The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is an association of the Catholic faithful, established according to ecclesiastical law and entrusted with a special mission from the Holy Father to aid the Church in the Holy Land and to strengthen the practice of the Christian life among its members. The ordinary regulations of Canon Law, the dispositions of the Church, and the rules of its own Constitution govern it. The Order is one of the oldest and yet one of the least known organizations within the Catholic Church. It has its roots in the 11th century, at the end of the First Crusade, and there is continuous documentary evidence of its existence during the past 900 years.
Investiture into the Order is given to Catholics who are active in Parish and Diocesan work as a labor of love and have distinguished themselves as an example of faith, motivated by charity and love. As in the Age of Chivalry, knighthood is reserved for those strong enough to protect and support others. It is an honor with responsibility. Knights and Ladies are expected to undertake a lifelong commitment to the work of the local Church and to be able to contribute spiritually and financially to the needs of the Holy Land. His Eminence Edmund Cardinal Szoka said that it is a mark of distinction to be a Knight or Lady:
“Entering the Order allows a person to become a very real and active participant in a great Catholic tradition. For almost a thousand years, a millennium, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre has continued to foster medieval traditions of chivalry in the midst of an ever changing world.”
His Eminence Augustine Cardinal Casaroli, former Papal Secretary of State, clearly identified the essential traits of Knighthood and of our Order:
“As a Knight or Lady of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is not simply an honor but a calling. Just as Baptism itself brings with it not only the grace of salvation, but also an obligation to live a life of Faith, so to be admitted into the Order of Knighthood is a commitment of Christian service.”
We are today confronted with the same essential challenge as our founding Knights. We must meet this challenge with the same spirit of prayer, example, and charity. To this cause our Order has been and is dedicated. In light of what is happening in the Holy Land, we have as great, and perhaps a greater, mission to perform as at any time throughout our history.