For many, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre appear to be annual cape wearing participants of the Corpus Christi procession. For others, the Knights are an ancient, irrelevant remnant of a past age of the Catholic Church. Some see the local members turn up at some masses to help out in collecting money for the Holy sites in Palestine and Israel. However, the less known story is that these cape wearing Catholics form part of a vital lay order of the Church tasked with great responsibility.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ) can trace its origins, through tradition, to the First Crusade (1099). However, documented evidence suggests that the first investiture of Knights at the Holy Sepulchre dates back to 1336. Since then, successive Popes have promoted, guided and helped form the EOHSJ into what it is today. That is, an international Roman Catholic lay order of men and women (thirty-thousand strong), recognised in Canon Law, under the protection of the Holy Father led by a Council of lay and ordained persons under the leadership of Edwin Cardinal O’Brien (the Grand Master).
There are many cultural and social activities within which the EOHSJ is involved. Unfortunately, most of these charitable works do not make it into our local news feeds. For instance, did you know that the Good Friday Collection, carried out locally in Gibraltar by our Knights and Dames (Confrères and Consoeurs) is a worldwide event? 65% of the total collected in this one collection goes to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land for the upkeep of the Holy Places. The remaining 35% goes to the Congregation for Oriental Church Projects to aid Christians from Ukraine to Iraq (Eastern Europe to Mesopotamia). The EOHSJ also fund education, cultural and social works in Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus. Hospitals, Universities, and Schools, under our patronage and direction, are ecumenical and open to persons of all faiths. (For more information on the projects, please see: http://project.lpj.org)
Nevertheless, the EOHSJ is not just a collector of funds to help the upkeep of buildings (even though these buildings are of immense importance to followers of Jesus Christ). The EOHSJ is directly involved in the promotion of charitable works (humanitarian support), the building of bridges between diverse communities and the help of people, Christians and other persons of other faiths, in the Holy Land and beyond. The members of worldwide Lieutenancies and delegations that are guided by the Grand Master and the Council, also follow a devout Christian spiritual life. Each member is charged with following in the footsteps of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As such, Confrères and Consoeurs are expected to dedicate time to prayer and the Sacraments, thus becoming active members of their respective diocese and parish Communities.
For more information about who we are and what we do please visit: http://www.oessh.va