Our chancellor Anders Blomqvist GCLJ GOMLJ passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday morning on November 25th in a heart attac in his home in Ljungby. Anders has contributed to the Order in many ways, but primarily serving as chancellor under many years. A happy, delightful and competent co-worker with many irons in the fire. He has left a void and our thoughs are with Maria, and Anders' children. Anders was 61 years old.
For the fourth year in a row, the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem has supported the Orthodox School of Bethany for Girls through fundraising efforts on Lazarus Saturday, when Orthodox pilgrims flock to the school's small chapel, built on the site where Martha and Martha met Christ to tell him of the death of Lazarus.
This year, over 500 olive wood Easter eggs were painted by the boarders and volunteers in preparation to be sold to pilgrims for much-needed funds for the boarding section of the school. A separate fundraising appeal is sent out to the international Christian community as well.
Founded in 1937, the Orthodox School of Bethany for Girls is a mission school of Jerusalem Ecclesiastical Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. It presently includes a small monastic community that oversees both the private girl's school and a boarding section for approximately a dozen Christian girls from across the Holy Land who come from adverse family circumstances.
OSLJ Holy Land Commandery member Dan Hautakoski has been volunteering on behalf of the Order since 2014. The School was visited by the Grand Master of the Order prior to his installation in Jerusalem in October 2015.
"The Orthodox School of Bethany has been particularly appreciative of the Swedish Commandery for its financial support through its direct donation in 2015," reports Hautakoski. "Those funds were put towards travel expenses for medical needs of the boarders, which made it possible to take advantage of free consultations and procedures in Europe. Thank you to all our brothers and sisters in Sweden who put their hard-earned money to help us."
This year's collected funds will go towards the renovation of the rooms in the girl's dormitory, a project which is estimated to cost approximately $50,000 USD.
On the sunny afternoon of 20 April 2017, the green cross banner of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was raised high over its new home in the Old City of Jerusalem, to the acclaim of knights, dames and guests from numerous countries and faiths. By decree of the 50th Grand Master, HRH Prince Sixte-Henry de Bourbon-Parme, proclaimed in the presence of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant bishops, the ‘Domus Sancti Lazari’ was established as the Magistral Seat of the whole Order.
The Domus is a large residential property that also serves as the Grand Chancery. It is located near the Jaffa Gate – where the Christian Quarter meets the Armenian Quarter – opposite the entrance to the Tower of David (Citadel) and adjacent to the patriarchal exarchate of the Maronite Church.
The foundations of the Domus, which has been a Christian household for many years, date from the Ottoman era, with periodic additions and renovations up until the present time. Its three storeys surround an interior courtyard in the Oriental fashion, with a fountain depicting the raising of Lazarus in traditional Armenian ceramics. A ‘grand salon’ furnished with antiques, banners of the Order and artworks houses the ceremonial seats of the Grand Master and Grand Magistry. The extensive and welcoming roof terrace provides a panoramic view of all the principal domes and towers of the Old City and its surrounding hills.
Addressing the religious and diplomatic, civic and community leaders, members of the Order and friends on this happy and hospitable occasion, the Grand Chancellor, Count Piccapietra, spoke of the importance of the return of the Order to Jerusalem, a process initiated in 2009 when a French dame asked why no orders of knights were based where they were founded, in Jerusalem. In 2012 Saint Lazare was officially registered as a charity in the Holy Land and the first modern Chapter General of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was held at the Garden of Gethsemane. The present Grand Master, elected in 2015, is the first head of the Order to have been installed as such in the Holy Land in 781 years.
Emphasizing that the acquisition of the Domus was a necessary step for the present course and future path of the Order’s spiritual and charitable initiatives, Count Piccapietra recalled that the original Domus Sancti Lazari, a hospice for leper-knights during the time of the Latin Kingdom, was just a short walk from the present location, a fact verified by contemporary chroniclers and archaeological evidence. Besides the significance of their being once again members of the local Christian community, the supportive presence of knights in the Holy City can only have a positive influence on their confrères internationally.
Thanks to the generous and patient cooperation of the owner of the house, the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem has been enabled to come home to its place of birth. The Grand Magistry emphatically thanks all those who have assisted with the task of re-establishing the Domus after centuries of exile.
May the Mother Church of Jerusalem and all who reside in the Holy Land be blessed with growing peace and unity. And may all who follow the green cross of Saint Lazarus feel that they too have a home here now, where historical divisions between knights may be healed, for the benefit of all whom they are called to serve.
"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are all filled with all precious and pleasant riches." (Proverbs 24: 3-4)
Click on the link below to watch Grand Chancellor Count Piccapietra tell the story of the Order and our new headquarters, Domus, in Jerusalem.
The video links to Facebook but you don't need a Facebook account to watch the clip.
Our Order has in cooperation with the aid organisations Helping Hands, Chance for Children and logistic company DHL in Malmö, donated 4000 hoodies to a orphanage in the Radovic district in Czech Republic. The Hoodies were shipped 24 October.
Helping Hands sends their gratitude’s to our Order for carrying thoughts and support people in aid. The Hospitaller committee sends their gratitude’s to organisations mentioned above, but also to brother Kaj Holm who’s behind this donation. Finally many thanks to Pär Ola Dahlin for all your support with contacts and logistics.
Representing Hospitaller Committee
The Pilgrim journey to the Holy Land took place Mars 2011 including 60 persons from seven countries, of them 13 from Sweden. The journey was a walk in the steps of Jesus Christ starting in Bethlehem and the church of his birth together with the herdsmen’s fields. We visited many interesting places during the week and it was privileged to see the area of Haifa and Acre in the north part of the country. In Acre/Akka you’ll find the last outpost of the crusaders before they was driven out of the country in the end of 13th century. These amazing buildings reopened for tourists in 1990.
Jericho, the world’s oldest and lowest city was also on the list as well as Qumran where a playing boy found the Dead sea scrolls written by a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus Christ birth. After the visit in Qumran we managed to stop for a bath in the Dead sea which was bewildering experience. Thereafter the journey continued to Olive mountain and the church of Pater Noster, not far away we also stopped by the gardens in Gethsemane with it’s beautiful olive trees.
We went on a guided tour in old town of Jerusalem before the scheduled vigilia on Friday that was held in the inner part of the Holy Sepulchre. This was a powerful experience and one of the highlights of our journey. The next day we walked along Via Dolorosa and Jesus Christ road to Golgotha. Further on the investiture was held in Saint Anne’s Church next to Lion gate, which is one of eight gates into Jerusalem through the city wall. The journey offered many amazing experiences and pleasant times together with the other pilgrims.
There was also a time for bring new members into the Order during the investiture, among them the mayor of Bethlehem. In line with tradition there were a fabulous gala dinner concluding all experiences and finalising our visit in Jerusalem.