Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre

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This article is about the Religious Order of the Holy Sepulchre. For the Roman Catholic chivalric Order, see Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
Emblem of the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre

Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre were a religious order said to have been founded In 1114 (or, according to other accounts during the rule of Godfrey of Bouillon in Jerusalem) on the rule of St Augustine.


It is the opinion of Hélyot and others that no Canons of the Holy Sepulchre existed before 1114, when some canons regular, who had adopted the Rule of St. Augustine, were brought from the West and introduced into the Holy City by Godfrey of Bouillon. On the other hand, Francisco Suárez, Mauburn, Ferreri, Vanderspeeten, and others, upholding the tradition of the canonical order, maintain that St. James the Less, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, established clerics living in common the in the Holy City, where also, after the time of the crusaders, flourished the Congregation of the Holy Sepulchre. [1]

By a Bull, dated 10 January, 1143, to be found in the Bullarium Lateranense, Pope Celestine II confirmed the church and the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre in all the possessions they had received from Godfrey of Bouillon, King Baldwin, and other benefactors. Mention is also made in the Bull of several churches in the Holy Land and in Italy belonging to the canons. Cardinal de Vitry, a canon regular of Oignies, and Cardinal Patriarch of Jerusalem, who had lived in Palestine some years, relates that the canons served, amongst other churches, that of the Holy Sepulchre and those on Mount Sion and on Mount Olivet. The patriarch was also Abbot of the Holy Sepulchre, and was elected by the canons regular.[1]

After the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin, the canons fled the Holy Land along with other Latin Christians. They first settled briefly on Cyprus, where they established Bellapais Abbey, before proceeding to Western Europe. where they had monasteries, in Italy, France, Spain, Poland, and the Low Countries. In these several countries, with the exception of Italy, they continued to exist until the French Revolution. In Italy they seem to have been suppressed by Innocent VIII, who, in 1489, transferred all their property to the Knights of Malta. As regards men, the congregation seems now extinct. According to Dugdale's Monasticon, the canons had two houses in England, one at Thetford and the other at Warwick.[1]

It is still represented by Sepulchrine Canonesses, who have converts in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and England.