Order of the Starry Cross
|Imperial and Royal Order of the Starry Cross|
2nd Class of the Order
|Awarded by The Head of the House of Habsburg|
|Type||Order of knighthood for women|
|Royal house||House of Habsburg|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Motto||SALUE Et GLORIA
("Hail and Glory")
|Awarded for||Devotion to the service and worship of the Holy Cross
A virtuous life in the exercise of religion and works of charity
|Sovereign||Crown Prince Karl of Austria|
|Grand Mistress||Archduchess Gabriela of Austria|
|Grades||Dame, Special Class
Dame, 1st Class
Dame, 2nd Class
Dame, 3rd Class
|Next (higher)||Imperial and Royal Order of Maria Theresa I|
|Next (lower)||Imperial and Royal Order of Leopold II|
|Same||Imperial and Royal Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary|
Ribbon of the Order
The Order of the Starry Cross (or Order of the Star Cross/Star Cross Order; German: Sternkreuz-Orden) is an Imperial Austrian Order for Catholic noble ladies. The order still exists, though the empire has gone.
The Order was founded by Eleonora Gonzaga of Mantua, dowager empress of the Holy Roman Empire, in 1668. This all female order was confirmed by Pope Clement IX, June 28, 1668, and was placed under the spiritual management of the Prince Bishop of Vienna. Only high-born ladies could be invested with the Order, including “princesses, countesses, and other high nobility.” Once invested, members were to “devote themselves to the service and worship of the Holy Cross, and to lead a virtuous life in the exercise of religion and works of charity.”
According to legend, the Habsburg dynasty owned a piece of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. Though it is impossible to prove its authenticity, the holy relic was set in gold and worn by at least two Holy Roman Emperors, Maximilian II and Ferdinand III. Ferdinand III’s last consort, Empress Eleanora, was given the relic by her stepson, Emperor Leopold I, after Ferdinand’s 1657 death. In the aftermath of a fire at the Hofburg on February 2, 1668, the relic was discovered in near perfect condition. The dowager empress founded the Order in celebration that the relic had survived the fire, believing it to be a true miracle.
Members of the Order wore the following insignia:
"An oval medallion, with a broad blue enameled border, inclosing a black enameled Eagle with two heads, and claws, both of gold, on which lies a Gold Cross, enameled green, and bordered with brown wood. Over this, on an intwined (sic) wreath in black letters, on a white ground, is the motto of the Order, "Salue et Gloria” – (Hail and Glory.) It is worn, pendent to a strip of black riband (sic), on the left breast."
- Special Class - Diamond and Gemstone studded insignia only for the Grand Mistress.
- 1'st Class - Ruby Cross with Diamonds around the badge suspended from a Black ribbon; for Daughters and Grand daughters of the Sovereign and foreign Empresses, Queens, Grand Duchesses and Princess Consorts.
- 2'nd Class - Smaller insignia with Diamonds around the badge suspended from a Black ribbon; for lesser Austrian Archduchesses and Princesses, Austrian Archduchesses by marriage, Daughters of Austrian Archduchesses, Austrian nobility and foreign Duchesses or Princesses.
- 3'rd Class - Much smaller insignia without brilliants, suspended from a Black ribbon; for Austrian Princesses, Austrian Countesses, Austrian nobility and also foreign Princesses and nobility.
- Empress Eleanor née Princess Eleanor Gonzaga - (1668-1686)
- Empress Eleanor Magdalene née Princess Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg - (1686-1720)
- Empress Wilhelmine Amalia née Princess Wilhelmine Amalia of Brunswick-Lüneburg - (1720-1742)
- Empress Elisabeth Christine née Princess Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel - (1742-1740)
- Empress Maria Theresa I, Holy Roman Empress (1740-1780)
- Empress Maria Ludovika née Princess Maria Luisa of Spain - (1780-1792)
- Empress Maria Theresa née Princess Maria Theresa of the Two Sicilies - (1792-1807)
- Empress Maria Ludovika née Archduchess Maria Ludovika of Austria - (1807-1816)
- Empress Caroline Augusta née Princess Caroline Augusta of Bavaria - (1816-1835)
- Empress Maria Anna née Princess Maria Anna of Savoy - (1835-1848)
- Archduchess Sophie née Princess Princess Sophie of Bavaria - (1848-1854)
- Empress Elisabeth née Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria - (1854-1898)
- Archduchess Gisela of Austria - (1898-1916)
- Archduchess Maria Josepha née Princess of Saxony - (1898-1916)
- Empress Zita née Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma (1916-1951)
- Crown Princess Regina née Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen - (1951-2007)
- Archduchess Gabriela of Austria (2007–present)
According to the website of the Archdiocese of Vienna, the order is ruled by :
- Grand Mistress : Archduchess Gabriela 
- Order Chancellor : Count Norbert Salburg-Falkenstein
- Order Secretary : Altgraf Niklas zu Salm-Reifferscheidt-Raitz
- Tagore, Rajah Sir Sourindro Mohun. The Orders of Knighthood, British and Foreign. Calcutta: The Catholic Orphan Press, 1884.
- Handelsblad (Het) 07-05-1881
- Archdiocese of Vienna - " Oberste Schutzfrau: Gabriela Habsburg-Lothringen "
- Sancrucensis, blog article about the Order and its Grand Mistress