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The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre Commander Cross

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The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre Commander Cross
Number of awards: -
manufactured: -

Product Code:



Commander Cross

Constitutor: Gottfried von Bouillon
Foundation date: 1099
Year award:
Origin / Provenance: -
Material: Silver gilt + Emaille
Weight in (g). 60,8 /30,8
Size in (mm). 80 x 80
51,8 x 89
Condition: II

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (lat.: Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani, OESSH) is a Roman Catholic order of knighthood under the protection of the Pope. It traces its roots to Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, principal leader of the First Crusade. In 1496, Pope Alexander VI created the office of Grand Master of the Order, and the office was vested in the papacy where it remained until 1949 and since then a cardinal has been grand master. The Pope is sovereign of the Order, and it enjoys the protection of the Holy See and has its legal seat at Vatican City.

Crusader period

Five major orders were formed in the Holy Land between the late 11th century and the early 12th century: the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre (circa 1099), Knights Templar (circa 1118), Knights Hospitaller (circa 1099) (St John), Knights of the Hospital of St Mary of Jerusalem (Teutonic Knights) and Knights of St Lazarus.

Templar knights who contracted leprosy were sent to the care of the Order of St Lazarus. These knights trained the brethren of St Lazarus in the military arts and were responsible for transforming the Order into a military one. William, Archbishop of Tyre, as well as other historians of the period, appeared unaware of the difference between the Orders of Saint Lazarus and Saint John, referring to them in their accounts simply as 'Hospitallers'. The latter were, and still are, called Hospitallers as they began as an Order of monks running the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem shortly after the First Crusade. They had become militarised by the 1130s, and went on, with the Knights Templar, to become one of the two largest and most influential Military Orders. Indeed, Godfrey de Bouillon – the uncrowned ‘king’ of Jerusalem – was so impressed with the dedication of these hospital workers under its leader Gerard and with their work toward the sick and the wounded that 'king' Godfrey de Bouillon supported and gave them funds and facilities.

Pilgrimages to the Holy Land were a common if dangerous practice from shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus to throughout the Middle Ages. Numerous detailed commentaries have survived as evidence of this early Christian devotional. While there were many places the pious visited during their travels, the one most cherished was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, first constructed by Constantine the Great in the fourth century AD. It is said[by whom?] that a local tradition, begun long before the Crusades, provided for the bestowing of knighthood upon worthy men by the custodians of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Following the capture of Jerusalem at the end of the First Crusade in 1099, the Order was first formally constituted as an Order of Canons, the successor of which is the modern Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. It is considered among the oldest of the military orders of knighthood. It was recognized by Papal Bull in 1113.

The Order today

Pius IX re-established the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1847 and re-organized the Order. Pius X ordained that the Order's cape or mantle, as worn by the original knights, be a "white cloak with the cross of Jerusalem in red enamel." Pius X assumed the title of Grand Master. The title of Grand Master is now held by a cardinal of the Roman Curia who is resident in Rome at the Palazzo Della Rovere, the 15th-century palace of Pope Julius II, immediately adjacent to the Vatican. It serves as the Order's international headquarters.

There are several grades of knighthood, and except for the highest grade, these are open to both men and women:

 Knight of the Collar

 Knight / Dame Grand Cross (KGCHS / DGCHS)

 Knight / Dame Commander with Star (KC*HS / DC*HS)

 Knight / Dame Commander (KCHS / DCHS)

 Knight / Dame (KHS / DHS)

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