Brisbane dentist and lawyer Monica Thomson has been installed as the first Australian female lieutenant of the oldest of all the Orders of Knighthood in the Church.
Her robes were blessed during the installation by Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge.
“I am very proud to be the first woman in Australia, and the seventh worldwide,” Dr Thomson, 65, mother of three sons and grandmother of eight, said.
“I was one of the original members when our chapter was formed and I hope to carry on the good work during my term as lieutenant.”
Knights and dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre are devoted to building up the faith and practice among members, and sustaining the spiritual, charitable, and social works of the Church in the Holy Land including Israel, Palestine, and Jordan.
In 1888, Pope Leo XIII authorised the order to give women similar honours to men.
As a result, Dames of the Holy Sepulchre share the same rights and privileges as knights of the order, including licence to ride a horse – should they wish – into a church or cathedral.
Dr Thomson said she would not be taking up that ancient right. “I’ve only ever ridden once or twice. I am not a horsewoman, but I do like to go to the races,” she said.
Dr Thomson was one of six children. She was born and educated in Fortitude Valley and attended St Patrick’s and All Hallows’ School.