Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
Insignia of a Commander of SS. Maurice and Lazarus
TypeOrder of knighthood
EligibilityCivilian and military divisions
StatusAwarded by House of Savoy in exile
Established1572 in Lierna
Next (higher)Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
Next (lower)Military Order of Savoy

The Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus is an order of chivalry awarded by the House of Savoy, the heads of which were formerly Kings of Italy. The order was formed by a union in Italy of the original Order of St Lazarus and the Order of Saint Maurice in 1572 and has around 2,000 members.

History of the order

Order of Saint Lazarus

The Order of Saint Lazarus can be traced to the establishment around 1100, of an Hospital for Leprosy in Jerusalem by a group of crusaders who called themselves "Brothers of St. Lazarus".[1] 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 very rich, its practices dubious, and its funds much abused. With the fall of Acre in 1291 the knights of St Lazarus fled the Holy Land and Egypt and settled in France and, in 1311, in Naples. In the sixteenth century, the order declined in credibility and wealth. With papal support, 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 St. Maurice

The Order of St. Maurice was established in 1434 by Amedeo VIII of Savoy (during his stay in the Ripaglia hermitage near Thonon) and named after St. Maurice of the Theban Legion. From its beginning, it was a military order.[1] The order declined, but in 1572 was reestablished by Pope Pius V at the instigation of the then-Duke of Savoy.

Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro

In 1572, Pope Gregory XIII united it in perpetuity with the Crown of Savoy. Duke Philibert III, merged it with the Savoyan Order of St. Maurice, and thenceforth the title of Grand Master of the Order of Sts. Maurice and Lazarus was hereditary in that house.

In 1573 Pope Gregory XIII merged the Italian foundation of the Order of Saint Lazarus with the Order of St Maurice in the Church of the Castle of Lierna on the lake of Como. The new order was charged to defend the Holy See as well as continue to assist lepers. The war galleys of the order fought against the Turks and the Barbary pirates. When leprosy again broke out the order founded, in 1773, a hospital in Aosta.

With the Italian unification (1860-1871), the order became a de facto Italian state award for civilian and military merit, consisting of five classes: Knight Grand Cross, Knight Grand Officer, Knight Commander, Knight Officer and Knight. Brought back in favour by King Vittorio Emanuele II, the Order was sparingly conferred for distinguished service in civilian or military affairs, as an exclusive award compared with the more common Order of the Crown of Italy.[1]

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 recognised officially by the Italian state. The House of Savoy in exile continued to bestow the order. Today it is granted to persons 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.[2]

House of Savoy

According to Michael Foster, "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."[3]

The generally accepted Grand Master of the Order is Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, the current head of the House of Savoy. 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".[4] In 2006, Vittorio Emanuele's cousin, Amedeo of Aosta, declared himself Head of the Savoy dynasty and thus Grand Master de jure. For this reason the grand magistry is now contested.


A white Greek cross embellished in the four principal angles with gold eagles displayed and surmounted by a gold crown of four towers.
The former badge of an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, used from 1951 to 2001.

The Order currently has six classes for gentlemen:

as well as three classes for ladies:

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.


Ribbon Class (English) Full title in Italian
1st Class / Knight Grand Cross Cavaliere di Gran Croce dell'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro
2nd Class / Commander First Class (from 1865 Grand Officer) Commendatore di prima classe (dal 1865 Grande Ufficiale) dell'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro
3rd Class / Commander Commendatore dell'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro
4th Class / Officer Ufficiale dell'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro
5th Class / Knight Cavaliere dell'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro
Maurizian Medal (not members of the order) Medaglia Mauriziana pel Merito Militare di dieci lustri

The formerly related Maurizian Medal for Military Merit of fifty years, established in 1839, was one of the few medals not suppressed by the Republic, becoming the Maurizian Medal of Merit for fifty years military career in 1954.[5]

Selected recipients

See also Category:Recipients of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by adding missing items with reliable sources.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Italy", Haileybury
  2. ^ Ordini Cavallereschi del Regno d'Italia Corpo della Nobiltà Italiana (retrieved 10 September 2009)
  3. ^ Foster, Michael. "Orders Connected to he Order off S. John of Jerusalem", The Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller
  4. ^ "The Fall of the House of Savoy", The Guardian, June 23, 2006.
  5. ^ Established by Royal Magistral Patent dated 19 July 1839, approved by Royal Decree of 21 December 1924 and renewed by Law No. 203(1) of 7 March 1954 Medaglia Mauriziana al Merito di dieci lustri di carriera militare, published in Gazzetta Ufficiale, No. 116, 21 May 1954, as amended by Law No. 1327 of 8 November 1956
  6. ^ Senato della Repubblica: biographical summary
  7. ^ "Farrell knighted in Italy for work on purity of olive oil", Record Journal, September 30, 2013
  8. ^ Collezione delle Leggi e de'Decreti Reali del Regno delle Due Sicilie, Stamperia reale, 1846, p.85
  9. ^ "Events: 2001". House of Savoy. Retrieved April 1, 2009.
  10. ^ Papel Periódico Ilustrado Volúmen 1 año I Número 1 al 14
  11. ^ Head, William Pace (1995). "Every Inch a Soldier: Augustine Warner Robins and the Building of U.S. Airpower, Volume 37 of Texas A & M University military history series". Texas A&M University Press. p. 75. ISBN 9780890965900. Retrieved 2 November 2012.