HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor promoted to Knight Commander in Vatican Order

Last Saturday, at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, a solemn investiture and promotion ceremony was held. The event was promoted by the Equestrian Order fo the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem – US East Lieutenancy, with the presence of the Order’s Grand Master and Pope’s Representative, His Eminence Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, the Governor General His Excellency Ambassador Count Leonardo Visconti di Modrone amongst several dignitaries both from clergy and laymen.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (Latin: Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani, OESSH), also called Order of the Holy Sepulchre or Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, is a Roman Catholic order of knighthood under the protection of the Holy See. The Pope is sovereign of the Order. It is the only order of chivalry, together with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, that is recognised and protected by the Holy See.

The order today is estimated to have some 30,000 knights and dames in 60 Lieutenancies around the world, including monarchs, crown princes and their consorts, and heads of state from countries such as Spain, Belgium, Monaco, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

Membership of the order is by invitation only, to practicing Catholic men and women—laity and clergy—of good character, minimum 25 years of age who have distinguished themselves in their professions and for the concern of the Christians of the Holy Land.

The honour of knighthood and any subsequent promotions are conferred by the Holy See— through diploma sealed and signed by the Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State in Rome as well as the Cardinal Grand Master — which approves each person, in the name of and by the authority of the Pope. The candidate is then knighted or promoted in a solemn ceremony with a cardinal or major prelate.

At the ceremony, HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor was promoted to the rank of Knight Commander by His Eminence Cardinal O’Brien, the Grand Master.

Commander (Italian: Commendatore, French: Commandeur, German: Komtur, Spanish: Comandante, Portuguese: Comendador), or Knight Commander, is a title of honor prevalent in chivalric orders and fraternal orders.

The title of Commander occurred in the medieval military orders, such as the Knights Hospitaller, for a member senior to a Knight. Variations include Knight Commander, notably in English, sometimes used to denote an even higher rank than Commander.

Above: HRH Prince Gharios E Chemor wearing the vestments of a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral last Saturday

Above: HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor (left) with the Order’s Governor General His Excellency Ambassador Count Leonardo Visconti di Modrone (right)

The prince was invested in the Vatican’s Order in 2014 at the Our Lady Cathedral in Amman, Jordan by special decree of the His Beatitude Monsignor Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and Grand Prior of the Order (before his retirement in 2016)

Above: the HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor‘s investiture (Amman, Jordan, 2014)

The Gharios Family

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Sadly, less and less people are preoccupied in save their family’s history. That lack of method creates myths and misconceptions that echo for generations. Fortunately, with the advent of DNA testing, many of these misconceptions can be easily destroyed.

Even my family being somehow notorious in Lebanon, a lot of family members don’t know exactly the family origins not only because of the constant wars and destruction of records but mainly for the lack of interest.

Around twelve years ago, I’ve started a very deep study of the family’s history and international legal rights. That research became two books and one documentary.

You may watch the documentary below:

I’ve been writing a lot about the family’s Royal rights and also the leadership of the Christians in the Middle East. But some specifics about the relations of the Gharios family of Byblos (and Amchit) and Chiayh were not included in those writings. For that reason, I’ve decided to explore them now.

It’s known that after the deposition in the 18th century by the Ottomans, some of the descendants of the last ruler, HRH Sheikh Youssef El Chemor went to a small town known as Beit Habbak near Byblos (Jbeil)

“The first son went to the mountainous village of Baskinta and because he came from Beit Habbak, he was called “Habbaki”, which later became “Hobeika”. The second one, Ferjane Chemor, had the courage to stay in Beit Habbak. Nowadays his offspring are known as the “Ferjane”. The last two brothers, Farhat and Gharios, went to the suburbs of Beirut, where water is available and citrus trees are abundant. Farhat Chemor is today survived by a large family in Hadath known as the “Farhat”. Gharios Chemor went to Chiyah in 1757. His son Antoun took the name of his father as his family name like his uncles.” (Father Ignatios Tannos El-Khoury, Historical Scientific Research: “Sheikh El Chemor Rulers of Al-Aqoura (1211-1633) and Rulers of Al-Zawiye (1641-1747)”Beirut, Lebanon, 1948, p.122)

So, it’s accepted that:

” …the family Gharios of Chiyah is formally called “Gharios Habbaki Chemor” due to the village of Beit Habbak in the region of Byblos.”  (ibid)

That clearly shows that HRH Sheikh Gharios El Chemor by being called “Habbaki” (or the one from Habbak) came from the aforementioned city of Beit Habbak. The Maronite Encyclopedia of the NDU – Notre Dame University corroborates with the above. Read more HERE

Some people didn’t believe that the Gharios family present in Amchit and Byblos (Jbeil) was related to the one in Chiayh. But if we see the map of Lebanon, we can clearly see that Beit Habbak and Amchit are almost the same city! They’re separated only by a couple of kilometers!

Therefore, it’s very logical to conclude that even some of the family members going to Chiyah, the ones in Amchit are part of the family from Beit Habbak.

Now, let’s forget all the corroborating literature and even logic for a moment. Let’s focus on empirical data. A couple of years ago, I’ve submitted my DNA to Acestry.com. The results prove, without a single solitary doubt, my blood link with the Gharios family of Chiyah. If that wasn’t enough, also proves my blood relation to the El Chemor family by its other branch, the Farhat Family. Additionally, it’s known by literature that the El Chemor when ruled in Al-Akoura, were related by marriage to the El Hachem (Hashem) Sheikhs. I also show blood links with them.

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Above my DNA match to Mr. Karim Zakhour, son of Victoria Gharios of Chiyah. She’s first cousin of former Lebanese deputy Naji Camille Gharios from Chiyah.

Above my DNA match with some of the Farhat family members, descendants of HRH Sheikh Farhat El Chemor.

Above my DNA matches with several members of the El Hashem Family, descendants of the El Hachem Sheikhs, related by marriage to the El Chemor Sheikhs.

Additionally, the DNA test showed that I also had numerous matches with the historical Levantine Families descending from the last king of Ghassan like: The Malouf family (see the book “Maloof: the Ghassani Legacy), The Mansour Family, the Haddad Family, etc.

By all the above, we can conclude that the Gharios family of Amchit/Byblos is obviously related to the El Chemor family and by consequence, to the Gharios Family of Chiayh.

HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor