This weekend 23rd/24th March 2024, members of the Lieutenancy of Ireland have travelled to the historic port city of Wexford to celebrate their Spring Masses.

Evening prayer and Holy Mass was celebrated at 16.00hrs in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Rowe Street, Wexford, today Saturday 23rd March.
The Mass was celebrated by Fr Gabriel Burke,  KHS.

Tomorrow Palm Sunday 24th March 2024, members will attend the midday Mass in St. Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy and will be live streamed.

The ruins of Selsker Abbey stand close to Wexford town.

This ecclesiastical site was the location of the brief presence of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Ireland at the time of the Crusades.

There is a tradition that the first Bishop of Connor, St. Aengus Mac Nissi, consecrated by St. Patrick himself, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the latter half of the 5th century.

St. Adomnan wrote what could be called a ‘Guidebook’ to the Holy Land at Iona about the year 670 AD. Various chroniclers of the time specifically mention the Irish presence in the first Crusade.

The thirteenth century scribe, Robert of Gloucester noted that: “Yrland was amongst the nations that took part in the First Crusade: quaintly adding that: “All the concerts of Europe would have made no music if the Irish harp had been absent“.

The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land included some Irish Friars from at least the seventeenth century. In 1680, Fr. Bonaventure Burke ofm, a member of the Irish Province, left for Jerusalem and the following year became ‘Superior of the Holy Sepulchre’. He died in Jerusalem in 1706.

Fr. Patrick McAuley was ‘Superior of the Holy Sepulchre’ in 1734. During the long vacancy of the Latin Patriarchate of nearly 400 years, the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land was the Rector of the Order who was authorized to admit Knights. Such admissions included James Walsh, doctor in January 1841 and Bernard Morgan in 1683.

With the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate in1847 by means of the Bull Nulla Celebrior, Pius IX restored the rectorate to the Patriarch and set up the four classes of Knighthood in the Order.

Pope Leo XIII authorised for the first time the conferring of honours of the Order upon women who were to be styled Dames of the Holy Sepulchre and to share in all the rights and privileges of the Knights.

In 1172, it is said that King Henry II of England stayed at Selskar Abbey. According to legend, he stayed at the abbey during lent so that he could do penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett. Beckett, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, was murdered in 1170 after Henry II’s men “misinterpreted” some of his words.

At the time, the archbishop was notorious for excommunicating anyone that opposed him. When news filtered through that Beckett had excommunicated three bishops, King Henry II reacted by saying “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?

Although the story of King Henry II’s visit has not been proven, it has been deemed as plausible, simply because he was known to be in Ireland at the time (several sources have said that he was actually “stuck” in Wexford Town because of a bad storm).