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JERUSALEM – On Sunday, July 2, 2017, the Investiture took place for four young Frenchmen as new Knights of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.  They were knighted by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.  The day prior to the Investiture, a Vigil at Arms, prayers, before the Blessed Sacrament with Benediction were held at the Basilica of St. Anne, in preparation for the Investiture, which is a major event in the life of these young Knights.

“Lord, by your five wounds which we carry on our insignia, we pray:  Give us the strength to love all human beings of the world that Your Father has created and, even more than others, our enemies.”

It is with these two sentences that the prayer of the Knight begins. The first reminds us of the Great Cross of Jerusalem which the Knights and Ladies regularly wear on their cloaks in the Holy City. A cross that invites them to unite with the Passion of Christ. The second affirms their vocation: to love the other in everything, no matter what.

The Christians of the Holy Land very well know this Order, which supports the parishes and schools of the Latin Patriarchate and also the various communities present in the diocese. However, all may not be aware that these men and women join this Order for their love of neighbors and to live their Faith intensely in their daily lives.

The Chancellor of the Lieutenancy of France, Colonel Dominique Neckebroeck repeated it to the four young people at the end of the Investiture:  “I fervently invite you to foster Agape, charitable love. You came to serve your neighbor and live in simplicity, generosity and fraternal love. ”

Loup Bommier, Guillaume Angier de Lohéac, Paul Giraud and Alain Cardinaux, the four Squires who were knighted in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher heard this call on Saturday evening during the prayer vigil in preparation for the Investiture.

Father Luc Pareydt sj, a religious adviser to the Consulate General of France, presided over this vigil service in the presence of Mr. Pierre Cochard, Consul General of France. He invited the Squires to take the servant’s posture, to prefer the other to oneself but also to follow Christ, “even if it may cause or provoke chaos,” he added, with the words recently spoken by Pope Francis.

A call that can only resonate for young people who have been invested for several years in the Squires, a movement that does not directly belong to the Order but is supported and supervised by Knights of the Order, who have seen a “school to the Lord.”

Prayer, formation, actions: these are the three axes of life for the Squires. “Our meetings begin and end with a time of prayer, we meet to exchange a theme worked by one of us. Finally, we participate in the events of the Knights who help raise funds to support our brothers in the East and those who can also do volunteer work in the Holy Land during their holidays,” said Paul Giraud and Guillaume Angier de Lohéac.

Despite this early experience, this lifetime commitment as Knights will remain a foundation moment in their lives.  The time of prayer and worship at St. Anne on Saturday night allowed them to entrust to the Lord the last doubts that could undermine their resolve.

On Sunday morning in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate and Pro-Grand Prior of the Order, presided over the Investiture ceremony and celebrated Mass. In his homily, he invited the new Knights to “bear witness to the resurrection of Christ in everyday life, the only event from which we can be proud of.”

To be knighted in Jerusalem by the Head of the Latin Church of Jerusalem is a very special event.

“To live this time in Jerusalem, to be knighted a few meters from the Tomb of Christ is an extraordinary gift that we could not have imagined.  It was made possible in the context of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land organized for the Squires by our companions for a few years – and enabled us to live in the presence of local communities and people that we met during visits to the Holy Land,” explains Paul Giraud.

“But it is in union with the thirty-one other candidates of the Lieutenancy with whom we prepared to become Knights that we experienced this event. ”

Like any Church commitment, this Knighthood is not the end of a goal for these young Knights, but the beginning of a life turned towards the Lord and towards others: “the retreat we experienced with all the future Knights had as its theme ‘Making our life a Holy Land’ will be the program of our life “.

Cécile Klos

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