Fr. Lazarus is widely regarded as one of the great missionaries and scholars of the 20th century.
An Orthodox missionary priest serving Palestine, Transjordan, India, Greece, Australia, California and Alaska, he translated the Psalter, the Four Gospels, the Ladder of Divine Ascent, the Arena, the Old Jordanville Prayer Book, the Life of St Seraphim of Sarov, and countless other manuscripts and services before his repose in +1992+.
Fr. Lazarus was born Edgar Moore in Swindon, England, on October 18, 1902. At eighteen he moved to Alberta, Canada and worked as a shepherd, longshoreman, farm laborer and on the railroad. It was here, in Canada, Fr. Lazarus experienced a profound spiritual awakening and heard “a call from God” to become a missionary.
With God’s calling in his heart, Fr. Lazarus returned to England to study at St Augustine’s, an Anglican missionary college in Canterbury, England, for five years. He was ordained deacon in the Church of England in 1930 and in 1931 ordained Anglican priest.
Fr. Lazarus became interested in travel, and his ongoing conversion took him to India in 1933 where he joined the Christa Seva Sangha, an Anglo-Indian brotherhood with an ashram at Poona. Studies in church history and tradition brought him to the Holy Land and Mount Athos where his desire to embrace Orthodox Christianity flowered.
Fr. Lazarus communicated with Russian hierarchs and visited Serbia, received by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), which at that time was centered in Sremsky Karlovsky, near Belgrade.
At Milkovo Monastery, before being ordained by Archbishop Feofan in January of 1936(?) to the priesthood, Fr. Lazarus became a monk. His heart and mind deepened in the Orthodox Church and he was assigned to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission which is in Jerusalem, at the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene on Gethsemane.
Two martyred saints, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia and her fellow nun Varvara Yakovleva are buried in the church. Fr. Lazarus worked closely with the Abbess, Mother Mary (Robinson) and Mother Mary (Sprott), also converts from Anglicanism. He taught at the school at Bethany (in Palestine) which was maintained by the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission. Here he completed a first draft for The Life of St. Seraphim.
But then war broke out.
Battle and the ensuing social chaos forced Fr. Lazarus and his small community of St Mary’s to flee, on foot, through the desert to Transjordan.
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the newly-founded state of Israel handed the property of the convent to the militant-atheist government of the Soviet Union, essentially dissolving the mission and convent.
Fr. Lazarus then lived in the Transjordan area for one year and in 1952 returned to India, helping a group of non-Chalcedonian Syrian Orthodox in Malabar, South India, who had approached the Russian Synod seeking admission into Chalcedonian Orthodoxy.
Fr. Lazarus stayed in India for the next 20 years.
He helped in missionary work, translating lives of the saints, Church services, writing and serving God with all his heart, mind and soul amid poverty, disease and political and social tumult.
He broadcast radio sermons, laboring under extreme conditions of heat, bouts of malaria, and incredible isolation. Much of his translation work from Slavonic and Greek into English was completed and published during this time, often in the magazine Orthodox Life put out by the Jordanville monastery in New York.
Here Fr. Lazarus translated the Old Jordanville Prayer Book, the Arena, the Ladder of Divine Ascent and numerous other manuscripts. He labored with an old, manual ribbon-style typewriter transferring precious spiritual words page by page. He often had to curtail his labors because the electricity would go out.
Because black cassocks were culturally offensive to local residents, Fr. Lazarus wore a white cassock during this time. And it was during this period, in India, he met Ghandi and Mother Gavrilia, the ascetic of love.
In 1972, Fr. Lazarus was summoned to Greece, where he labored and contemplated settling for good but in 1974, he was called to serve Australia. Here, his efforts over an 8 year period blossomed into what is today the thriving, beautiful Orthodox Mission of Holy Cross.
During his time in Australia, Fr. Lazarus sought canonical release from the Russian diocese and was accepted into the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
In 1983, Fr. Lazarus received an invitation from Fr. Peter Gillquist to come and live among the Evangelical Orthodox Church in America to help them transition from Protestantism into canonical Orthodoxy.
Fr. Lazarus accepted, and by 1987, several thousand individuals were received into the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. Fr Lazarus lived in Santa Barbara for five years, a beloved elder and teacher for the thriving St. Athansius church where he touched many lives.
But by 1989, his health began declining and he moved to the community of St John’s Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska. Here, Fr. Lazarus shared the last years his life helping the community of St John’s transition to Orthodoxy.
On November 27, 1992, Fr. Lazarus fell asleep in the Lord. On the fourth day after his repose, he was buried in St John’s Cathedral cemetery. A clear sign of the Resurrection, the snowy, Alaskan landscape was miraculously thawed to reveal brightly-springing green turf.
Three bald eagles flew overhead.
Fr. Lazarus left us “traveling with angels.” Through his labors as monk, priest, translator, teacher, friend and author, countless souls were and still are today nurtured in love for and by God.
Glory to God!