Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa
|Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa|
|Award of Portugal|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Ribbon||Light blue with silver stripes|
|Grand Master||Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza|
|Established||6 February 1818|
The Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa (also known as The Order of Our Lady of Conception of Vila Vicosa) is an dynastic order of knighthood of the House of Braganza, the former Portuguese Royal Family. The current Grand Master of the Order is Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, the Head of the House of Braganza.
The order was created by King John VI of Portugal in Rio de Janeiro on 6 February 1818, the date of his acclamation, in recognition for the efficient protection of the Kingdom's Spiritual Sovereign (Portugal is known as the Land of Santa Maria since its foundation). The Blessed Virgin Mother under the invocation of the Immmaculate Conception (venerated in the Ducal Chapel of the Palace of Vila Viçosa) had earlier been acclaimed "Queen" and Patroness of the kingdom by King John IV on March 25, 1646 following a referendum of the Empire that lasted 6 years and asked subjects: 1. If they believed the Blessed Virgin Mary to have been conceived without sin, and 2. If they believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary was the physical reigning Queen of Portugal and not just symbolically the Patroness. The people answered affirmatively and since the Coronation that took place at Vila Viçosa, the Kings of Portugal never again wore a crown.
This order distinguished those who proved their loyalty to the Portuguese Royal House in the war against the Bonapartist occupying forces. Later, in 1818, a royal decree stated that the Order would be given as a military award in four (4) classes of Grand Cross, Commander, Knight, and Servant. Knighthood was given to those who were servants to the king and devoted Catholics to the pope and the Holy Mother. The Order was originally limited to twelve Grand Crosses, forty Commanders and one hundred Knights, with the provision for the award of supernumerary Grand Crosses. Grand Crosses were usually given to higher nobles who had positions in the Royal Household. Lower grades (Commander and below) were granted to lesser nobles who had provided personal service to the King.
Unlike the earlier Religious-Military Orders, the Order of Christ, the Order of St. Benedict of Aviz, and the Order of St. James of the Sword, Vila Viçosa was more aligned to the Order of the Tower and Sword which had been re-established by King John VI. Late into the 19th century, the constitutional sovereigns were inclined to treat the Order of Vila Viçosa as the paramount award given by the sovereign for services rendered to the Royal House.
In 1910, a revolution installed a Republican government that took over all State Orders except the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa; as a result, King Manuel II of Portugal in exile and, after his death, the Dukes of Braganza continued to use the order's insignia and to bestow it as they considered the Order to belong to their dynasty rather than the state. Just after the Second World War, it was bestowed on Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar by Queen Amelia when she visited Portugal for the last time.
In December 1983, Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, re-activated the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa, and maintains it as an honorific order of the Portuguese Royal Family. He has since then distinguished many Portuguese personalities (including giving the Order's Medal of Merit to among them football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Luís Figo).
The Order is primarily bestowed upon Portuguese nobles, and only occasionally out of protocol on Heads of State and Royal Houses, but has also been bestowed (before 2005) on foreign and Portuguese recipients who received it solely as an honorary award for services rendered to the expansion of the Cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Message of Fátima, or the Roman Catholic Church, but who are not listed as active members of the Portuguese Order and therefore not invited to attend functions or events organized by the Order.
Honorary Members are also not expected to contribute with yearly dues or contributions, although they may wear the decorations at public events if they solicit and obtain permission beforehand to do so from the Secretariat of the Royal House.
- Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona (father to the present king of Spain)
- King Juan Carlos I of Spain
- Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria
- Otto von Habsburg, last Crown Prince of Austria and Hungary
- Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia
- Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples;
- Dom Miguel, Duke of Viseu
- Infante Henrique, Duke of Coimbra
- Conselheiro Rodrigo Augusto da Silva
- João Carlos Saldanha de Oliveira Daun, 1st Duke of Saldanha
- José Paranhos, Viscount of Rio Branco
- Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, Duke of Caxias
- Paul Kruger (awarded in 1892, after the breakdown of Boer-Portuguese relationships in 1899 he returned the order and was struck off the roll)
- Jorge Carlos Fonseca, President of Cabo Verde, decorated in November 2012
The order's insignia was designed by the French painter Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768–1848), who was in charge of creating in Rio de Janeiro an arts and crafts lyceum (Escola Real de Artes e Ofícios) under the auspices of King D. João VI and the Marquis of Marialva. The order's sash is light blue and white. The medallion is starshaped and crowned, and in it center has a monogram with the letters "AM". Surrounding the monogram there is an inscription saying "Padroeira do Reino".
The Order is unofficially acknowledged by the Portuguese government. It may be worn by Portuguese citizens, but not on Portuguese military uniforms.
- Duckers, Peter (2008). European orders and decorations to 1945. Botley, Oxford, UK: Shire Publications. pp. 68–70. ISBN 978-0-7478-0670-7.
- Duren, Peter Bander van (1995). Orders of knighthood and of merit : the pontifical, religious and secularised Catholic-founded Orders and their relationship to the Apostolic See. Gerrards Cross: Smythe. pp. 266–67. ISBN 978-0-86140-371-4.
- Haffner, Paul (2004). The mystery of Mary. Leominster, Herefordshire: Gracewing. pp. xi. ISBN 978-1-59525-008-7.
- Tagore, Sourindro Mohun Tagore (1884). The orders of knighthood, British and foreign: with a brief review of the titles of rank and merit in ancient Hindusthan. Calcutta, British India: Catholic Orphan Press. Retrieved 8 December 2011. "This Order was founded on the 6th February, 1818 by King John VI ,and received its Statutes on the 10th September, 1819...legend "Padroeira do Reino"- (Patroness of the Realm)"
- John Paul II. "Mass for Farmers, Homily of Pope John Paul II, Vila Viçosa, Friday, May 14, 1982". Apostolic Pilgrimage in Portugal, 12-15 May 1982 (in Italian). The Holy See. Retrieved 8 December 2011. "Nel Santuario di nostra Signora della Concezione di Vila Vicosa, sotto lo sguardo della “Regina” del Portogallo, coronata da Dom João Quarto. The Shrine of Our Lady of Conception of Vila Viçosa, under the gaze of the Queen of Portugal, crowned by Dom João IV."
- Pisani, Alberto (2003). "Privilegi Nobiliari dell’Ordine Militare della Concezione di Villa Vicosa in Portogallo" [Noble Privileges of the Military Order of the Conception of Villa Viçosa in Portugal]. Rivista Araldica (in Italian) (Collegio Araldico Roma). ISSN 0035-5771. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- Tesouros reais. ([2. ed. rev. e corr.]. ed.). Lisboa: Palácio Nacional da Ajuda. 1992. ISBN 972-9496-12-9.
- Clapham, Peter Wynter Bee ; illustrated by Lucy (2008). People of the day 3. Woking: People of the Day Limited. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-9548110-2-0.
- "Selecção distinguida pelo Duque de Bragança" (in Portuguese). Cristiano Ronaldo News. 30 August 2006. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- Hirschson, Niel The naming of Johannesburg as an historical commentary Nugget Press, 1974, p. 39