For the first time in Canada, the Lieutenancies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem met in Montreal to inductf new Knights and Dames in a single investiture.

On the last weekend of September, they came from Halifax, Quebec City, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal for the 3-day Knights and Dames gathering of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. More than 180 members of the Order, their families and many sympathizers, attended the Sunday Mass for the Canadian national investiture of 30 new Knights and Dames.

This ceremony was presided by Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order. He was assisted by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Cardinal Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto (Grand Prior of the Lieutenancy for Canada-Toronto), Archbishop Christian Lépine (Grand Prior of the Lieutenancy for Canada-Montréal), the Most Rev. Anthony Mancini, Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth (Grand Prior of the Lieutenancy for Canada-Halifax) and the Grand Priors of three lieutenancies for Canada.

What is the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre?

Created in the City of Jerusalem in 1099 by Knight Godefroy de Bouillon, the Order spans over 900 years. If it was intended originally for the defence of Christ’s grave in the Holy Land, but now the mission of the Order is to stand up for the Church through service, commitment and involvement in causes aiming at the Holy Land. “Both the celebration and the order show our solidarity with the Holy Land and its Christian community: this is a sign of our attachment to Christ,” Archbishop Lépine said.

The Knights and Dames’ mission is to develop their own spiritual life, to support and to help Christians in the Holy Land, to make known the mission, to stand up for papacy with respect to Jerusalem and to uphold the Latin Patriarchate. This support goes to schools, seminaries and parishes in the Holy Land and to humanitarian assistance. The Order supports the weakest and the oppressed, and maintains justice.

Three Days Together

This community gathering started on the Friday, at Mary Queen of the World Basilica, with a sacred songs concert for the works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. On Saturday, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa celebrated a Mass for the deceased members. Then Archbishop Lépine celebrated a Knightly Vigil at the St. Joseph Oratory; it was an opportunity for the candidates to pray about their involvement, and some Knights and Dames were promoted for maintaining the Christian presence in the Holy Land. “Let us be the instruments for encounters and dialogues, and for peace through the works of mercy, as well as spiritual and material support,” Archbishop Lépine said. A conference dinner concluded the day.

On the Sunday of the investiture Mass, 180 Knights and Dames wore their regalia: men, in white, a sign of purity and women in black as a sign of humility. Men were the first to receive the investiture. After reading the Decree, each candidate kneeled before Cardinal O’Brien to receive spurs, on the one hand, and a sword symbolizing “the support of the Holy Church of Christ,” on the other hand.

“Do keep in mind that the Kingdom of God is not to be conquered with a sword, but with Faith and Charity,” Cardinal O’Brien said to each of them. The new knight would then receive a cross, kiss the pastoral ring, bow with his godfather before the celebrant and receive the mantle from the hands of the Lieutenant.

The same ceremonial took place for women, wearing black garments and veil. Instead, they received a cross, “the sign of the Lord’s protection in this life and a token of eternal glory.”

On that Sunday, the 30 new Knights and Dames were truly engaging their faith and committing to the Church. Being part of the Order implies living a life of prayers, and bringing moral and material support to the Middle Eastern Christian populations on a daily basis.

“Deus Lo Vult” (God wants it) is the Order’s motto.