History of the American Lieutenancies

The American Chapter of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem was organized in 1926 by the Very Rev. Msgr. Michael Abraham D’Assemani, who was the representative of His Beatitude Louis Barlassina, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Rector, and Perpetual Administrator of the Order.The following history is recorded in Msgr. D’Assemani’s book, The Cross on the Sword.On April 30, 1929, a formal dinner and reception were held at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City honoring the American Representative of the Latin Patriarch and other dignitaries of the Order who were present. At that time the Statutes and By-Laws of the Order for the Province of the United States of America were drawn up and adopted, with the approval of the Patriarch.History of the American LieutenanciesThe magazine, The Palestinian, published in Philadelphia, was adopted as the official organ of the American Chapter of the Order.The first High Protector of the American Chapter was His Eminence Cardinal Dennis J. Dougherty, Archbishop of Philadelphia.

In June, 1940, the American Chapter was divided into the Eastern and Western Lieutenancies by the Patriarch of Jerusalem.  Immediately following the organization of the Eastern and Western Lieutenancies a brilliant reception and banquet, held in the appropriately decorated Jansen Room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, honored His Eminence Cardinal Dennis J. Dougherty, who received congratulations on the fiftieth anniversary of his priesthood.  Cardinal Dougherty, was seated in the chair which had been occupied by His Holiness Pope Paul VI in St. Patrick Cathedral when he visited in New York as Cardinal Pacelli. To Cardinal Dougherty’s right was placed Michael Francis Doyle, the then Lieutenant of the Order for the Eastern District who presided, and to the Cardinal’s left was seated the Papal Marquis George McDonald.

Addresses were delivered by His Eminence Cardinal Dougherty; His Excellency Francis J. Spellman of New York; His Excellency Francis J. Kelley, Bishop of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Lieutenant and Prior for the Western District; Chief Justice Joseph T. Ryan of New York; Honorable Martin Conboy; and Mr. Doyle.  Musical selections were rendered by the double quartet of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of New York and by John Payne-Gasser, Knight Commander of the Order, and the Chicago Grand Opera Company.

The addresses emphasized the purposes of the order, pointing out that due to the devastation of the war throughout Europe, the responsibility of maintaining the Faith in the Holy Land must fall upon the American Knights.  I repeat: THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ORDER MUST FALL ON THE AMERICAN KNIGHTS.

Cardinal Dougherty recalled that after the wars which brought about the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire, the Holy Church led by faithful leaders helped in the formation of nations which later governed the world through faith in God.

Expressing the thought that it is only through Christian faith, and works combined with faith that the world can be preserved against destruction through the evil forces of the present period, the Cardinal appealed for a spirit of sacrifice and a practice of virtue.

Archbishop Spellman referred to his devotion to Cardinal Dougherty and the attachment of the diocese of New York to that of Philadelphia.  He recalled that one of his predecessors, Archbishop Hughes, a Philadelphian, was the founder of St. Patrick’s Cathedral of New York. Bishop Kelly, Prior of the Western District, paid a well-deserved tribute to Cardinal Dougherty’s able and eminent leadership.

At this gathering the American Chapter decided to hold annual meetings.

The Lieutenancies of the United States and the date of their formation is as follows:

  • 1940 The American Lieutenancy was divided into the Eastern and Western Lieutenancies.
  • 1963 The Western Lieutenancy was divided into the Southern and Northern Lieutenancies.
  • 1965 The Northern Delegation was formed and it became the Northern Lieutenancy.
  • 1973 The Western States of the Southern Lieutenancy formed a new Western Lieutenancy.
  • 1981 The New England States, except for Connecticut, were taken from the Eastern Lieutenancy to form a Northeastern Lieutenancy.
  • 1982 Puerto Rico Province was taken from the Southern Lieutenancy to form a Magistral Delegation and in 1966 became the Lieutenancy of Puerto Rico.
  • 1986 The Northern Lieutenancy was divided into the Northern and North Central Lieutenancies.
  • 1986 The Southern Lieutenancy was divided into the Southeastern and Southwestern Lieutenancies with Washington D.C. and certain states of the Eastern Lieutenancies added to the new Southeastern Lieutenancy.
  • 1993 Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA and the Ambassadorial College were taken from the Eastern and Southeastern Lieutenancies to for the Middle Atlantic Lieutenancy.
  • 1993 Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, and that part of California north but not including Santa Barbara were taken from the Western Lieutenancy to form the Northwestern Lieutenancy.