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.
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.
"Deus lo Vult - Mar is toil le Dia - God Wills It"
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
Our latest newsletter is available below or can be viewed online here.
You will find our latest quarterly publication in five languages, the Newsletter n° 57, available on the Grand Magisterium’s website here.
Gran Magistero OESSH
By decision of the Holy Father, His Eminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni has been appointed Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre starting this 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 concludes 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.”
Message from the Grand Master
On December 8 last, the Holy Father Pope Francis appointed me Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. I was deeply moved on receiving this news.
Almost immediately, I was inundated by greetings and congratulations from the Grand Magisterium, and Lieutenants from around the world, from Knights, Dames and Clergy.
I would like to thank you all for the attention and consideration that you have shown me. I wish to express my particular gratitude to His Eminence Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master emeritus; I think especially of his generous service, wise and competent leadership exercised over the course of these years.
As I extend to you all my first greeting, dear Members of the Order, I would also like to wish each and every one a very Merry Christmas: May it be a privileged moment of reflection on our encounter with the divine humanity of Jesus who appeared in Bethlehem, and allow ourselves once again to share in the amazement of the Wise Men and the Shepherds. Bethlehem and Jerusalem are the two poles that enclose the mystery of our faith.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2020.
(December 18, 2019)
Fernando Cardinal Filoni
|Follow the daily updates of our member's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, click here||Mass for Peace. Dublin, January 1st, 2020|
- Newsletter - October 2019
Read the full newsletter here
Extract from the Homily, Maynooth Admission Ceremony – 20 July 2019
Archbishop Jude Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland
“And you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord would give”. (Isaiah 62:2)
What is in a name? What is in a title? Does it make a difference to be a knight? Is there a difference between a knight and a non-knight?
A new name marks the end of an epoch and is an indicator of a real change which may have started already. When God changes a name, it indicates that something new has happened or is already happening to the individual — a new relationship is forged, a new character quality is created, or a new phase of life begins. We pray for this renewal amongst all the baptised.”
Open doors at the Beit Jala seminary, one of the important Latin Patriarchate institutions supported by the Order
To keep up to date with developments in the Holy Land, please access the following websites:
Purposes of the Order
- To strengthen in its members the practice of Christian life, in absolute fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff and according to the teachings of the Church, observing as its foundation the principle of charity of which the Order is a fundamental means for assistance to the Holy Land.
- To sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, particularly those of and in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with which the Order maintains traditional ties.
- To support the preservation and propagation of the Faith in those lands, interesting in this work the Catholics scattered throughout the world, united in charity by the symbol of the Order, and also all Christian brothers.
- To sustain the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
The Director and Engineer with members on the roof of the Bethany Creche East Jerusalem with the Seperation Wall in the background
Preamble to the Constitution
"You are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1.8.)
Knighthood is defined as self-discipline, generosity and courage. Whosoever does not have the firm willingness to develop and deepen these traits in his life will never be able to become a True Knight. The zeal for self-renunciation, in the midst of this society of abundance, generous aid to the weak and those without protection, courageous struggle for justice and peace are the characteristic virtues of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
The tie with Jerusalem which is manifested in the Order and exacts responsibility for the Holy Places orients our desires toward the heavenly Jerusalem (Gal. 4.26)
The Holy Sepulchre is the symbol of the Passion shared with Jesus and also our hope in the Resurrection (Phil. 3.10.)
The Cross which we wear is not just jewellery but a testimony of our submission to the Cross of Christ. The form of the Cross which is the symbol of the Order brings to our minds the five wounds of our Lord as well as the suffering in the Holy Land with the loss of its own blood.
"The Pilgrim Shell" reminds us of the reality that we are all pilgrims on this earth, and recalls also our pledge to aid the needy.
Exemplary moral conduct and true Christian feeling are the prime requisites for admission to the Order. The practice of Christian faith must be shown in the heart of one's family, at work, in obedience to the Holy Father, and in involvement in Christian activities both in one's own parish and in one's Diocese.
This distinction of the affiliation with the Order requires of its members:
- Religious devotion.
- Participation in the activities of the Church.
- A lay apostolate, placed at the service of the Church.
- Diligence of the ecumenical spirit, above all by means of active interest in the well-recognized problems in Palestine.
The characteristic feature of the Order consists of its pledge to the Holy Places of Jerusalem and its obligations toward the Church in Palestine. It is not possible to stress sufficiently that the charitable work of the Order must have its roots in the spirituality of its members.
Does the mission of the Order, and concomitant obligations, appeal to you?