The Order aims to defend Christianity while expecting its members to practice the Christian tenets of protecting and assisting the weak, helping the poor, aged, handicapped and sick. The Order dedicates itself especially but not exclusively to lepers, always mindful of its origin in the Holy Land in the early centuries following the life of Christ, and to the supporting of the Christian faith.
Members are expected to participate in meeting the aims of the Order, and support its projects, activities and its charitable works in South Africa. This is uniquely appropriate to the historic role of a Hospitaller order ministering to the sick, and to its expanded world-wide role today as a chivalric confraternity meeting relevant contemporary problems.
The Investiture, the wearing the mantle and the green eight pointed cross are more than a ritualistic maintenance of an old tradition; they are symbols of brotherhood and dedication to Christianity. All Members of the Order should be practicing members in good standing within their particular denomination. They shall be committed to the upholding with their lives, fortunes and honour, the principles of Christianity, and shall stand united before all men in their determination to live and die following the teaching of Christ and His Holy Church. The pursuit of unity is shown by respecting the other Christian denominations represented in the Order and by praying together for true unity. All Members form a spiritual family and brotherhood, sharing and helping each other at all times, and particularly in times of trouble. Each Member does, when admitted to the Order, solemnly undertake, before God and the assembled congregation, to maintain and defend this code of conduct.
The Order’s central purpose is and historically has been its strong dedication to charitable works. Members are both required to donate both time and money to the Orders works. Besides the annual oblation to the Members jurisdiction, additional costs can include charity assessments voted by the membership of local subjurisdictions in support of local charities, national dues assessed annually for the administration of the Order, and the optional cost of attending functions at local, national and international events. Additionally, there are one-time passage and insignia fees assessed for postulants being invested into the Order, and for Members achieving promotion.
Regarding attendance at meetings, Members are expected to attend at least one meeting each year. This can be a local, national or international event. Many of our members attend multiple events annually, and they see the active social calendar of the Order as an enjoyable benefit of belonging to a prestigious, ancient and noble Order.
It should be noted that the Order of St. Lazarus is truly noble in that 100% of all its charitable donations go to charity. Most of the Orders administration is accomplished by its Members who volunteer their times and skills, and resources, all in the spirit of preserving the Orders money for its charitable aims and obligations. So, charity given to the Order in every way truly goes to Charity.
As a military Order, St Lazarus has a rank structure that conforms with European chivalric custom, and decorations (medals) to note service or achievement. All promotions require approval of the Grand Master. Promotions are won by achievement. This means that active, involved Members enjoy promotions up through the ranks, with the ultimate achievement of Knighthood or Dame as an honour bestowed by the Order upon those who selflessly serve Christendom. Besides promotions, members may also be decorated for achievement or merit.
There are non-Christians, especially those of the Jewish and Moslem faiths, who support the aims and good works of the Order. Such members may be granted associated membership, and even promotion, through the ranks of merit that parallel the active rank structure of the Order in conformance with European chivalric custom and tradition. It should be noted here that the Order.s clinics and hospitals are open to all, without question or reservation, in the spirit of Christian charity.
Membership in the Order is truly a lifelong commitment, and should not be taken lightly as we are a working Order. If you are interested in taking up the Cross of St. Lazarus, the Constitution of the Order requires that you join through your own national jurisdiction; that is, in South Africa for South African residents and citizens.