The holy mission of the order of Saint Lazarus
The current mission of the order of Saint Lazarus is eternal, historical mission of healing minds, spirits and bodies regardless the political, ethnic or religious boundaries.
The order's role is the commemoration of Saint Lazarus, the resurrection of Saint Lazarus, healing or treating leprous people. This was his traditional mission, today we are healing minds and spirits, which means we are having demining operation in certain areas, we have filed hospitals, we do support kindergartens, houses for elderly people, we have all kind of emergency missions. One of our members was working for 15 years and was head of missions in Sudan. Therefore, there are plenty of missions, which we call charitable activities.
These days, the military aspect is not executed though military actions, it’s more attitude to stand up when it’s needed. There was a time during history, in which we were running the Military Academy in France, we were having Navy minister, we were having four ships fighting against the British without success. There was a moment, in which we were fighting, but this is not now any more a case.
The question of future challenges for the Western and Eastern Christianity is very complex. First of all, I do believe Eastern and Western Christianity will face the same challenges. That’s one thing.
And how can we overcome these challenges? This will be an answer, which will be very much valued by many people if I could give an easy answer. First, of all, I do believe, understanding, we have already this kind of interaction between the East and West. I think we do share the same religion, which is important. The religious leaders are moving towards each other. It is important that the Christianity remains active, is executing freely its believe. It is extremely important that we do support Christianity in the Holy Land, in the Near and Middle East, because we do strongly believe that there is no Christianity anymore in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Twenty years later, there will be no Christianity anymore in Europe.
It’s difficult to say, for the moment Christians, Muslims, everybody is bleeding and suffering under the dame conditions together. I know that the Christians did live quite well during the time of Assad in Syria. They had some, I don’t want to call it privilege, but a stable situation for the moment it is completely on clear. I hope that the intervention of Russian government does support the stable Near East. I do not consider that DAESH or any kind of antichrist movement is a peaceful neighborhood for any kind of Christianity. This is absolute no way. In this regard, I would support and I would confirm your question, yes, it might lead in a better stable life for Christians. If this is new Rome. I don’t believe yet.
First of all, Russia is not Rome. Russia is Russia, and Rome is Rome. A new Rome would come from Rome, if you talk about a new Empire, then it might be an idea. Yes, it could be an idea, which I would be very happy, if Saint Sophia would be used as the church one day again. I would be very happy, and I think that there is nothing bad about this.
Actually, our order became ecumenical by coincidence. To make 1000 years of history short we started, we were created by Armenians, Armenian Apostolic Church brothers. We became an order for a decent time under the Church in Jerusalem. When we have to leave the Holy Lands of the fall of Jerusalem, we went back to Europe, we became Catholic. Then in 1500 there was a split of the Catholic Church, out of it there was a Protestantism. So, one part of the members of the order became a protestant. There was another shift, another change in England, the church of England.
So, we had English Church members, Catholic members, protestant members. In 1640, we lost the religious statute, the Pope in Rome abolished the religion statute, we became only a knight order without a religious mission. And during the French revolution, the last king of France came to Russia, and as a courtesy and respect for your tsar, they exchanged the decoration, so, your last tsar was de-facto member of Saint Lazarus. So, it was an opening already towards the Orthodox Church.
In 2009 we decided to go back to Jerusalem. And in Jerusalem you do understand real world is Orthodox. And we decided in order to put this now once and forever right, we changed last year the constitutional charter, in which we have lifted all grand Churches, of which the Russian Church of course is one of the main churches to the same level, means that there is no primacy any more in Catholicism. So, now we are now really ecumenical. As the result of this, patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church allowed that we invested the first members in history of the Serbian Orthodox Church into the order last year in Jerusalem.
It would be after this historical break, after your tsar, after the disappearance, it was the difficult period, now that we can offer to Orthodox member a full membership which is in accordance with the church, it would be a great honor and the pleasure to find once again Russian people who do commit their lives to the well-being of others. We are in the position to welcome Russian Orthodox people to the order especially when we have a project by protecting the monastery of Mar Saba, which is the cradle of Orthodoxy. So, this is one of our missions in the Holy Land to protect the monastery and brothers of Mar Saba. Therefore, this is a project which every orthodox member can or even should participate.
I hope it would be a great honor if we could add a value to this very important enterprise.