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Krzeszów – Knights of the Holy Sepulchre (Bożogrobowcy) – an order shrouded in mystery

In Krzeszów in the 18th century a replica of God’s tomb was built in order to present the great mystery of faith, which was the resurrection.

God’s tomb: dark, cramped, mysterious place. In the 18th century, a replica of it was built in Krzeszów in order to present the great mystery of faith, which was the resurrection. Both in the Holy Land and in Krzeszów, its guardians are the Order of the Holy Sepulcher. Usually they do not show off their activities, which is why they are surrounded by a halo of mystery.

They are knights with a swords, symbolically given spurs and an order to defend the faith, but they do not fight with the sword, they do not mount horses. Only the goal remained unchanged: the fight for the purity of faith. Knightly orders began to carry out their mission in Europe when Christians lost control of the Holy Land.

Order of the Holy Sepulchre and Maltese, also known as Hospitallers, are the only knightly orders that have the official approval of the Holy See. Becoming a religious knight is not easy. While the candidate for the Holy Sepulcher must present a moral certificate from the bishop and regularly fulfill his financial obligations towards the order, the candidate to the Order of Malta must also present his heraldic argument, which makes this formation an extremely elite group. Three Holy Sepulchres are closely related to Krzeszów: his parish priest, Fr. prelate Marian Kopko, attorney Zbigniew Świt and his wife, from which the conclusion is that women (in the rank of a lady) are also accepted into the knightly order. Only they are not fitted with a sword and do not receive spurs.

A religious knight must have an unblemished reputation, set an example. The group of those admitted to the order increases slightly every year. Currently, there are just over a hundred Holy Sepulchers in Poland who form one sovereignty. The central authorities of the order are in Warsaw, but the spiritual seat of the order is in Miechów near Krakow – the cradle of the Holy Sepulcher in Poland. That is why in our country they were called miechowitami. Centuries ago, they also operated in Silesia. Their commanderies were, among others in Dzierżoniów and in the capital of Wrocław bishops – Nysa. They dealt mainly with pastoral care and hospitality. It is to them that we owe the custom of arranging God’s Tombs in churches on Holy Saturday. Currently, they are mainly engaged in charity work, and the (considerable) contributions go largely to the Holy Land to help the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. With this money, he maintains, among others schools and hospitals.

Text and photo by Marek Perzyński

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