By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
Eight parishioners in the Diocese of Trenton were among the hundreds honored as the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre welcomed new members to its ranks during a recent Investiture and Promotion Mass.
Those invested as Knights and Ladies were Patrick McMenamin of St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish, Spring Lake; and Thomas Gioia, John and Julia Hall, Donald and Beth Knice, Michele Massaro-Linzalone and John Shibles, all from St. Leo the Great Parish, Lincroft.
Six member Knights and Ladies of the Diocese were promoted in rank. John Hammitt of Nativity Parish, Fair Haven, was named a Knight Commander with Star, while individuals recognized as new Knight and Lady Commanders included his wife, Colleen; John Paglione of Sacred Heart Parish, Bay Head; and St. Leo the Great Parish’s Raymond Jr. and Gloria Harter and Joseph Manzi.
The organization – Catholic men and women of which have made a solemn promise to be loyal to Christ and conduct their lives in a Christian moral and religious way – welcomed new members to its ranks during the Mass Sept. 29 in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.
Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem’s Eastern Lieutenancy of the United States, served as principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass, which included nearly 350 men and women in full regalia who processed into the Cathedral.
A total of 90 men and women were invested as Knights and Ladies in the order, and 75 members were promoted in rank into the ancient Catholic order with roots dating back to the 11th century, which has as its main objective to provide spiritual and financial support for Christians living in the Holy Land.
During the investiture ceremony, each new Knight rose as the cardinal reminded them, “Becoming a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre meant abandoning one’s material wealth, one’s home, country and family to profess Christ’s faith … Today, too, becoming a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre means witnessing the Kingdom of Christ, and spreading the Church as well as working for charity with the same profound spirit of faith and love. Are you prepared to accept this ideal for your life?”
A similar interrogatory was delivered to the future Ladies in the order.
“While everyone should consider it an honor to practice virtue,” Cardinal O’Brien said, “so much more should a Lady of the Holy Sepulchre use all means to obtain Christian perfection and by her actions and virtues, show herself worthy of the honor she receives and the dignity with which she is invested. Are you prepared to make this your ideal for your life?”
Knights, clad in full-length white capes and berets were dubbed with a ceremonial sword, while Ladies, who wore black capes and mantillas, received a sign of the Cross on the forehead. Each were presented with the Jerusalem Cross, a five-fold red cross which symbolizes the five wounds of Christ.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem traces its roots back to the time of the First Crusade, when the organization was founded by Godfrey of Bouillon in 1099, immediately after the conquest of Jerusalem. Approved by Pope Pascal II in 1113, its dual mission was to safeguard the Tomb of Christ and provide assistance to pilgrims.
In 1847, with the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate, Pope Pius IX revived the order and set up four classes of Knighthood; conferring of honors upon women was established in 1888.
The Order is charged in its constitution “to strengthen in its members the practice of Christian life, in absolute fidelity to the Pope and according to the teachings of the Church,” among other tenets.