Supreme Order of Christ

The Supreme Order of Christ (Italian: Ordine Supremo del Cristo) is the highest order of chivalry that can be awarded by the pope. No appointments have been made since 1987 and following the death in 1993 of the last remaining knight, King Baudouin of Belgium, the order became dormant.

Supreme Order of Christ
Ordine Supremo del Cristo
Star and badge of the Order of Christ
Awarded by the  Holy See
TypePapal order of knighthood
EligibilityCatholic heads of state
Awarded forServices to the Church
StatusDormant order
Grand MasterPope Francis
Next (higher)None (highest); clerics, such as theologians, philosophers, or diplomats, can be named Cardinals or Bishops for meritorious services to the Pope and the Holy See, without being given an actual office
Next (lower)Order of the Golden Spur

Ribbon bar of the order

According to some scholars, it owes its origin to the same Order of Christ of the Knights Templar, from which came the Order of Christ that was awarded by the kings of Portugal and the emperors of Brazil. The Portuguese order had originally both a secular and religious component; by the 18th century, the religious component had died out.

Dispute edit

The papacy insisted that the right of the Portuguese monarchs to award the honour had been granted by a pope in the Papal Bull Ad ea ex quibus issued in Avignon on 14/15 March 1319. While the bull in itself does not explicitly grant to the pope the right to issue the order, successive popes since John XXII have done so. For many years, the Portuguese monarchy disputed the right of the papacy to award the order, and in one famous case arrested Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni, an Italian architect, for wearing the papal order. The position of the Crown of Portugal was that the only legitimate fount of honour was the Crown.[1] The position of the Catholic Church is that the pope is the head of every religious order and may appoint, at his discretion without the permission of its superior general, any individual he deems worthy.[2]

Senior papal order edit

As part of the general re-organisation of papal honours in 1905 by Pope Pius X, the papal Order of Christ was made the most senior papal honour. It was traditionally awarded to Catholic heads of state.

Restriction edit

The usage of the order was restricted by Pope Paul VI in his 15 April 1966 Papal Bull Equestres Ordinis to Catholic heads of state to whom it might be given only to commemorate very special occasions at which the pope himself was present. It has rarely been awarded since; the last award was made by Pope John Paul II on 3 July 1987 to Frà Angelo de Mojana, 77th prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.[3][4] And with the death of King Baudouin of Belgium on 31 July 1993, there are no living members of the Order of Christ.

In ecclesiastical heraldry, individuals awarded this order may depict a collar completely encircling the shield on their coat of arms.[5]

Notable members edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ José Vicente de Bragança, The Military Order of Christ and the Papal Croce di Cristo
  2. ^ MacErlean, Andrew Alphonsus (1912). The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church, Volume 4. Robert Appleton Co. pp. 667–668.
  3. ^ "Diarium Romanae Curiae" (PDF). Acta Apostolicae Sedis. Vol. 79. Vatican. 1987-08-06. p. 1133.
  4. ^ Peter Bander van Duren, Orders of Knighthood and of Merit (London: C. Smythe, 1995), pp. 9–10.
  5. ^ Noonan, Jr., James-Charles (1996). The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church. Viking. p. 196. ISBN 0-670-86745-4.
  6. ^ Van Cleef, Augustus. "Cavaliere Giovanni Baglioni." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 31 December 2022   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

External links edit