Feasts of the Order
The Catholic Church has always emphasized the importance of memorials that mark the liturgical year. In fact, unlike other religious traditions, since the Middle Ages the Catholic calendar proposes a solemnity for each day of the year, through the commemoration of a feast or saint.
Being able to relive the joy of events such as Christmas or Easter, for example, or indeed, be inspired through prayer by the example of those who lived the call to holiness before us, is an important source of sustenance for the People of God on earth who know that those in Heaven can intercede on their behalf.
There are many charisms at work in the Church, as is recalled in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium: “The Spirit guides the Church to all truth (cf. Jn 16:13), The Spirit guides in way of all truth and which He unified in communion and in works of ministry, He both equips and directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorns with His fruits. (cf. Eph 4, Il-12; 1 Cor 12.4; Gal 5, 22)” (Lumen Gentium, 4a). Therefore, it follows that different institutions are associated with particular feasts and the commemoration of certain saints.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem celebrates the following feasts with particular joy:
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Feast Day is September 14
The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrates two historical events: the discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, in 320 under the temple of Venus in Jerusalem, and the dedication in 335 of the basilica and shrine built on Calvary by Constantine, which mark the site of the Crucifixion.
However the feast, more than anything else, is a celebration and commemoration of God’s greatest work: His salvific death on the Cross and His Resurrection, through which death was defeated and the doors to Heaven opened.
Our Lady Queen of Palestine, Patroness of the Order
This feast invites us all to ask Mary for the protection of her beloved homeland.
Feast Day is October 25
Patriarch Luigi Barlassina (1920-1947), on the occasion of his solemn entry into the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on 15 July 1920, and the consecration of the diocese to Mary, invoked the title of “Queen of Palestine” for the first time. His purpose was to ask Our Lady for her protection of Palestine and the Holy City of Jerusalem. This feast day was approved by the Holy See in 1933 and is celebrated October 25.
The special relationship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Palestine with the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre dates back to the pontificate of John Paul II. In 1983, 50 years after the institution of the Feast, Saint John Paul II – addressing the Knights and Dames of the Lieutenancies of Northern and Central Italy – urged them to be witnesses of Christ in everyday life and to continue the work of the Order in the Holy Land under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Ten years later, in 1993, the then Grand Master of the Order, Cardinal Giuseppe Caprio, asked Saint John Paul II to declare of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Palestine, Patroness of the Order. The Holy Father replied on 21 January 1994 by a decree granting the request.
Pope Saint Pius X
Former Grand Master of the Order
Feast Day is August 21
The Feast of Pope St. Pius X is a Feast of the Order at which a Plenary Indulgence can be granted under the usual conditions set by the Church. In the first few decades of the Twentieth Century, the reigning pontiff held the senior leadership position of the Order. During this period of time, Pius X intended the title Grand Master to be reserved for the papacy, a political move that linked the Order personally to the Pope without the Order becoming assimilated into the Holy See’s own honors system.
Feast Day is August 18
St. Helena embraced Christianity following a victory by her son Constantine the Great who subsequently became the sole emperor of the Roman Empire. Churches were built over the sacred spots in Palestine at her direction. St. Helena undertook a journey to Palestine and had two special churches constructed, one in Bethlehem, near the Grotto of the Nativity, and the other on the Mount of the Ascension.
On a journey to Palestine, St. Helena finds three crosses, nails, and the titulus (title) under a pagan temple. To determine which is the right cross, a deathly sick girl was brought to the site. She was touched by all three crosses, but upon being touched by the True Cross, she was restored to health.
Blessed Bartolo Longo
Feast Day Is October 5
Blessed Bartolo Longo was born in Latiano, Italy, in 1841 and studied law at the University of Naples. He strayed from the faith for a short period and returned to it thanks to the efforts of a learned Dominican, Friar Alberto Radente. The friar gave him a thorough instruction in theology and professed him into the Third Order of St. Dominic giving him the name of Fratel Rosario, Brother Rosary. The young lawyer was destined to become one of the greatest modern apostles of the rosary.
In 1872 Bartolo went to the valley of Pompeii to establish legal title to properties inherited by the countess Marianna De Fusco after the death of her husband. In 1885 the two were married. The valley visited by the lawyer was a desolate wasteland inhabited by a few scattered peasants and infested by wild animals and brigands. The moral and spiritual abandonment of the poor peasants so touched his heart that he fell to his knees and vowed to Our Lady that he would sacrifice his life for their salvation. His subsequent life was the fulfillment of that vow and a demonstration of the miraculous power of the holy rosary.
With the cooperation of influential friends in Naples, he undertook the evangelization of the valley, going from house to house distributing medals, holy pictures, scapulars, catechisms and instructing the poor peasants in the knowledge and power of the rosary. Urged on by the local bishop, he constructed a small rosary chapel which today has become the great basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii.
Our Lady assisted powerfully in the construction of the shrine by granting graces and favors to benefactors of the enterprise. By 1885 some 940 cures were recorded and described in Blessed Bartolo’s history of the shrine. This holy layman won great acclaim as the Father of Orphans. He provided thousands of abandoned orphan children with a loving home in a complex of buildings at the shrine known as the City of Charity. He died in Pompeii, October 5, 1926.
At the request of Pope Pius XI, Bartolo Longo was invested with the insignia of Knight Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, in the Holy Year of 1925, by Patriarch Barlassina, of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He is here shown wearing the Cape of the Order. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 26, 1980.