Order of the Holy Sepulchre : The Equestrian Order
of reading - words
The Holy Sepulchre Order was founded around 1102. This Diplomatic Order has an important role within the Order of the Knights Templar and we will describe why in this blog article on the Holy Sepulchre Order and its origins. Who created this order ? What is the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre ? What was their role within the Knights Templar Order ? In any case, we are going to try to understand more deeply the incredible history of the Holy Sepulchre Order.
1) Order of the Holy Sepulchre
This Order cannot be considered a Military Order, it is an Armed Order.
The Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem was created by Godefroy de Bouillon around 1102 and suppressed by Innocent VIII with incorporation into the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1489. This Minor Order was strictly assigned to the defense of the Holy Places of Jerusalem from 1102 to 1291. It played a diplomatic rather than a military role, always favoring negotiation over military confrontation. Even if this Order was long confused with the Order of the Knights Templar by 18th-century historians, we know today that these two Orders had nothing to do with each other. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre should be considered more as an armed Religious Order than as a Military and Religious Order. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre was an armed Order, primarily to defend itself from Muslim attacks and not to fight in the Holy Land like the Crusaders and Templars.
A. Pope Urban II
Born in Châtillon-sur-Marne around 1042, died in Rome in 1099, he was a preacher of the First Crusade, a Cluniac monk and became pope in 1088. He convened a council in Clermont-Ferrand in 1095 and preached the First Crusade, which left the following year under the command of the Bishop of Le Puy, Adhémar de Monteil.
The council took place from 14 November to 28 November 1095. The Pope denounced the abuses of the clergy and the control of the laity of the Church. He wants to impose the "truce of God. "On the last day, he calls for the deliverance of the Holy Places. It is known that his audience consisted of 13 archbishops, 315 bishops and abbots, and a large crowd of lords and knights. They responded to the call of Urban II by proclaiming, "God wills it! »
The site where this great gathering is taking place is the Place Delille (former Place du Champet). It is, however, on the Place de la Victoire that the Fontaine d'Urbain II was erected in 1895 by the architect Teillard and the sculptor Gourgouillon, on the occasion of the 8th centenary of the First Crusade. Overhanging an imposing monument made of Volvic lava, Pope Urban II indicates with his right hand the direction of the Holy Land.
B. The speech of Pope Urban II
May your hearts be moved and your souls be stirred to courage by the deeds of your ancestors, the virtue and greatness of King Charlemagne and his son Louis, and of your other kings, who destroyed the domination of the Turks and extended in their country the empire of the Holy Church. Be moved especially for the Holy Sepulchre of Jesus Christ, our Savior, possessed by filthy peoples, and the holy places which they disgrace and irreverently defile with their impurities. O most courageous knights, offspring of invincible fathers, do not degenerate, but remember the virtues of your ancestors. Only if you feel held back by the dear love of your children, your parents, your wives, remember what the Lord says in his Gospel: "Whoever loves his father and mother more than I do, is not worthy of me. Whoever forsakes his house, or his brothers, or his sisters, or his father, or his mother, or his wife, or his children, or his land, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life. "Do not let yourself be held back by any concern for your property and the affairs of your family, for this land which you inhabit, enclosed between the waters of the sea and the heights of the mountains, is cramped by your large population, it is not abundant in wealth, and hardly provides food for those who cultivate it :
From which you tear and devour as you please, raise wars, and many perish by mutual wounds.
Put out therefore all hatred among yourselves, that strife may be quieted, that wars may be pacified, and that all the bitterness of your dissension may be quieted. Take the road to the Holy Sepulchre, and pluck this land out of the hands of these abominable peoples, and submit it to your power. God has given Israel ownership of this land, whose Scripture says, "there flows milk and honey. "Jerusalem is the center of it, its territory, fertile above all others, offers, so to speak, the delights of another paradise :
The Redeemer of mankind illustrated it by his coming, honored by his residence, consecrated by his Passion, redeemed by his death, signaled by his burial. This royal city, situated in the midst of the world, now held captive by its enemies, is reduced to the servitude of nations ignorant of God's law ; it therefore asks and wishes you for its deliverance, and never ceases to implore you to come to its aid. It is from you above all that it seeks help, for as we have told you, God has given you, above all nations, the glory of arms :
- Take this road, therefore, in remission of your sins, and depart assured of the imperishable glory that awaits you in the kingdom of heaven.
C. Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
In 1291, the town of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, the last stronghold of the Crusaders, fell into Muslim hands. However, the Franciscans, who had taken refuge in Cyprus, where the headquarters of the Province of the East were located, tried to ensure a presence in Jerusalem and in the other sectors of the sanctuaries in Palestine. Pope John XXII then allowed the Minister Provincial of the Holy Land to send two of his friars to the Holy Places each year. Their presence in the Holy Sepulchre is certified for the period from 1322 to 1327. The definitive return of the Friars Minor to the Holy Land, with the legal possession of some Holy Places and the right of use in others, is due to the King of Naples, Robert of Anjou, and to Sancho de Mallorca. In 1333 they acquired the Cenacle from the Sultan of Egypt, thanks to the mediation of the Franciscan Roger Guérin, and obtained the right to officiate at the Holy Sepulchre. It is, furthermore, established that the Friars Minor would enjoy these rights in the name of Christianity. In 1342, Pope Clement VI, with the Bull "Gratias agimus" and "Nuper carissimae,” approved the undertaking of the Kings of Naples and laid down the provisions for the new entity. Religious destined for the Holy Land can now come from all the provinces of the Order and, once in the service of the Holy Land, are under the jurisdiction of the Father Custodian, "Custodian of Mount Zion in Jerusalem". Until 1555, it was located in the Monastery of Mount Zion. In 1336, they were able to re-establish themselves definitively in the Holy Land.
From then on, the central seat of the custody is established near the Cenacle on Mount Zion. The Franciscans were expelled by the Turks in 1551. In 1560 they acquired the present Convent of the Holy Savior in Jerusalem, where they transferred their custody. However, Professor Sylvia Schein points out the influence of Franciscan anti-Semitism from 1333 onwards. According to this historian, the Friars Minor developed among the pilgrims the myth of the Jewish people as the "murderer of Christ,” which contributed to the spread of anti-Semitism throughout Europe. This propaganda, "systematic" according to Sylvia Schein's analysis, sought in particular to prevent the return of Jews to the Land of Israel, even though relations between Jews, Franciscans and pilgrims remained quite peaceful on the spot. The constant presence of the Franciscans in the Holy Land was decisive for the development of the local Church, until the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem in 1847 was made possible. Since then, the Custody and the Latin Patriarchate have worked together in a spirit of collaboration in carrying out their respective mandates. Monsignor Guiseppe Valerga, the new Patriarch, was the last to be knighted by the Custos on January 16, 1848. The Order was refounded by a brief from Pope Pius IX in January 1868 with the approval of new statutes for the Order. Pope Pius IX authorized in 1871 to award the Order's cross to a first lady, Lady Lomax. The brief of 3 August 1888 of Pope Leo XIII, authorizes that the ladies thus decorated be called Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre.
2) Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
Re-creation of the Order in 1847 :
From the beginning of his pontificate, Pius IX had had a great concern for Palestine, all the more so as the Ottoman Empire was beginning to falter. The Pope wanted to unify the missionary forces in the Near East, which had hitherto been divided among various congregations. On July 23, 1847, by the brief Nulla Celebrior, he re-established the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and appointed Archbishop Giuseppe Valerga as Patriarch. The brief reorganized the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the new Patriarch became the Grand Prior of the renewed Order on 15 January 1848.
As soon as he took the Order into his hands, Bishop Valerga wanted to reorganize it. He asked for the knights to be divided into ranks and classes, with their own attributes, not only to present themselves like the other orders, but also to be able to reward those who had distinguished themselves by particular merits. After years of insistence, Pius IX, in the Apostolic Letter Cum multa sapienter of January 24, 1868, instituted the three classes requested knights, commanders and grand cross. In 1867, the Patriarch undertook a tour of the main Catholic courts in Europe with a view to obtaining legal recognition for the Order. The Order was thus recognized as soon as it was re-founded by the Kingdom of Piedmont, then by Italy, Austria and Belgium. Bishop Valerga, by replacing the clause of nobility required until then by the notion of belonging to an elite, wanted to increase the number of knights. In less than 25 years, he created 1,417 knights who were supposed to live more nobilium. The question of the admission of women to the order arose very quickly.
In nineteenth-century society, states only exceptionally admitted women to orders of knighthood or merit. On the basis of a cartulary of the Holy Sepulchre, published in Paris in 1849, which already mentioned the names of ladies, the Patriarch obtained from Pius IX in 1871 the authorization to accept an English noble lady into the order. On the strength of this precedent, the second patriarch, Bishop Bracco, accepted a hundred or so between 1873 and 1889. Pope Leo XIII, in the brief Venerabilis frater of 3 August 1888, gave his approval for the reception of ladies in the Order. In order to consolidate the Order's position in the Holy Land, Pope Pius X reserved for himself and his successors the office of Grand Master in the Apostolic Letter Quam multa of 13 October 1908 and granted the knights a place in the papal chapels, while the Patriarch was appointed Rector and perpetual administrator of the Order. Pius XI restored to the Patriarch his prerogatives by the Apostolic Letter of 6 January 1928 and entrusted the work of preserving the Faith in Palestine to the Order. Following a protocol controversy that arose between the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the Sovereign Order of Malta, which demanded the merger of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem with the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of which he claimed to be heir, The Order of the Holy Sepulchre was then designated as the "Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem,” while the dignity of Grand Master, which could only belong to the Hospitaller Order, restored by Pius X, was abolished and the bailiffs representing the Patriarch were henceforth to be called "lieutenants" with the predicate of "excellence.”
These new statutes presented by the Patriarch were approved by a decree of the Congregation of Ceremonial on August 5, 1931. In July 1940, Pius XII instituted a Cardinal Protector of the Order. His role developed all the more as the Second World War paralyzed the work of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The great mastery was restored on 14 September 1949 by the brief Quam Romani Pontifices for the benefit of the Cardinal Protector. New Statutes were drawn up and promulgated, according to which the Order, placed under the protection of the Holy See, would enjoy juridical personality and would be vested in a Cardinal Grand Master appointed by the Supreme Pontiff. The visibility of the Order in Rome was manifested by the establishment of its ecclesiastical seat in the Church of San Onofrio, granted motu proprio on 15 August 19454, and by the assignment of Palazzo della Rovere, located near the Vatican, which became the seat of the Grand Magisterium, definitively established in Rome, with Jerusalem remaining the historical seat. The last statutory modification was approved by Pope Paul VI in 1977. The Order is considered by Canon Law as a public association of the faithful. The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is an international association of the faithful under the protection of the Holy See. Pope Benedict XVI, in August 2011, appointed Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, pro-grand master, to replace His Eminence Cardinal John Patrick Foley. He is assisted by the Governor General, H.E. Count Agostino Borromeo, and the members of the Grand Magisterium. His Beatitude Bishop Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, is the Grand Prior. He is endowed with canonical juridical personality. He is recognized in France by the Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honour. The mission of the Order, entrusted by Blessed Pius IX, is to support the works and the religious, charitable, cultural and social institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, particularly those belonging to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The motto of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre is "Deus lo vult".
3) Historical reminder
The origin of the Knights Templar dates back to the first crusade to the Holy Land. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, some knights decided to stay there and founded the Kingdom of Jerusalem, with the aim of guarding Christ's tomb.
In 1113 the Order of the Hospitallers was created. Its mission was to provide Christian pilgrims with accommodation and care.
In 1118, at the instigation of Hugues de Payns and Geoffroy de Saint-Omer, what was to become a historic event was born: the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ, later called the Order of the Knights Templar.
From then on, these two orders organized a large network of commanderies in the West, such as those in Larzac, intended to fuel the war effort in the Holy Land. Since its creation, the Order of the Knights Templar has benefited from all kinds of material advantages and considerable support : that of Saint Bernard, who decreed its rule, and that of the Pope, which allowed it to be independent of the Church hierarchy. Respecting the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Order developed rapidly in the West. The donations made by noble families, but also the talent for making the land and goods bequeathed or purchased bear fruit, give the Order great prosperity. At the end of the 13th century, after the loss of the Holy Land, the Knights Templar were extremely wealthy. In Paris, London and in the commanderies, they managed the royal and private funds they received in deposits.
While the Cathars were hunted down in the South of France, the Knights Templar became the kingdom's bankers. The tower of the Temple of Paris even houses the royal treasury. Their power, their role in the Holy Land and the very complex spiritual symbolism of the Order are undoubtedly at the origin of the fascination but also of the wildest speculations that the history of the Knights Templar has engendered over the centuries.
The success of the Knights Templar eventually aroused covetousness and jealousy, both on the side of the French crown and on the side of the clergy. During the 13th century, the latter forged a negative image of the Knights Templar, represented as arrogant and avaricious men. For his part, Philip the Fair, King of France, wanted to appropriate the Order's wealth and break its independence. In 1305, rumors grew and the Templars were accused of very serious offenses : heresy, idolatry and even sodomy. On Friday, October 13, 1307, the Templars were arrested en masse, imprisoned and put on trial. The Order was definitively abolished in 1312. Its last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was burned alive on the Ile de la Cité in Paris. His call for divine vengeance at that time, followed by the successive deaths of several of the Temple's persecutors, gave rise to the famous legend of the curse of the Knights Templar. It was the Maltese Order who finally inherited the property of the Knights Templar. On the Larzac, they took over from their Templar "cousins" until the French Revolution in 1789.
B. The Knights Templar are among us
In 2018 we celebrated the 900th anniversary of the creation of the Order of the Knights Templar.
Today, our Commandery, Geoffroy de Saint-Omer, perpetuates the work of the Knights Templar and honors the memory of these glorious warrior monks.