Centuries of Service to Christians in the Holy Land
Welcome to Ireland and the Holy Land.
Ours is an ancient Catholic chivalric order of Knighthood with the Pope as sovereign who appoints the Grand Master, currently His Eminence Fernando Cardinal Filoni. It has its headquarters in Vatican City and is under the unique protection of the Holy See. The 30,000 members of the Order worldwide are organized either within Lieutenancies or Magistral Delegations.
Pope Francis, when he met members in Rome in 2013 spoke on three basic elements of Christian life: journeying, building, professing. “Your journey,” said the Holy Father to members of the Order “is in history - in a world where the boundaries are ever-expanding, many barriers fall, and our paths are tied ever more closely to that of others.” He encouraged the dames and knights to be true to their tradition of faithful, compassionate and loving service, as they work to build a brighter future for and with the struggling Christians of the Holy Land. “Believe in the redemptive power of the Cross and the Resurrection,” said Pope Francis, “in order to offer hope and peace. In a particular way, the Land of Jesus has so much need of it!"
I hope you will take gain from browsing the site. In doing so you will familiarise yourself with our work, spiritual commitment, and ceremonial.
In late October 2019, 50 members and friends travelled to the Holy Land on pilgrimage to meet "the living stones". This was the 14th. Pilgrimage since our establishment in 1986. We travelled to a Maronite village in Jish and met the local Parish community, visited Bethany and were amazed by the children in the Crèche, and in the West Bank were astonished at the vibrancy of the school in the town of Bir Zeit. In Bethlehem we met the children in the local Orphanage run by the Sisters of St Vincent De Paul, a humbling experience. In all instances this Lieutenancy has a unique bond with the works undertaken by the local Church. Members also received their Pilgrim Shells and met His Paternity the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land.
Since then the Holy Land, like other parts of the World, has been affected by the COVID 19 Pandemic. In the Holy Land the cessation of Pilgrimages has particularly affected the economy and consequently the livelihoods of its residents, especially in States where there is no social protection systems. This Lieutenancy participated in special Order appeal to raise over €2m to alleviate the enormous crisis in the region.
The Secretary of State, Pietro Cardinal Parolin has spoken about the implications of membership of the Order:
“It could be said in all truth that the members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre are like "ambassadors" of the Holy Land. In fact, in addition to living their own Christian faith and manifesting adherence to the Catholic Church in the environments in which they live and work – in which sense all the baptized are called to be "ambassadors of Christ" (see 2 Cor 5:20) – they promote initiatives in favour of the Holy Places in the parishes and in the dioceses they belong to. Therefore, members of the Equestrian Order are asked not only to promote the collection of funds for the ecclesial realities present in the Holy Land, but also to pray and work so that peace prevails over divisions and violence.
We are thus an Order of service and this requires of us all an active interior life, support to our local Church and our local parish, and to avail of every opportunity, according to circumstances, to evangelise. As Pope Francis told us in 2018 “You are called to place the evangelical love of neighbour as the central and final aim of your works, to bear witness to the goodness and care with which God loves everyone”.
In this Lieutenancy our 200 members meet regularly in Knock, Belfast and other locations, to participate in the Eucharist, to update themselves with developments in the Holy Land and to witness to the Faith. In normal circumstances men and women are admitted to membership in a colourful ceremony in St Patrick’s College Maynooth. Covid affected our abilities to do so in 2020 and to date in 2021. Our last such ceremony took place in 2019; you will see some of these photographs of that event on the site.
In May 2020 the Holy Father approved a new Constitution for the Order. Extracts of that Constitution are reflected in various part of this website.
"Deus lo Vult - Mar is toil le Dia - God Wills It"
Spring Mass in Carlow
Most Rev’d Denis Nulty, KC*HS, Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin and Apostolic Administrator of Ossory, celebrated the Lieutenancy’s Spring Mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow on Sunday 25 April 2021 Due to the Covid restrictions only three members were present, Charles McDonald, GCHS from the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin and Eileen and Fonsey Mealy from Ossory.
In the course of his homily the Bishop said
“I welcome the members, family and friends of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem who join us through the Cathedral Webcam for this their Lieutenancy Spring Mass. The Order is an organisation within the Church and an order of chivalry under the protection of the Holy See. While practicing the faith is critical in their own lives and that of their families, it is their outreach into the hidden corners of the Holy Land that remains profound today. It’s not only charity, it’s advocacy for those regardless of their creed or belief, who have no voice in the land of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
We regularly hear today of ‘protected species’, we might talk about the cuckoo, the corncrake or the yellowhammer; in the Holy Land (the area of the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan) the number of Christians continues to decline. Christians are eligible to becomes the protected species of the Holy Land. Members of the Equestrian Order also follow their dream, have an acute sense of service and remain ever faithful to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the mission that comes from Calvary and Golgotha, from the place of the Cross and the place of the tomb.
The Covid-19 pandemic has swept across our globe like nothing else. Every aspect of our lives has being impacted. Even our ability to gather to publicly worship, the resumption cannot come soon enough. While very sadly people are still dying from Covid and testing positively for the virus, the greater concentration now is on the vaccine roll out. Resilience has been obvious in these unprecedented times. As the final statement from the Holy Land Coordination Group 2021 stated; “the health challenges of Covid-19, felt by the entire world, are compounded by conflict, occupation and blockade”. Pope Francis reminds us and leadership in the Holy Land that “in the face of a challenge that knows no borders, we cannot erect walls. Reports from Médecins Sans Frontières suggest the situation in the West Bank Palestinian Territory and in Gaza is critical. We cannot afford to stand idly by. Everyone deserves equal access to the Covid-19 vaccine. The Equestrian Order through their advocacy speak for those whose voice is silenced.
The 2021 supported project is in Mafraq, Jordan.
Background: Mafraq City is 20kms from Syrian Border and surrounded by Iraq and Saudi Arabia and is 70km from Amman. There are 2,500 Christians in a population of 75,000. The parish has a secondary school that contains classes until the 10th grade only; pupils of Mafraq continue their high school education in the neighbouring villages and cities.
The students are forced to be enrolled in non-Christian governmental schools where they do not study Christian education which forms a genuine dilemma.
The beneficiaries of this project are the students who will not have to move to another school outside the City when they reach high school. It will also open new job opportunities for the teachers who will be teaching in the newly opened classes. We will fund the construction of a new building inside the parish compound to include three classrooms for the 11th and 12th grades, a teachers’ room, and bathrooms.
We in Ireland have committed USD $78,690 for that purpose.
The Order of the Holy Sepulchre supports the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in responding to the Covid-19 crisis
From May 2020, the 30 thousand Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, present in the various continents, have held even dearer to heart their brothers and sisters of the Holy Land who have been severely struck by the health and economic crisis brought about by Covid-19. Despite such difficult conditions at the global level, their generosity has not diminished and in recent months the Grand Magisterium of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre was able to send, in addition to the regular aid already planned each month, about 3 million euros to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in order to respond to the humanitarian needs of its faithful . Read more.
Lieutenants at the grave of H.E. Tomas Cardinal O Fiaich GCHS: The currently serving Lieutenant, Peter Durnin; M. Joseph McDonnell; Charles A Kelly and H.E. Nicholas McKenna, currently serving on the Grand Magisterium in Rome.
Our latest newsletter is available below or can be viewed online here.
Read the full article 'My Prayers for the Holy Land - Seán Cardinal Brady'
We are happy to inform you that our latest quarterly publication in five languages, Newsletter 60, is available.
We would also like to bring your attention to Msgr. Pizzaballa’s letter.
Irish Pilgrims on Mt. Nebo, Jordan, 2016
To keep up to date with developments in the Holy Land, please access the following websites:
Purposes of the Order
The specific mission assigned by the Holy Father to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is that of animating zeal in the ecclesial community towards the Land of Jesus and sustaining the Catholic Church and the Christian presence there.
The Director and Engineer with our members on the roof of the Bethany Crèche East Jerusalem with the Separation Wall in the background. This photograph was taken in 2019.
Preamble to the Constitution
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, of ancient origins, has its historical roots in the creation of the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre and in the firmly established custom of valiant men being invested with the title of knight at the tomb of Christ in past centuries. It has been reorganised and enriched with privileges by the Supreme Pontiffs who, for a certain period, personally performed the role of Grand Master of the Order. The Order enjoys the special benevolent protection of the Holy See in virtue of the historical, juridical, and religious ties that it has with it. The Order’s history, goals, structure and spirituality confer upon it unique institutional characteristics.
Although membership of the Order is, in the first place, for the lay faithful, it is also open to the clergy, especially those engaged in fostering the spiritual growth and progress of all its members. The Order gives primary importance to the vocation to holiness of every Christian and aspires to be an instrument for the development and deepening of personal sanctification, as well as an environment in which faith is practised and lived in all its aspects.
The Order, with its structure and activities, participates directly in the Roman Pontiff’s solicitude for places and Catholic institutions in the Holy Land. Its goals spring from papal teachings and are located in the general context of the ends of charity, apostleship and service to the dignity of the human being that are specific to the Catholic Church.
In particular, the link with Jerusalem, which is specific to the Order, requires responsibility for its Holy Places (cf. Gal 4:26). The Holy Sepulchre is in fact the symbol of the Passion shared with Jesus and nurtures hope in the Resurrection (cf. Phil 3:10-11).
Does the mission of the Order, and concomitant obligations, appeal to you?