Disclaimer: wacky hats, awful uniforms, and Mussolini lookalikes to follow.
Let me introduce you, readers, to the “Ordine Militare et Hospitaliero di San Lazzaro di Gerusalemme- Malta” (but, as far as I can tell, is not actually based in Malta). This group has gained a lot of attention recently for its events, and what one might call slightly more adventurous attire. The self-styled Order does certain charity work, although this is, in this writer’s opinion, most likely in order to boost its own credibility. On their website, it gives an obscure history written by their ‘Grand Prior’, H.H., the Chevalier, Grand Commander, Vittorio Galoppini di Carpenedolo GCLJ-J, GCMLJ, GMLJ, GCrLJ, Don1LJ, MMSLJ. Oddly enough, all of this man’s honours seem to be from the same organisation, and you’d never guess which one… The Order of St Lazarus!
Many of the group’s officer’s claim to have a number of important titles. Their Chancellor, Ezio Scaglione, has made a bizarre list of claims which I feel are too long (and amusing) to be included in this article, so will be covered individually at a later date. The Group’s “Grand Master”, claims to be known as, His Royal Highness, Prince Pieter Cantacuzino. The only links I could find to him after an extensive internet search were to (no surprises here) the organisation’s own website. The organisation’s Prior, Bonfissuto Carlo (who bears a striking resemblance to a certain Italian dictator), claims he is ‘Count of Acquanegra’, and seems to be a member of dozens of ‘Orders’, many of which I’m not sure even exist. But don’t say that to his face- or he might order your arrest.
The group also seems to have their own hilarious equivalent of mess dress. If you feel like joining them, get an ill-fitting cream suit, wrap on one of those garish sashes, throw a dazzling display of badges and medals (it doesn’t matter which, as long as they’re big and shiny) onto your jacket, slap a couple of epaulettes on your shoulders and you’re ready to go! If you feel like going the full nine yards, get a cape and a feathered bicorne. Once you’ve ticked them off, just make yourself a title (nothing minor, mind you, or you’ll risk looking like an amateur. A Dukedom will do), and you’re ready to go! Before you know it people will be bowing at your feet.
All jokes aside, The (Italian) self-styled Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is a large organisation and has fooled a lot of people with its extravagant ceremonies. Do not be one of those. It seems to me lik a group of want-to-be generals and knights, who masquerade as aristocrats and other important personages. The truth is, The (Italian) Military and Hospitaller ‘Order’ of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem has, as far as I can se, no credibility whatsoever, and is merely another group of grown men playing dress-up. If anyone is approached by this self-styled group, stay clear of them by a mile.
The real Orders
There are currently two Orders of St Lazarus that are generally considered to be the only two legitimate Orders of St Lazarus. The first of these enjoys the patronage of the Orleanist Royal House of France & the Count of Paris (who has expressly stated he supports no other Orders of St Lazarus), as well as the Cardinal-Archbishop of Prague. It was led up until 2010 by the Count’s Nephew, who uses the title Duc d’Anjou (not to be confused with the legitimist head of the French Royal House, Louis XX, also currently using the title Duc d’Anjou).
The second of these Orders received recognition by the Spanish government in 1940. In 2008, King Juan Carlos I allowed his cousin Carlos Gereda y de Borbon to become its Grand Master.
It should be noted that, there are many more fake orders of St Lazarus, which, eventually, will all be written on. This was the primary reason for my using of the word ‘Italian’ when talking about this fake group.