Collection Title: The Order of the Holy Sepulchre

Accession Number: 143

Archives and Special Collections Department
Frazar Memorial Library
McNeese State University

Historical Sketch

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre was founded in 1099 by Sir Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Brabant, a commander who conquered Jerusalem in the first crusade. It is the oldest authentic order of knighthood in the United States, and the only order of chivalry in the Catholic Church.

After the downfall of the Latin Kingdom in the Holy Land, the Knights of the Order returned home and made charity and philanthropy their focus. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre is commissioned on Papal authority for the promotion of Christianity in the Holy Land, as well as establishing and maintaining schools, seminaries, hospitals, sanitariums, and dispensaries throughout Jordan and Israel. They also share the responsibility of caring for the Holy Shrines, especially that of the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of Jesus.

Members consist of clergy and Catholic laity who have been distinguished by their lives and selfless service to the Church. In 1888 Pope Leo XIII decreed that women could join the Order, attaining the same honors and responsibilities of the Knights. The ranks of membership are Knight or Lady, Knight or Lady Commander, Knight or Lady Commander with Star, and Knight or Lady Grand Cross. Candidates for membership are selected by recommendation of the highest ecclesiastical authority and by invitation issued of the Grand Prior.

The Order’s Southern Lieutenancy of the United States was formed in 1873. Its contributions to the Holy Land have been considerable, including the building of an elementary and high school near Bethlehem in 1960, as well as a convent for teaching nuns. Due to the growth of the Order, however, the Southern Lieutenancy was split into a Southwestern and Southeastern division. In 1992 the Southeastern Lieutenancy contributed over $236,000 to Catholic schools, orphanages, clinics, and churches. They meet annually for the investiture of new Knights and Ladies, as well as to discuss the affairs of the Order.

Monsignor Irving A. DeBlanc is the senior Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in the Diocese of Lake Charles. Other members include the first bishop of Lake Charles, the Most Reverend Jude Speyrer, and local historian and past editor of the Lake Charles American Press, Truman Stacey.

Scope and Content Note

The collection is stored in one Hollinger box with items ranging from 1975 to1999. It includes newspaper articles, news releases from 1983-1992, and correspondence of Publicity Chairman Truman Stacey.

Container List

Box 1

File Folder (FF) 1     Southern Lieutenancy Publicity 1975-82
                    FF 2     News releases 1983-86
                    FF 3     Publicity 1983-86
                    FF 4     News releases 1987-92
                    FF 5     Publicity 1987-91
                    FF 6     Publicity 1992-99

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