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Authority and Status of the ICOC | Principles involved in assessing the validity of Orders of Chivalry | Index



Pier Felice degli Uberti


The International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences brings together scholars and others with an interest in these subjects from all nations of Europe and from countries throughout the world.


The I Congress was held in Barcelona in 1929 and from the II Congress, of 1953, it was to be held every two years, with two exceptions[1]. The main themes have changed greatly over the years with some disciplines no longer among the subjects discussed at the congresses. Examples of abandoned subjects are sphragistics and iconography dealt with at Paris, vexillology (which was to have been one of the themes at congresses after Bern), while on the contrary genetics that saw its appearance at Stockholm in 1960 was forgotten and returned to be treated again in 1998 at Turin. Another subject which was abandoned was chivalric orders which was discussed at Roma/Napoli, Madrid, Stockholm and Edinburgh, and in a few papers

presented at Madrid in 1982[2].


Unlike other disciplines put aside by the Congress, chivalric orders were in the early editions the object of a special commission, which was to become, as we shall see, the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry.


The International Commission for Orders of Chivalry was founded at the V International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences, at Stockholm, the 21st-28th August 1960. This Congress[3], held under the High Patronage of H.R.H. Prince Bertil of Sweden, was presided over by Baron Carl Hamilton of Hageby, President; Baron Giovanni di Giura, Vice President; Marquis de Desio, Vice President; Count Thierry de Limburg-Stirum, Vice President; Mr. Invar Andersson, Vice President and Mr. Gunnar Scheffer, Director of the Swedish State Heraldry Service, Secretary General.


In the report of the Commission for State Heraldry - composed of: Baron Alessandro Monti della Corte, President; Noble Prof. Gèza Grosschmid Zsögöd de Visegrad, Vice President; Roger Harmignies, Rapporteur; and by its Members: John Philip Brooke Brooke-Little; Lt. Col. Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg; Robert Matagne; Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Bt.; Elisabeth Prins; Conrad M.J.F. Swan and Paul Warming - concerning point 4, “the decisions of the III Congress at Madrid[4] (1955) were recalled relative to the juridical and historical conditions which had to apply to independent, both dynastic and family, orders of chivalry and it was recommended to prepare a list, albeit provisional, of the said orders so that they might be studied and then approved at the following congress.”[5]


The VI International Congress was held at Edinburgh from the 8th to the 14th of September 1962 under the Honorary Presidency of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh and was presided over by: H.G. The Duke of Hamilton, President; Baron Giovanni di Giura, Vice President; Count Thierry de Limburg-Stirum, Vice President; Baron Carl Hamilton of Hageby, Vice President; Lt. Col. Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, General Secretary. Members of the Honorary Committee included: H.M. King Umberto II, H.R.H. the Count of Paris, H.R.H. the Count of Barcelona, H.I.H. the Grand Duke Vladimir Kirilovich, H.R.H. Prince Ranieri of the Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro, H.R.H. Philip Duke of Württemberg and H.S.H. Prince Ernest August of Lippe.


On the 13th of September, the Congress began work on the 3rd theme which concerned ‘Chivalric Orders’, “under the Presidency of H.S.H. The Prince of Schwarzenberg, with Miss Rosalie Bailey as Vice President. Baron Monti della Corte read, in both English and French, the report and findings of the Study Commission which he presided. Among others who spoke on this important subject were: Count Limburg-Stirum, Marquis de Santa Maria de Silvela and de Castañar, Don Manuel de Aranegui, the President himself and our friend Don Achille di Lorenzo. Baron Monti della Corte and Prince Schwarzenberg replied and gave every necessary clarification. Not all lectures on the programme were given due to the lengthy report of Baron Monti della Corte. . .”[6] On the 14th of September, the Commission made its report on the principles involved in assessing the validity of orders of chivalry and these were accepted by the Congress. In addition, on the motion of M. Paul Adam of Paris, it was unanimously agreed in plenary session of the Congress, that the International Commission (composed of the high personalities of the Congress, and leading experts in the field of chivalry, nobiliary and heraldic law)[7] should become a permanent autonomous body in the following terms: “After having rendered homage for the work of the Commission on Orders of Chivalry, and to its president, Baron Monti della Corte, the Congress considered it proper that it should have an autonomous status and that it should continue its activities in a permanent form, in order to apply the principles[8] developed in its report presented to the Congress.”[9]


In pursuance of these instructions and authority, the International Commission thereby published the findings of its deliberations during the period 1960-98, with meetings being held in 1964 (The Hague), 1966 (Paris), 1967 (Brussels), 1970 (Vienna and Munich, when the Noble Corporations were added), 1984 (Washington, when other Noble Corporations were added), 1998 (Dublin, when Ecclesiastical Decorations were added), 1999 (Rome and London), 2000 (London, when it was decided to widen the areas of study classifying those Bodies of a chivalrous nature and those inspired by chivalry), 2001 (Casale Monferrato, when it was decided to widen the areas of study classifying the Bodies which referred to orders or awards which had been awarded by state bodies in the past), 2002 (Dublin, when it was decided to modify the 2002 Register - in addition to what was published in the 2001 Register - so as to include only European dynastic orders, transforming the previous category Knightly (civil and military) bodies derived from orders of former states into the new Other institutions of chivalric character categorized as: Revivals of ancient chivalric institutions originally founded as orders by the dynastic successor of the founding authority; New chivalric institutions founded by the head of a former reigning dynasty; Successors of chivalric institutions originally founded under the authority of a state).


The Commission has, since its inception, published updated versions of its Register of Orders of Chivalry (in 1964, 1970, 1978, 1996, 1998), the latest being issued in 2001. The decisions arrived at by the ICOC since its inception have been thoroughly reviewed and a number of bodies included in those lists published subsequent to the original 1964 Register have been removed and will not be included in the future. The 1964 Register has thus been corrected and modified.


Whenever a Register was published it was always subject to criticisms or praise depending on the position of the commentator. The interest in the reports of the Commission - either for or against its decisions - is an indicator of the esteem in which it has been held by the academic community. It is worth recalling here the words of Prof. Aldo Pezzana[10]: “In conclusion one may state that the Commission has produced a work of the greatest interest, for which we must be grateful to its authoritative members and in particular to its President, Baron Monti della Corte, whose standing as a scholar of historical-heraldic studies and as Chancellor of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus need no recalling here.


If any reserve or proposal has been made, it was because the work of the Commission is of such importance and it is the duty of all scholars, however modest, including the present writer, to attempt a contribution in order to further perfect its work”.


We quote also the recent words of On. Dr. Alberto Lembo at the Conference entitled The Dynastic Orders of the I. & R. Grand Ducal House of Tuscany and the Royal House of Bourbon-Parma, in his paper The Italian State and non-national Orders of Chivalry: “I believe it is worthwhile to widen the horizon of references and to insert as a contribution to solutions to those questions being dealt with here those principles expressed by the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry at the close of the V International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences presented by its President Alessandro Monti della Corte at Edinburgh on 14th September 1962. These are, of course, indications of a private organisation but whose authority is more than sufficiently known.”[11]


Although it may be true that numerous attacks were made on the Commission due to the inclusion of orders or positions in favour of one or other claimants in dynastic disputes, it should also be mentioned that the study of chivalric orders and awards systems is open to manifold interpretations, mainly because there is no supreme authority (except for the Holy See[12] whose authority is limited to Catholic orders of chivalry), which is able to resolve definitively and without controversy the various protests and disputes[13]. Even among specialists personal opinions sometimes conflict and, at times, radical revisions were made, without these revisions necessarily being determined by serious analysis or changing circumstances[14].


It should be acknowledged, therefore, that in the past some serious mistakes[15] were made, with organisations of questionable chivalric character included in the Register alongside historical chivalric orders. The newly nominated commission has now determined that it is necessary to re-examine the 1964 Register and use that as the initial point of reference.


From 1984 to 1995 the Commission, considering the register was effectively complete, held only occasional meetings with the then elderly President, even though some members of the Executive Committee met with him more frequently[16]. With the death of the then President in 1995, the Commission, which had already seen the passing of many of its elderly Members, needed to be revitalised. This process began in 1996 when a new Register, based on the 1978 edition, was published. A greatly enlarged Register was published in 1998, which included, unfortunately, some orders and bodies, which had not received the necessary authorization of the executive committee. This led to the decision to thoroughly revise the structure and membership of the Commission and its executive committee.


At the Senate of the Italian Republic (Hall of the former Hotel Bologna) on 3rd June 1999 at the close of the Conference “New Sources for Family History at the start of the III Millennium” new Statutes were presented, which in London on 5th November 1999 were modified to bring them up to date. These were further modified on 9th November 2000, when it was also decided that “all aspects of chivalry (concerning independent, semi-independent, dynastic orders, award systems, noble corporations, other noble bodies, and ecclesiastical decorations) which appeared in the 1998 Register had to undergo a complete revision on a scientific basis, therefore all Registers dating from after 1964 are hereby abrogated; moreover it is also decided to insert some new subdivisions in the next Register concerning organisations of chivalric nature and chivalric inspiration.”


Then on 27th September 2001, in order to remove any doubt that there may be Members of the Commission who might indirectly influence the Commission’s free decision making process, it was decided to widen Article VII of the Statutes thus: those who are legal representatives, heads or officers of any body whose present status, legitimacy or governance has been the subject of past controversy and which may at some time be subject to examination by the Commission and considered for inclusion in the International Register of Orders of Chivalry cannot be involved in determining the status of any Order or institution of which they are an officer. It was further proposed to include a new subdivision: Organisations dependent or deriving from Orders or Awards founded by or under the authority of a sovereign state.


The Commission is a private body, the worth of whose decisions depends upon the qualifications and scholarly reputation of its component members. The new Statutes, therefore, require that each member of the Commission should enjoy a reputation as specialists in the study of chivalric orders, decorations and awards systems and that their work has been published in serious specialist journals or that they have held positions of authority qualifying them particularly as participants.


The seat of the Commission was moved to Milan, a city which was formerly part of the Comunidad Hispanica, and thus the Cronista de Armas of the Kingdom of Spain, Don Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent (the organiser of the Madrid International Congress in 1955, the proponent of the decisions which led to the birth of the Commission in 1960 and the organiser of the Madrid International Congress in 1982, during which the last papers on chivalric orders were presented) received a petition for a certification of the Commission’s armorial bearings which had been in use by the Commission since 1962. Certification of the Arms was granted 28th January 2000, and legalised by the "Ministerio de Justicia” of the Kingdom of Spain 4th February 2000[17].


Since January 2001 the Commission has published as its official organ the quarterly journal Il Mondo del Cavaliere, rivista internazionale sugli Ordini cavallereschi, which has already attained a considerable academic reputation.


The Commission has already held a number of conferences on chivalric matters in Italy, the United States of America and Spain and it has extended its patronage to the Associazione Insigniti Onorificenze Cavalleresche - AIOC - Amici della Commissione Internazionale per lo studio degli Ordini Cavallereschi[18] which brings together those with an interest in orders of chivalry and award systems.


The members of the Commission, up to a maximum of 75, are selected from among the leading specialists in the field and their observations and comments are on a consultative basis. From the membership up to 10 Fellows may be selected and these, while being part of the Executive Committee, have consultative votes.


The seriousness of the Commission is shown by the prohibition of Members “to be part of or to participate in meetings organised by self-styled chivalric orders, award systems, noble corporations, or dubious nobiliary bodies, or hold ecclesiastical decorations etc, not listed in the ICOC Register.” The Executive Committee is composed of the President[19]/Chairman, the Vice President, the Deputy Chairman and the Secretary General. Patrons, are chosen for their position in international society and include heads of state, church leaders and heads or members of reigning or formerly reigning royal houses.


The original purpose of the foundation of the Commission was simply to prepare an International Register of Orders of Chivalry which was irreproachable, scientific and widely accepted, something which over time has proved arduous, difficult and sometimes unattainable.


The guiding principle of scholarly impartiality and the maintenance of a consistent standard has not only been retained, but is considered an essential element guiding the deliberations of the Commission. The Register is not closed, nor final, and will always be reviewed in the light of new evidence or changing circumstances. Moreover, the Commission welcomes open discussions on subjects between members with differing points of view, as this will assist the process of arriving at a sensible and reasoned conclusion.


In the twenty-first century the Commission needs to expand its horizons, widening its principles in order to bring them into line with the objective reality of today’s society and inevitable historical changes. The compilation of the Register, cannot be limited to the chivalric material of the past, thus the Commission has to provide to non-specialists, a comprehensive source of information and an explanation of the categories examined. The Commission also hopes to establish this publication as the authoritative source of record for specialists, the officers of chivalric and merit Orders, and state functionaries charge with responsibility in such matters.


* Translation and editing by Andrew Martin Garvey, Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, and Guy Stair Sainty.

[1] Previous congresses: I Barcelona 1929, II Roma-Napoli 1953, III Madrid 1955, IV Bruxelles/Brussel 1958, V Stockholm 1960, VI Edinburgh 1962, VII Den Haag 1964, VIII Paris 1966, IX Bern 1968, X Wien 1970, XI Liège 1972, XII München 1974, XIII London 1976, XIV København 1980, XV Madrid 1982, XVI Helsinski 1984, XVII Lisboa 1986, XVIII Innsbruck 1988, XIX Keszthely 1990, XX Uppsala 1992, XXI Luxembourg 1994, XXII Ottawa 1996, XXIII Torino 1998, XXIV Besançon 2000 and XXV Dublin 2002.

[2] See: Comunicaciones al XV Congreso internacional de las ciencias genealogica y heraldica, Madrid 19-26 - IX - 1982, Tomo I-II-III, Instituto Salazar y Castro (C.S.I.C.), Madrid, 1983, with the following papers: Adolfo Barredo de Valenzuela, El Gran Magisterio de la Orden Constantiniana; Arnolfo Cesari d’Ardea, La successione nel Gran Magistero dell’Ordine Costantiniano di S. Giorgio; Fabrizio Ferri, Il Sacro Militare Ordine di Santo Stefano di Toscana; Luigi Guelfi Camaiani, L’antico Ordine del Tau o dell’Altopascio; Uno Lindgren, Spanish Knights of The Most Noble Order of the Seraphim. Some Spanish Coats of Arms in Sweden; Eutumio Sastre Santos, La Cruzada en la Orden de Santiago: Obra de misericordia; Pier Felice degli Uberti y Palermo, Considerazioni sulla natura giuridica del Sacro Militare Ordine Costantiniano di San Giorgio.

[3] Titles are generally as they appear in the sources consulted.

[4] Madrid had recently seen the foundation of the Instituto Internacional de Genealogía y Heráldica and the journal Hidalguía, which, from 1953, have made great efforts against bogus orders of knighthood.

[5] Rivista Araldica, V Congresso Internazionale di Scienze Araldiche e Genealogiche, Anno LVIII, 1960, p. 275.

[6] Rivista Araldica, VI Congresso Internazionale di Genealogia e Araldica, Anno LX, 1962, pp. 262-3.

[7] Rivista Araldica, VI Congresso Internazionale di Genealogia e Araldica, Anno LX, 1962, p. 265: “. . . La Commissione Internazionale permanente per gli Ordini Cavallereschi, approvata nella mozione unanime era costituita nel seguente modo: Presidente Onorario: Sua Grazia il Duca di Hamilton e Brandon, K.T., Primo Pari di Scozia; Presidente: Barone Alessandro Monti della Corte (Italia); Vice Presidente: Nobile Professor Gèza Grosschmid Zsögöd de Visegrad (U.S.A.); Segretario Generale: Lt. Col. Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg (Scozia). Membri: S.A.S. il Principe Karl von Schwarzenberg (Austria e Bohemia); Chevalier Albert de Selliers de Moranville (Belgio); Dr Paul Warming (Danimarca); Sir Harry Pirie-Gordon, Laid of Butlaw (Priory of St. John) (Inghilterra); Sir Harry Luke (Inghilterra); Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk Bt, Barone di Easter Moncreiffe, Araldo di Albany (Scozia); Sir David Wilson Reid, Laird of Robertland (Scozia); Chevalier Guy Coutant de Saisseval (Francia); S.A.S. il Principe Ernst August von Lippe (Germania); Barone von Dieckoff (Germania); Jonkheer C.C. van Valkenburg (Olanda); S.E. il Balì Don Achille di Lorenzo (Italia); Nobile Alexandre de Messoyedoff (Russia Bianca); S.E. il Marchese don Alvaro de Santa Maria de Silvela, Marchese del Castañar (Spagna); Ciambellano Carl Gunnar Ulrik Scheffer (Svezia); Sir Hannibal P. Scicluna (Malta); Nobile Béla Kèzdi-Vàsàrhelij de Kèzd (Ungheria) . . .”.

[8] See: Rivista Araldica, VI Congresso Internazionale di Genealogia e Araldica, Anno LX, 1962, pp. 264-5.

[9] Rivista Araldica, VI Congresso Internazionale di Genealogia e Araldica, Anno LX, 1962, p. 264.

[10] Aldo Pezzana, Register of Orders of Chivalry, Edinburgh, 1970, in “Rivista Araldica”, Anno LIX, 1971, p. 227. Prof. Aldo Pezzana, Section President of the Council of State, is one of the leading experts in the field of nobiliary and chivalric law.

[11] Alberto Lembo, Lo Stato Italiano e gli Ordini cavallereschi non nazionali, in the proceedings of the Congress Gli Ordini Dinastici della I. & R. Casa Granducale di Toscana e della Reale Casa Borbone-Parma (Pisa, 14 settembre 2001), Edizioni Ets, Pisa, 2002, p. 29.

[12] See Appendix 1 From “L’Osservatore Romano” of 15-16 April 1935: “For some time there has been intense activity to revive and introduce in Italy the Military Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus, Boigny branch, with both offers of honours of the Order for knights and dames, and with articles aimed at supporting the existence of the Order as a French branch of the ancient Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, the Italian branch of which was joined to the Order of Saint Maurice in 1572. As the Order of Saint Lazarus of Boigny is not only not recognised in Italy but was also definitively abolished, at least since 1608, by Pope Paul V and by King Henry IV, the above mentioned activity is to be considered illegal and therefore, necessary instructions have been given that the activity be stopped and, where necessary, legal action be taken against those responsible. We have on many occasions noted the increase of pseudo-Orders of Chivalry, both in Italy and elsewhere. Whatever the denomination of these soi-disant Orders (St. George of Miolans or of Belgium, St. Mary of Nazareth, St. Mary of Bethlehem, St. Lazarus, and others), they are always revivals of completely extinct ancient Orders of Chivalry by private individuals who carry out intense activity acting on the good faith of those who are unable to judge these initiatives which completely lack any legality. The phenomenon is even more serious considering that these initiatives, which are cleverly placed under historical religious institutions, are seen by most people, not as private bodies, which they in fact are, by as coming under aegis of the Church and the Holy See. It is not generally known that ancient Orders of Chivalry were real religious Orders, coming, as other religious Orders, under Ecclesiastical Authority, Orders which consisted of professed members who emitted sacred vows as laid down by Rules and who enjoyed the ecclesiastical benefices with which they were invested. Yet these ancient Orders have nothing in common, except for their title (when this has been preserved) with modern Equestrian decorations which, as they have undergone a complete juridical revision, exist because a Sovereign of Head of State, within the limits of their jurisdictions, has legitimised them. The Order of St. Lazarus has none of all this. For the Holy See no such Order under such a denomination has existed canonically for centuries. The Holy See had, in fact, abolished the Order and incorporated it in the Order of St. John (the present Order of Malta) in the 15th Century, then in the 16th century, after a temporary partial resurrection, it was abolished as a body and incorporated in the Order of St. Maurice (1572), thus forming the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus. Because of the then fierce political situation in France, despite the definitive rulings of the Holy See, the Priory of Boigny, with relative ecclesiastical benefices, was able to survive exclusively through royal and civil decrees. As can be seen, it was everything but canonical and regular for a religious, albeit chivalrous, Order…! However, in order to eliminate the continual difficulties arising from the order, in 1608, King Henry IV of France, obtained from Pope Paul V recognition of the new Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and attributed this new Order with the property, houses and people who, in his realms, had belonged to the Order of St. Lazarus. Thus, in France, until the revolution, there existed an Order of Chivalry called of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and of St. Lazarus, while for the Holy See and the Roman Curia it was simply the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Everyone will see on what shaky ground the house of the purported Order of St. Lazarus, the subject of the above mentioned communication, was built, and how the titles of knight, commander (for lay members) and monsignor (for ecclesiastical members) completely lack any foundation or reality in exactly the same way as other so-called Orders”. From “L’Osservatore Romano” of 21 March 1952: “For some time one has been able to observe the deplorable phenomenon of the appearance of alleged Orders of Knighthood based on private initiative and aimed at taking the place of legitimate knightly honours. As we have pointed out in the past, these self-styled Orders take their names from Orders which have really existed but have been extinct for centuries or from Orders which never got past the planning stage, and from completely false Orders with no historic precedent whatsoever. To further confuse those who are unaware of the true history of Orders of Chivalry and their juridical condition, these self-styled autonomous private initiatives, are qualified by appellations, which had cause to exist in the past, or which belonged to authentic Orders, approved at the time by the Holy See. Thus, with almost monotonous terminology, these so-called Orders describe themselves, with varying degrees, with such titles as: Sacred, Military, Equestrian, Chivalric, Constantinian, Capitular, Sovereign, Nobiliary, Religious, Celestial, Angelical, Lascaris, Imperial, Royal, Delcassian, etc. Included in these private initiatives, which have in no way whatsoever received approval or recognition by the Holy See are the following self-styled Orders: St. Mary or Our Lady of Bethlehem; St. John of Acre, also called simply St. John Baptist; St. Thomas; St. Lazarus; St. George of Burgundy, also called of Belgium or of Miolans; St. George of Carinthia; Constantinian of St. Stephen; Constantinian Lascaris Angelical Order of the Golden Militia; the Crown of Thorns; the Lion of the Black Cross; St. Hubert of Lorraine, or of Bar; the Concord; Our Lady of Peace... (to these and similar Orders of Chivalry with the more or less international Gold, Silver and Blue Cross Associations etc., must be added, with one of other of the above mentioned appellations, those that have taken the titles: of Mercy; of St. Bridget of Sweden; of St. Rita of Cascia; of the Legion of Honour of the Immaculate; of St. George of Antioch; of St. Michael; of St. Mark; of St. Sebastian; of St. William; of the historical but extinct Order of the Temple; of the Red Eagle; of St. Cyril of Jerusalem etc.). In order to avoid misunderstandings which are unfortunately possible, also because of the abuse of pontifical and ecclesiastical documents, once granted for religious purposes or for merely monastic Orders, and to put an end to the continuation of such abuses, causing harm to those people in good faith, we are authorised to declare that the Holy See does not recognise the value of the diplomas and insignia conferred by the above mentioned alleged Orders.”. See “L’Osservatore Romano” of 14-15 December 1970, number 289 p. 2: “Clarification. The Secretariat of State, following frequent enquiries regarding the validity of ‘honours and distinction’ granted by Bodies styling themselves ‘Chivalric Orders’ considers it opportune to renew the definitions contained in the Communication issued on the 9th April 1970. Following a solemn investiture of new Knights of the Chivalric Order of ‘St. Bridget of Sweden’ carried out recently in a Parish Church in Rome, several inquiries have reached us for information regarding the attitude of the Holy See vis-à-vis Chivalric Orders bearing the Sacred Dedication of Names of Saints. We are now in a position to confirm what had already been published on the subject in our paper; viz: The Holy See, besides its own Chivalric Orders, recognised by International Law, considers as Catholic Orders - and adopts as same - only the following two Chivalric Orders, viz: The Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, known as the Order of Malta, and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. All the other Orders, whether newly instituted or made to derive from the Medieval Orders, as, for example, the above mentioned ‘Order of St. Bridget’, that of ‘Our Lady of Bethlehem’ and of ‘St. John of Acre’, etc. are not recognised by the Holy See, as the Holy See is in no position to guarantee their historical and juridical legitimacy, their scope or their organisational systems”. See “L’Osservatore Romano” of 4 July 2002: “Clarification: Many letters have been received concerning the attitude of the Holy See toward the knightly orders which were dedicated to Saints or were created Sacred. Further to this we have been authorised to confirm in this journal what has been written previously: the Holy See, besides its own knightly orders, recognises and protects only two chivalric orders: the Sovereign Military Order of Malta - also known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta - and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem”. See the Holy See’s clarification concerning ‘The Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem’ in “L’Osservatore Romano” of 1st December 1976: ‘. . . Enquiries have been received from various parties asking for further information regarding The Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem and in particular regarding how the Holy See considers this Order. ‘We are authorised to repeat the clarifications previously published in “L’Osservatore Romano”. The Holy See, in addition to its own equestrian Orders recognises only two Orders of Knighthood: The Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. No other Order, whether it be newly instituted or derived from a medieval Order having the same name, enjoys such recognition, as the Holy See is not in a position to guarantee their historical and juridical legitimacy, their scope or their organisational systems. This is also the case regarding the above mentioned Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem which assumes, in an almost identical form and in such a way as to cause ambiguity, the name of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.”

[13] Moreover, it is not the Commission’s role to delve into dynastic disputes in order to resolve them, but simply to establish the validity of an order.

[14] For example, Giacomo C. Bascapé in L’Ordine Sovrano di Malta e gli Ordini Equestri della Chiesa nella Storia and nel Diritto, Milan, Ed. Ceschina, 1940 XVIII, who on the orders of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies wrote: “While almost all jurists agree in recognising the right of the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies to bestow the Order of Saint George, which is strictly noble, or according to the term commonly used, dynastic, it does not seem that the same House holds the Grand Mastership of the other Orders of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which were State Orders, therefore, they are, according to some, to be considered extinct, whilst according to others they devolved to the Crown of Italy. These Orders are: Saint Januarius, instituted in 1738”. However, the same author completely changed his opinion about the Order of Saint Januarius as a dynastic-family order from the 1959 edition of the following text: Giacomo C Bascapé, Gli Ordini Cavallereschi in Italia. Storia e diritto, Editrice Eraclea, Milan, 1992, p. 303: “. . . it is true that almost all Orders of Chivalry, in the eighteenth century, had some sacred aspect or character, but the Order of Saint Januarius, for the religiousness of the Sovereign who founded it and for the Faith which enlivened the Court at Naples, was singular, with its dynastic-family character, also for being a chivalric institution blessed, protected and declared perpetual by the Church.”

[15] These include, first and foremost, the so-called “Order St. Lazarus”, included from 2nd edition of 1964 printed later; the so-called “Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller” (or “Royal Yugoslav Order of Saint John”), included from 1970; and the so-called “Niadh Nask,” included from 1996/1998.

[16] See letter 14th November 2000 of Lt. Col. Patrick O’Kelly de Conejera: “. . . As Secretary General throughout this period I had regular meetings with the Chairman, Lt.Col. Gayre of Gayre and Nigg. . . . While we studied a number of applications for registration throughout this period, however, none met the requirement of ‘longstanding uninterrupted tradition under the protection of Heads or of Houses of recognised sovereign rank’. Hence there was no justification in publishing a Register. . .”

[17] The blazon is: Gules a cross argent (in allusion to the first post-war Congress held in Roma-Napoli, Italy) between in the 1st quarter, a double-headed eagle erased Argent (in allusion to the Congress in Madrid, Spain); 2nd quarter, a lion’s head, erased Argent (in allusion to the Congress in Bruxelles, Belgium); 3rd quarter, an open crown Argent (in allusion to the Congress in Stockholm, Sweden); 4th quarter, a unicorn’s head erased, horned, crined and tufted or (in allusion to the Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland).

[18] In USA: Association of Members of Chivalric Orders and Merit - Amcom - Friends of ICOC; in Spain: Asociación Española de Caballeros y de Condecorados con Ordenes de Mérito.

[19] Past Presidents of the Commission: Baron Alessandro Monti della Corte (*1902†1975) from 1962 to 1970; H.S.H. Prince Ernst August of Lippe (*1917†1990) from 1970 to 1990, Lt. Col. Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg (*1905†1996) from 1990 to 1996; Terence MacCarthy (*1957) from 1996 to 1999. The present President (since 1999) is Nobile Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti (*1955).