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home : news : our diocese January 21, 2018

Diocese men among those honored as Knights of the Holy Sepulchre
About the Order

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.

With the fall of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Knights were driven out of Palestine to Italy; over the centuries, priories and monasteries of the Order were established in France, Spain, Poland, Belgium and Italy. In 1847, with the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate, Pope Pius IX revived the Order and set up four classes of Knighthood in the Order: Knight Grand Cross, Grand Officer (Knight Commander with Star), Knight Commander and Knight. Pope Leo XIII authorized the conferring of honors upon women as Ladies of the Order 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; to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, particularly those in Jerusalem; to support the preservation and propagation of the Faith in those lands, and to uphold the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.”

The insignia worn by Knights upon their full-length white capes (and by Ladies on their black capes) is the five-fold red cross which symbolizes the five wounds of Christ. It is known as the Jerusalem Cross or the Cross of Godfrey. Members are encouraged to wear the cross as testimony of their submission to Christ. A “pilgrim shell,” a scallop shell upon which the Jerusalem Cross is emblazoned, indicates the wearer has been on pilgrimage in the Holy Land and prayed at the Holy Sepulchre of the Risen Lord.

In the Order’s Daily Prayer, Knights and Ladies request the intercession of Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints to “help remain faithful to the traditions of our Order, in practicing and defending the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Religion against impiety and in exercising charity to my neighbor and above all to the poor and sick in the Holy Land” and request “the strength to execute these desires with a truly Christian spirit for the glory of God.”

An organization of Catholic men and women who have made a solemn promise to “always be loyal to Christ” and conduct their lives “in accordance with Christian moral and religious principles” welcomed new members to its ranks during an Investiture Mass Oct. 21 in St. Patrick Cathedral, New York.

Sixty men and women were invested as Knights and Ladies in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem’s Eastern Lieutenancy of the United States, and 92 members were promoted in rank, into the ancient Catholic order with roots dating back to the 11th century and which has as its main objective to provide spiritual and financial support for Christians living in the Holy Land.

Five men from the Trenton Diocese were among those honored at the Investiture Mass. Father Garry Koch, pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel; Dr. Edward DeFabio of Nativity Parish, Fair Haven, and Thomas J. Viggiano, III, of St. Michael Parish, West End, were newly invested as Knights. Promoted to higher ranks were Sir Frank C. Muzzi of Christ the King Parish, Long Branch, to Knight Commander, and Sir Timothy E. Ryan of St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville, to Knight Grand Cross.

“You are like soldiers for the kingdom of God, soldiers for our Holy Catholic Church, soldiers for Christ the Lord, soldiers for the Holy Land,” said Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan of the Camden Diocese and former auxiliary bishop of New York, who served as principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass.

Reminding the Knights and Ladies that the redemptive cross of Jesus should underpin everything they do, Bishop Sullivan noted, “We reach out to a world in need of healing, women and men whose lives are broken and wounded by disease, pain and hunger.”

Father Garry Koch
Dr. Edward DeFabio
Frank C. Muzzi
Timothy E. Ryan
Thomas J. Viggiano, III

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