|This article does not cite any references or sources. (August 2009)|
It appeared for the first time on the collar of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation or Ordine Supremo della Santissima Annunziata, the primary dynastic order of the kingdom. This ceased to be a national order when Italy became a republic in 1946. The order remains under the jurisdiction of the head of the House of Savoy, however, as hereditary Sovereign and Grand Master.
The meaning of the letters has been a matter of some controversy, to which a number of interpretations have been offered. The motto is believed an acronym of:—
- Foedere et Religione Tenemur (Latin: "We are bound by treaty and by religion");
although others have suggested:—
- Fortitudo Eius Rhodum Tenuit (Latin: "His strength conquered Rhodes" or "By his bravery he held [or occupied] Rhodes"), referring to the victory of Amadeus V, Count of Savoy (1249–1323), who fought against the Saracens at the 1310 siege of Rhodes; or either
- Fortitudo Eius Republicam Tenet (Latin: "His bravery [or strength] preserves [or defends] the Republic"); or
- Fides Est Regni Tutela (Latin: "Faith is the protector of [our] Kingdom").
It has also been suggested that the letters are actually the third person singular of the present indicative tense of the Latin verb ferre, which would indicate that the Royal House is supported by the bond of faith sworn to the Virgin Mary. It sometimes appeared repeated three times, as it was understood as having three different meanings.