Since the dawn of Christianity, leprosy victims have thought of the beggar Lazarus as their patron saint.
And the link between the disease and the saint were forged forever when his name was used in the 12th century Crusaders when they dedicated their leprosy hospices to him on their campaigns across Europe to the Holy Land.
The Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem is one of the most ancient orders of chivalry, yet, in part, because of the potent fear inspired by the disease, it remains almost unknown.
The knights themselves often suffered from the condition and now the lepers of Tichilesti are the last in the line of their legacy in Europe.
The wine is named after the knight’s patron saint Lazarus and profits from the sales will go projects to improve the lives of the continent’s last leper colony.
After decades of cruelty under Romania’s old communist regime, the community is now free to share with the world the wine they have been making for themselves for centuries.
“We want the world to know we exist and not to be afraid of us. We can’t hurt them, they can’t catch what we have and we want to share with them something from our long history that we think is very special,” said leper mayor Cristache Tatulea.