Knights of the Holy Sepulcher

A papal order of knighthood. The founder of it is uncertain and the credit has been variously attributed to Empress Saint Helena, Charlemagne, Godfrey de Bouillon, and Baldwin I. According to some authorities it was a branch of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. It was approved in 1113 by Pope Paschal I but with the downfall of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was expelled from there, whence members came to Perugia. Pope Innocent III united it to the Knights Hospitallers in 1489, but it was restored to its former status as an independent order by Alexander VI, who conferred the honor upon those who visited the Holy Land and aided holy places. He authorized the Franciscan custodian of Mount Sion, the Commissary Apostolic of the Holy See, to confer the honor by virtue of papal authority; but on the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1847 patriarchs alone were empowered to create Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in the name of the pope. There are three classes in the order: Grand Cross Knights, who wear the grand cross suspended from the ribbon worn saltire-wise from the right shoulder to the left side, and a badge on the breast; Commanders, who wear the cross and ribbon fastened at the neck; and Knights, who wear the badge on the left breast. The decoration, which is suspended from a black ribbon, consists of a gibbet-shaped cross with four small red enamelled crosses attached. The badge is an eight-pointed silver star, in the center of which is a red cross surrounded by a green oak and laurel branch. The rarely worn collar is made of small golden Jerusalem crosses and rings. The official uniform is a white evening dress coat trimmed with black velvet, gold embroidery, and gold epaulet, white trousers with gold side stripes, sword, plumed hat, and a white woolen mantle with a red Jerusalem cross on the left breast. The decoration may be conferred on women, who are then known as Dames or Matrons of the Holy Sepulcher, and wear the insignia on the left side of the breast.

New Catholic Dictionary

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