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 the opportunity to browse this site, and 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". We travelled to the 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 attended 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 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 has participated in special Order appeal to raise funds 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.
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 July 2019 eight Irish men and women were admitted to membership in a colourful ceremony in St Patrick’s College Maynooth. You will see some of these photographs of that event on the site. Due to the Covid Pandemic, the ceremonial admission of new members in 2020 had to be deferred.
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"
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.
A Special Appeal focussed on YOU
The Covid-19 Virus (coronavirus) is taking its toll disproportionally in the Holy Land.
Tourism / Pilgrimages will not happen this year, a key employment area for our fellow Christians. Our Christian sisters and brothers there have no welfare state safety net nor indeed do many have public healthcare available to them. If their work place is closed, they and their family have absolutely no income or other support. If you become unwell your family must pay for your care.
His Excellency the Grand Master, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, conscious of this extreme emergency has made a special appeal to each member of the Order, and asked each of us for an extra contribution now to support the basic needs of Christian families, to support the continued education of their children and to provide essential medicines.
He has set up a special Covid-19 Humanitarian Support Fund which is expected to deal with the basic needs of about 2,000 families in Jordan and Palestine and provide financial aid to approximately 10,000 families that will not be able to pay tuition fees.
If your personal financial situation permits please help; I feel we must.
Please send what you can to our special appeal by using the Donations Paypal box on the left panel of this Page.
In the context of the fact that funds will be distributed to Christians, not just Catholic Latin rite, you might consider requesting families, friends or colleagues, to provide alms for this most deserving cause, central as it is to our mission in the Land of Jesus.
It is the will of God.
Peter F. Durnin, GCHS
Some of the effects of COVID19 in the Holy Land
Caritas Jerusalem run a small day care centre for the elderly in Ramallah that has closed since the outbreak of Covid-19. We are using the kitchen and staff, (the cook is excellent) with volunteers, to prepare and deliver freshly cooked hot meals to 50 elderly who live alone. The food is then delivered to the elderly people living alone. TThe project is funded by the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis
Irish Lieutenants at the grave of H.E. Tomas 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.
Gran Magistero OESSH
By decision of the Holy Father, His Eminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni was appointed Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre starting December 8 2019, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. We publish below the official communiqué of His Eminence Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, Grand Master of the Order since 2012, who concluded his mandate a few months after reaching the age of 80.
“It is with complete acceptance and appreciation that I welcome the decision of Pope Francis to replace me as Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. I am especially pleased that His Holiness has appointed His Eminence Fernando Cardinal Filoni as my successor.
I have been privileged well beyond the time of my letter of resignation, submitted over five years ago. Throughout my more than eight years as Grand Master, my personal faith and love of our Church have deepened as I have witnessed our members’ commitment to the goals of our Order, expressed in different cultures and languages, all profoundly Catholic!
I am most grateful to the two Governors General with whom I have served, Their Excellencies, Professor Agostino Borromeo and Ambassador Leonardo Visconti di Modrone. Our collaborators in the Grand Magisterium and the daily, dedicated service of our office staff largely account for the steady growth of our Order. Their commitment to our lieutenancies and to the mission of the Latin Patriarchate has been unwavering.
Finally, I welcome His Eminence, Cardinal Filoni as Our Grand Master. His long and broad pastoral and administrative experience in service to the Universal Church will be precious assets as he leads our Order into the future. I offer him my full and fraternal support as I beg the continued intercession of Our Lady of Palestine.”
|Follow the daily updates of our member's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, click here|
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 members on the roof of the Bethany Creche East Jerusalem with the Seperation Wall in the background
An Irish Armorial
Do you know of a Knight or Dame from any Lieutenancy who has a personal Coat of Arms and has an Irish connection?
The person can be a contemporary or a figure from history.
Please contact our Lay Master of Ceremonies with your suspicion, and he will investigate and confirm.
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?