The order, limited to a total membership of twenty-six, is exclusively for Catholic noblewomen.
In 5 October 1910, the monarchy was replaced by a republic. The order, which was considered dynastic, continued to be bestowed by King Manuel II of Portugal, who in exile also awarded it to his wife. After his death, the Queen and Queen Mother both continued to use the order's insignia of Grand Mistress. In 1986 Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza re-established the Order of Saint Isabel as an honorific dynastic order of the Portuguese Royal Family, and claimed its Sovereign Grand Mastership. The Duchess of Braganza is the current Grand Mistress and, besides honouring Portuguese noblewomen on the Saint's feast day, celebrated each year on July 4 at the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova in Coimbra, the Royal House has, since 2000, bestowed it on various queens, princesses and women dedicated to the support of Portuguese charities.
The order's sash is pale pink and has a white stripe in the middle. On the accompanying crowned medallion is a picture of the Queen Saint giving money to a poor man. This picture is surrounded by a frame with roses (an allusion to the Queen's miracle). The insignia's motto is Pauperum Solatio.