Order of Christ (Portugal)
|Order of Christ
(Ordem Militar de Cristo)
|Emblem of the Order|
|Award of Portuguese Republic|
|Eligibility||Portuguese and foreign military personnel|
|Awarded for||Outstanding military merit|
|Grand Master||President of the Portuguese Republic|
|Next (higher)||Order of the Tower and Sword|
|Next (lower)||Order of Aviz|
|Decorations of the Order|
The Military Order of Christ (Ordem Militar de Cristo) previously the Royal Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Real Ordem dos Cavaleiros de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo) was the heritage of the Knights Templar in Portugal, after the suppression of the Templars in 1312. It was founded in 1319.
Under heavy influence from Philip IV of France, Pope Clement V had the order annihilated throughout France and most of Europe on charges of heresy, but King Denis of Portugal, who found that the Order's assets should for their nature stay in any given Order instead of being taken by the King, re-instituted the Templars of Tomar as the Order of Christ, largely for their aid during the Reconquista and in the reconstruction of Portugal after the wars. King Denis negotiated with Pope Clement's successor John XXII for the new order's recognition and right to inherit the Templar assets and property.
The order's origins lie in the Knights Templar, founded circa 1118. The knights saw their persecution by the King of France and eventual disbandment by the Pope in 1312. With this, the King Dinis I of Portugal created the Order of Christ in 1317 for the knights that were able to survive their mass slaughter throughout Europe. In Portugal, the order saw great riches and importance within the Age of Discoveries.
In 1789, the Queen Maria I of Portugal secularized the order. In 1910, with the end of the Portuguese monarchy, the order was extinguished. However, in 1917, the order was revived and the Grand-Master of the Order was to be the President of Portugal. The Military Order of Christ, together with the Military Orders of Aviz and of St. James of the Sword form the group of the "Ancient Military Orders", governed by a Chancellor and a Council of eight members, appointed by the President of the Republic, to assist him as Grand Master in all matters concerning the administration of the Order. The Order, despite its name, can be conferred on civilians and on military, Portuguese and foreigners, for outstanding services to the Republic, in parliament, in the government, in the diplomatic service, in the Courts of Justice, on public authorities or on the Civil Service.
Grades and Badges
The Order of Christ, as awarded by the Portuguese government today, comes in five classes:
- Grand Cross (GCC), which wears the badge of the Order on a sash on the right shoulder, and the star of the Order in gold on the left chest;
- Grand Officer (GOC), which wears the badge of the Order on a necklet, and the star of the Order in gold on the left chest;
- Commander (ComC), which wears the badge of the Order on a necklet, and the star of the Order in silver on the left chest;
- Officer (OC), which wears the badge of the Order on a ribbon with rosette on the left chest;
- Knight (CavC) or Dame (DamC), which wears the badge of the Order on a plain ribbon on the left chest.
- The badge of the Order is a gilt cross with enamel, similar to the Order's emblem illustrated here, but with a longer lower arm. During the monarchy there were separate badges for civil and military knights: civil knights wore a badge similar to the modern version, but with the Sacred Heart of Christ above it; military knights had a completely different insignia, this being a gilt, white enamelled Maltese Cross with enamelled oval shields (each bearing a design similar to the Coat of arms of Portugal minus the red border) between the arms of the cross, the whole surrounded by a wreath of palm; the central disc was in white enamel, with a miniature of the modern badge in it; the badge was topped by a gilt crown.
- The star of the Order has 22 asymmetrical arms of rays, in gilt for Grand Cross and Grand Officer, and in silver for Commander. The central disc is in white enamel, with a miniature of the modern badge in it. During the monarchy the Sacred Heart of Christ was placed at the top of the star.
- The ribbon of the Order is plain red.
People associated with the Order of Christ
- Vasco da Gama (also to the Order of Santiago before)
- Pedro Álvares Cabral
- Henry the Navigator
- João Gonçalves Zarco
- Gonçalo Velho Cabral
- Bartolomeu Dias
- D. Beatrice
- Manuel I (Grand Master)
- Francisco de Almeida
- Miguel Corte-Real
- Gaspar Corte-Real
- Martim Afonso de Sousa
- João de Castro
- Cristóvão da Gama
- Jácome Ratton
- Tomé de Sousa
- Fernão de Magalhães also known as Ferdinand Magellan (also to the Order of Santiago)
- Pedro Teixeira
- Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira
Locations associated with the Order of Christ
- Convento de Cristo
- Belém Tower
- Castle of Almourol
- Sagres (where Prince Henry founded his school of cosmography and navigation)
Entities using the cross of the order in their insignia
- Honorific orders of Portugal
- Order of Christ (Brazil)
- Order of Christ (Holy See)
- History of the Order of Christ
- "Order of the Knights of Christ". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- "ANTIGAS ORDENS MILITARES". Bem-vindo a pagina oficial do Grao-Mestre das Ordens Honorificas Portuguesas (in Portuguese). Presidência da República Portuguesa. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "GRAUS E INSÍGNIAS DA ORDEM MILITAR DE CRISTO". Bem-vindo a pagina oficial do Grao-Mestre das Ordens Honorificas Portuguesas (in Portuguese). Presidência da República Portuguesa. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- GUIMARÃES, J. Vieira, A Ordem de Cristo, Lisboa, I.N., 1936