Monday 24 January 2011

The Grand Priory & World Leprosy Day

This Sunday marks the 58th World Leprosy Day.

World Leprosy Day was created in 1954 by French journalist and philosopher Raoul Follereau “so that people affected by leprosy could be cared for like all others who are ill and so that that those in good health could be cured of their absurd and often criminal fear of this disease and those who are affected by it”.

Since its foundation the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem has cared for those suffering from leprosy. Indeed it began by welcoming knights from other Orders who had been stricken by this disease. Those suffering from leprosy, or Hanson's Disease as it is now known, have always been at the heart of the mission and prayers of the Order and the newly-erected Grand Priory of Great Britain intends to continue helping those who suffer from this disease.

At the Canonisation of St Damien De Veuster, the Leper Priest, the Holy Father said:
"Let us remember before this noble figure that it is charity which makes unity, brings it forth and makes it desirable. Following in St Paul's footsteps, St Damien prompts us to choose the good battle, not the kind that brings division but the kind that gathers people together. He invites us to open our eyes to the forms of leprosy that disfigure the humanity of our brethren and still today call for the charity of our presence as servants, beyond that of our generosity."

The Holy Father urged us all to pray and help those involved in the battle against leprosy and "other forms of leprosy that are due to lack of love because of ignorance and cowardice".

As members of a noble Order of chivalry let us all recommit ourselves to that "charity which makes unity, brings it forth and makes it desirable" and let us continue, with the help of St Lazarus and St Damien, "the good battle" "that gathers people together".

St Damien of Molokai,

pray for all those afflicted by leprosy

and for the Order of St Lazarus.