The Domus Sancti Lazari in Jerusalem

On the sunny afternoon of 20 April 2017, the green cross banner of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was raised high over its new home in the Old City of Jerusalem, to the acclaim of knights, dames and guests from numerous countries and faiths. By decree of the 50th Grand Master, HRH Prince Sixte-Henry de Bourbon-Parme, proclaimed in the presence of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant bishops, the ‘Domus Sancti Lazari’ was established as the Magistral Seat of the whole Order.


The Domus is a large residential property that also serves as the Grand Chancery. It is located near the Jaffa Gate – where the Christian Quarter meets the Armenian Quarter – opposite the entrance to the Tower of David (Citadel) and adjacent to the patriarchal exarchate of the Maronite Church.


The foundations of the Domus, which has been a Christian household for many years, date from the Ottoman era, with periodic additions and renovations up until the present time. Its three storeys surround an interior courtyard in the traditional Oriental fashion, with a fountain depicting the raising of Lazarus in traditional Armenian ceramics. A ‘grand salon’ furnished with antiques, banners of the Order and artworks houses the ceremonial seats of the Grand Master and Grand Magistry. The extensive and welcoming roof terrace provides a panoramic view of all the principal domes and towers of the Old City and its surrounding hills.


Addressing the religious and diplomatic, civic and community leaders, members of the Order and friends on this happy and hospitable occasion, the Grand Chancellor, Count Piccapietra, spoke of the importance of the return of the Order to Jerusalem, a process initiated in 2009 when a French dame asked why no orders of knights were based where they were founded, in Jerusalem. In 2012 Saint Lazare was officially registered as a charity in the Holy Land and the first modern Chapter General of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was held at the Garden of Gethsemane. The present Grand Master, elected in 2015, is the first head of the Order to have been installed as such in the Holy Land in 781 years.


Emphasizing that the acquisition of the Domus was a necessary step for the present course and future path of the Order’s spiritual and charitable initiatives, Count Piccapietra recalled that the original Domus Sancti Lazari, a hospice for leper-knights during the time of the Latin Kingdom, was just a short walk from its present location, a fact verified by contemporary chroniclers and archaeological evidence. Besides the significance of their being once again members of the local Christian community, the supportive presence of knights in the Holy City can only have a positive influence on their confrères internationally.


Thanks to the generous and patient cooperation of the owner of the house, the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem has been enabled to come home to its place of birth. The Grand Magistry emphatically thanks all those who have assisted with the task of re-establishing the Domus after centuries of exile.


May the Mother Church of Jerusalem and all who reside in the Holy Land be blessed with growing peace and unity. And may all who follow the green cross of Saint Lazarus feel that they too have a home here now, where historical disputes between knights may be healed, for the benefit of all whom they are called to serve.


"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are all filled with all precious and pleasant riches." (Proverbs 24: 3-4)