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|
|Motto||SALUE Et GLORIA
("Hail and Glory")
|Sovereign||Crown Prince Karl of Austria|
|Grand Mistress||Archduchess Gabriela of Austria|
|Grades (w/ post-nominals)||Dame, Special Class
Dame, 1st Class
Dame, 2nd Class
|Established||28 June 1868|
|Next (higher)||Imperial and Royal Order of Leopold|
|Next (lower)||Imperial and Royal Order of Franz Joseph|
|Same||Imperial and Royal Order of the Iron Crown|
|Ribbon of the Order|
The Order of the Starry Cross (or Order of the Star Cross/Star Cross Order; German: Sternkreuz-Orden) 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 Gonzaga (1668-1686)
- Empress Eleanor Magdalene (1686-1720)
- Empress Amalia Wilhelmina (1720-1742)
- Empress Elisabeth Christine (1742-1750)
- Empress Maria Theresa (1750-1780)
- Empress Maria Ludovika (1780-1792)
- Empress Maria Theresa (1792-1807)
- Empress Maria Ludovika (1807-1816)
- Empress Caroline Augusta (1816-1873)
- Empress Elisabeth (1873-1898)
- Archduchess Maria Josepha (1898-1916)
- Empress Zita (1916-1951)
- Archduchess Regina (1951-2010)
- Archduchess Gabriela (2010–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.
- Archdiocese of Vienna - " Oberste Schutzfrau: Gabriela Habsburg-Lothringen "
- Sancrucensis, blog article about the Order and its Grand Mistress