The Cardinal Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre presides over the Investiture of New Members


by Ambassador Jesus P. Tambunting, Lieutenant

Last September 15, 2016, the Philippine Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem welcomed three Knights and seven Dames to its fold in a Solemn Investiture held at the Santuario de San Antonio Parish. The ceremony was presided over by His Eminence Edwin Frederick Cardinal O’Brien, the Cardinal Grand Master of the Order. Cardinal O’Brien was also the principal celebrant and Homilist at the Mass that followed the investiture. His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who serves as Grand Prior of the Philippine Lieutenancy, together with Santuario de San Antonio parish priest Rev. Father Reu Galoy and at least twelve other priests, concelebrated with the Cardinal Grand Master in the Holy Eucharist.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and all the activities and initiatives to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The origins of the Order date back to the 11th century, from the time of the First Crusade when its leader, Godfrey de Bouillon, liberated Jerusalem from the Turks and established the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre to defend the region’s most sacred site — the tomb of Christ or the Holy Sepulchre — and other holy places.

Today, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is under the direct protection of the Holy See, “a Public Association of faithful with legal canonical and public personality, constituted by the Holy See under the Canon Law.”

The head of the Order is the Cardinal Grand Master who is appointed directly by the Holy Father, to lead and govern the Order. He is assisted by the Grand Magisterium, a consultative body whose task is to identify the programmes to be undertaken to provide for the Christian institutions and communities in the Holy Land.

The Philippine Lieutenancy

The Order established its presence in the Far East in 1953 with the formation of the branch or Lieutenancy in the Philippines. Rufino Cardinal Santos, the Archbishop of Manila at that time, was the founding Grand Prior. Its first Lieutenants were Ambassador Vicente Arenas and Jose Zaragosa. The current Lieutenant and Knight Commander is Ambassador Jesus P. Tambunting while its Grand Prior is His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. Santuario de San Antonio is the Order’s official headquarters in the Philippines.

The Investiture last September 15 marked a significant milestone in the history of the Lieutenancy. It was the first time since the Order was established in the Philippines more than sixty years ago that a Cardinal Grand Master of the Order visited the country and solemnized the Investiture of new members. Cardinal O’Brien was accompanied in his visit by Dr. Paul Bartley, a member of the Grand Magisterium, and by Rev. Father John Bateman, priest-secretary to the Grand Master.

The new knights and dames invested were Mr. Angel Buñag, Mr. Emmanuel Miñana, Mr. Bienvenido Tantoco III, Mrs. Ma. Cristina Brias, Mrs. Ma. Pilar Buñag, Dr. Zenaida Gonzales, Dr. Esmeralda Medina, Mrs. Denise Marie Weldon Miñana, Dr. Mercedes Oliver and Mrs. Erlinda Panlilio.

Commitment For Life


Joining the Order means taking on a commitment for life: the commitment to be a Witness to the Faith, to lead an exemplary Christian life of continuing charity in support of the Christian communities in the Holy Land, to practice the true charitable commitment of a Christian. Being accepted to this Order is the highest Papal award which can be bestowed on the clergy and laity of the Catholic Church.

A Special Relationship with Christ


In his homily at the Investiture Mass that day, Cardinal O’Brien spoke so eloquently of Jesus Christ’s deep love for Jerusalem. This love, he said, still exists today and is translated to a special relationship that is offered to every knight and dame of the Order.

He encouraged those present to“…dig deep into your heart’s imagination to see, to realize that it is Jesus who inspires and encourages our mission today. Ask the Lord to help us experience His divine grace, to encourage us, new members and old, to a deeper sanctity and a renewed commitment to His land and His people.”



Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem,
Summary of Administrative Operating Procedures for the Renewal of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem for the Third Millenium, December 2000,
Dulce Festin Baybay, Filipino Knights, Dames Watch Over Holy Tomb, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 1, 2012
Purposes and Aims of the Order,
Timeline, Brief History of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in the Philippines
Principles of Conduct of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
Catholic New York,
Video coverage of the Investiture Ceremony, September 15, 2016
Video coverage of Vigil, September 14, 2016

As published in the October 23 issue of the Parish Bulletin.