Archimandrite Lazarus was born as Edgar Harmon Moore, in Swindon, England, on the October 18, 1902. At the age of 18, he moved to Alberta, Canada, where he worked in many different capacities for several years as a shepherd, longshoreman, and farm laborer. It was here that he had a spiritual awakening and sensed “a call from God” to become a missionary.
He returned to England and or the next five years he studied at an Anglican missionary college named St Augustine’s in Canterbury, England. In 1930, he was ordained a deacon in the Church of England, and then, in 1931, an Anglican priest. Following this in 1933 he travelled to India, where he joined the Christa Seva Sangha, an Anglo-Indian brotherhood with an ashram at Poona. At this time Fr. Lazarus visited the Holy Land and Mount Athos, desiring to embrace Orthodox Christianity. He began communicating with Russian hierarchs and finally visited Serbia, where he was received by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, (ROCOR), at that time centered in Sremsky Karlovsky, near Belgrade. He was then professed a monk at Mikovo Monastery, before being ordained by Archbishop Feofan (ROCOR) in January 1936(?) to the priesthood. Fr. Lazarus was then assigned to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, at the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene on Gethsemane.
He worked closely with Abbess Mary (Robinson) and Mother Mary (Sprott), both converts from Anglicanism. Fr Lazarus also taught at the school in Bethany (then Palestine) which was maintained by the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, and completed a first draft for his work: The Life of St. Seraphim. Political tumult and war forced Fr. Lazarus and his small community to flee the Convent. Following the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, the newly-founded state of Israel handed over the property of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission to the Soviet Union, dispossessing ROCOR of the Mission and Convent altogether; everything they had built was lost. Fr Lazarus then lived in the Transjordan area for one year. In 1952, Fr. Lazarus returned to India, to help ROCOR with a group of non-Chalcedonian Syrian Orthodox in Malabar, South India, who had approached the Russian Synod seeking admission into Chalcedonian Orthodoxy. Ultimately, the group was not received, but Fr. Lazarus stayed in India for the next twenty years, helping in missionary work.
He broadcast sermons on the radio and labored under sometimes extreme conditions of heat, bouts of malaria, and isolation. Much of his translation work from Slavonic and Greek into English was done and published during this time, often in the magazine “Orthodox Life” put out by the Jordanville monastery in New York. Among other things, he translated the “old” Jordanville Prayer Book, many Lives of Saints, The Arena, The Ladder of Divine Ascent and Unseen Warfare. Fr. Lazarus worked on an old manual ribbon-style typewriter, transferring these 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, he wore a white cassock instead, during this time. While in India, he met Mother Gavrilia, whom he consulted in his translations of the Fathers and of the Psalter.
In 1972, Archimandrite Lazarus was called to Greece, where he contemplated settling; but in 1974, he was called instead to Australia. There, his efforts over an 8 year period eventually blossomed into what is today a thriving Orthodox Mission: Holy Cross. Here is an excerpt from their website:
The vision of the Holy Cross Mission began when Archimandrite Lazarus came to Australia and lived in Melbourne here during 1976 – 1984. It was during these years that the Nazareth House was established. The services of the Church were conducted in the language of this nation – English, and presented in a non-ethno specific culture. The founding principles of the Mission were established and the visible expression of Australian Orthodoxy began then. To this small house, many came, Orthodox clergy, lay people, seekers inquirers and those needing the wisdom of our beloved monk.
These were difficult years because Orthodoxy presented to this nation in its own language was seen as being unacceptable. The seemingly immovable rock of a liturgical language centered on Church Greek, Church Slavonic and classical Church Arabic did not give any space for all Australians to comprehend the Faith of our Fathers in their own language and dialect. The message of salvation was sought more by the non-Orthodox – Pentecostals, Baptists, Church of Christ and even Roman Catholics. At great financial cost Nazareth House printed books / pamphlets / and small booklets containing the Church services and catechism lessons. The great missionary would always say, never despise the day of small beginnings, for you never know how big the mustard seed will grow.
Fr Lazarus is now regarded as one of the great missionaries and scholars of the 20th century. His translations of the Orthodox liturgical books (the Church Services, the Psalter and the Four Gospels), and other books such as The Ladder, Life of St Seraphim of Sarov, The Arena, as well as many other works, have opened the doors of the Church to countless people, not to mention all those in the household of the Faith. The work of Holy Cross Mission is a product of the pioneering efforts of Fr Lazarus in Australia who was adamant that the universal faith and all its services must be presented in the language and cultural setting of the nation it finds itself in.
During his time in Australia, Archimandrite Lazarus sought canonical release from ROCOR, for a variety of reasons. His request received no reponse; therefore without an official release, Archimandrite Lazarus transferred to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch, which received him warmly. In 1983, Fr. Lazarus received an invitation from Fr. Peter Gillquist, of the Evangelical Orthodox Church in America. He was asked to come and live among them, helping them transition from Protestantism into canonical Orthodoxy. Fr. Lazarus accepted, and in 1987 saw several thousand received by the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. He lived in Santa Barbara for 5 years, a beloved elder and teacher for the thriving St. Athansius church there, where he touched many lives.
In 1989, with his health beginning to decline, Fr. Lazarus moved again, relocating to St John’s Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska. There, he was able to convalesce during his struggle with cancer. He continued the work of helping Evangelical Orthodox integration, living out his final three years at St. John’s Cathedral.
Again, he had a tremendous impact on many people around him. Although he was unable to carry out large projects any longer, he managed to finalize his translation of the Psalter with the help of parishioners there. He took a daily walk along “Monastery Drive” and was beloved by young and old alike for his gentle spirit, good sense of humor, and a ready word of godly encouragment always on his lips. Shortly before his death he was visited by a ROCOR priest who restored him to communion with that jurisdiction. The life of this “English Pilgrim” as he was dubbed by those who knew him during his active missionary years, had come full circle. Ever following the call of God, no matter where it lead, Fr. Lazarus had left his imprint on nearly every continent of the world. Through his labors of translation, serving, teaching, praying and writing, countless souls had been nurtured in the love of God. On November 27, 1992, Archimandrite Lazarus reposed and was buried in the cemetery at St John’s Cathedral.
On the day of his burial, the already-whitened landscape of Alaska was miraculously thawed to reveal brightly-springing green turf: a clear sign of the Resurrection, as three bald eagles flew overhead. Fr. Lazarus left us, “traveling with angels.”* *This is the way he customarily ended conversations and letters: TWA! (Travel With Angels!)”