The Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - contemporary to the Knights Templar

"The Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem owes its origins to Godfrey de Bouillon of the first Crusade, who gathered around him a group of Knights who were entrusted with the protection of the religious Chapter of Canons at the Holy Sepulchre of Christ in 1100. Godfrey had been elected leader of the victorious Crusaders, but refused the title of King. Instead he took on the title "Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri" - "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre".

During the period of the Christian Kingdom, in Jerusalem, the Knights appointed by Godfrey, and those who came to join their number, protected the Christian presence at the Holy Sepulchre, taking as their banner the red Jerusalem Cross popularised by the crusading knights. In 1112, they were officially recognised by Pope Paschal II. In 1122 Pope Callistus II issued a Bull establishing the Knights as a lay religious community with the responsibility of guarding the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre and the city of Jerusalem against Muslim attack.

After the Muslims regained Jerusalem in 1187 the Knights assisted in the re-capture of the city of Acre. They remained there until the great fortress fell to the Muslims in 1291, ending the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. A diaspora then took place among the Christians in Palestine. Many of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre remained in the Mediterranean basin; others fled as far as France and Spain. The works of the Order continued as far away as Poland, where Knights had settled and later their descendants continued in the spirit of the defence of Christianity.

The activity of the Order and its identity, in Palestine shifted from the Knights, who returned to their own countries, to the religious Order of St. Francis, which had custody of the monastery of Mount Zion. In 1330, Pope John XXII appointed the Prior of the Franciscan house Custodian of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Custodian served as vicar to the Pope, who was the governing authority of the Order. The Custodian was responsible for all aspects of the Order's growth and governance, including the dubbing of new knights."

This blog quotes freely from this webpage on Illustration  Crusader graffiti, Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, source, author:  Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY

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