Government and Grades of the Constantinian Order

The Order is governed by the Grand Master, assisted by the Royal Deputation (Council), the members of which are appointed during the pleasure of the Grand Master or until his death. Each of the high dignitaries of the Order, the Grand Prefect (acting Grand Master during his absences or minority), the President of the Deputation, the Grand Chancellor and Vice-Grand Chancellor, the Grand Prior and Vice-Grand Priors, the Grand Inquisitor, the Grand Treasurer and the Secretary, all serve on the Deputation. The Deputation presently numbers thirty-six great officers and member-councilors.

The four classes of the Order are Justice, Jure Sanguinis (formerly Grace) and Merit [Note 9.1] and finally of Office. By "motu proprio" of the Grand Master, candidates may be exempted from the proofs of either Justice or Grace in exceptional cases. Each class is divided into the grades of Knight or Dame Grand Cross and Knight or Dame, with the title of Commander for holders of Commanderies giuspatronato. The title of Bailiff may be granted to the Knights Grand Cross of Justice but, excluding Cardinals and Royal Princes given the Grand Cross who are always Bailiffs, these may not number more than fifty (in memory of the tradition of the fifty guardians of the Labarum of Constantine), while the number of other Grand Crosses in all three classes is limited to one hundred and fifty knights and seventy-five ladies. [Note .2]

 

Insignia of Bailiff Grand Cross


Ladies were first admitted to the Order by a statutory reform in 1908 (although one lady had been admitted earlier) and today each grade and category is open to ladies, except that of Bailiff. Today all the members of the Order must profess the "Catholic, Apostolic, Roman, Religion" and possess "the qualities and virtues of the perfect Christian knight". By a recent reform distinguished non-Catholics may be decorated in exceptional circumstances with the Constantinian Cross "of Honor", but do not become members of the Order. [Note 9.3] The Grand Master also retain the right to confer the Star on knights or dames of Merit, elevating them to a rank above the other knights of that grade, and the gold star on knights or dames Jure Sanguinis.

According to the 1934 Statutes, amended in 1943 and reinforced in 1968, the aim of the Order is "glorification of the Cross, the propaganda of the Faith, and the defense of the Holy Roman Church" and it is required that the knights "should leave the lives of perfect Christians ...participate in every manifestation which contributes to the principles of religion among people and cooperate with all who revive the practice of Christianity ... and must dedicate themselves to the two greatest and most important social works, hospital assistance and charity".

There are today fifteen hundred members of the Order in all grades. Of these, there are sixteen Bailiffs with Collar out of a total of forty-five Bailiffs, of whom twelve are Royal Princes and twelve Cardinals. Since it is a relatively small institution when compared with the Order of Malta, it does not have the means to fulfill a major hospitaller role in the present era, its entire endowment having been confiscated by the Italian State in 1860. The Order is presently dedicated to support of the Roman Catholic Church, to assisting the transportation of sick to Lourdes, to supporting the Basilica of Santa Croce and, most recently, in the United States, to supporting the American Committee for the Hospital of the Holy Family, Bethlehem. Its most important role, however, is in exemplifying the ancient traditions of the Church with particular fidelity to its ancient traditions and liturgy.

 

Insignia of Knight Grand Cross Iure Sanguinis

The Badge of the Order is a red enamel gold greek or flory cross set in gold with the letters I.H.S.V. (In Hoc Signo Vinces - the motto seen by the Emperor Constantine at his conversion) on each arm, and the gold XP Christogram superimposed upon it. The class of Justice has the badge suspended from a royal crown and military trophy, that of Jure Sanguinis from the crown alone, and that of merit the simple badge, all worn at the neck from a plain sky-blue ribbon. Knights of Office wear the plain badge suspended from a triangular chest ribbon. The knights of Justice wear a gold breast star, those of Jure Sanguinis the same star in silver; these stars are also worn by Grand Crosses, but the badge is suspended from a wide riband worn over the right shoulder. Dames wear the badge (two-thirds the size of that worn by Knights) from a bow on the left chest and a similar but smaller breast star. Chaplains wear the same badge as the knights but without the military trophy and a special breast star while all ecclesiastic members wear their badge from a broad ribbon hung over the shoulders across their breast. Bailiffs have a jewel of Saint George slaying the Dragon suspended below the Cross, while the Collar is composed of linked Constantinian Crosses and XP Christograms with the Saint George suspended therefrom.

The knights are also entitled to wear the military uniform of the Order; this consists of a tunic and trousers of royal blue, with braid on the trousers, gold epaulettes and belt, the collar and cuffs white with gold embroidered filigree (varying in elaboration depending on the grade). They may wear a cocked hat with a celeste cockade and sword and spurs. The uniform has not been used in recent ceremonial, however, and it has been effectively substituted by the Mantle, made of the same fabric as the uniform with the Cross embroidered on the left shoulder and the collar in red, adorned with gold embroidery (of greater complexity according to the grade). On the Mantle of the Grand Master the Cross is surrounded by the Collar of the Order with the Saint George suspended below. The principal feast day of the Order is Saint George's day, April 23rd.

NOTES

9.1. The equivalent of the Order of Malta's grades of Honour and Devotion, Grace and Devotion and Magistral Grace; indeed members of Malta joining the Constantinian Order may be exempted by the Grand Master from further proofs and be received into the comparable grade. The name Jure Sanguinis in the Madrid Order has been changed from that of Grace, established in the nineteenth century and still retained in the Castro Order.

9.2. There are presently 140 Grand Crosses excluding Royal Princes and Princesses and Cardinals.

9.3. See Sainty, op.cit., pp.107-119.

 

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