Editor’s note: On Saturday, Sept. 15, the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem held an investiture at the Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Idyllwild. Four Hill organizations were recognized and honored at the ceremony. Idyllwild Volunteer Fire Company 621, the Idyllwild smARTS program, the High Valley Mountain Disaster Team and the Queen of Angels Church all received awards.
Massimo (Max) J. Ellul, the Grand Chancellor — Chevalier of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, was in Idyllwild last week. On Friday, I had the opportunity to speak with Ellul about the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus and how its investiture in Idyllwild related to its worldwide chivalric and philanthropic work.
Ellul is a Maltese businessman who owns a marketing consulting firm with international clients. Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian island of Sicily. Its population is about 410,000, but nearly triple that number of its citizens live in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
Coming from an island nation, Ellul has understood the nature of community his whole life. “As an islander, work is community,” he said. “We understand the adage ‘No man is an island.’ We are always finding ways to aid and assist each other.”
As children grow up on the island, their character understands and imbues the concept of giving something back. Ellul believes it is part of the Maltese “raison d’etre.”
Because of the island’s longstanding history with medieval orders and education in England, he had a strong interest and affinity for medieval history. So he readily accepted the invitation to join the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus in 1995.
“The medieval orders were also the first form of a welfare state,” he said. “The is no way the peasants, serfs or slaves could get help without the ministries and orders.”
Throughout the world where it operates, the Hospitaller cooperates hand-in-hand with local and national government authorities in order to further underline modern-day Hospitaller and philanthropic work. Ellul said the order has more than 14,000 members worldwide.
In the past five years, the order has seen tremendous growth, much greater than they expected, Ellul said. He attributes it to the growing interest in chivalric attitudes in the world.
In Uganda, they operate two orphanages; in Austria, a homeless shelter in Vienna; in the Slavic Republic they conduct numerous blood drives and in his homeland of Malta, they conduct and contribute to many international relief efforts.
The Supreme Grand Priory does not interfere with local programs,” Ellul said. “If money is collect in the U.S., they decide what to do with it. It’s up to them.”
The Grand Priory of the United States was officially recognized last year at the Mission Inn in Riverside. The Idyllwild investiture was its second, he said. “We’re very careful who represents us.”
They seek members who are organizers, administrators, spiritual leaders, donors, and practical medical skills. Kim Cantrell, Secretary General for the United States Grand Priory of the Hospitallier Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, is supremely organized and affable, Ellul said.
It was her decision to hold the second U.S. investiture in Idyllwild, which Ellul said is totally different from normal. But he and the Supreme Grand Priory fully supported this decision.