Introduction to the Order

Arms of the Order

Official Achievement of Arms of the Order

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (In Latin: Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani) is one of the original few and most ancient chivalric Orders of Knighthood of the Holy See. Born out of the just cause of Christians of the Middle Ages taking up arms in defense of their persecuted brethren, we trace our historically documented lineage directly back to the establishment of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and the election of its first ruler in 1099, the Frankish Duke Godfrey de Bouillon. Rather than taking the mantle of King, Duke Godfrey took upon himself the title of Advocate of the Holy Sepulchre and appointed the first knights of our Order. Their task was to preserve and defend the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the other Holy Sites in and around Jerusalem from vandalism and desecration, and to ensure the safe passage of visiting pilgrims.

As the only chivalric Order of Knighthood of the Holy See and the Vatican City State, the Order’s Fons Honorum (Fount of Honor) resides with the reigning monarch, the Pope. All investitures of laymen, women, and clergy into the Order must be approved by the Cardinal Grand Master and the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. The Order is governed by a Cardinal Grand Master appointed directly by the Pope, and by a council known as the Grand Magisterium headquartered in Rome.  Click here for the Grand Magisterium's Website

Legally the Order is instituted as an international public association of the faithful and governed in accordance with its 1996 constitution and the current Code of Canon Law which grants it Juridical Personhood as well as a Juridical Person in the Vatican. The Northwestern Lieutenancy of the United States is incorporated under the laws of the United States as a religious charitable organization.

               Originally created as an association of knights under arms (Milites Christi), today’s Order is strictly non-violent and apolitical; having swapped out physical arms in favor of spiritual-militancy practiced through prayer, programs of education and evangelization, sustaining the work of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and other peaceful charitable works within the Holy Land. (Ephesians 6: 10-17)

Internationally, while not considered a Papal Knighthood akin to the Orders of St. Sylvester and St. Gregory the Great, which are awarded by the Supreme Pontiff for individual merit, membership in the Order is an official civil honor of the Vatican State and the Holy See.

To be eligible, prospective Knights and Dames of the Order are expected to have a history of, to maintain, and to continue to exhibit an exemplary commitment to the intents and practice of their Christian faith, a demonstrated affinity for the holy places and peoples of the Holy Land, and an uncompromising fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff.

We invite you to watch this short video introduction to the Order and check out the other resources below for more information:

More Information:

The following publicly available information is provided as a courtesy for further study on the Order, the Crusades, the Catholic Church, and the Holy Land past and present. Information found with these external sources is the sole work of their authors. The Order does not endorse nor attest to the accuracy of the information provided:

Books regarding Knighthood and protocols of the Catholic Church:

Orders of Knighthood and of Merit by Peter Bander Van Duren

The Church Visible by James-Charles Noonan Jr. 

Other books:

         The Modern Crusaders, A brief history of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem by Alfred J. Blasco

         The Cross on the Sword, A History of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (eBook format) by Michael H. Abraham D'Assemani

A Great Cloud of Witnesses by Sir Jeffery M. Abood

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades by Robert Spenser

God's Battalion's: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark

Other links: 

Wikipedia: Order of the Holy Seplulcre

Italian Government: Knights of the Holy See overview

Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land: Christian Media Center