Tuesday 23 November 2010

Visit to France for St Lazarus

Members after the Mass at Orléans Cathedral

I’ve spent the last few days in Orléans, France, attending the Installation of the new Grand Master of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, of which I’m the Chaplain General for the Grand Priory of Great Britain.

The installation took place in Orléans Cathedral - a splendid building but without the benefit of any heating system (thank goodness for the layers of vestments). The Grand Master we elected is Count Jan Dobrzenský z Dobrzenicz, former Commander of Bohemia, who now takes over from Prince Charles-Philippe de Orléans, Duc d’Anjou, who was present representing his Uncle, the Count of Paris, Head of the Royal House of France, under whose protection the Order exists. I had the privilege of proclaiming on his behalf in English the statement of his continuing protection of the order.

The new Grand Master
The new Grand Master and the Grand Master Emeritus

The present day Order grew out of medieval roots where it looked after and protected those travelling to the Holy Land who suffered from leprosy - hence the title of St Lazarus. In those dangerous times for travellers, soldiers (the Knights) were also needed to protect the hostels manned by the Order. Today the Order is engaged in all manner of good works but retains a strong interest in the relief of leprosy. But it is more than a philanthropic organisation, as the motivation from Christian imperatives and the commitment to prayer and living the Christian life in the world is also prominent. Members from France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the USA, Spain, Italy and Great Britain were present for the very impressive procession into the Cathedral Holy Mass was presided over by Monseigneur Pierre Boz, Patriarchal Exarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church for Western Europe, and we were warmly welcomed by the ebullient Dean of the Cathedral, Fr Claude Girault.

A State dinner was held in the Chateau of Ferté Aubin.

Some other members after the Mass.

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