandee of Spain, the Order came to be run by the Spanish Marquis of Cardenas de Montehermoso. He, as appointed Grand Referendary until his death in 1965, effectively directed the Order's affairs. The Duke of Seville died on 6 December 1952 and was succeeded by his son, H.R.H. Don Francisco Enrique de Borbón y de Borbón, Grandee of Spain, elected 45th Grand Master. Because he was an active military officer in the Spanish army (Colonel) and resided in Spain, he was unable to dedicate himself to the Order as fully as he would have wished, so in 1956 he appointed the late H.E. Duke de Brissac, living in Paris, as Administrator General.

The geographical separation of the administration (Paris) and magisterial (Madrid) seats of the Order became the source of much friction and misunderstanding. This eventually resulted in one faction of the government of the Order withdrawing its support from Don Francisco de Borbón and summoning a "Chapter General" of the Order with the result that on 20 May 1967 H.R.H. Charles Philippe de Bourbon-Orléans, Duke of Alençon, Vendôme and Nemours, great-great-grandson of Louis Philippe, King of the French, was elected 46th Grand Master, and H.R.H. Prince Michel de Bourbon-Orléans, son of H.R.H. Henri Count of Paris, was nominated Coadjutor. Don Francisco Enrique de Borbón y de Borbón, who had strongly contested the Chapter's decision, was named Grand Master emeritus.

The action of this so-called "Chapter General" was of questionable legitimacy because the Constitutional Decrees of the Order, which had been universally accepted before the split, state that once a Grand Master has been appointed he can only be removed from the position by his death or by his abdication. The Spanish knights remained under the Grand Magistracy of Don Francisco. Later on the 45th and the "illegal" 46th Grand Master came to an agreement, as Don Francisco accepted the election of his "cousin".

Although committing itself in theory to ecumenism, the official position of the Order on this issue remained rather hazy. The 46th Grand Master saw the wisdom of change and opened the ranks of the Order to all Christian denominations. As a result of the initiatives of the late Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, an Anglo-Scottish Lieutenant-Colonel of the Education Corps, the English Tongue had been founded, comprising the new Jurisdictions of England, Scotland, Ireland and Canada, the Commandery of Lochore and within the Commonwealth, the majority of whose members belonged to Protestant denominations. Gayre's energy and ability placed him in a central role in the Order's government, he have been appointed Grand Commander of the Order.

All these reforms were badly received by the officers in Paris. They resisted the Grand Master's authority, which they viewed as an infringement of their own rights. On 15 April 1969 an again dubious "Chapter General" unilaterally elected the Administrator General, the Duke of Brissac, as "Supreme Head" of the Order. This unfortunate action created a schism in the Order. There were now two branches, but a great number of Jurisdictions continued to view the Duke of Nemours as the only legitimate Grand Master. In view of the new situation in France and in order to guarantee the Order international status and independence, the Duke of Nemours decided to transfer the Grand Chancellery of the Order to the island of Malta. He continued to work effectively for the Order until his death on 10 March 1970.

The vacancy in the Grand Magistracy continued for some time, as the Coadjutor, H.R.H. Prince Michel de Bourbon-Orléans, did not take up his rights to the succession. Proposed by the Grand Commander, LtCol. Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, H.R.H. Don Francisco Enrique de Borbón y de Borbón, meanwhile retired from his military duties, had been elected by a Chapter General in 1973 as the 47th Grand Master. He appointed his eldest son, H.H. Don Francisco de Paula de Borbón y Escasany, Duke of Seville, as Coadjutor.

While each branch followed its own course, many knights from both sides became even more concerned about the situation which was prejudicial to its prestige, diluted its good work and gave ammunition to its detractors. Partisans of reunification from both sides of the Order negotiated the conditions with prudence and determination. Recommendations made from both sides led to a an agreement, named "Declaration of Washington", which was signed 1979 by both Grand Masters and most of the Heads of Jurisdictions of both branches. In a spirit of knightly confraternity, it was decided that each side would give up its vain quarrels and would work to achieve reunification. Each side would retain its structure and identity; that governed by Don Francisco de Borbón would be known as the "Malta Obedience", and that of the Duke de Brissac would be known as the "Paris Obedience". The spiritual unity of the Order was to be assured by H.B. Maximos V. Hakim, Greek-catholic Patriarch of Antioch, as Spiritual Protector. After the death of one Grand Master the other should resign and both Obediences should elect one new Grand Master.

In spite of considerable hard work by many people in both factions to bring about a reconciliation, the attempt failed: The Grand Magisterial Council 1986 of the Malta Obedience was due to be held in Oxford, England. Certain that the goal of reunification would be attained at last that proposed meeting was renamed by the organizers as "Joint International Reunion". But contrary to the expressed wishes of the Grand Master the culmination of the Oxford meeting was a "Chapter General" to elect a new Grand Master for the unified Order. This was also illegal, as such an election obviously contravenes the Constitutional Decrees as stated above. Don Francisco de Borbón forbade all members to attend the Oxford meeting and according to the Constitution the Spiritual Protector had no authority to call together such a meeting.

The result of this "Chapter General" was that H.E. François Marquis de Brissac was elected as head of the Paris Obedience, which called itself "United Order", whilst the true Grand Master, H.R.H. Don Francisco Enrique de Borbón y de Borbón, remained head of the Malta Obedience. Once again the Order was split, but this time with different allegiances. Today there is still controversy about the legitimacy of the Oxford meeting, and thus the Grand Mastership.

H.R.H. Don Francisco Enrique de Borbón y de Borbón died on 18 November 1995. He was succeeded by the Coadjutor, H.R.H. Don Francisco de Paula de Borbón y Escasany, Duke of Seville and Grandee of Spain, who was declared according to the Order’s Constitution 48th Grand Master of the Malta Obedience in January 1996 by the Supreme Council. Because of internal problems regarding the international administration of the Order in April 2004 the Grand Chancellor called together a working meeting of Heads of Jurisdiction to settle these problems. The Vienna Conference took place begin of May, attended by representatives of 17 Jurisdictions. Some declarations have been unanimously approved and signed by all participants and sent to the Grand Master for his final decision, but no reply ever has been received. Therefore in June 2004 the signatories of the resolution expressed their motion of non-confidence to the Duke of Seville and declared themselves autonomous.

Question of Central - Eastern Europe. 

During the entire communist era there was only one Jurisdiction that was actually active  within the Order of Saint Lazarus. The Priory of Hungary. And even that in exile.  Immediately after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia a two new jurisdictions have  been created. That was the Commandery of Slovakia, and the Jurisdiction of Bohemia. 

When we take into consideration that Hungary was one of the countries that participated in organizing the creation of the original Order of Saint Lazarus in Holy Land, it is most  peculiar that during the past three decades there was a very little interest from the  international administration of the Order in overseeing the proper development of the Order  in that specific part of the world.  

Today, when we search for various publicly accessible references regarding the activities of the Order of Saint Lazarus in Central - Eastern Europe we cannot find any credible  information, but on the other hand we find a great deal of misleading information posted by  various individuals on websites, such as "Wikipedia": >. 

I would like to quote: ... "Today, the revived organization has been engaged in a major charitable program to revive Christianity in Eastern Europe; Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, and Near East: Lebanon, Syria, Palestine. Millions of dollars worth of food, clothing, medical equipment and supplies have been distributed in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Croatia." ... 

While a specific European Jurisdiction was responsible for delivering various gods to needy into Poland, Hungary, Romania and Croatia, in no way did the Order of Saint Lazarus was ever engaged in any charitable program to revive Christianity in Eastern Europe; Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia. This is completely misleading. We  can emphatically state that from our experience none of the local churches, Catholic, or Protestant, in these countries registered any such activities. In fact the majority of the  churches were, and are very skeptical of the Order of Saint Lazarus and it's foreign administrators.  While today several local church charitable organizations receive gifts from various groups operating under the name of the Order of Saint Lazarus, today's situation is no different. 

Post communist chivalry.  

Post Communist Knights and Banana Republic Diplomats  (read more ...)
What was happening to the Order of Saint Lazarus in Hungary between 1710 - 1903.
A short summary of the history of the Order of Saint Lazarus and the "Lazarus Mission" activities in Hungary during the 19th. and 20th. century.
NOTE: For those visitors who are not familiar with the history of Central Europe we would like to explain the reasons why does the Commandery of Slovakia making a reference to Hungary when presenting its own history and the history of the Order of Saint Lazarus in this geographic region. 

For over one thousand years prior to 1918, 14 counties, which today form country of Slovakia, were a part of the Kingdom of Hungary.

In 1867 Hungary, together with Austria, became a part of the Dual Monarchy. This constitutional and monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary was a result of the Ausgleich or Compromise of 1867, under which the Austrian Habsburgs agreed to share power with a separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them. The Dual Monarchy existed for only 51 years until 1918, when it dissolved following military defeat in the First World War.

After expulsion of Turks from Carpathia Basin in 1683 the Order reestablished itself on the entire territory of Kingdom of Hungary. In 1710 Knights of the Order founded a hospital named "Lazarethum" in Tabán, where infectious patients were treated until the end of the 18th century. The extending activities of the  "Saint Lazarus Missionary Society" were closely interwoven with the activities of the Knights of the Order of Saint Lazarus. However the Missionary Society worked mostly among the Catholics while the Knights of the Order of Saint Lazarus, although most of its members were Catholics, attended the poor and the ill without distinction to their religion.

In the middle of 18th century a joint Medical Mission Station was established in Nagyszombat between the Missionary Society of Saint Lazarus and the Sisters of Charity.  At the same time both groups were in charge of the Seminary of the Diocese of Vác.

In 1781, King Joseph II of Austria and Hungary, Holy Roman Emperor, (1780–1790) ... dissolved all Holy Orders (including the Order of the Sisters of Charity) and thus he put an end to their activities. However, the activities of the Knightly Order of Saint Lazarus and the Missionary Society of Saint Lazarus could not be stopped. Hungarian Knights continued their work in Hungary, and in many other countries around the world. Many of them, together with volunteers took part in it. The highly esteemed missionaries, like Ignác Erdélyi, Ignác Ürge, József Wilfinger considerably contributed in this process. In 1870 a few Lazarists started to  work in Hungary again.  Among them were Nándor Medits, Kálmán Galambos and József Lollok.  Due to their excellent work, in 1903 H.I.H. Prince Joseph placed at their disposal his hunting palace at Piliscsaba.  From that point on mission stations and hospices were built, one after the other, all over the country on behalf of the Order.

1903 - Budapest, Gát street; church and mission station.
1909 - Budapest, 26 Nagyboldogasszony Street mission station. 

The World War I. briefly interrupted this process but in 1920 the Administrator General of the Order converted the Hungarian mission stations into Vice-Province, and in 1926 he established an independent province of the Order and the new houses were built again in: 

Budapest, Ménesi str. - Central Headquarters of the Order
Szob, - Education Center
Lakócsa, (County Somogy) -Mission Station
Budapest, Csepel-Királyerdô- Mission Station and the Hospice
Budapest, Csepel-Szabótelep- Mission Station ion and the Hospice

After the World War II. the Order started to reorganize. However, this activities was stopped by the communist regime for several decades. Communists decrees prohibited all Knightly Orders and Missionary Societies from carrying out their activities. Their buildings were nationalized and their members persecuted or expelled from the country. 



Fejér György: Codex diplomaticus ecelesiasticus ac civilis. Vol. I-XL. Budae, 1829-1842; Wenzel Gusztáv: Arpád-kori új okmánytár. I-XII. köt. Pest-Bp., 1860-1874; Anjou-kori okmánytár. I-l. köt. Bp., 1891-1898; Szentpétery Imre : Az Arpádházi királyok okleveleinek kritikai jegyzéke. I-Ill. köt. Bp., 1923-1986; Garády Sándor: Szent Lázár temploma az I. Ker.., Bugát utcában. In: Budapest Régiségei. XIII. köt 193-202.: Zolnay László: Az elátkozott Buda. Buda aranykora.

Knights of the Order of Saint Lazarus.  (to be continued