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“. In September 2022 we shall commence our 14th. Pilgrimage since our establishment in 1986. We will travel to many of the sites associated with Jesus and shall meet local Christians in Taybeh, Birzeit in Israel and Palestine and Mafraq and Safout in Jordan. Our association with these towns is underpinned by our financial contributions to various projects in those towns.

Members will also meet the Patriarch and the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land.

In the Holy Land the cessation of Pilgrimages in 2020, 2021 and part of 2022 due to Covid  particularly affected the economy and consequently the livelihoods of its residents, especially in States where there is no social protection systems. This Lieutenancy participated ina  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. While Covid affected our abilities to do so in 2020 and in 2021, we were able to admit 4 new members in July 2022.

Deus lo Vult – Mar is toil le Dia – God Wills It

Peter Durnin

Developments in the Holy Land

To keep up to date with developments in the Holy Land, please access the following websites:

Purposes of the Order

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.

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.


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. Read more in our Constitution.

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 obligations, appeal to you?
If so and you require further information, please contact the Chancellor at chancellor@holysepulchre.ie, to include a telephone contact number.