“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed.” – Matthew 27:33, 60
The Holy Land is the heart of the Order and the reason for its mission. From the time Godfrey De Bouillon pledged to defend and secure the birthplace of Christianity, the Order has been responsible for protecting the sacred sites and the interests of the Church in the Holy Land.
The Holy Sepulchre Church from which the Order received its name is located in the city of Jerusalem. The church was built over the place where Christ was crucified and buried, and is where present-day Knights and Ladies of the Order go to pray when they make their pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
During his visit to the Jerusalem in May 2009, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his devotion to the Holy Land and the Christians living there. His words of encouragement and hope were a reminder of the Order’s mandate to support and preserve their presence in the region.
“I hope my presence here is a sign that you are not forgotten, that your persevering presence and witness are indeed precious in God’s eyes and integral to the future of these lands. Precisely because of your deep roots in this land, your ancient and strong Christian culture, and your unwavering trust in God’s promises, you, the Christians of the Holy Land, are called to serve not only as a beacon of faith to the universal Church, but also as a leaven of harmony, wisdom and equilibrium in the life a society of which has traditionally been, and continues to be, pluralistic, multiethnic and multi-religious.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Mass in Jerusalem – May 12, 2009