The Prefectory of Great Britain of the Confraternitas Oecumenica Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani (Ecumenical Brotherhood of the Holy Grave of Jerusalem, or COSSH) was erected by the late Grand Prior, Dom Klaus Schlapps OPR OA, in November 2012.
The Patron of the COSSH is St Andrew the Apostle. The Spiritual Protector is H.E. Mar Aprem, Metropolitan of India in the Church of the East. The Prince-Abbot of San Luigi serves as Prefect for Great Britain and holds the Gold Cross of Merit of the COSSH.
Since the death of Dom Klaus on 20 January 2013, the Prefectory of Great Britain has been self-governing pending the election of a new Grand Prior in accordance with the COSSH Constitution.
Jan van Scorel de Schoorl: Portrait of the “Jerusalem Fathers of the Knightly Brotherhood of the Holy Land in Haarlem”. The artist was himself a member of the Brotherhood (3rd from right) Utrecht ca. 1528.
The “pilgrims to Jerusalem from the chivalric Brotherhood of the Holy Land in Haarlem” is the historical starting point of the COSSH. The Brotherhood was founded in 1394 and was still very much alive at the time of the portrait above. Haarlem and Utrecht are also known to be the first Old Catholic dioceses (the next was Deventer) in Europe. COSSH members still wear their insignia, the white mantle and the Jerusalem Cross. The motto of the COSSH is “Soli Deo Gloria”.
Antonie Mor: Commemorative plaque for Brothers of the order Cornelis van Horn and Antonis Taats van Amerongen, Utrecht 1544.
The contemporary revival of the Brotherhood dates to May 1996, the 3,000 year jubilee of the founding of the City of Jerusalem, and the late Helmut von Bräundle-Falkensee, the first Grand Prior of the modern era. Following his death in 2007 the remaining members of the Brotherhood under the German Vice-Prior Metterhauser and the Revd. Kunicki approached Dom Klaus Schlapps OPR, who was elected Grand Prior in 2009 and promulgated the Constitution of the COSSH, placing it under Canon Law. The COSSH is ecumenical, including Old Catholic, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Pentecostal members, and admits women as it has done from its medieval origin.
Jan van Scorel de Schoorl: Commemorative plaque for eight Brothers and one Sister of the Order, Utrecht 1536.
All members are committed to the following Rule:
- to regularly attend services of their denomination, depending on local availability;
- either to attend the daily prayer of Lauds or Vespers, or to pray these privately, or to undertake free prayer;
- to undertake Works of Mercy according to Romans 12.1 – 15.13;
- to participate in an annual joint retreat and attend other meetings as required;
- to participate in the events organized by each chapter.
Membership is in the following grades: candidate/aspirant; knight/dame; honorary members; chaplain to the brotherhood (clergy only). As of 2013 there were around fifty members resident in a number of European countries. The only two Prefects within the COSSH today are the Prince-Abbot, the Prefect of Great Britain and Bishop Christian Kliver, COSSH, the Prefect of Bavaria.
During the period 2007-13 there were regular meetings of the Brotherhood in Germany for Mass and investiture. The headquarters was at the Abbey of St Severin in Bavaria, home of the Order of Port Royal, and investiture services were held at the castle church of Burg Egg in Bernried. The COSSH directed its charitable work to the purchase of donkeys for the use of local people in Eritrea, where the Catholic Bishop of Asmara, Menghesteab Tesfamariam, is an honorary member of the Brotherhood and holds its Gold Cross of Merit.
The insignia of the COSSH are as follows:
Cross of Merit (awarded in bronze (illustrated), silver and gold)
Donat’s Cross (awarded in bronze (illustrated), silver and gold)
Mantle of the COSSH