Membership in the Order
Unlike some chivalric order whose membership is open to non-Catholics, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is reserved solely for practicing Catholics. Membership in this Order is the highest Papal award which can be conferred on clergy and laity alike. It is precisely that faith that bonds them so closely to the Sovereign Pontiff. The investiture ceremony itself requires the pledge of fidelity to the Holy Father and defense of the Faith with a Profession of Faith, which, of course, only the Catholic faithful could undertake.
The Nomination Process
Existing members of the Order usually nominate, through their Section Representative, new members each year. Nominations must be reviewed and approved by the Section Representative and by the candidate’s pastor and bishop. The Lieutenant then extends letters of invitation. Dossiers of accepting nominees are prepared and, if approved by the Lieutenant, forwarded to the Grand Prior for review. Once approved by the Grand Prior, the dossiers are forwarded to the Grand Magisterium in Rome where the Chancellor reviews them and sets them before the International Admissions Committee. Once approved, a diploma is prepared and signed by the Grand Master of the Order and forwarded to the Vatican Secretary of State for review and signature.
The nomination of a candidate to the Order is strictly confidential until the offer has been approved by the nominee’s bishop and an invitation has been extended to the candidate by the Lieutenant.
The Mission of the Order
The 1977 Constitution for the Order states its mission as follows:
- To strengthen in its members the practice of the 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 of which the Order is a fundamental means for 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, interesting in this work the Catholics scattered throughout the world, united in charity by the symbol of the Order, and also all brother and sister Christians; and
- To sustain the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
The Call to Membership
The Constitution provides that “members in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem are distinguished by their:
- Assiduous practice of Christian faith, living by the highest standards of moral conduct,
- Exemplary involvement in the activities of the Church at the parish and diocesan levels,
- Willingness to engage in the specific lay apostolate of the Order at the service of the Church,
- Ecumenical spirit, and their active interest in the needs and problems of the Holy Land.”
Membership in the Order presumes an active personal commitment 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.