Members of the Order visit to the Holy Land to strengthen their faith and provide support to the Christians still living there.
The Holy Land has been called the “fifth Gospel” and a pilgrimage there can be a life-changing retreat in which pilgrims are able to meditate on and Liturgically enter into the principal events in the history of Salvation.
At the October 2003 Consulta, the Order emphasized that, “Pilgrimage has always been, and still is, an important event in the life of the Order. It is a joint undertaking with high spiritual, penitential and symbolic value.” A pilgrimage to Jerusalem “is a strong moral and individual commitment for all those who are in a position to carry it out.”
A pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord and to the other sacred places is an act of solidarity with our brothers and sisters living in the Holy Land. Our presence among them is an encouragement to the Christian minority in that land, among so many problems, pressures and difficulties. It enables pilgrims to give special witness to those with whom they live and work.
Every year, our North America Lieutenancies sponsor pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Information on their websites – links to be found on the left column of our home page.
The Pilgrim Shell, shown above, is the most prized decoration of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. It is awarded to Knights and Dames who complete a pilgrimage to the Holy Land that includes visiting works of the Order, education on the situation among the Catholic population in the Holy Land and praying at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. Normally it is presented by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, or his representative, and consists of a scalloped shell in silver in the center of which is placed the Jerusalem cross in red, bordered in gold.
Originally, it was the symbol of a complete pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James the Apostle at Compostela, Spain. Now the shell is the universal sign of pilgrimage. The shell reminds us that we are all pilgrims on earth and members of a pilgrim Church. It is also a pledge to aid the needy, especially in the Holy Land.
Pilgrims in fall of 2016 after receiving shells.