Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre

Pope Francis has appointed 73 year-old Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of Propaganda Fide from 2011 to the present, who now becomes Prefect Emeritus of the same Dicastery, as the new Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Cardinal Filoni was a priest of the Diocese of Nardó, Italy and was ordained in 1970. In 2001 he was ordained a titular archbishop by St. John Paul II and was Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq from 2001 to 2006 and lived in Baghdad during the war of 2003. For a year, he was the Pope’s ambassador to the Philippines before being called to the Secretariat of State as Substitute, a post he held until 2011. In 2012 he was created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.

His experience in the Middle East will be valuable in his new role, as the Order of the Holy Sepulchre cooperates particularly with the Middle Eastern Christian communities and supports them with many projects.

In a statement, Cardinal O’Brien expressed his great appreciation for the Pope’s decision, and said he is particularly happy that Cardinal Filoni has been chosen as his successor: “His long and extensive partoral and administrative service in our Universal Church”, Cardinal O’Brien said, “will be precious in guiding the Order on its future path”. 

The custom of the EOHSJ is that the Grand Master quarters his personal arms with the Jerusalem cross of the Order, red on a silver field, which is used as the armorial bearings of the Order itself. The shield is surrounded by the Grand master’s collar and placed on the cross of the Order. The white mantle of the Order also ensigns the shield and the patriarchal cross of an archbishop is included as well as the cardinal’s galero. In addition, the usually secular helm is also included sitting not on a torse but on a crown of thorns recalling the Passion of the Lord.

Cardinal Filoni’s arms are those he assumed when he was promoted to titular archbishop in 2001. The are much simpler and also a marked improvement over the personal arms of his immediate predecessor whose achievement was horribly ill-advised and included elements from offices he had formerly held including the entire coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Baltimore …which he no longer held! Cardinal Grand master Filoni’s arms make a welcome change.

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