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Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus

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Royal house

Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic

Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus

Dynastic order of knighthood

The Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italian: Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro) is a Roman Catholic dynastic order of knighthood bestowed by the House of Savoy, founded in 1572 by Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, through amalgamation approved by Pope Gregory XIII of the Order of Saint Maurice, founded in 1434, with the medieval Order of Saint Lazarus, founded circa 1119, considered its sole legitimate successor. Its headquarters are situated at the Lierna Castle in Lombardy, Italy. Its current Grand Master is Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, since 1983, albeit contested by his cousin and throne rival Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta.


The order was formerly awarded by the Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) with the heads of the House of Savoy as the Kings of Italy. Originally a chivalric order of noble nature, it was restricted to subjects of noble families with proofs of at least eight noble great-grandparents. The order's military and noble nature was and is still combined with a Roman Catholic character.

After the abolishment of the monarchy and the foundation of the Italian Republic in 1946, the legacy of the order is maintained by the pretenders of the House of Savoy and the Italian throne in exile.

The order is estimated to include around 2,000 members around the world.


The undisputed continuation of the Order of St. Lazarus is in the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, which continues under the pretenders to the Italian Crown.

Both crosses from its two forerunners are still existent in the insignia of their subsequent successor, today's Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, founded by amalgation in 1572.

Order of Saint Lazarus (1119)

The Order of Saint Lazarus, founded in circa 1119, can be traced to the establishment around 1100, of a hospital for leprosy in Jerusalem, Kingdom of Jerusalem, by a group of crusaders who called themselves "Brothers of Saint Lazarus". From its inception, the order was concerned with the relief of leprosy, and many of its members were lepers who had been knights in other orders. It became rich, its practices dubious, and its funds eventually abused. With the fall of Acre in 1291, the Knights of Saint Lazarus emigrated from the Holy Land and Egypt and settled in France and, in 1311, in Naples. In the 16th century, the order declined in credibility and wealth. With papal support, the Duke of Savoy became Grand Master in 1572. Before its transfer to the House of Savoy, the Order of Saint Lazarus maintained a number of leper hospitals, including an institution in the Italian city of Capua.

Order of Saint Maurice (1434)

The Order of Saint Maurice was established in 1434 by Amedeo VIII of Savoy, during his stay in the Ripaglia hermitage near Thonon, named after Saint Maurice of the Theban Legion. From its beginning, it was a military order. The order declined, but in 1572 was reestablished by Pope Pius V at the instigation of the then-Duke of Savoy.

Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (1572)

In 1572, Pope Gregory XIII united the Order of Saint Lazarus in perpetuity with the Crown of Savoy. Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, merged it with the Savoyan Order of Saint Maurice, and thenceforth the title of Grand Master of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus was hereditary in that house. The pope gave him authority over the vacant commanderies everywhere, except in the states of the King of Spain, which included the greater part of Italy. In England and Germany, these commanderies were suppressed by the Protestant reformation.

The new organisation was charged to defend the Holy See as well as continue to assist lepers. The war galleys of the order fought against the Ottoman Empire and the Barbary pirates. When leprosy again broke out, the order founded a hospital in Aosta in 1773.

Kingdom Italy (1861–1946)

With the Italian unification (1860-1871), the order became a de facto Italian state order for military and civilian merits, consisting of five classes: Knight Grand Cross, Knight Grand Officer, Knight Commander, Knight Officer and Knight.

The formerly related Maurician medal for Military Merit of fifty years, established in 1839, was one of the few medals not suppressed by the Italian republic, becoming the Maurician medal of Merit for 50 years military career in 1954.

Brought back in favour by King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, the order was sparingly conferred for distinguished service in military and civilian affairs as an exclusive award compared with the more common Order of the Crown of Italy.

Dynastic chivalric order bestowed in exile (1946-)

After Italy became a republic in 1946, the order was effectively replaced by the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. Since 1951 it has not been officially recognised by the Italian state.


The House of Savoy in exile continues to bestow the order on recipients eminent in the public service, science, art, letters, trade, and charitable works. While the continued use of those decorations conferred prior to 1951 is permitted in Italy, the crowns on the ribbons issued before 1946 must be substituted for as many five pointed stars on military uniforms. Eventually, it became a requirement for a person to have already received the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus before receiving the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation.

The generally accepted Grand Master of the order is Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, the current head of the House of Savoy. However, some of Vittorio Emanule's policies as Grand Master have generated controversy. All three of his sisters have resigned from their positions as Dames of the order. Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy has criticised her brother for instituting "the payment of membership fees [and] activities such as the sale of objects with the Savoy coat of arms and credit cards of the order".

In 2006, Vittorio Emanuele's third cousin, Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta (b. 1943), declared himself head of the Savoy dynasty and thus Grand Master de jure. For this reason, the grand magistry is now contested.


  • Knight Grand Cross, who wears the badge on a sash on the right shoulder, plus the star on the left chest;
  • Grand Officer, who wears the badge on a necklet, plus the star on the left chest;
  • Commander "jus patronato", who wears the badge on a necklet, plus the breast cross on the left chest;
  • Commander, who wears the badge on a necklet;
  • Officer, who wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest;
  • Knight, who wears the badge without crown on a ribbon on the left chest;
  • Ladies

  • Dame Grand Cross, who wears the badge on a bow with golden embroidery on the left shoulder;
  • Dame Commander, who wears the badge on a bow on the left shoulder;
  • Dame, who wears the badge without crown on a bow on the left shoulder.
  • Insignia

  • The badge of the order is in gilt, consists of a white-enameled cross bottony of the Order of Saint Maurice, with a green-enameled Maltese Cross, the Cross of the Order of Saint Lazarus, placed in saltire between the arms of the cross botonny. The badge of each class except that of Knight and Dame is topped by a gilt crown.
  • The star of the Order is a silver faceted star, with eight points for Grand Cross and four points for Grand Officer, and with the badge (minus the crown) superimposed upon it.
  • The breast cross for the Commander "jus patronato" class is identical to the badge, minus the crown.
  • The ribbon of the Order is apple green, with slight variations for the several classes:
  • List of Grand Masters

    1. Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy (1572-1580)
    2. Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy (1580-1630)
    3. Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy (1630-1637)
    4. Francis Hyacinth, Duke of Savoy (1637-1638)
    5. Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy (1638-1675)
    6. Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia (1675-1731)
    7. Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia (1732-1773)
    8. Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia (1773-1796)
    9. Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia (1796-1802)
    10. Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia (1802-1824)
    11. Charles Felix of Sardinia (1824-1831)
    12. Charles Albert of Sardinia (1831-1849)
    13. Victor Emmanuel II of Italy (1849-1878)
    14. Umberto I of Italy (1878-1900)
    15. Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (1900-1946)
    16. Umberto II of Italy (1946-1983)
    17. Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples (1983-) (contested by Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta 1983-)


  • Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria
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  • Emperor Nicholas II of Russia
  • Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia
  • King George V of the United Kingdom
  • King Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar of Persia
  • Prince and Grand Master Andrew Bertie of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
  • Maharaja Jagatjit Singh
  • Military

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  • President of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and Former St. Louis Mayor David R. Francis
  • Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City (2001) Cavaliere di Gran Croce (Motu Proprio)
  • Luigi, Count Cibrario
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  • References

    Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus Wikipedia

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