The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (Gibraltar Lieutenancy)
A word from the Grand Master, Fernando Cardinal Filoni:
“I think the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem develops two dimensions, which remain largely unknown even to the media. The Order undoubtedly has a centuries-old history. Yet not going beyond it is reductive and, in any case, incomplete. Today the Order is a large family of volunteers (30 thousand), scattered all across the world, who, through their own voluntary contribution, ensure that the Holy Land and the places most sacred to Christianity do not become lifeless museums, rather that they have life. This takes place on two levels: the first is related to the Christians who live there; in this sense, the donations of the Members of the Order go to support poor families, primary and secondary schools, Bethlehem University, health care institutions, and today refugees. The second is to encourage pilgrims from all over the world to visit the most sacred places on pilgrimage and help them receive a suitable welcome. This is in harmony with the Catholic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which has authority over Israel, Palestine and Jordan. In short, to speak of “honorific order” is misleading.”
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ), one of the oldest chivalric orders of the Catholic Church, can trace its history back to the First Crusade when Godfrey de Bouillion reclaimed the Holy Land and Jerusalem in 1099. Godfrey instituted a guard of honour to protect the Holy Sepulchre, hence the name and role of the Order. Since then the EOHSJ has gone through numerous changes, best seen in the different constitutions promulgated by various Popes, the difference in their uniforms and vestments (over the centuries) and their mandate. Serving members of the Order no longer bare arms. However, they are still called to serve the Church in the Holy Land and help look after the Holy sites.
As a lay institution, placed under the protection of the Holy See and governed under Canon Law, the Order’s primary focus is to help support the Latin Patriarchate and its Christian Community. As such the EOHSJ is responsible for the funding and maintenance of Churches, Hospitals, Seminaries, Schools, a University and all the Christians (and non-Christians) who receive help, education and support via the EOHSJ. The Order also helps develop its members’ practice of the Christian life and, as such, holds retreats, organises various Liturgies and fosters a vibrant prayer life.
Today the Equestrian Order is made up of approximately 30,000 members spread throughout the world. There are numerous Lieutenancies and Magisterial Delegations, all of which come under the Grand Magisterium, currently led by the Grand Master, Fernando Cardinal Filoni.
The Gibraltar Lieutenancy is responsible for the Order’s organisation and activities on the Rock.