There are associations whose vitality does not stop, even after hundreds of years of existence. The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre is one of those, now in existence for 165 years, with over 28,000 members from 59 lieutenancies worldwide, committed to supporting the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. An overview of 2012 and the outlook for 2013 follows.
In 2012, Patriarch Fouad Twal and Bishop William Shomali welcomed about 3,500 Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and presented no less than 714 shells over the last twelve months. Although not surpassing the landmark year of 2010 (855 shells), this is a very significant number. In July 2012, pilgrim shells were presented for the first time, outside the Holy Land, in Andria Italy. We note that, more than a third were given to members from the United States, with the most numerous membership by far, followed by theItalians, Germans, English, and French. Also noteworthy was the visit of the Portugal lieutenancy, during which 24 pilgrims were invested as Knights or Ladies by Bishop Shomali at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate.
One visit that marked the year 2012 was certainly that of Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien,the new Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem who took over from Cardinal Foley last year. Patriarch Twal gave him the Pilgrim Shell on November 26. A few months earlier, on January 30, 2012, the Patriarch presented the pilgrim shell toArchbishop Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, while visiting the Holy Land and was elevated to the College of Cardinal two weeks later. We know that behind all these shells, are loving pilgrims to the Holy Land. Men and women of all nationalities, bound by their prayers to the Land of Jesus, committed to visiting regularly their Mother Church and to financially assist Christians who live here. Thanks to donations from the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, we built and inaugurated the first church in Aqaba, Jordan – the Stella Maris Church.
Enthusiasm for 2013
The year 2013 promises to be as full of vitality. The Knights and Ladies by their loyal visits to the Christian communities of the Holy Land and by their prayers and financial support, are giving hope in the everyday life of our Christian faithful who are our “living stones” in the Holy Land. A few days ago, 80 homes in Beit Safafawere delivered to Christians of Jerusalem and surrounding areas, thanks to the generous support of the Equestrian Order. Many groups of Knights and Ladies are already booked in the Patriarchal agenda for the coming months. In September, the lieutenancy of Germany with no less than 600 Knights and Ladies will visit the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.