In Spring 2016 I was admitted to the Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in the Church of San Francesco in Locarno (OESSH). For this reason, the following will briefly deal with the history of the Order of Knights, the Holy Land and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Afterwards we will deal with some basic questions concerning the admission, which are asked again and again.
General history of the Order of Knights
The Order of Chivalry is one of two pontifical orders of chivalry besides the Order of Malta. The Order is a Roman Catholic lay order constituted in the 19th century. The mission of the Order is to promote the Catholic Church in the Holy Land and to support it through worldwide activities. Due to historical, legal and spiritual ties, the Order is directly under the protection of the Holy See. It is a legal person under canon law as well as a legal person of the Vatican State and thus a pontifically recognized community of Catholic lay people and priests. At the head of the Order of Knights, which has its administrative seat in Rome, is a Grand Master. On 08.12.2019 Fernando Filoni was appointed by the Pope as the new Cardinal Grand Master of the Order.
Holy Land and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Order of Knights refers to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. First of all, it should be noted that the Holy Land is not the same as today’s Israel (1948). The Holy Land is rather the region in which Jesus lived and worked during his earthly time. It includes above all Jerusalem, today’s Israel, the Palestinian territories and small parts of today’s Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and in a broader sense also Egypt (flight to Egypt). The term goes back to the 4th century and is connected with the historical person of the Holy Empress Helena. Christians in the Holy Land today make up only a small part of the total population of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. They are supported by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and promoted by the Order of Knights.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church in the Old City of Jerusalem. It stands on the traditional site of the crucifixion and the grave of Jesus. The church is one of the greatest sanctuaries of Christianity. The Holy Sepulchre inside the church has been reconstructed on several occasions outside the Holy Land. A particularly beautiful replica stands in Eichstätt in the former Capuchin church in the Scottish monastery. The replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Eichstätt shows the structural condition the Holy Sepulchre was in in the 12th century. The Eichstätt replica is therefore at least architecturally more authentic than the tomb in Jerusalem, which has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in the meantime.
History of the Swiss Order
The Swiss Governor’s Office has been in existence since 1950 and today has almost 400 members. The seat of the Order is the St. Michael Monastery in Beromünster. The Governor’s Office is divided into three sections and into Commanderies. Religious and cultural events are held at all levels of the Governor’s Office. The Order of Knights attaches great importance to the fellowship in faith and friendship that is lived in these events.
Admission to the Order
One cannot apply for membership in the Order of Chivalry in the traditional way. Admission to the Order of Chivalry is open to ladies and gentlemen who have proven themselves as Catholic Christians. The Order of Chivalry is open to all who are faithful to the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church and who are guided by their faith in family and profession. Specifically, admission to the Order is made at the so-called investiture ceremony. The investiture consists of a solemn Holy Mass, combined with the vow, the handing over of the insignia and cloak of the Order and the knighthood. This investiture is not only a distinction, but first and foremost an obligation to support the tasks assigned to the Order to the best of one’s ability.
Unpublished materials on the Order of Knights in private library
Website of the Swiss Governors of the Order of Knights.
Website of the German Governorship of the Order of Knights (in german)
Contribution to the Schottenkloster in Eichstätt (in german).