Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reshaping the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - 1847 to present

Peter Carroll, Queensland leader of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre,
meets Pope Francis in Rome (2013)
as the order’s Pro-Grandmaster Cardinal Edwin O’Brien watches on.source
After their origin in 1103 and some 80 years of existence, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem first began to fail as a cohesive military body of knights after Saladin regained Jerusalem in 1182, and completely ceased to exist in that format after the defeat of Acre in 1291.

The passing of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem left the Order without a leader, though it continued to survive in the European priories thanks to the protection of sovereigns, princes, bishops and the Holy See.

The priories kept alive the ideals of the Crusader Knights: propagation of the Faith, defence of the weak, charity towards other human beings. With the exception of events in Spain, it was only rarely that the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre ever took part again in military action to defend Christianity.

In 1847 the Patriarchate was restored and Pope Pius IX modernised the Order, issuing a new Constitution which placed it under the direct protection of the Holy See and conferred its government to the Latin Patriarch. The Order’s fundamental role was also defined: to uphold the works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, whilst preserving the spiritual duty of propagating the Faith.

In 1949, Pius XII decreed that the Grand Master of the Order should be a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church and assigned the position of Grand Prior to the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In 1962 Pope John XXIII and, in 1967, Pope Paul VI reorganised and revitalised the Order by adding more specific regulations to the Constitution with the intention of making the Order’s activities more co-ordinated and more effective.

In February 1996, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II enhanced the Order’s status. Today it is a Public Association of faithful with a legal canonical and public personality, constituted by the Holy See under Canon Law 312, paragraph 1:1.

Over and above its historic connotations and its eventful progress in times gone by, the valuable and interesting aspects of the Order today lie in the role assigned to it, which it pursues within the sphere of the Catholic Church and through its administrative structure and its local organisations in various communities.

The Order’s aims today are:
  • To strengthen in its members the practice of Christian life, in absolute fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff and according to the teachings of the Church, observing as its foundation the principles of charity which make the Order a fundamental means of assistance to the Holy Land
  • To sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, particularly those of and in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with which the Order maintains traditional ties
  • To support the preservation and propagation of the Faith in those lands, and promote interest in this work not only among Catholics scattered throughout the world, who are united in charity by the symbol of the Order, but also among all other Christians;
  • To uphold the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and of all the activities and initiatives to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The contributions made by its members are therefore the Patriarchal institutions’ main source of funding.

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