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Christian orders

Last modified: 2023-09-09 by rob raeside
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The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem


[Emblem of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre
of Jerusalem] image by Ivan Sache

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is an organization with non-religious (men and women) and religious members; it has currently 21,000 knights all over the world, grouped in 54 Lieutenancies of Magistral Branches. The Order is recognized by 25 countries, including Belgium.
The statutes of the Order were approved by Pope Paul VI on 8 July 1977. The Order is placed under the protection of the Holy See. Apostolic Letters by Pius XII (14 September 1949) and John XXIII (8 December 1962) recognize to the Order a legal status by canonical right; Apostolic Letters by John-Paul II (1 February 1996) recognize its legal status in the State of Vatican.
The goals of the Order are to increase among its members the practice of Christian life, to support and help the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land, especially in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, to encourage the preservation and spread of the [Christian] Faith in the Holy Land, and to defend the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
The Order is directed by a Grand Master, who is a Cardinal appointed by the Pope. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has the title of Grand Prior of the Order. Lieutenants are appointed by the Grand Master to run the Lieutenancies.

As already mentioned in the message about Godefroid de Bouillon:
"The emblem (not necessarily a flag) and the motto of the Order are those of Godefroid de Bouillon and his successors in Jerusalem: the cross potent gules, cantoned with four crosslets not potent of the same, which symbolize Christs' five wounds, and the motto "Deus lo vult", granted to the Crusaders by Pope Urban II when he called for the Crusade on 27 November 1095."
The emblem shown on this site is a square with the red cross and crosslets and the motto DEUS LO VULT, in red too.

On its website is the complete name of the order: "The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem".
Ivan Sache, 11,12 December 2005


[Gonfalon of the Order] image located by Ned Smith

At a webpage of the Magisterial Delegation of EOHSJ for Canada-Atlantic there is an illustration of the order's banner and one of its gonfalon or ensign [sic].
[picture above]

Regarding the gonfalon/ensign, it says:

The Ensign of the Order consists of the Gonfalon of white silk with a red staff surmounted by Military Trophy. The cloth (1.80 x 2.10 m) is knotted to the staff set spirally. A fringe border of 0.40 m hangs from the horizontal lower pole, its colors and fringes symbolizing the Lieutenancies of the Order. On the face of the Gonfalon stands the Crusader Flag. On the top of the empty Sepulchre the ornamental scroll with festoon and the motto in Gothic characters, ‘Deus lo vult’ is extended.
The figure of the resurrected Christ is enclosed at the side by an ornamental motif alternated with Crosses of Godfrey of Bouillon and Crowns of Thorns. From the knobs of the upper transverse pole hang the ribbons of the Order in watered black silk.
The Cross of Godfrey of Bouillon stands out on the side of the Gonfalon
[I don't see that in the image].
The Gonfalon is kept in the seat of the Order in Rome. Its use is regulated by the Cardinal Grand Master.
Ned Smith, 11 December 2005


[Banner of the Order] image located by Ned Smith

This banner is also hung vertically from a crossbar as the gonfalon/ensign is. It has a blue field with a gold border all around. The border is divided into compartments with religious imagery and arms within. On the blue field is the Sepulcher, surmounted by a large medallion bearing the Cross of Godfrey of Bouillon, and above the medallion a papal tiara extends into the upper compartment of the border. In the upper corners of the blue field are two images - I can't be sure but think they are angels [source: same webpage].

There are also descriptions of two other flags on the page:

Standard of the Lieutenancies
The Ensign of the Lieutenancies of the Order is a standard of white silk, with a red staff, surmounted by the Military Trophy. The wide panel (0.80 x 2.40 m), which ends in a point, bears on its face the figure of Christ Rising from the Sepulchre, and He is bearing the Crusader Flag. At the base is the ornamental scroll with the motto: "Deus lo vult,' which can also be translated into the language of the respective nations. From the knobs of the transverse pole hang the ribbons: to the right that of the Order, in black watered silk, to the left the ribbon with the colors of the nation of the Lieutenancy. The Cross of Godfrey of Bouillon stand out on the side of the standard. The standard is kept in the seat of the Lieutenancy and the Lieutenant regulates its use.
(An illustration can be seen at

Ensign of the Sections
The Ensign of the Sections is a flag of white silk with a red staff, surmounted by the Military Trophy. On the face of the material (0.60 x 0.60 m), with a swallow-tail of 0.80 m, stands out the Cross of Godfrey of Bouillon. The arms or the colors of the Region stand out on the side. The flag is kept in the seat of the Section and the President regulates its use.
Ned Smith, 11 December 2005

[Banner of the Order] image by Esteban Rivera, 2 August 2010

I took this picture on May 28, 2008 in Rome. The picture was taken on the Via della Conciliazione, and it is seen on one of the roofs of the Hotel Columbus ( In this picture ( one can see the façade, and the flag I saw was on the top left. The particular thing is also the finial of this flag, a Jerusalem cross. In fact, the Hotel is located in the Palazzo della Rovere. Using Google Earth's application "Street View", one can have a good look at the building in which the flag is seen on top.

The flag is there because "In the period 1943-1945 the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre purchased the Palazzo from the Penitentiaries, the Municipality of Rome, and two private citizens".
Esteban Rivera, 2 August 2010

As your photo shows, and confirms, the flag does not have the motto written on it, unlike the emblem. It is very similar to the flag of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land lacking only the fimbriation, and to the 1333-1921 Jerusalem Civil Ensign which has a Latin cross in the center.
Ned Smith, 2 August 2010


Linguistic notes
In modern French, someone riding a horse is called a "cavalier". The word was derived at the end of the XVth century from Italian "cavallere", from "cavallo", a horse. "Cheval", a horse, comes from the Lower Latin word "caballus", derived from the Gallic word for a bad horse, and superseded the Classic Latin word "equus". "Chevalier", a knight (and not anybody riding a horse - at that time, however, only knights could ride a horse), appeared in 1080 as "chevaler" and around 1130 in its modern form, from Latin "caballarius". In the Ancient Rome, the knights were the members of the equestrian order, intermediate between the plebeians and the patricians. "Ordre équestre" is used today in French to designate certain chivalric orders.
The meanings of "cavalier" and "chevalier" are strictly different in modern French, even if the two words have a common origin. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are "les Quatre Cavaliers de l'Apocalypse", whereas the Knights of the Round Table are "les Chevaliers de la Table Ronde". King François I was nicknamed "le Roi-Chevalier" (the King-Knight) after Knight Bayard ("le Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche" - the Knight above fear and reproach) had dubbed him on the battlefield of Marignan in 1515.
Accordingly, there are "cavalières" (horsewomen), but a "chevalière" is only a signet ring. Even Joan of Arc was never granted such a title.
Ivan Sache, 26 December 2005

Order of Santo Domingo (Dominicans)

[Putative dominican BOA] image by António Martins, 19 February 1998
Putative Dominican banner of arms (banner of arms)

On black over silver gyronny, a cross fleury counterchanged. At least these are the charges used in the 1935 Portuguese Timor coat of arms to honour the Dominicans... I don't know if this particular design was used by other non-Portuguese Dominican congregations...
António Martins, 19 February 1998

The Dominican cross uses a very peculiar style of cross flory (or fleury) usually known in heraldry as an Iberian cross, because it was used by the four main Iberian orders of chivalry: Alcántara, Calatrava, Montesa and (except for the bottom arm of the cross) Santiago. We have an image of the Calatrava cross above. The Iberian cross has however more elaborate arms, their curved and buttoned ends touching back on the straight part near the cross' centre. An image is worth a thousand words so: Further information on these four Order can be found at
Santiago Dotor, 29 September 2004

[Dominican flag] image by Ivan Sache, 2 January 2009

While there does not seem to be any report of the use of such a banner, the website of "Colegio Santo Tomás de Aquino", Bogotá, Colombia, shows a photo of a flag actually used by the Order, horizontally divided black-white. The colours, obviously taken from the coat of arms of the Order, have the following meaning:
Black, as absorbing light, represents interiorization and appropriation of knowledge.
White, as the lack of colour and the plenitude of light, represents truth revealed to mankind and enlightening it.
A detailed account of the history of the Dominican Order can be found on the Catholic Encyclopaedia.
Ivan Sache, 2 January 2009

Order of Saint James / Order of Santiago

[Putative banner of arms (BOA) of Santiago] image by António Martins, 19 February 1998

[Putative BOA of Santiago] image by António Martins, 19 February 1998
Another version of the previous

Was created in Castile in 1175, devoted to the anti-Moorish reconquest. The Portuguese branch (Ordem de Santiago da Espada), autonomous since 1288, used a purple sword-like cross, which can be found in many southwestern Portugal municipal arms. Many flags were used but most frequent and distinct were the ones with this cross, sometimes with a sun in the dexter canton and a moon in the sinister. Note that the very name of the saint himself evolved in a curious manner. Called originally Iak (a variation of Jacob?), it originated names like Jacques / Jack / Joachim / Joaquim / Joaquin, and Iago (remember Othello?); which, through the prefix of "Santo", gave "Sant'Iago" and then "San Tiago", which brought the name Tiago / Diego / Diogo...
António Martins, 19 February 1998

Emblems with St. James' shells

Worldwide there are numerous places and institutions which have one or more shells in their emblem which are a reverence to the apostle James and the legend with the shells at the transfer of his body to Spain, hence "St. James' shell(s)".
For the legend of the St. James' shells see here:

The German and Galician Wikipedia versions provide different lists of those emblems (Galician [Galego] is the dialect of the Spanish region of Galicia with its capital Santiago de Compostela, which is said to harbour the apostle James' grave site).

Overview page:,_Polizei_usw.

Ecclesiastical emblems:

Emblems of (noble) families:

Communal emblems in Belgium:

Communal emblems in Germany:

Communal emblems in France:

Communal emblems in Austria:

Communal emblems in Portugal:

Communal emblems in Switzerland:

Communal emblems in Spain:

Martin Karner, 20 August 2023

The Equestrian, Secular and Chapter Order of Saint Joachim

[The Equestrian, Secular and Chapterial Order of Saint Joachim] image located by Valentin Poposki, 13 March 2007

The Equestrian, Secular and Chapter Order of Saint Joachim was established on the 20th of June, 1755 by fourteen nobles and distinguished military leaders of the Holy Roman Empire. Having seen the terrible consequences of ongoing religious wars in Europe, our founders dedicated themselves to "worship the Supreme Being, show tolerance towards all religions, loyalty towards their princes, support the needs of their military, the poor, widows and orphans." The Order was uniquely composed of both Protestant and Catholic nobles and leaders at a time when religion violently divided Europe and the German states within the Holy Roman Empire, and other knightly orders allied themselves exclusively with one faith or the other. The Order was headed by His Serene Highness Prince Christian Franz von Sachsen-Coburg Saalfeld, son of reigning Duke Franz Josias. Prince Christian Franz was installed as our first Grand Master on June 20th, 1756, a position he held until 1773."

About the flag: The design features the arms of the Order over an eight-pointed white cross on a green field surrounded by a gold embattlement.

The flag of the Order is here
Valentin Poposki, 13 March 2007