|Military Order of Christ|
Ordem Militar de Cristo
Emblem of the Order
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|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 Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Ordem dos Cavaleiros de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo), is the former Knights Templar order as it was reconstituted in Portugal after the Templars were abolished on 22 March 1312 by the papal bull, Vox in excelso, issued by Pope Clement V. The Order of Christ was founded in 1319, with the protection of the Portuguese king, Denis I, who refused to pursue and persecute the former knights as had occurred in most of the other sovereign states under the political influence of the Catholic Church.
Heavily swayed by Philip IV of France, Pope Clement had the Knights Templar annihilated throughout France and most of Europe on charges of heresy, but Denis revived 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. Denis negotiated with Clement's successor, John XXII, for recognition of the new order and its right to inherit the Templar assets and property.
The order's origins lie in the Knights Templar, founded circa 1118. The Templars were persecuted by the king of France and eventually disbanded by the pope in 1312. King Dinis I of Portugal created the Order of Christ in 1317 for those knights who survived their mass slaughter throughout Europe. In Portugal, the Order of Christ accumulated great riches and power during the Age of Discoveries.
In 1789, 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, with its Grand Master 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, formed the group of the "Ancient Military Orders", governed by a chancellor and a council of eight members, and appointed by the President of the Republic to assist him as Grand Master in all the order's administrative matters. The Order can be conferred for outstanding services to the Republic on military officers, and, despite its name, on civilians (including foreigners as well as Portuguese citizens) and on members of: Parliament or other branches of government, the diplomatic corps, the Courts of Justice, the Civil Service, and other public authorities.
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 (CvC) or Dame (DmC), 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.
|Bars of the Military Order of Christ|
People associated with the Order of Christ
- Henry the Navigator (Grand Master)
- Manuel I (Grand Master)
- Infante Ferdinand (Grand Master)
- Sebastian of Portugal (Grand Master)
- Vasco da Gama (also to the Order of Santiago before)
- Pedro Álvares Cabral
- João Gonçalves Zarco
- Gonçalo Velho Cabral
- Bartolomeu Dias
- D. Beatrice
- Francisco de Almeida
- Miguel Corte-Real
- Gaspar Corte-Real
- Tristão da Cunha
- Martim Afonso de Sousa
- João de Castro
- Cristóvão da Gama
- Tomé de Sousa
- Fernão de Magalhães, also known as Ferdinand Magellan (also to the Order of Santiago)
- Vicente Sodré
- Damião de Góis
- Pedro Teixeira
- Alexandre de Gusmão
- Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira
- Henrique Dias
- António Filipe Camarão
- Jácome Ratton
- Albert Coyette
- Louis-Nicolas Davout
- Jean-Baptiste Bessières
Locations associated with the Order of Christ
- Castro Marim (seat of the order before 1357)
- Convento de Cristo
- Belém Tower
- Castle of Almourol
- Castle of Monsanto
- Castle of Castelo Branco
- Sagres (death place of Prince Henry)
Entities using the cross of the order in their insignia
- Brazilian Football Confederation
- Clube de Futebol Os Belenenses (Portugal)
- Futebol Clube Cesarense
- National Corps of Scouts - Portuguese Catholic Scouting
- Olympic Committee of Portugal
- Portuguese Air Force
- Portuguese Athletic Federation
- Portuguese Football Federation
- Portuguese Navy
- Portuguese Roller Sports Federation
- Principality of Pontinha
- Flag of the city of São Paulo (Brazil)
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- Jochen Burgtorf; Paul F. Crawford; Helen J. Nicholson (28 June 2013). The Debate on the Trial of the Templars (1307–1314). Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 298. ISBN 978-1-4094-8102-7.
- Matthew Anthony Fitzsimons; Jean Bécarud (1969). The Catholic Church today: Western Europe. University of Notre Dame Press. p. 159.
- Helen J. Nicholson (1 January 2004). The Crusades. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-313-32685-1.
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. .
- "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. External link in
- "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. External link in
- GUIMARÃES, J. Vieira, A Ordem de Cristo, Lisboa, I.N., 1936
- OLIVAL, Fernanda, The Military Orders and the Portuguese Expansion (15th to 17th Centuries), Portuguese Studies Review Monographs, Vol. 3, Peterborough: Baywolf Press and The Portuguese Studies Review, 2018.