History of the Order
After Jerusalem was freed from the Seljuk Turks in 1099, Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine, principal leader of the First Crusade for four difficult years, was elected "Protector and Advocate of the Holy Sepulchre". As part of his operations to organise the religious, military and public bodies of the territories newly freed from Muslim control, he founded the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre. According to accounts of the Crusades, in 1103 the first King of Jerusalem, Baldwin I, assumed the leadership of this canonical order, and reserved the right for himself and his successors (as agents of the Patriarch of Jerusalem) to appoint Knights to it, should the Patriarch be absent or unable to do so. In 1496, Pope Alexander VI created the office of Grand Master of the Order, with the office vested in the papacy.
The Order’s members included not only the Regular Canons (Fratres) but also the Secular Canons (Confratres) and the Sergentes. The latter were armed knights chosen from the crusader troops for their qualities of valour and dedication; they vowed to obey Augustinian Rule of poverty and obedience and undertook specifically, under the command of the King of Jerusalem, to defend the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Places. Though Godfrey died a year later, Pope Paschal II formally approved of Godfrey's initiative and gave papal approbation in 1113. The office of Grand Master remained vested in the papacy until 1949. Since then a cardinal has been grand master. The Pope is sovereign of the Order which enjoys the protection of the Holy See and has its legal seat at Vatican City.
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Pius IX re-established the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1847. He ordained that the Order's cape (or mantle), as worn by the original knights, be a "white cloak with the cross of Jerusalem in red enamel."
Banner of the Order
Pius X assumed the title of Grand Master. The title of Grand Master is now held by a cardinal of the Roman Curia who is resident in Rome at the Ceremonial Headquarters, Palazzo della Rovere, the 15th century palace of Pope Julius II, immediately adjacent to the Vatican. It serves as the Order's international headquarters.