Equestrian Order
Thompson Faller of Portland leads the Northwest’s Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, part of a chivalric worldwide group with roots in the 11th century.
Equestrian Order
Thompson Faller of Portland leads the Northwest’s Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, part of a chivalric worldwide group with roots in the 11th century.


A Catholic order of Knights and Ladies founded in 1099 is still practicing chivalry and this summer is hosting a day of reflection in Mount Angel for members — and those who might want to accept invitations to join.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem was established by the leader of the First Crusade to guard the tomb of Jesus. Recognized by Pope Pascal II in 1113, it’s now the only order of knighthood under protection of the Holy See.

Members no longer do battle with armaments. Instead, their financial contributions keep Christianity alive in the land where Jesus trod. Members’ donations are used in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan to support parishes, community centers, convents, seminaries, clinics, hospitals, schools and Bethlehem University. Archbishop Alexander Sample is now grand prior of the order and Thompson Faller – retired University of Portland philosophy professor — is new leader of the order in the Northwest.  

“It has broadened my involvement in and knowledge of the church,” says Faller. “I have more awareness of the needs of the church in other parts of the world.”

Faller, for example, is on the board of regents of Bethlehem University, which is run by the Christian Brothers. The order’s recent newsletter includes letters of thanks from 10 students at the school.

The day of reflection in Mount Angel is set for Sunday, Aug. 21 and will examine the plight of Christians in the Holy Land now.
The public is welcome at the 9 a.m. community Mass celebrated by Archbishop Sample. After Mass, there will be a procession including a relic of the cross of Jesus and of St. Pius X, on whose feast day the event occurs.

Brunch follows for members and invited guests, who are also welcome at lectures. Archbishop Sample will speak on the call to holiness. Dominican Father Vincent Kelber will discuss the history of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and the contributions of St. Pius X, who revived it. Benedictine Father Pius Harding will explore the life of St. Pius X.

At one time, the order was made up mostly of aristocrats. But Pope Pius XII and St. John XXIII adapted the order to the modern world. There are about 30,000 members in 38 nations. The Northwest Lieutenancy — Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, northern Nevada and northern California — counts about 400 members. About 40 Oregonians belong.
One of the lesser-used privileges of membership: knights are allowed to ride their horses in the papal gardens.

“Most of us don’t take our horses to Rome with us,” Faller explains.

Members, invited because of meritorious service to the church, are invested in a centuries-old ceremony and wear medieval regalia.

In addition to Archbishop Sample, members include Archbishop John Vlazny, Baker Bishop Liam Cary and Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith.  

Knights and Ladies promise to pray for peace in the Holy Land and work to live out their faith in the modern world. They also make an annual contribution — $750 is expected from members in the Northwest — and are urged to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.   

For more information or to register, contact Dr. Tom Pitre at tmpitre@comcast.net or 503-297-0972.