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"
Investiture in Maynooth
The Lieutenancy of Ireland currently has 200 members, primarily lay faithful and some clergy, who have been invested Knights and Dames.
It is a registered Charity providing much needed aid to the Christian population, the 'living stones' in the Holy Land, by means of supporting Capital Investment projects, Humanitarian Aid initiatives and Pastoral Support activities.
In the past 18 months, members of the Lieutenancy of Ireland have donated €480,000 directly to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem's parishes situated in Israel, The Occupied Palestinian Territories and Jordan.
On Saturday 23rd July 2022, the Cardinal Sean Brady Grand Prior of the Lieutenancy of Ireland invested four new members into the Order: Dame Aileen Sheridan (Dublin), Dame Fiona Kane (Wicklow), Chevalier Rev Derek Leonard (Dublin) and Chevalier Dermot Brennan (Meath).
|Knights and Dames to be invested signing their solemn lifelong promise to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, at the altar of the Pontifical University College Chapel, Maynooth, part of The Celebration of the Vigil of Arms celebrated the evening prior to the Ceremony of Investiture.||Ms. Aileen Sheridan (Dublin), kneeling before The Grand Prior of the Lieutenancy of Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, GCHS prior to being invested a Dame of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in front of the altar at the Pontifical University College Chapel, Maynooth, part of The Ceremony of Investiture.|
|Newly invested Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - Lieutenancy of Ireland: Dame Aileen Sheridan (Dublin), Chevalier Rev. Derek Leonard (Dublin), Dame Fiona Kane (Wicklow), Chevalier Dermot Brennan (Meath) with Chevalier Thomas Kilduff (Cavan) Communications Officer holding the Order flag. Seated at front, from left to right: His Excellency Peter Durnin, Lieutenant of Ireland; His Excellency Bishop William Shomali, the General Vicar and Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem; His Grace Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland; His Eminence Cardinal Sean Brady, Grand Prior and Grand Officer Bishop Denis Nulty, Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.||Chevalier Damien Walls (Tyrone), Chevalier Jim Holohan (Dublin), Grand Officer Bishop Denis Nulty Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, His Grace Eamon Martin Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, His Excellency Bishop William Shomali The General Vicar and Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem, His Eminence Cardinal Sean Brady, Grand Prior, Very Rev Fr Patrick Mangan P.E. (Dublin), Rev Fr Ray Murrin (Dublin) and Chevalier Christopher Nolan KC*HS (Dublin) who participated in The Celebration of the Vigil of Arms Ceremony prior to the Investiture of Knights and Dames at the Pontifical University College Chapel, Maynooth.|
|On Friday 22nd July 2022, His Excellency Bishop William Shomali, the General Vicar and Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem awarded promotions to nine members of the Order including: Dame Maureen Jones, Dame Grand Cross (Dublin); Chevalier Brendan O'Reilly, Knight Grand Cross (Dublin); Chevalier Frank Hurl, Knight Commander with Star (Dublin); Chevalier Raphael Kelly, Knight Commander with Star (Dublin); Chevalier Mark Kane, Knight Commander (Galway); Chevalier Aindrias O Caoimh, Knight Commander (Dublin); Chevalier Florence Madden, Knight Commander (Dublin): Chevalier Alphonsus Mealy, Knight Commander (Kilkenny) and Dame Anne Harrington, Dame Commander (Cork).||On Saturday 23rd July 2022, His Excellency Peter Durnin, Lieutenant, awarded promotion to Chevalier Anthony Harbinson, Knight Commander with Star (Antrim).|
Two podcasts about the projects the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem support in the Holy Land, produced by the Communications Team of the Grand Magisterium EOHSJ.
- The service for Hebrew-speaking Catholics (http://www.oessh.va/content/ordineequestresantosepolcro/en/podcast/the-saint-james-vicariate-for-hebrew-speaking-catholics-in-israe.html)
- The employment of women and young people in Palestine (http://www.oessh.va/content/ordineequestresantosepolcro/en/podcast/empowerment--entrepreneurship-and-employment-of-christian-youth-.html).
Additional videos here
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.
Update from the Grand Magisterium Communications Team
3 short videos which illustrate different realities in the Holy Land and show the ongoing support Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem give to the many initiatives of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
|In these three videos, we discover the importance of parishes that offer a beautiful, safe environment where the faithful - who are often faced with various difficulties in the context of the Holy Land - can not only pray, but also share moments together and enjoy different activities:||
|Attention to young people has always been a feature of the care of the Diocese of Jerusalem. The following video tells us how, through the pastoral education provided by priests and congregations, as well as through the work of the Catholic schools of the Patriarchate, supported by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, young Christians can deepen their faith and become active members of society, spreading the values of the Christian experience in their environment:||
|Finally, more than a year after the war in Gaza, the next video depicts and explains the challenges still facing the local population in this territory:||
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.
Newly invested Dame and Knights signing their Promise of Fidelity
Member receiving his insignia as Knight Grand Officer
The interactive version of our newsletter can be found 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 62, 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?