Tuesday 5 October 2010

October Investiture 2010

This has been a difficult year for the Order of St Lazarus. Internal tensions within the former Grand Magistery have resulted in many good members breaking away from the Temporal Protection of the Royal House of France to form their own Green Cross Organisation. This has been a cause of great sadness to us all and we must continue to pray that this rift can be healed and our noble Order made whole again.

In the light of recent events, many members of the Commandery of Great Britain arrived in Oxford last weekend for the investiture of postulants unsure of the way forward for the Order in the UK.

However, the weekend was wonderfully productive and helped to solidify the direction in which the Commandery wishes to go. We are hugely grateful for the continuing support of the Grand Master Emeritus HRH Charles-Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Anjou, who came to Oxford to perform the Investiture ceremonies. His inspiration and his genuine friendship have greatly enlivened our Commandery and were a timely reminder of the true values of the Order.

The Grand Master Emeritus reminded us that the Order of St Lazarus is not a social grouping, or an excuse to dress-up and wear medals, but is rather a noble Order of Christian Chivalry – we seek to build up the Kingdom of God through our charitable work. We seek to support one another in our efforts to live the Beatitudes. We seek to bring Christ to the world. As always, these values were expressed in our prayerful liturgies. The Vigil took place in the Church of St. Thomas the Martyr and the Investiture was held in the Oxford Oratory Church of St. Aloyosius. These occasions are a powerful reminder to all members of the duty “to embrace the values of chivalry and to participate in corporal works of mercy” which are the foundation of the Order. In our recent troubles this duty has often been overlooked. This weekend members have resolved to move beyond the unpleasantness of the past few months and the whole Commandery recommitted itself to the Order and it’s aims.

The presence of Prince Charles-Philippe was also a physical reminder of our strong relationship with the Royal House of France. It is of vital importance that the Order remains under the Temporal Protection of the Royal House of France. This historical link with our past is necessary to preserve the unity of the Order. Indeed, it is this Protection, first granted in 1308 by King Philippe IV, lost in 1830, and graciously restored in 2004 by HRH the Count of Paris: “guaranteeing as we do, in terms both of the law and of tradition, the authentic and unique character of this ancient Institution.” Without this Protection we would be but one among many groups styling themselves ‘the Order of St. Lazarus’. The Commandery of Great Britain has no wish to separate itself from “the authentic” and “unique” “ancient Institution.”

Following our Investiture weekend the Commandery of Great Britain could not be in better spirits. We are truly united under the inspiring leadership of the Baron of Fetternear. We are steadfast in our commitment to remain under the Temporal Protection of the Royal House of France, and are immensely proud of our deep friendship with the Grand Master Emeritus HRH Charles-Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Anjou.

Most members of the Commandery will be travelling to the Chapter General, to be held in Orléans on 19-21 November 2010 when the 50th Grand Master will be appointed and installed. As with all international gatherings, it will be a time to strengthen the bonds of unity within the Order. Truly, the future looks very bright indeed for the Commandery of Great Britain and the whole Order as we enter a new chapter in the glorious history of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem.