Archive for the ‘Orders of Chivalry & Merit’ Category.

Further on the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem


I have written before about the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem several times and my personal opinion on their status is on public display right here on this blog. Since writing that original article I have been contacted over the years by many individuals that are members of the various factions of the group. Some have been unchivalrous but most have been very kind in their communications. All, however, tried to prove that the particular Lazarite faction they belong to is legitimate and some even tried to recruit me!

In any case, I have decided to put together a quick reference guide in response to some of the most common arguments presented by the Lazarite supporters.

Fons Honorum

The fundamental requirement for any chivalric order is to have a fount of honor (fons honorum) backing it up. The requirement exists because the chivalric order is a conferral of a distinct kind of honor that elevates the recipient. Such an honor can be granted solely by one that has the capacity to do so, in other words a source for the honors. In practical terms, this means that founts of honor are:

  • Regnant Monarchs of Sovereign States. Examples are the King of Spain, the King of the Belgians, etc.
  • The Head of State of a Republic of a Sovereign State. Examples are the President of the USA, the President of the Hellenic Republic, etc.
  • Heads of formerly regnant Sovereign Houses. Examples are the Royal House of Portugal, the Imperial House of Russia, etc.
  • The 5 Ancient Apostolic Sees of the Christian Church:
    • Holy See of Rome, in the person of the Pope. Note: The sovereignty of the person of the Pope is through the recognition of the sovereignty of the Holy See and not that of the Vatican City State
    • Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, in the person of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Note: beyond the Apostolic See, he is also co-sovereign of the State of Mt. Athos
    • Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the person of its Patriarch
    • Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, in the person of its Patriarch
    • Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, in the person of the Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria
    • Note: Though not widely known in the Roman Catholic and Protestant West, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchates are considered sovereign in their own right, particularly the Ecumenical Patriarchate, based on the same principles as those of the Holy See only in a different geographical area.

There is also the unique case of an Order being in itself sovereign: The Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes, and Malta. They are today known simply as the Order of Malta or SMOM.

So, let’s examine the Order of St. Lazarus today and their main factions starting with the “Paris-Malta Obedience”, generally referred to as the “Spanish Branch”.

The “Spanish Branch” is currently headed up by its Grand Master Don Carlos Gereda y de Borbón, de jure uxoris Marquis de Almazán. However, he is not a fount of honor and cannot confer honors. Now, if the Order of St. Lazarus were placed under the Spanish Crown, it would become a Spanish Royal Order and effectively a new creation.

I should also note that Francisco de Borbón y de La Torre, de jure uxoris Duke of Seville, under whose Grand Magistry the Order of St. Lazarus was allegedly reconstituted in 1930 (after deciding in 1910 that they are to be governed by its knights without the need of a temporal protector), was also not a fount of honor.

The other main faction is known as the “Orléans Obedience“, under the Royal House of France (Orléans). This one would be considered as a legitimate and valid chivalric order since the Royal House of France is indeed a fount of honor. One can even argue that it would be a sort of revival of the ancient Order that was merged with the Order of Mt. Carmel by the French Crown in the 17th century. However, in a statement made by Henri, Count of Paris & Duke of France, on January 31, 2014 in his capacity as Head of Royal House of France (Orléans) the temporal protection of any group named as “Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem” has been rescinded since Easter 2012. I am including an image of the declaration from the website.

Statement by Count of Paris regarding the Order of St. Lazarus

This means that today, there is absolutely no group with the Lazarite name that has any sort of fons honorum to back it up.

Recognition by the Spanish Crown or any other State

This has been brought up so many times that it never ceases to amaze me how some people just don’t understand what they’re saying. Having a registered legal entity in any jurisdiction does not mean State recognition. It simply means that the proper paperwork was filed and the fees paid to set up a corporation (for-profit or non-profit). Nothing more and nothing less.

Then there are the examples brought forward of certain States, for example the Republic of Hungary, thanking or in some other way acknowledging the Order for something. This is interpreted as recognizing the Order as being a valid Chivalric Order. It’s not. This is the same sort of acknowledgement given to such organizations as the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, etc. and using the name the group uses for itself. It does not mean anything else.

However, let’s hypothetically accept that the group is recognized by a sovereign State. What exactly is being recognized? Is the Order of St. Lazarus claiming to be a sovereign entity in its own right like the Order of Malta? Is the Order of St. Lazarus being recognized as an Order of the sovereign State doing the recognition? What exactly is being recognized other than there exists a group that calls itself “Order of St. Lazarus”?

Finally, many insist that by having Carlos Gereda y de Borbón, de jure uxoris Marquis de Almazán, as the Grand Master of the Paris-Malta Obedience it means that the Royal House of Spain approves the Order. This is a preposterous claim! Carlos Gereda y de Borbón is the 6th cousin once removed on his mother’s side of HM King Felipe VI of Spain, not exactly a close relative.

Protection by the Melkite Patriarch

The Melkite Patriarch has repeatedly confirmed his protection of the Order of St. Lazarus and its various factions. Nobody can dispute this fact. However, this does not make the order anything more than an ecclesiastical honor for the simple reason that the Melkite Patriarch is not a fount of honor and is subordinate to the Roman Pontiff. The Melkite Patriarch has asserted that he is “equal” to the Bishop of Rome but, it is patently clear that is not the case:

  • The Melkite Patriarch has accepted Roman Supremacy and being fully subordinate to the Holy See of Rome
  • Pope Gregory XVI granted Patriarch Maximos III Mazloum the titles of “Patriarch of Alexandria and Jerusalem” in 1838, an action no typically done to one’s equal.
  • In around 1891/2, during Melkite Patriarch Gregory II Youssef’s visit to Rome he was forced to the floor in front of Pope Pius IX and the latter placed his foot on the Patriarch’s head, reminding him of his place.[1][2] The Melkite Patriarch continues to this day to be subordinate to Rome.

This protection is also referenced to cover the gap in the Order of St. Lazarus from 1830 when the Royal House of France decreed it no longer offers its protection to either 1910 (when the Order of St. Lazarus decided it no longer needed a fons honorum) or 2004 (when the Orleans branch of the Royal House of France granted temporal protection, rescinded Easter 2012). It should also be noted that there really isn’t any documentation to cover the period between 1830 to 1910 and much of what is claimed about the period is based on interpretations of insignia seen in paintings that resemble (under certain angles, lighting, and discoloration assumptions) those of the Order of St. Lazarus (maybe).

Finally, support and/or protection of a bishop or archbishop or even the head of a particular Church that makes up the Roman Catholic Church does not grant a group any status above that of ecclesiastical decoration for the simple reason that the fons honorum is not present.

  1. Zoghby, Elias (1998). Ecumenical Reflections. Fairfax, VA.: Eastern Christian Publications. p. 83. ISBN 1-892278-06-5.
  2. Parry, Ken; David Melling (editors) (1999). The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity. Malden, MA.: Blackwell Publishing. p. 313. ISBN 0-631-23203-6.

VIP Membership

Another argument put forward to support the legitimacy of the Lazarite groups is the very impressive list of members they have. Nobody can argue that having Grandees of Spain, Flag Officers of the Military, Peers of the UK, and Bishops is not a big deal; it definitely is. However, regardless of the length and breadth of the VIP member list, it does not make it a chivalric order. It makes it a great club for networking but not an order of chivalry.


Closing remarks

In closing this article, I will repeat what I have said many times before. Most of the Lazarite groups do amazingly good charity work, moreso than many legitimate chivalric order or even NGOs. I am first to recognize this work and commend them for that; they surely deserve congratulations and admiration for that work. However, they could do that same work without the trappings of a chivalric order and losing their credibility.


Orders of the Serbian Orthodox Church



Like her sister churches in other countries, the Serbian Orthodox Church has a number of orders of merit it gives out to deserving people, in recognition for their services. Though there are a number of decorations the process for awarding them is similar across: the candidate needs to be recommended by a diocesan bishop to the Holy Synod that will, in turn, confer on the matter and decide.

For those who are not familiar with the Orthodox Communion, the highest authority within any particular Church is the Holy Synod and not any particular individual.


Order of St. Sava

The creation of these awards of merit started in 1985 with the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and its first Archbishop. It was at this time that the Holy Synod decided to create the Order of St. Sava in three classes:

  • The first class has the colors of the order being white
  • The second class has the colors of the order being red
  • The third class has the colors of the order being blue

To qualify for the next higher class, one must be in the previous one for at least three years. The brevet for the order is signed by either the Patriarch or his deputy.


Order of St. Simeon the Myrrh-streaming

This award was created in 2009 in honor of the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja who lived in 12th century Serbia and was canonized under the name of St. Simeon the Myrrh-streaming due to the reported miracles attributed to him. The award is given to statesmen that have contributed to the improvement of relations between Church and state. This award is open to both Serbs and foreigners.


Order of St. Emperor Constantine

Honoring the life and enormous contributions to the Faith that St. Constantine the Great made, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church created the Order of St. Emperor Constantine. This high distinction is reserved for thos that have made great contributions to the freedom of religion and the promotion of human rights. There aren’t any nationality restrictions for the award


Order of the Holy King Milutin

Stephen Uroš II Milutin of Serbia was king of Serbia between 1282 to 1321 and managed to elevate his country to one of the most powerful states in the region. He also introduced much of the Byzantine culture to the kingdom and founded a large number of monasteries. Since King Milutin was such a great benefactor for Serbia, it is in his honor that this particular order was created in 2009 and it is meant to reward great philanthropists.


Order of St. Peter of Cetinje

Named after Petar I Petrović-Njegoš, this order was created in 2009 by the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It should not be confused with the order of the same name that is under the Royal House of Petrović-Njegoš (Montenegro).

This distinction is awarded in recognition of missionary work, evangelism, promoting peace and personal sacrifice.


Order of the Holy Empress Milica – Venerable Jevgenija

Named after Empress (Tsaritsa) Milica, wife of Serbian Prince Lazar, who is most famous for her poem of mourning for her husband “My Widowhood’s Bridegroom”. After the death of her husband, she became a nun under the name of Jevgenija. This particular award is given to those who have made outstanding contributions for the improvement of the lives of the poor, the sick, and the helpless.


Order of the Holy Despot Stefan Lazarevic

Named after the ruler of the Serbian Despotate between 1389 and 1427, he was the son of Prince Lazar and Empress Milica. He was an enlightened ruler and can be considered the one to have brought the Renaissance to the realm.

This distinction is awarded to those individuals who have made significant contributions to culture, where it be literature, poetry, the arts, etc.


It should be noted here again that the Holy Synod reserves the right to revoke any honor previously bestowed if the awardee violates in some way the Serbian Orthodox Church. It should also be stressed that the awarding of any Church award is not a form of salvation as the awardee must remain committed to the path of Christ and be an example to others.

All awards by the Holy Synod are gazetted in the official journal of the Serbian Orthodox Church.


Source: Very Reverend Protopresbyter Savo B. Jovic. “Ордени Српске Православне Цркве које додељује Свети Архијерејски Сабор, односно Свети Архијерејски Синод“. “Orthodoxy” newspaper of the Serbian Patriarchate.


Acta Apostolicae Sedis

The Acta Apostolicae Sedis or Acts of the Apostolic See (in English) is the official gazette of the Holy See, functioning like the official gazette of any government or state around the world. In here, one finds encyclicals, official decisions, appointments, etc. The gazette was established in 1908 by Pope Pius X and has been published every month since then.

Just on the face of it, this is very interesting to anyone that enjoys such things. However, what is particularly fascinating and an excellent source for those of us in the chivalric/heraldic world is that all those who have had the honor of being admitted into any of the papal orders are mentioned in the gazette. In other words, this resource is a quick and easy way to validate whether someone who claims to be a, say, Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester really is so.

As most of those that are involved in orders of chivalry, there are many (way too many) false orders and even more pretenders that claim to have more knighthoods than even the King of Spain! A very (un)healthy market has been the sales of false membership into papal orders. This has gone on for a long time and a few years ago was wildly popular. Naturally, this was completely false and many people were taken in as victims of these scams.

The availability of the Acta online is a veritable boon to all those who like to validate such claims.

The link to the online archive of every single publication of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis since 1909 is:


I’d like to thank Dr. Charles Drake for alerting me to the existence of the archive!

Note: image from Wikipedia

Royal Order of the Omujwaara Kondo

I have written before about the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara and its peculiar situation of being a fully legitimate kingdom located wholly within the borders of the Republic of Uganda, recognized by the constitution of Uganda.

The Kingdom has instituted 3 dynastic orders of chivalry with the senior most being the Royal Order of the Omujwaara Kondo, originally established some time in the 15th century and traditionally awarded to those who had won major military victories for the Kingdom. Over the centuries, it evolved and by the time of the early to mid 20th century, it had become an “Order of Distinction” as it was recognized in the treaties between Bunyoro-Kitara and the United Kingdom (1933 & 1955). This order, along with all others, continued to be granted until 1967 when the dictatorship of Uganda outlawed the royals and related institutions. It wasn’t until 1994 that the order was restored.

This order is a single grade order, split into two classes with Class I reserved for royals and heads of state while everyone else is admitted into the second class. Both classes have the exact same insignia, depicted above, except that Class I uses gold whereas Class I uses silver. The description of the insignia is:

An eight-pointed Azure star trimmed with stylized lilies with every other lily bearing a strip of lozenges radiating from the center of the insignia. In the circular center, the royal arms of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara surrounded by a circle trimmed in lozenges.

What is interesting about the Order of the Omujwaara Kondo is not just that it confers nobility to the admitted member, as there are several chivalric orders around the world that do so but, that this nobility is heritable as is the order itself! Perhaps it is more fair to compare it to a British baronetcy or hereditary knighthood rather than an order of chivalry.

However, as opposed to the rules of inheritance of baronetcies, the rule for the order is that it can only be inherited by the eldest child of the same gender as the bearer. In other words, if a female is awarded the order then only a daughter may inherit it and the nobility that goes with it. Conversely, if there are no children of the same gender, it becomes extinct.

The postnominal of the order is OOKB preceded by the generational number, much like any other title. Therefore, the 3rd to inherit the order would be the “John Q. Doe, 3rd OOKB“.

Another item that differentiates the Order of the Omujwaara Kondo from many other chivalric orders is that in the statutes one finds a set ratio of how many recipients may come from Bunyoro-Kitara (at least 20%) vs. how many from Uganda (at least 30%) vs how many from anywhere else in the world (no more than 50%).

“Omujwaara Kondo” translates to “Coronet Wearer” and this is depicted in the heraldic privileges of those honored to be admitted. All members of the order are permitted to use a coronet (if they already do not have one due to being a titled noble).

Other heraldic privileges:

  • May petition for and be granted supporters
  • May encircle their arms with a blue and red ribbon with the insignia of their class suspended from it

Those so honored, should also know that there are restrictions associated, namely:

  • May not eat potatoes (revoked)
  • May not eat beans (revoked)
  • May not eat “common foods” (revoked)
  • Must visit the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara at least once

On a personal note, though not honored to have the Order of Omujwaraa Kondo, I am happy to know that the food restrictions have been lifted,in case I ever were awarded it 🙂

Related sites:


Heraldic privileges of Knights of the Order of St. Lazarus of the Grand Priory of Spain

Learning from the excellent publication of the Grand Priory of Spain of the Order of St. Lazarus I wrote about the other day, I decided to publish a concise list of heraldic privileges of the knights of the Order.

There are specific regulations that are applicable based on the rank as well as the specific office held by the knight.

Before going into the details, there are some rules that are applicable to all:

All knights may display the arms of the Order in either a chief or a canton. The arms of the Order are: Argent a cross Vert.

All knights may lay their shield on the cross of the order (a maltese cross vert).

Specific to the rank of the knight, the rules are:

  • Knights: May suspend the insignia of the order from the bottom of their shield
  • Commanders: May suspend the insignia from the flanks of their shield
  • Grand Crosses: May have their shield encircled with the insignia
  • Collared: Those who are either Grand Collars or have a collar of office may encircled their shield with the collar they are entitled too.

Specific to the office the knight may hold, the rules are:

  • Grand Masters: May quarter the arms of the Order with their personal arms. They may display two scepters in saltire behind their shield
  • Chancellors: May display a sword in pale behind their shield
  • Heads of a Grand Chapter: May display a scepter in pale behind their shield
  • Judges of Arms: May display a baton of office in pale and surmount their shield with the coronet of a king of arms
  • Grand Marshals: May display two batons of office in saltire behind their shields
  • Grand Auditors: May display a gold key in pale behind their shields
  • Grand Treasurers: May display two gold keys in saltire behind their shields
  • Grand Referendaries: May display a sword and a baton of office in saltire behind their shields
  • Coadjutors: May display a scepter and baton office in saltire behind their shields

All high dignitaries and members of the Council have the additional right to display their arms in the pavillion of the Order. The pavillion is black, to denote the loss of the holy land to the muslims, and is charged with the cross of the order on the sinister side. The pavillion is surmounted with a closed eastern crown, showing the founding of the Order in the east.



  • Images by Fernando Martínez Larrañaga and Wikipedia
  • I am not affiliated in any way with the Order of St. Lazarus